Did you know that the Hard Rock chain first opened in London, England? Sure enough, it opened June 14th, 1971 under the management of Americans Peter Morton and Isaac Tigrett. The first Hard Rock Cafe displayed a good deal of eclectic and unique decor, but later chains focused on what the Hard Rock industry displays now, which is mostly rock and roll memorabilia. When the chain expanded internationally in the 80s, they established locations in Toronto, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Paris, and Berlin!
Everyone loves going to the Hard Rock Cafe in whatever city they visit. Key West, of course, has it’s own Hard Rock Cafe that shares in the Hard Rock Cafe legacy of great food, fun atmosphere, and the music! Ours is located at 313 Duval Street!
Old Town Trolley Tours of San Diego was honored to participate in a Lands’ End Business Outfitters photo-shoot for their catalog and website. We were all very excited and showed up bright and early to be future stars! A Lands End team of make-up artists, costume tailors, and photographers were prepared as soon as we arrived. We spent a couple hours getting made-up to feel like celebrities! Once we were fitted into the uniforms, we were driven out to different locations to do the photo-shoot. Balboa Park and Shelter Island were a couple of the locations. “Move your arm this way, shift your head that way!” The photographers did their best to take quality pictures for the catalog. After it was all said and done, the pictures were perfect! Nikki, our Sales Rep, was part of a collage for the cover of the catalog. Other Leadagers and CASTmembers were featured either in the catalog or on their website. Rod LaBranche and Tyler Grubenhoff can be seen being interviewed for the promotional video. Thank you Lands’ End for giving us an opportunity to shine in your photos!
The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory is a breathtaking butterfly park that contains nearly 60 different varieties of live butterflies. You can observe the butterflies close up and personally through the climate controlled and glass enclosed habitat! You can stroll through the beautiful park and enjoy the flowers, waterfalls, trees, and even many species of birds like canaries, finches, and Chinese quail!
In the Truman Annex is the privately owned Pier B and the Navy’s pier is called the Navy Mole. It was here in 1969 that the first cruise ship docked and allowed its passengers to venture out into Key West to explore as cruise ship tourists! The name of the cruise ship to first dock in Key West was the Sunward of the Norwegian Cruise Ship Lines. She sure was the start of a wonderful cruise ship tourism industry!
The Norwegian Cruise Ship Line’s the Sunward! Isn’t she a lovely 60s style ship?
What we love and now know as the Truman Annex was once the Fort Taylor Annex. The area where the Truman Annex lies used to be a submarine pen that was used for the Fleet Sonar School. The Harry Truman Little White House used to be the commandant of Fort Taylor’s house. However, the Fort Taylor Annex has since been demilitarized and given to private developers and the city of Key West, and renamed the Truman Annex. There are still a few governmental offices such as the NOAA Hurricane Forecasting Center and the Navy still owns the piers in the Truman Annex area.
Harry Truman wasn’t the only president to visit our island. While he did visit for a grand total of 175 days during his eleven visits as the president and several more times after he left office, other presidents have also visited the famous Conch Republic. Franklin D. Roosevelt visited in 1939 and Dwight D. Eisenhower even came here for some R&R after having a heart attack. In 1962, John F. Kennedy stayed here for a whole month following the resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis and Jimmy Carter held a family reunion here right after he left office.
An iconic picture of Harry Truman sitting on the lawn of the Little White House.
Did you know that in Pre-Columbian times, Key West was inhabited by the Calusa people? They had a steady reign of the island until the first European visit in 1521 when Juan Ponce de Leon, Spanish explorer and conquistador, led an expedition to what we now call Florida. After Ponce de Leon’s visit, Florida increasingly became more of a Spanish territory of fishing and salvaging; a small military garrison was even established there. It is said that Ponce de Leon was looking for the Fountain of Youth in Florida!
The Pirates of the Caribbean Fountain of Youth map!
Like most historic cities in America, we have an Old Town. Our Old Town is the original Key West settlement on the western part of our island that makes up the Key West Historic District. It has the perfect tourist destinations like Mallory Square, the famous and infamous Duval Street, the lovely Truman Annex, and the fearsome Fort Zachary Taylor. Most of the buildings are comprised of classic bungalow and guest mansion style of architecture.
The USS Maine was an American battleship that was the United States Navy’s second commissioned battleship and the first to be named after the state of Maine. In 1898, the USS Maine sailed from Key West to Havana where it blew up. Many of the crewman of the USS Maine are buried in Key West, while the investigation of their deaths occurred at the Customs House of Key West. About two months after its sinking, people started crying “Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain!” So the destruction of the Maine didn’t exactly immediately send America into a state of war with Spain, but rather, it made peace with Spain impossible.
A New York newspaper describing the destruction of the Maine.