The Key West Aquarium, from then to now:
During the Great Depression, Key West had turned over it’s charter to the federal government. Economic disaster had hit the island. The federal government saw Key West as a perfect tourist destination with it’s great weather and location.
Beginning in 1933, the Works Progress Administration Program came into town and built the Key West Aquarium, providing jobs to many locals.
It took two years to build and the Key West Aquarium opened it’s doors to the public in 1935, charging 15 cents for adults and 5 cents for children. Another purpose for the aquarium was to provide sea life to other aquariums throughout the country.
Just seven months after opening, the great Labor Day hurricane hit the Middle Keys. It was 1935 and the Overseas Railroad was destroyed. It also took with it any success for the Key West Aquarium attraction to survive. For at the time, the railroad was the only way to reach Key West, other than by boat.
The U.S. Government leased the Key West Aquarium building in 1943. It was to be used by the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard as an indoor rifle range. All of the hard work put in to the Aquarium displays were leveled for the military.
1946 brought new life back to the Aquarium. It was returned to the city of Key West and also returned to it’s former glory. In the 1960′s it was decided that the open air Aquarium should have a roof, which would cut down on algae growth in the exhibits.
Today, the Key West Aquarium offers various exhibits. You can visit the touch-tank and actually pick up a conch, sea star or horseshoe crab. How about petting a shark or sting ray! You can also see a shark feeding at different times throughout the day, or take a tour to learn about the habitats of our sea life. Be sure to look for the eel. He’s bright green and hides in the rocks, only swimming out to feed. They also have an area with young alligators and a few other reptiles.
The Key West Aquarium is actively involved in conservation of the delicate Florida Keys eco-system. Come see how you can help make our underwater world a better place. This is a great place for all ages to visit.
Open daily 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.. Located at 1 Whitehead St.