Saturday, April 19, 2014

From The Archives: The Top At La Concha

The Top is the bar on the roof top of La Concha  hotel, which at seven stories is the tallest building in Key West. It's  a bar I have actually enjoyed visiting,  and  getting there is half the fun as The Top opens to the public at three and the elevator on the ground floor is programmed to reach the top floor at that point in the afternoon but the bar at The Top only opens at 5pm. Here's the bad news, tomorrow is the last day of operation of The Top as it is scheduled to be remodeled as a massage center and spa. Actually I had thought it was long since closed and haven't been back, as these plans were announced months ago. Now the newspaper is full of the closing and Facebook has a page calling for one last party, and it all ends Sunday night, so I figured this was the right moment to replay my 2009 essay on The Top.
If you ask me, this is the best place from which to view Key West's famous sunsets, though even of a sunny afternoon it's a pretty pleasant spot to hang out for a while:
La Concha hotel guests have access any time with their room keys in the hotel elevator, but the elevator will take anyone, even without a key, to The Top after 3:00pm. The bar opens at 5:00pm and you can watch the world go by in style, if you don't mind drinking your wine from a plastic cup:
I usually drink red wine but tradition has it that suicides who choose to leap from The Top are found to have left behind a glass of Chardonnay. If you don't believe me take the Ghost Tour which leaves from La Concha's lobby at 8:00pm, they will tell you the unvarnished truth. I took myself up to the The Top, and there took a moment by myself, on graduation day last week, so it seemed churlish to spoil the evening by taking a swan dive. I drank the wine and admired the view, including St Paul's Cathedral spire and Fleming Key:
A trawler chugging through the harbor en route to the Gulf via the Northwest Channel:
A tourist with Mule Key in the background:
The harbor:
As you can tell Key West is pretty much surrounded by boats at anchor which are most likely lived aboard:
One soon to be occupied by the fish is the Vandenberg (which was sunk that year):
There's Duval Street driving straight for the Gulf:
And here are some visitors touring the town on scooters, at Duval and Eaton, with a delivery scooter in pursuit:
A less energetic visitor enjoying a book on one of the terraces inside the building:
My colleague Noel described this as the coolest apartment in Key West, and as it's on top of the Kress Building and it is owned and occupied by Key West's original developer David Wolkowsky, the man who started the waterfront hotel craze by building the Pier House: I wasn't alone in enjoying the views from the top:

I decided to walk back down to the ground floor, but once you decide to take the stairs management makes sure you know there is no going back:
Until you are back in the lobby, pausing a moment:
Before you step out into the heat, noise and confusion that is downtown Key West.