Key Biscayne has long been depicted as a tranquil sand and palm rimmed island lying in the lee of history. Its beauty is legendary, its tropical complexion described by travelers in the early 1880’s. Yet recent discoveries and field work revealed that this low-lying subtropical island played a high profile role in the coastal and cultural development of Florida.
Key Biscayne property and resources have been sought and fought over by Indian chiefs and Presidents, heads of state, by generals, doctors, lawyers, coconut planters and developers.
The Tequestas were the first, arriving, in dugout canoes. They built a string of fishing and whaling villages raised above sea level on posts cut from local hardwood and palms. They banqueted on the island’s succulent seafood from the shallows and offshore reefs. Sea turtles seasonally provided them with steak and eggs, sometimes shared with raccoons and small Florida black bears. Plants furnished tasty seeds, berries, and fruits such as sea grapes. Wildlife varied from the dunes to the hammocks to the wetlands. In the mangrove forests branches supported bird rookeries and interwined stilt roots served as water nurseries for marine life.