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MIDDLE KEYS AND MARATHON MAIN OVERVIEW
Geographically, the Middle Keys stretch from the southern tip of Islamorada
at the high-rise Channel 5 bridge – which has, in both directions, perhaps
the most beautiful and stunning views in the Keys – to Marathon’s improbable,
spectacular Seven Mile Bridge connecting Marathon to the Lower Keys.
Most of us have seen this famous 7 mile bridge in movies (True Lies)
or television commercials. It neatly divides the Atlantic Ocean on the
East from the Gulf of Mexico to the West, a mere thread of concrete across
the 75-100 square miles of azure and green seas and “flats” and islands
that your eyes encompass simultaneously.
As a practical matter, the Middle Keys basically refer to the “large”
incorporated town and bustling commercial center of Marathon and the
nearby expensive housing areas of Hawks Key (Duck Key), Key Colony Beach,
and Long Key. The other islands in the Marathon region are Boot Key,
Knight Key, Hog Key, Vaca Key, Stirrup Key, Crawl and Little Crawl Key,
East and West Sister’s Island, Deer Key and Fat Deer Key, Long Pine Key
and Grassy Key. Marathon’s metro area sits between mile markers 48 and
55 and has a non-tourist residential population of more than 13,000 (it
feels bigger than that), with a median age of 44.
Marathon is centrally located 80 miles south of mainland Florida and
more or less just 50 from Key Largo and 48 from Key West. Marathon is
served by bus lines to Key West and the Mainland, and by the sleek Marathon
airport offering connections to Miami and Ft Lauderdale and from there
to anywhere in the world.
The primary industries here are:
Arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation and food services
Educational,health and social services
The Marathon area is definitely a destination point and has hundreds
of small and medium size business to support it. It is fairly self-contained,
too. It’s not necessary to go anywhere else, because everything you really
need is right there, including shopping and services, police and fire,
healthcare facilities including a modern full service hospital, all the
usual municipal functions, and outdoor recreational activities like boating,
fishing, and diving.
If you want to work in the Keys in the construction trades or certain
kinds of services or consulting, Marathon can be a good location, because
it is centrally located – jobs and commissions from Key Largo to Key
West are pretty easily reached on a within-day commuting basis.
This sense of Marathon as a sort of “hub” for the whole middle section
of the Keys, including the edges of the Upper Keys and Lower Keys, goes
back a long ways. In the early 20th century Henry Flagler built a large
work camp and supply base at Marathon while constructing his “railroad
that went to sea”.
WHERE YOU LIVE IS HOW YOU LIVE.