Florida history

Courtesy Kelly Clark / National Park Service

Seventy miles west of Key West, a group of islands forms the Dry Tortugas. Those islands, and the waters surrounding them, are at the center of a national park with spectacular coral reefs. But the park is best known for its biggest structure.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The Key West Cemetery dates back to the mid-19th century — and some of the gravestones there have fallen into disrepair.

Remembering the "Boy Wonder" of Florida Politics

Feb 1, 2017

Doyle Conner came to be known as “the boy wonder of Florida politics.” In 1950, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives at the age of 20 while a sophomore at the University of Florida and remains the youngest person ever elected to the Florida Legislature.

Monroe County Public Library

Key West residents are following William Hackley's every move - even though he has been dead for 150 years. 

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West is known for celebrating its history. But until recently, the graves of two of the island's most influential African-American citizens were unmarked.

Now that's been rectified by the efforts of the city — which runs the cemetery — and the Historic Florida Keys Foundation, a nonprofit that raises money for restoration from cemetery tours.

David Santiago / El Nuevo Herald

Fidel Castro's death will no doubt spark a robust debate about what Cuba would be like today if he had never come to power in 1959.

But here's another important question: What would Miami be today without Castro and the thousands of exiles his communist revolution drove to South Florida?

Associated Press

Miami’s Janet Reno,  the first woman to be United States attorney general, died Monday at 78 from complications connected to Parkinson’s disease.

Her eight-year tenure in that office brought some of the country's most high-profile issues to her desk including the seizure and return of Elián González to Cuba, the capture of the Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski and the 51-day Waco siege standoff in which 76 people died.

St. Augustine can add another site to its list of nationally recognized historic landmarks.

Monroe County Public Library

  Eighty years ago, hurricanes weren't given human names. So the storm that devastated the Upper Keys in 1935 is known simply by the day it swept across Islamorada: the Labor Day Hurricane.

Islamorada in 1935 was a small village of a few hundred people, scraping through the Depression growing Key limes and pineapples. The village was also the site of a camp for hundreds more: relief workers building a highway. Most of those workers were World War I veterans.

With temperatures in Northeast Florida regularly soaring to the upper nineties during the summer, a blacksmith shop might seem like the last place someone would want to visit.

But that’s precisely what St. Augustine’s Fountain of Youth Archeological Park added to its historical attractions last weekend.


Nancy Klingener / WLRN

  Indian Key at first appears like a typical South Florida island — mangroves on the shore, buttonwoods inland.

  But Brad Bertelli sees a different place. He sees Indian Key from almost two centuries back.

"In its heyday, the island was home to as many as 150 people," Bertelli said. "There were 45 buildings. There was a hotel with a nine-pin bowling alley. Billiards tables, restaurant, saloon."

Monroe County Public Library

  The Monroe County Public Library system has five branches that are spread across 100 miles, from Key Largo to Key West.

But the library's collection has traveled much much farther. It can go anywhere with an internet connection.

  In 2007, the library started posting images from its history collection online, on the photo-sharing site Flickr. Recently, that site surpassed 16 million views.

Nominations are being taken for the next representatives of Florida in the National Statuary Hall.

The collection of one hundred statues — two from each state — is housed in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington D.C. Florida’s current representatives are Dr. John Gorrie, credited with inventing refrigeration and air conditioning, and General Edmund Kirby Smith, “an army officer and an educator,” according to the Architect of the Capitol’s website.

Tim Chapman

  When photographer Tim Chapman retired from The Miami Herald in 2012, he had an archive dating back 40 years. Chapman documented some of the most significant moments in South Florida history. Now, he's found a home for that archive, at the HistoryMiami museum. That donation — and Chapman's career — is celebrated in a show called Newsman now on display at the museum.

  Chapman said he never changed over his 40-year career, even as photographic technology and the newspaper business changed dramatically.

Millions of years of Florida's history are lying on a table in Paulette McFadden's office at the University of Florida in Gainesville. It's in long metal tubes containing several feet of sediment from Horseshoe Beach, a community on Florida's Gulf coast.

"This core," McFadden says, "actually spans about 30 million years."

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