The houses were built not to an architect's design but to the specifications of men used to building and repairing ships. Thus not all houses were built as neat and trim as this one.
Offsets are marginal frequently which makes fire a severe and potentially serious hazard in Old Town. key West's history like that of any wooden town has been marred by many fires some devastating.
Hurricanes have damaged the city too of course over the centuries. Even today there are certain parts of town much less likely to flood than others. Those are the streets which are crowded by local cars parked for an meander of safety from flooding.
Wrecking was a big 19th century industry that made some families fabulously wealthy. Between wrecking and regular trade Key West saw the influx of a great deal of expensive and status improving materials, marble, crystals, silver and silks.
Wreckers also got timbers to build and up they went all higgeldy piggeldy the houses of Key West. Taut the weren't torn down was an act of fate and good fortune.
These homes have been refurbished to make comfortable though small middle class residences but in the 1950s and 60s they were not half so pleasant. When the gay communities Up North discovered this island paradise filled with sailors, the original draw, and charming wooden homes for bargain basement prices the scene was set for Key West's transformation.
Locals living in the wooden homes were happy to take top dollar from crazy incomers and use the money to move out to modern American ranchettes springing up in the fields and dairy farm land of what was to become New Town, the land beyond Division Street. The street that divided New from Old Towns was later renamed Truman Avenue.
Nowadays the funky little wooden town is a top tourist attraction and even through these years of economic stagnation Key West has remained the only city in Florida with an expanding base of visitors. Prices have dropped and numbers have increased, they tell us. Amazing.
There aren't many places (any places?) on the continent where you can find street views like these.
Palms, outside stairs and a well preserved wooden home baking under the winter sun.
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