Ultra-Americana in The Palm Beaches
Ultra-Americana in The Palm Beaches Find out why The…
Today Florida celebrates its 177th Birthday!
On March 3, 1845, Florida became the nation’s 27th state. This means that today the Sunshine State turns 177! Much has happened since then in Palm Beach County. Here we have listed some key milestones that have shaped the history of tourism in The Palm Beaches in the past 177 years.
The famous Jupiter Lighthouse was designed by Lieutenant George Gordon Meade and Lieutenant William F. Raynolds. Overseen by Edward A. Yorke, the construction of the lighthouse began in 1859 and was completed in 1860. The Jupiter Lighthouse offers some of the best views in the country. You can visit this landmark Tuesday-Sunday, 10.00 am – 4.00 pm.
Opened in 1880, the Cocoanut Grove House in Palm Beach was the first hotel on Lake Worth. At that time, it was known as the only coastal hotel between Titusville and Key West. The original structure was built in 1876 as a private residence of Elisha Newton “Cap” Dimick, one of the early founders of Palm Beach. He later expanded and transformed it into a hotel. The Cocoanut Grove House was destroyed by a fire in October 1893.
The Little Red Schoolhouse was the first school to open in Palm Beach. The structure was renovated by the Gardener’s Society of Palm Beach in 1960 and moved to Phipps Ocean Park. Today, the Little Red Schoolhouse is home to The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach’s “living history” program that takes kids back in time for a class in a school of the 1890s.
In 1894, Henry M. Flagler, railroad tycoon and co-founder of Standard Oil, opened his first hotel in Palm Beach. Named Royal Poinciana, the hotel had 1,100 rooms and was located on the shore of Lake Worth. It was the largest wooden structure in the entire world.
By 1896 Flagler had extended his railroad all the way south to what is now known as West Palm Beach, making the area more accessible to visitors from the north.
The same year, Flagler opened a majestic hotel overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Originally named Palm Beach Inn, in 1901 it was renamed as The Breakers. With its breathtaking architecture and impeccable customer service, The Breakers Palm Beach is today one of the most beautiful and renowned hotels in Florida.
At the turn of the century, Palm Beach visitors were thrilled to visit what came to history as the first tourist attraction of the area: A farm of alligators and crocodiles in a yard that is now part of the Everglades Club golf course, near the west end of what later became Worth Avenue. The farm was opened by an enterprising man named Warren Frazee, better known as Alligator Joe. Crowds paid 25 cents to see Frazee’s reptiles and his wrestling shows with the animals.
In 1902, Flagler built the Whitehall—a Gilded Age mansion for himself and his wife. Today, the Whitehall houses the Flagler Museum, a key tourist attraction that showcases and preserves all materials related to the life of Henry M. Flagler, highlighting his importance in shaping Florida’s history.
In 1904, the James Judge—a massive ship—was sailing from Cardenas, Cuba, to Jacksonville, Florida, along the Atlantic Gulf Stream when it got caught in a hurricane. The ship ran aground on a mostly inhabited beachfront on Palm Beach Island. When people found out about the ship, it became a tourist attraction and a popular spot for tea parties and photographs. The James Judge attracted prospective property buyers to the beach that would later blossom into what is now known as “Billionaire’s Row,” a half-mile stretch of land hosting more than $2 billion worth of private properties.
Worth Avenue—the famous high-end shopping avenue on Palm Beach Island—was named in 1913 after General William Jenkins Worth. The avenue was redesigned and transformed by architects Addison Mizner and Paris E. Singer, who introduced the Mediterranean style to the region. Through the years, the avenue developed to include arcaded shops, courtyards, tiles fountains, sculptures, and several pedestrian “Vias,” such as Via Mizner and Via Parigi.
In 1918, architect Mizner designed The Everglades Club, introducing a mélange of European architectural styles that became worldwide known as “the Palm Beach look.” The club was originally supposed to be a convalescent hospital for World War I’s injured military officers. But by the time the hospital was completed, the war was over, and soon it was transformed into a club. The Everglades Club covers 90 acres in southern Palm Beach and hosts an 18-hole golf course. The private entrance is off Worth Avenue’s west end.
Designed and brought to life by famed architect Addison Mizner, The Boca Raton was opened in 1926 as a 100-room inn nestled in the city of Boca Raton. Over the decades, the inn grew and became a South Florida institution. Its original structure reflects Spanish-Mediterranean, Moorish, and Gothic, influences. The entire resort is characterized by hidden gardens, barrel tile roofs, ornate columns, mosaics, fountains, ceilings, and archways. Today, the huge resort includes five distinct hotels: Beach Club, Bungalows, Cloister, Tower, and Yacht Club.
In 1924, Marjorie Merriweather Post—a woman regarded at that time as the wealthiest female figure in the United States—commissioned her estate in Palm Beach. Later named Mar-a-Lago, Marjorie’s mansion was completed in 1927. The 110,000 square foot property became the epicenter of social gatherings during her years in Palm Beach.
The monkey Johnnie Brown—the pet of architect Addison Mizner—became famous in Palm Beach around the 1920s, as he made his way around the island on the shoulder of his owner. You can visit his grave in the courtyard of Pizza Al Fresco, a restaurant situated on Via Mizner. His tombstone reads “Johnnie Brown, The Human Monkey, Died April 30, 1927.” You can also find him depicted in hotels and restaurants around The Palm Beaches, including The Supper Club and The Colony (Johnnie is the hotel’s mascot).
In 1933, Joseph P. Kennedy, the patriarch of the famous political family, bought a mansion on the oceanfront in Palm Beach. The estate was designed in 1923 by architect Addison Mizner with a simple Mediterranean-style architecture. The mansion was originally named “La Querida,” (meaning “the dear one”), although several sources have erroneously recorded the name as “La Guerida.” The mansion turned into the Winter White House during the presidency of John F. Kennedy and it was sold in 1995. It develops on more than 15,000 square feet, and it has 11 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms.
Formerly known as Morrison Field, Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) opened back in 1936. Today, the airport serves more than 6.7 million passengers with more than 200 daily non-stop arrivals and departures provided by 13 airlines. With its central location and congestion-free experience, Palm Beach International Airport is the most hassle-free way to fly nonstop into or out of South Florida.
In 1959, the Whitehall—Flagler’s mansion—was in danger of being razed. Henry Flagler’s granddaughter, Jean Flagler Matthews, decided to form a nonprofit corporation to purchase the property. The following year, the Flagler Museum in the Whitehall was opened to the public. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm, and on Sunday from 12.00 pm to 5.00 pm.
In 1985, former U.S. President Donald J. Trump purchased the Mar-a-Lago property and used it as his private residence until 1995. In April of the same year, Mar-a-Lago became the Mar-a-Lago Club. The club includes a swimming pool, an award-winning beauty salon, a spa, five championship tennis courts and a croquet court, and offers a superbe culinary experience.
In 2010, the iconic shopping avenue was restored. Today, Worth Avenue is sparkling with activity all year long from lazy summer lunches to winter shows and art exhibits. The street has approximately 250 high-end shops, boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries, including Giorgio Armani, Neiman Marcus, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Hermès, Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Chanel, Salvatore Ferragamo, Valentino, and many more.
The Ben is a modern 208-key hotel located on the waterfront of West Palm Beach. It opened in 2020, becoming the first waterfront hotel to open in downtown West Palm Beach. The Ben’s modern design was inspired by the Ben Trovato Estate, a Victorian home owned by the Floridian author Byrd Dewey and her husband Fred Dewey. The large estate entertained luminaries like Henry Phipps Jr., Woodrow Wilson, and the Vanderbilts. The Ben repurposes the hospitality of that time, channeling Byrd’s love of entertaining, her interests and passions, including the natural world. It is now a place for socialization, enjoyment, and enrichment in an environment that recalls Byrd’s personality through small details in any angle.
For more than a century, Palm Beach has been a symbol of luxury and exclusivity. But that’s not the case anymore. Our beautiful area is becoming more and more accessible and has started to attract younger visitors. The buzzing Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, Clematis Street in Downtown West Palm Beach, and Grandview Public Market are just a few examples of the many cool options in The Palm Beaches. Here are the reasons why young travelers are flocking to Palm Beach.
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