Key West

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

On Monday, the Key West Police Department will join the growing ranks of South Florida law enforcers wearing body cameras.

The department has been working on training and coming up with a policy for body cameras since February. That's when the Monroe County Sheriff's Office gave the police 100 cameras. The money came from fees that the Sheriff's Office receives to administer grants under the federal High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program.

How Well Do You Know Ernest Hemingway?

Jul 20, 2015
Ernest Hemingway Collection. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

Key West was home to many famous American writers, but the most well known is Ernest Hemingway.

More than 50 years after his death, hundreds flock to the writer's old hometown near the end of July for the annual Hemingway Days festival. It begins Tuesday, July 21, on the 116th anniversary of his birthday.

Graphic by Uber. Color darkened by WLRN for clarity.

Two weeks ago, the city of Key West police department announced that it would start arresting drivers for app-based ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

Now it's followed through. On Friday evening, according to the police department, an undercover officer arranged for a ride from the airport to a local hotel.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The land along Key West's western shore was one of the first areas of the island to be developed, when the U.S. Navy established a base there in the 1820s. It eventually became known as Truman Annex, after the president who liked to vacation in Key West. Now it's called the Truman Waterfront, and it's set to become a new park for the city.

Key West Mayor Craig Cates says it's always been an important part of the city.

Rob O'Neal / Florida Keys News Service

While Americans all over the country were celebrating the Fourth of July with pies, and apple pie is considered a national emblem, Key Westers were devoting themselves to the island chain's signature fruit — the Key lime.

Graphic by Uber. Color darkened by WLRN for clarity.

Key West will start arresting drivers for ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, the city announced Tuesday.

Starting Wednesday, any driver violating the city's vehicle-for-hire ordinance will be arrested, said Alyson Crean, the city spokeswoman. The city has 56 licenses, all of them issued to taxi companies.

Monroe County Public Library

Update: June 18, 3:39 p.m.: The Key West City Commission this week approved the $250,000 commitment toward repairs for the Schooner Western Union.

That commitment clears the way for the nonprofit that owns the historic schooner to apply for a state grant that would match the city's money 2-to-1.

Airbnb

Airbnb is a hugely popular way to find someplace to stay on vacation. More than 25 million guests have used the service, according to the website.

But in the Florida Keys, renting your home for less than a month requires a special license. The city of Key West's Code Compliance Board agenda for this week included 14 cases against unlicensed vacation rentals.

Meg Cabot / Macmillan Publishing

Writer Meg Cabot is best known for the Princess Diaries series, made famous by two movies starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews. But she quit writing that series in 2009, when Princess Mia graduated from high school.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West is a good place to get around under your own power whether it's by bike or on foot. The island is small, flat and warm year-round. Lots of island residents use bikes as their primary transportation, especially in the historic district.

Old Town was developed in the 18th century before cars. Streets are narrow, and parking is at a premium.

"This is an ideal cycling community," said Tom Theisen, owner of Bike Man Bike Rentals. "To not take advantage of that would be a shame."

Monroe County Public Library

Every day, ferries come and go from the ferry terminal at Key West's historic seaport. For now, they're carrying passengers to Dry Tortugas National Park, 70 miles west, or from Fort Myers Beach and Marco Island on Florida's Gulf Coast.

But many on the island hope the ferry traffic to Key West will soon regain one of its historic destinations: Havana. Earlier this month, the Obama administration took another big step toward normalizing relations with Cuba when it issued licenses to at least four companies to run ferries between the U.S. and Cuba.

Tom Hudson

  Rob Valle used to fly fighter jets for the U.S. Navy. Now he flies charter flights for his company Air Key West. Since late March that has included a weekly scheduled flight from Key West International Airport to Havana. He fits nine passengers, including one in the co-pilot seat next to him. They pay $525 for the round-trip flight.

Key West's literary heritage is overwhelmingly associated with one writer: Ernest Hemingway. The Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winner's former home is a popular museum. And every summer there's a look-alike contest where white-bearded men compete to look like Papa.

But recently, the island has turned to celebrating another 20th-century writer who made Key West his home: Tennessee Williams. 

Ken Stanek / Florida Keys News Service

Since 1987, Key West has hosted the international sail racing world each January. Quantum Race Week fills thousands of hotel rooms and provides footage that is shown all over the globe.

But the regatta's future is in question with the announcement Monday from Premiere Racing, the event's owner and organizer, that it is stepping aside.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

The Florida Keys have been under a moratorium on new hotel rooms for decades. But the islands are seeing a flood of new properties open, mostly through renovations and conversions.

In all, about 1,000 new rooms are being added or coming back on line after being closed for renovation and rebuilding. The Keys have a total of 15,000 lodging units, which includes hotel rooms, RV spots and short-term vacation rentals.

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