Do you know the story of the Conch Republic? It’s a great little yarn from the weird-ass ’80s — an odd moment in time when America’s renegade spirit collided with an overzealous government. It also tells you pretty much everything you need to know about Key West, Florida, where the whole saga went down. The gist of the story is this: In 1982, concerned about drugs and immigration, an incredibly restrictive roadblock was set up on U.S. Route 1, linking the Florida Keys to Miami. The move proved catastrophic. It discouraged tourism and stymied locals. But more than that, it operated on a metaphorical level — offending the fiercely independent sensibilities of those living in the lower 48’s southernmost settlement.


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