80. Industry Row

Historic Marker number 80 is located at Margaret and Caroline Streets.

The blocks along the Historic Seaport were filled with businesses that served the needs of fishermen, spongers, shrimpers and the turtle cannery. In turn, these businesses were reliant on ships and the Over-Sea Railroad to import raw material and export their finished goods.

Before 1912, the only way to transport all the essentials of life was by sailing ship or barge. The completion of Henry Flagler's Over- Sea Railroad in 1912 connected the island chain to the mainland and opened the channels of commerce.

The largest structure on this lot was Norberg Thompson's cigar box factory built in 1910. Obtaining enough cigar boxes for the thriving Key West cigar industry had always been a problem. Shipments from the mainland were sporadic at best.

The Thompson Cigar Box Factory was a large enterprise consisting of a factory building where boxes were assembled. An adjoining lumber yard cut cedar and mahogany logs transported from Cuba into slim slats for premium boxes. A wood drying facility and lumber storage barn rounded out the business.

With the advent of the shrimp boom in the 1950s, Thompson installed a large ice house. Ice was produced with ammonia and chemicals. The process was volatile and dangerous but the need to pack fish and shrimp in ice for delivery to distant markets made it a lucrative business.

On the water side of the lot, sandwiched between the lumber yard and ice house, was a fish market.

Land for businesses along the shoreline, including the Turtle Kraals Restaurant, was added in the 1920s.