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La Concha Hotel

CIRCA 1926

Historic Marker 12 is located at 430 Duval Street between Fleming and Eaton Streets.By the 1920’s Key West had become a major port and tourist destination. Affluent travelers could journey from New York to Key West on Henry Flagler’s railroad and have their rail car transferred to a ferry for the short trip to the gambling and entertainment palaces of nearby Cuba.Key West was at the height of wealth and prosperity but lacked sufficient hotel accommodations.Carl Aubuchon recognized the need for first class accommodations and started construction on the La Concha in 1925. After a short lived labor strike the hotel opened its doors on January 22, 1926.The “modern, fire proof” La Concha was an immediate success catering to industrialists, visiting dignitaries, celebrities, and high society.The owners had spent a then-remarkable $768,000 to build the hotel plus $130,000 on furnishings. Room rates were $3.00 per night. For an additional 35 cents a steak dinner would be provided.With the stunning crash of the stock market in 1929, prosperous Key West suddenly became one of the poorest cities in America.Within six months of the crash the floundering hotel was sold and renamed the Key West Colonial Hotel. Locals continued to call it La Concha.Ernest Hemingway, who wrote of Depression-era rum runner Harry Morgan’s days in his masterful To Have and Have Not, made reference to La Concha’s landmark tower as he sails from the island. In 1947, Tennessee Williams finished writing A Streetcar Named Desire at the hotel.Over the years La Concha has seen its ups and downs but an enduring favorite amongst locals and visitors alike are the views from the bar on the seventh floor.