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Duck Key in the Florida Keys

An Information Guide to Duck Key in the Florida Keys


 

 

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The Naming of Duck Key

 

How did Duck Key get its name?

Some historians believe the island's name came from its unusual shape. Aerial views of the island show the shape of a duck .

In the past the island has been inhabited by many double-crested cormorants called "ducks" and a variety of other birds. Some historians attribute the island's name to these cormorants.

Duck Key Cormorant

James Audubon's portrayed such double-crested cormorants in his book, The Birds of America. Audubon recounts visiting many mangrove islands but does not give all their names.

"On the 26th of April 1832, I and my party visited several small Keys, not many miles distant from the harbour in which our vessel lay [Indian Key]. Mr. Thruston had given us his beautiful barge, and accompanied us with his famous pilot, fisherman and hunter, Mr. Egan."

In 1832 Duck Key was one of the few keys to have human inhabitants - the Howe family worked the salt ponds. Since Audubon's journey took him by Duck Key several times and since the island was inhabited it's not inconceivable he stopped by to explore "Duck" Key.

Later that day which was Audubon's 47th birthday, he painted the cormorant he saw.

 

In a later reference in his Ornithological Biography, Vol III, p 510, Audubon does writes that he visited Duck Key, but this account is about another bird.

On the 1st of May 1832, while rambling over some large and partially submersed islets of the Floridas called Duck Keys [Duck Key, the Tom's Harbor Islands, and possibly other small islets now join by the Overseas Highway], scantily covered with bushes and some mangroves, I saw a good number of these birds [The Semipalated Snipe or Willet] in company with the Great Marbled Godwit. . . . A few days after my visit to the Duck Keys, some nests containing eggs were found on other islets not far distant. .

.

For an information on historic references to Duck Key go to Historic Notes

 

Early Place Names on Duck Key

The original Indies Inn has undergone many changes under various ownerships since the 1950's and after extensive renovation in 1986 is called Hawk's Cay.

No longer can one drive down Duck Key's Canal Street or stroll beside a part of old Water Road? Where are they you say? The first master map of Duck Key produced by island developer, Bryan Newkirk in the 1950s shows that not only have island street names changed, but many roads have been reshaped or abandoned in years gone by.

 The original Newkirk Street has become Duck Key Drive and Bimini Drive. Canal Street is now called Indies Drive. Bryan Street and Eleanor Road have become Bahama Drive and Jamaica. Evidence of an earlier Water Street which ran down the middle of Yacht Club and Plantation Islands can still be seen. Gone are Gene Otto Street named for the Key West artist and architect who designed Duck Key's bridges, and Cothron Street named after the Islamorada contractor responsible for excavating Duck Key's canals and building its roadways .

In the early 1960s the road entrance to the resort Inn ran along the shoreline side of the marina where the present day condo villas and conch marina villas have been built and curved around passed the Indies Inn and continued on passed Lake Lucille [Yacht Harbor]. This road was called Malecon and named after the famous Malecon Street running along the shoreline of Havana, Cuba. The start of this road still exists and can be found next to commercial building housing the Marine Bank and Duck Key Realty office.

Harbour Island is little changed, though people today pass down a Drive and not a Street. Only the island names themselves and Lake Lucille named for Lucille, Bryan Newkirk's wife remain unchanged.

Hulk Island

 

 

 

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