Monday, April 11, 2011

Florida History: Palm Beach - the town that almost wasn't

By Jane Feehan

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If not for the decisiveness of voters – all 35 of them - Palm Beach might have been part of West Palm Beach instead of celebrating its centennial in 2011.

West Palm Beach incorporated first as a town in 1894, then as a city in 1903. West Palm officials were moving to annex the island of Palm Beach in 1911 when voters gathered at the Palm Beach Hotel and decided to incorporate their own government. The town of Palm Beach celebrates April 16 as its birthday.

About that name …

The name Palm Beach was settled on in 1887 when the first choice, Palm City, was rejected by the U.S. Postal Service; the name was taken by another town.

Voters tapped Capt. E.N. Dimick as their first mayor. He was well known to locals and visitors. He built and operated the town's first hotel in 1885, the Cocoanut Grove House. Henry M. Flagler stayed at the hotel while building the nearby Royal Poinciana, the world's largest wooden hotel structure, and extending his railway into West Palm Beach in 1894.

O’Sullivan, Maureen and  Shpritz, Dianna. Palm Beach: Then and Now. West Palm Beach: Lickle Publishing, 2004.

Tags: Palm Beach Centennial, Florida history, Palm Beach County, Palm Beach history, Florida in the early 1900s

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