Historic Florida Keys Bridge Reopens to Pedestrians After 5-Year Restoration

One of the best ways to experience the Keys is back!

Seven Mile Bridge in Florida Keys
Photo: FilippoBacci/Getty Images

When oil baron Henry Flagler's railway extension connecting Miami to Key West opened in 1912 it was heralded as the "eighth wonder of the world." At the time, the seven-mile bridge that stretched between Florida's Middle and Lower Keys was one of the longest in existence.

But time, technology, and weather inevitably took their toll. According to Smithsonian Magazine, by 1982 nearly all of it had been replaced by a series of modern bridges known collectively as Highway One. While much of the wondrous old bridge still stands, only the 2.2-mile section from Marathon to tiny Pigeon Key remained accessible to the public. For decades, locals used "Old Seven" for everything from walking and biking to sight-seeing.

That is until 2017, when the crumbling bridge was closed a much-needed restoration. After nearly five years and $77 million worth of improvements, on January 12, 2022, "Old Seven" finally reopened.

People are once again invited to walk, bike, jog, or rollerblade along the newly revamped bridge. The clear water below offers glimpses at rays, sharks, and sea turtles, while pelicans, osprey, and other birds dot the sky. The bridge also provides access to the historic five-acre island of Pigeon Key where, according to Time Out, you can snorkel and fish from the pier.

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"Nearly five years ago now, when they did close down the bridge, that year prior nearly a quarter of a million people came out to use this bridge," Kelly McKinnon, executive director of the Pigeon Key Foundation, said in a news release. "It really is more of a linear park, where people can come out and recreate and go biking, walking, cycling, running, take a look at all the marine resources whether it be spotting turtles, sharks, rays, tarpon ... it's just an unbelievable experience for individuals and families to come out and take advantage of."

Welcome back, Old Seven!

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