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DSS | Key West on the Edge: Inventing the Conch Republic by Robert Kerstein

26-January from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM

$10.00 - $15.00
Distinguished Speaker Series | Key West on the Edge: Inventing the Conch Republic with Dr. Robert Kerstein
January 26, 2023 | 6pm – 7pm
Tropic Cinema

Key West lies at the southernmost point of the continental Unites States, ninety miles from Cuba, at Mile Marker 0 on famed U.S. Highway 1. Famous for six-toed cats in the Hemingway House, Sloppy Joe’s and Captain Tony’s, Jimmy Buffett songs, body paint parade “costumes,” and a brief secession from the Union after which the Conch Republic asked for $1 billion in foreign aid, Key West also lies at the metaphorical edge of our sensibilities.

How this unlikely city came to be a tourist mecca is the subject of Robert Kerstein’s intrepid new history. Sited on an island only four miles long and two miles wide, Key West has been fishing village, salvage yard, U.S. Navy base, cigar factory, hippie haven, gay enclave, cruise ship port-of-call, and more. Duval Street, which stretches the length of one of the most unusual cities in America, is today lined with brand-name shops that can be found in any major shopping mall in America.

Leaving no stone unturned, Kerstein reveals how Key West has changed dramatically over the years while holding on to the uniqueness that continues to attract tourists and new residents to the island.

About the Presenter: 

Robert Kerstein is the author of Politics and Growth in Twentieth-Century Tampa and Key West on the Edge: Inventing the Conch Republic. His Key West book earned the Florida Historical Society 2012 Charlton Tebeau Award for a general interest book on Florida history.

Kerstein taught at The University of Tampa from 1977 to 2018 and served as Hillsborough County Historian from 2004 to 2012.

This project is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture and the State of Florida, with additional support provided by The Helmerich Trust. Additional support from Aloys & Carol Metty and The John & Marilyn Rintamaki Family Charitable Fund.


Key West Art & Historical Society


Tropic Cinema
416 Eaton Street
Key West, FL 33040 United States
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