As the Village of Key Biscayne celebrates 25 years of incorporation, it’s a worthwhile opportunity to not only reflect on how self-governance has benefitted this island, but how incorporation has helped create a more active and engaged community that is using their collective voice to build a more sustainable future.
Above all, what incorporation has shown is that when you give residents a voice – they can accomplish great things together.
The impacts of our Key Biscayne’s efforts have not been limited to their borders. Empowered citizens were driven to create the Key Biscayne Community Foundation, and since its inception the Village Council has partnered with these philanthropic individuals to look out for neighbors in need. Through a partnership with the Miami Children’s Initiative the village has formed the “sister city initiative” which provides opportunities to residents in Liberty City. Key Biscayne is dedicated to lifting up a community that is often overlooked.
While the Village of Key Biscayne looks to the next quarter-century as an incorporated community, Soundbytes breaks down 25 fast/fun facts that you probably didn’t know about Miami’s hidden gem:
25 Key Biscayne facts:
- Juan Ponce de Leon found named the island Santa Marta and claimed it for the King of Spain in 1513.
- Key Biscayne is the southernmost U.S. barrier island on the Atlantic coast.
- Native Americans forced into South Florida by the Seminole Wars attacked and burned the first Key Biscayne lighthouse in 1836.
- Pirates regularly used the Key for it’s fresh water, vegetative cover and proximity to the shipping lane.
- The first town on Key Biscayne was planned by a woman – Mary Ann Davis of St. Augustine.
- In 1847, the lighthouse was rebuilt to it’s current height of 95 feet.
- In 1908, William John Matheson developed a coconut plantation and fruit groves on the southern section of the Key with the assistance of his sons, Hugh and David Fairchild.
- Matheson later went on to build a nine-hole golf course and the Jamaica Inn.
- After his death, the Matheson family made a deal with County Commissioner Charles Crandon to donate the northern half of the Key to the public. In return, the County Promised to build a causeway to the Key from the mainland.
- The island paradise served as the location for several movies in the 1940s including “They Were Expendable” by John Wayne.
- Homes for veterans were built on the ocean in the 1950s and they later became part of the Key Biscayne Hotel and Villas.
- The Key Biscayne Hotel and Villas served as the location of the first meeting between President Richard Nixon and John Kennedy after the 1960 election.
- Nixon was no stranger to Key Biscayne. He purchased three properties on Key Biscayne which became known as the “Winter White House.”
- In 1966, the then editor of The Miami News, Bill Baggs, assisted in the State’s negotiations to purchase the southern third of Key Biscayne for a state park now known as Bill Baggs Cape Florida Park.
- The Rickenbacker Causeway is named after Eddie Rickenbacker, the American World War I flying ace and founder of Eastern Airlines.
- Previously hosted in Delray Beach and Boca Raton, the Crandon Park Tennis Center become home to the Miami Open in 1987.
- The Village of Key Biscayne was incorporated in 1991.
- The “Islander News” is the only newspaper in South Florida written exclusively for the residents of Key Biscayne.
- Crandon Park Golf Course ranks among the 50 top public courses in Florida.
- Andy Garcia and Latin musician Juanes call Key Biscayne home.
- The Village of Key Biscayne is sandwiched between two major parks – Crandon Park to the north and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park to the south.
- A nearby coastal barrier reef is the only federally recognized underwater archaeological trail in the United States.
- The historic Allen Herschell carousel was built in Crandon Park in 1949 and is “near” original factory condition.
- The 1.4 square miles of Key Biscayne is currently home to over 12,000 residents.
- The median household income on the Key is $120,502.