Key West is a city in Monroe County, Florida, United States. The city encompasses the island of Key West, the part of Stock Island north of U.S. 1 (the Overseas Highway) (east), Sigsbee Park (north, originally known as Dredgers Key), Fleming Key (north), and Sunset Key (west, originally known as Tank Island). Both Fleming Key and Sigsbee Park are part of Naval Air Station Key West and are inaccessible by civilians. Key West is the county seat of Monroe County. Key West is the southernmost city in the Continental United States. It also contains the southern terminus of U.S. 1, State Road A1A, the East Coast Greenway and, before 1935, the Florida East Coast Railway.
Key West is 129 miles (208 km) southwest (229.9 degrees) of Miami, Florida, (about 160 miles (260 km) by car) and 106 miles (171 km) north-northeast (21.2 degrees) of Havana, Cuba. Cuba, at its closest point, is 94 statute miles (151 km) south. Key West is a seaport destination for many passenger cruise ships. The Key West International Airport provides airline service. Hotels and guest houses are available for lodging. Naval Air Station Key West is an important year round training site for naval aviation due to the superb weather conditions. It is also a reason the city was chosen as the Winter White House of President Harry S. Truman. The central business district primarily comprises Duval Street, and includes much of the northwest corner of the island along Whitehead, Simonton, Front, Greene, Caroline, and Eaton Streets and Truman Avenue. The official city motto is "One Human Family."
Port of Key West:
The first cruise ship was the Sunward in 1969, which docked at the Navy's pier in the Truman Annex or the privately owned Pier B. The Navy's pier is called the Navy Mole.
In 1984 the city opened a pier right on Mallory Square. The decision was met with considerable opposition from people who felt it would disrupt the tradition of watching the sunset at Mallory Square. Cruise ships now dock at all three piers.
In present times, several cruise ships dock on a regular basis at Key West, including the Royal Caribbean ship Majesty of the Seas and the Carnival Fascination, both of which visit weekly. In the last several years, however, larger cruise ships have increasingly bypassed Key West due to the narrowness of the island's main ship channel. On October 1, 2013, 74% of resident voters in the City of Key West voted "no" to a referendum that would have allowed the City Commission to request a feasibility study from the Army Corps of Engineers for a $36 million project to dredge a wider channel.
Economic benefits from visiting cruise ship passengers are substantial but not attractive to all Key West citizens as the daily presence of thousands of tourists from cruise ships affects the character of the city, resulting in operation of facilities that cater to mass tourism rather than to a potentially more profitable and pleasant upscale clientele. There are also environmental issues as Key West is surrounded by coral habitat. Concerns over environmental protection were considered a prominent factor in the failure of the 2013 referendum. As of 2009, there were 859,409 passengers annually.