Historic Markers Across Florida

The Florida Keys Memorial

Marker ID:  
Location: on U.S. 1, Islamadora, Florida
County: Monroe
Coordinates: N 24° 55.023    W 080° 38.165
  24.91705    -80.63608333
Style: Mounted **
Waymark: WMMGBQ


The Florida Keys Memorial, known locally as the “Hurricane Monument," was built to honor hundreds of American veterans and local civilians who perished in the “Great Hurricane" on Labor Day, September 2, 1935. Islamadora sustained winds of 200 miles per hour and a barometer reading of 26.35 inches for several hours on that fateful holiday; most local buildings and the Florida East Coast Railway were destroyed by what remains the most savage hurricane on record. Hundreds of World War I veterans who had been camped in the Matecumbe area while working on the construction of U.S. Highway One for the Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.) were killed. In 1937 the cremated remains of approximately 300 people were placed within the tiled crypt in front of the monument. The monument is composed of native keystone, and its striking friese depicts coconut palm trees bending before the force of hurricane winds while the waters from an angry sea lap at the bottom of their trunks. Monument construction was funded by the WPA and regional veterans' associations. Over the years the Hurricane Monument has been cared for by local veterans, hurricane survivors, and descendants of the victims.