Born as an adjunct to affluence, West Palm Beach has grown to become one of the three main cities in Florida and a regional center for commerce. Today it is home to historic and scenic neighborhoods, breathtaking waterfront views, eclectic shopping and dining districts, the Green Market, Kravis Center for The Performing Arts, the Norton Museum of Art, Grassy Waters Everglades Preserve and Palm Beach International airport.
The Evolution of West Palm Beach
The brainchild of railroad magnate and oil baron, Henry Flagler, West Palm Beach was founded as a commercial and residential hub for workers and support staff of Flagler’s elegant Palm Beach hotels. The original town site comprised just 48 blocks…land purchased in 1894 for $45,000. Flagler provided much of the infrastructure for the fledgling town, which officially became a city in 1903 and the seat of government for Palm Beach County in 1909.
By 1917 the West Palm Canal made the area a main distribution center for shipping local produce throughout the country…and by 1925 a second railroad further supported its ever-increasing tourism industry. With the onset of World War II, and the construction of Palm Beach Air Force Base, thousands of military personnel moved into the area. Many stayed on after the war and by the 1950’s West Palm Beach had become one of the country’s fastest growing metropolitan areas.
West Palm Beach Today
With the advent of the 1990’s, such developments as City Place, and the preservation and renovation of 1920’s architecture in the entertainment and shopping district around Clematis Street brought a downtown resurgence, and a revitalization of such historic neighborhoods as El Cid, Flamingo Park and Northwood.
What began as an adjunctive service community for Palm Beach has itself developed into a vibrant neighboring community just across the bridge on Flagler Way. From Kravis Center opera and theatrical entertainment to diverse clubs, restaurants and galleries on Clematis and the exceptional El Cid historic residential district, the energy of West Palm Beach makes it the natural choice for affluent active professionals.
Classic West Palm Beach Architecture
John Volk, William Manley King and Henry Steven Harvey are among the architects who most strongly influenced the signature look of West Palm Beach. From Mediterranean Revival to Mission Revival, many of the designs they created in the area’s historic districts are today listed in the National Register of Historic Places.