LeBron James joins the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003. WIKIPEDIA/Contributed

The world — and the Florida Keys — were different places in 2003, when the Keys Weekly began covering and chronicling the island chain. 

George W. Bush was president. The nation was still recovering from the 9/11 attacks, and in March 2003, launched the “shock and awe” bombing campaign against Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Anthrax scares were still common in the U.S. and America was still five years away from even considering a black president.

To see where we’ve come from, let’s take a look back at the world in which this newspaper was created. 

In 2003…

  • Beyonce’s first solo album, “Dangerously in Love,” topped the Billboard charts while 50 Cent’s single “In Da Club” was Billboard Song of the Year. 
  • Britney Spears became the youngest singer to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at age 21.
  • “Chicago” won the Oscar for Best Picture — the first musical to win the award since 1968 — and the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical. 
‘Finding Nemo’ was released in theaters in 2003. WIKIPEDIA/Contributed
  • “Finding Nemo,” “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” were released in theaters. 
  • Popular TV shows included “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “The West Wing.”
  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII.
  • Michael Jordan played his last game in the NBA, but for the Washington Wizards, not the Chicago Bulls. LeBron James was drafted by his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
  • Barry Bonds became the first player in MLB history to reach 500 career home runs and 500 steals. 
  • In soccer, Lionel Messi made his team debut for FC Barcelona at age 16.
  • In political news, voters recalled California Governor Gray Davis and elected Arnold Schwarzenegger to office.
Jimmy Buffett, seen here in Hawaii in 2003, recorded ‘It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere’ with Alan Jackson the same year the Keys Weekly launched. WIKIPEDIA/Contributed

2003 in the Florida Keys:

  • A one-bedroom (not a studio) apartment in the Florida Keys could be rented for $800 per month. 
  • Two-bedroom apartments were available for $1,200 per month.
  • Housing prices were still on an upswing, before the real estate crash in 2006.
  • In April 2003, a Cuban passenger plane bound from the Isle of Youth to Havana was hijacked and landed in Key West. There were 25 passengers and six crew members on board.
  • The Monroe County Commission included George Neugent, Charles “Sonny” McCoy, Dixie Spehar, Murray Nelson and David Rice.
  • In June 2003, Key West unfurled the world’s longest rainbow flag down Duval Street during its Gay Pride celebration.
  • Lowest temperature in the Florida Keys in 2003 was 45 degrees on Jan. 24. The highest temperature was 92 degrees on Aug. 25.
  • Jimmy Buffett and Alan Jackson recorded the hit song, “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere.”
Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.