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The East Martello Tower was originally built as a complement to Fort Zachary Taylor to protect the region.It now houses the Martello Gallery-Key West Art and Historical Museum, with a diverse collection of local art and sculpture, and other exhibits related to the development of Key West.
The central tower provides a spectacular panoramic view of the Atlantic coast of Key West. The Key West Garden Club took possession of the fort in 1955 and began a cleanup and planting to beautify the dilapidated fort.
They were so named by explorer Ponce de Leon due to the number of turtles (tortuga meaning turtle in Spanish) found on the islands.
The "dry" part was added later, referring to the lack of fresh water on the islands.
Nonetheless, there are shops and other attractions located on and around Mallory Square.
Dry Tortugas National Park is an archipelago of seven reef islands located around 65 miles southwest of Key West.
They were dismantled and shipped, then re-assembled here.
The food is Afro-Caribbean and Spanish and there is a certain tropical, laid-back feel to the town. Several famous writers have called the island home including Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost, and Tennessee Williams.
One of them, Garden Key, is home to the 19th century Fort Jefferson, built by the U. government to protect and control the Gulf of Mexico shipping channel.
The fort operated as a prison for Union deserters during the civil war and also housed Dr.
The area has become one of the tourist highlights of Key West, particularly in the late afternoon.
However, at other times visitors may find there is little or nothing going on.
Boat excursions to the Dry Tortugas leave from Key West.