Discovered in 1513 by Ponce de Leon during his search for the Fountain of Youth, Key West has been a draw to pirates, fortune hunters, farmers, fishing enthusiasts, and sun worshipers for hundreds of years. In 1822, the U.S. Navy established a fleet in the area, with pineapple and lime farms, canneries and wrecking operations springing up almost overnight. Cigar makers and sponge harvesters also set out to make their fortunes in the Keys, but wealthy railroad tycoon Henry Flagler was the first to establish Key West as a vacation destination. By 1889 Key West was the largest and most prosperous city in Florida.
Many regular visitors began to build vacation homes on the island, with notable names like Ernest Hemingway, President Harry Truman, Tennessee Williams, and John James Audubon calling Key West home for at least a portion of the year. After World War II, the tourism industry gained strength and the island became even more popular. Contemporary notable part time residents include Jimmy Buffet (Musician), Judy Blume (Children's Author), Calvin Klein (Designer), Kelly McGillis (Actress) and Ketih Strickland (musician and founding member of the B-52's). Today the city hosts more than three million visitors each year.
La Concha Hotel & Spa - a Key West Landmark
In 1926 developer Carl Aubuchon opened his luxury hotel - the first of its kind on Key West. Boasting marble floors, private baths, luxurious décor, an elevator, and sweeping ocean views, the hotel was considered to be the height of elegance and modern convenience. Many famous guests have stayed at the landmark La Concha hotel over the years, including literary legends and dignitaries like Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams and Harry Truman.