Key West

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

  For almost a century, Key West's Bayview Park has been home to memorials to both sides of the Civil War. A pavilion honoring Confederate soldiers and sailors was built in the 1920s. In the 1930s, the state of New York installed a memorial to Union soldiers of that state who died while stationed on the island.

  Now the city is adding to that number with a statue depicting and honoring the African-American soldiers who were recruited to the Union Army from Key West.

City of Key West

  While the Miami-Dade County Commission recently asked the federal government not to place a Cuban consulate in that county, Key West officials are looking to strengthen ties across the Florida Straits.

  The island city now has two "ambassadors" to Cuba. One is former City Commissioner Tony Yaniz, who was awarded the title by two city commissioners. The other is Key West Yacht Club Commodore Robert Harvey — named by Mayor Craig Cates, who has frequently clashed with Yaniz  politically.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

  Key West is famous for its collection of old wooden houses, mostly dating to the 19th century. The district known as Old Town is on the National Register of Historic Places.

  But occasionally a new building goes up in the old neighborhoods. Some recent new buildings, and proposed new buildings, have generated a debate about whether new construction in the historic district should blend in with the older buildings or be clearly separate.

Rob O'Neal / Florida Keys News Service

Writing contests offer all kinds of rewards,  but this one may be unique: a residency in Key West, and the opportunity to write in Ernest Hemingway's studio.

The first Florida Keys Flash Fiction contest invites writers to submit a work of 500 words or fewer between now and March 31. The winner will be selected by a representative of the Key West Literary Seminar.

Meredith Rizzo / NPR

  A federal appeals court has ruled in favor of a tattoo parlor owner and against the city of Key West's attempt to block a new tattoo business from opening in the city's historic district.

The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that tattoos and tattooing are artistic expression, protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

And it rejected the city's arguments that tattoo parlors could hurt the "character and fabric" of the Old Town area and thus hurt tourism.

Andy Newman / Florida Keys News Service

Lots of people have trouble figuring out what to do on New Year's Eve every year. Not Gary Marion of Key West — better known to the wider world as the drag queen Sushi.

"On New Year's Eve, I sit in a big, red, giant high heel and I get descended at the stroke of midnight," she says. "It will be my 19th year in the shoe."

Like most years, Sushi is making an elaborate outfit for herself for the big night. Unlike most years, she's also creating outfits for a flower girl, bridesmaids and the "ordained drag queen minister" who will be marrying Sushi and her fiance, Jeff Kusin.

City of Key West

The city of Key West took ownership of 32 acres on the island's western shore back in 2002.

The property had been used by the Navy since World War II as a submarine base and for other kinds of training. But in a round of downsizing, the land was given to the city.

For the last decade, Key West has been drawing up plans and waiting on environmental clean-up of the property.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

An international, but temporary, art installation is taking shape on the shore of Key West.

The International Sand Art competition winds up Saturday, with judging scheduled for the afternoon.

Carol Tedesco / Key West Art & Historical Society

Key West's lighthouse was decommissioned back in 1969. But it recently got a thorough restoration, from the railings around the top to the paint on the sides.

  Officials from the lighthouse's current stewards, the Key West Art & Historical Society, weren't sure what to expect when they hired a restoration firm that specializes in old lighthouses. They thought maybe the firm would set up a giant scaffold around the 86-foot tower.

Spree Expeditions / PRNewsFoto

Fifteen years ago, when Frank Wasson bought the motor vessel Spree, the boat was based in Texas and mostly ran dive charters to the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico. But he had another destination in mind.

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