A popular attraction in Key West is a visit to it's historic lighthouse and adjoining lighthouse keeper's quarters. The lighthouse is close to the Hemingway Home, and it's easy to visit both in a half-day.
A Brief History of the Key West Lighthouse
Because of the dangers posed to ships navigating the shallows and reefs of the Florida Keys, the need for several lighthouses in the Keys was established several hundred years ago. Key West was one of the largest communities in the area was one of the sites picked for lighthouse construction.
The tallest structure in Key West is it's historic lighthouse. It's not the first lighthouse to be built on the island; that first lighthouse was completed in 1825 and was destroyed by the great Havana Hurricaine in 1846 when the storm surge collapsed the tower (killing more than a dozen people sheltering there). The new lighthouse tower was completed in 1848 and was built on relatively high ground, situated 15 feet (4.6 m) above sea level. In 1858 the lighthouse's oil-burning lamps were replaced by a high efficiency Fresnel lens. In 1894 the tower was extended putting the lighthouse at 100 feet (30 m) above sea level.
The light house continued to function until 1969 when it was decommissioned by the Coast Guard. The lighthouse and keepers quarters were restored and converted into a museum and historic attraction that opened in 1972.
Visiting the Lighthouse Today
Visitors can walk up the 88 steps to the top of the lighthouse and enjoy the fine views of Key West from it's observation platfom. It's a flat and green landscape and you can understand why the lighthouse's lot is one of the highest points on the island.
Near the lighthouse is a small home built as a dwelling for the two lighthouse keepers and their families (both men and women have been keepers). The keepers' home has photographs and artifacts of the lighthouse and people who worked here and lived in the home.
An interesting and historic stop, with the visit to the top of the lighthouse and views of Key West being one of the highlights of my visit to the island.