Key West has long afforded mariners a handy, large, deepwater natural harbor. Moreover, just west of the island, a broad channel leads north to the Gulf of Mexico.
Thus, by the late 1700’s, sea captains found that the uninhabited island of Key West (which was also known by the Spanish name “Cayo Hueso”) was a useful stopping point during coastwise navigation. It had a safe anchorage, and there were stocks of drinkable water at primitive wells ashore.
In addition, there was a great abundance and diversity of marine life in the Keys waters. The early mariners and the first settlers of the island soon came to rely on such resources for subsistence and as part of the economic base of the town when it first became established in the 1820’s. That tradition continued on into the present day.
The Historic Seaport was formerly referred to as Key West Bight. A bight is a curve or recess in a coastline, river, or other geographical feature. It can also be a loop of rope, as distinct from the rope’s ends. In this case, both are fitting, but due to the seaports rich settlement and fishing history it was aptly renamed the Historic Seaport.