One of my favorite history and guide books on the Florida Keys is written by Joy Williams “The Florida Keys quot;
Joy Williams writes – The town of Key Largo was originally known as Rock Harbor. Real estate promoters sought to cash in on the publicity given the 1948 Bogart-Bacall movie and circulated a petition to have the name changed. The request was granted by postal authorities in 1952, and Rock Harbor became Key Largo.
The movie Key Largo, with the exception of a few interior set scenes shot inside the bar the Caribbean Club, was filmed entirely on a soundstage in Hollywood. The film itself may be drenched with Bogart charisma, but it certainly is counterfeit Keys; director John Huston ornamented the script with California touches such as fog and kelp. However, the fact that the actors never came to Key Largo, and that the film was not shot here, did not faze the town’s boosters. Key West had Hemingway, why shouldn’t Largo have Bogie? To compound matters, the owner of the Holiday Inn, maintaining that “Key Largo is laden with memories of the great actor,” bought the riverboat used in the Bogart movie The African Queen (which was filmed mostly in England) and now offers “excursions” in it, when the engine’s working, from his dock. As a random touch, he has the original Chris-Craft boat that was used in the movie On Golden Pond there as well?although there’s a suspicion that it’s really a double of the boat that was used in the movie, thereby rendering any experience you might have seeing it possibly doubly meaningless.