Via Boot Key Bridge-Information
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-sized businesses 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 way. 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”.