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THE FLORIDA KEYS
The Florida Keys is located in Monroe County. There are five incorporated cities in the Florida Keys: Key West, Key Colony Beach, Layton, Islamorada and Marathon. The citizens living in unincorporated Monroe County towns include the residents of Ocean Reef, Key Largo, Tavernier and Big Pine Key/Lower Keys. While most of eastern North America has had continuous development over the past 200 years, the Florida Keys, discovered much earlier, remained undeveloped until the middle of the twentieth century.
Discovered by Ponce De Leon on May 12, 1513, the Florida Keys proper are an elongated chain of low lying islands over 220 miles in length. They extend from the southeastern tip of the Florida peninsula to the Dry Tortugas and lie between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. The Keys are separated from the mainland by Biscayne Bay, Barnes Sound, Blackwater Sound and Florida Bay. Monroe County is made up of 822 islands, although only about 30 of them are actually inhabited. The western half or Everglades National Park and the southern tip of Big Cypress National Preserve are largely uninhabited. The highest point in the Keys, only 18 feet above sea level, lies on Windley Key. The Keys are islands of rock, therefore sandy beaches are not common and are mostly restricted to the Atlantic side of the larger islands.
Bayside -The Florida Bay side of U.S. Highway 1, generally the northwestern side. As you are traveling U.S. 1 from Miami to Key West, the right side. Term is used interchangeably with “gulfside.”
Gulfside - The Gulf of Mexico side of U.S. Highway 1, generally the northwestern side. Term is used interchangeably with “bayside.”
Mainland - The large, land mass that begins north of mile marker 113. Includes Miami, Washington, D.C., etc.Mainland Monroe County - The 1,070,162 square acres (pop. 282) of Monroe County that is part of Florida’s southwest mainland. Mostly includes parts of Everglades National Park and Cape Sable.
Mile Markers ("MM") - The green markers along U.S. 1 in the Florida Keys. They start at MM127 and end at MM0 in front of the Courthouse in Key West. Directions are frequently given like this: “I’m located at MM25½, Oceanside.”
Oceanside - The Atlantic Ocean side of U.S. Highway 1, generally the southeastern side. As you are traveling U.S. 1 from Miami to Key West, the left side.
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