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Palm Beach, Florida
Town of Palm Beach
Palm Beach proper in 2011
Palm Beach proper in 2011
Flag of Palm Beach, Florida
Flag
Official seal of Palm Beach, Florida
Seal
Nickname(s): 
"The Island"
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Coordinates: 26°42′54″N 80°02′22″W / 26.715°N 80.039444°W / 26.715; -80.039444Coordinates: 26°42′54″N 80°02′22″W / 26.715°N 80.039444°W / 26.715; -80.039444
Country  United States
State  Florida
County Palm Beach
Settled (Lake Worth Settlement) c. 1872
Settled (Palm Beach Settlement) January 9, 1878
Incorporated (Town of Palm Beach) April 17, 1911
Government
 • Type Council-Manager
Area
 • Total 7.80 sq mi (20.21 km2)
 • Land 3.80 sq mi (9.84 km2)
 • Water 4.00 sq mi (10.37 km2)
Elevation
7 ft (2 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 9,245
 • Density 2,432.25/sq mi (939.09/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP Code
33480
Area code(s) 561
FIPS code 12-54025
GNIS feature ID 0288390

Palm Beach is an incorporated town in Palm Beach County, Florida, United States. Located on an island in east-central Palm Beach County, the town is separated from several nearby cities including West Palm Beach and Lake Worth Beach by the Intracoastal Waterway to its west, though Palm Beach borders a small section of the latter and South Palm Beach at its southern boundaries. As of 2010 census, Palm Beach had a year-round population of 8,348 and an estimated population of 8,816 in 2019, increasing by around 25,000 people between November and April.

The Jaega arrived on the modern-day island of Palm Beach approximately 3,000 years ago. Later, white settlers reached the area as early as 1872, and opened a post office about five years later. Elisha Newton "Cap" Dimick, later the town's first mayor, established Palm Beach's first hotel, the Cocoanut Grove House, in 1880, but Standard Oil tycoon Henry Flagler became instrumental in transforming the island of jungles and swamps into a winter resort for the wealthy. Flagler and his workers constructed the Royal Poinciana Hotel in 1894, The Breakers in 1896, and Whitehall in 1902; extended the Florida East Coast Railway southward to the area by 1894; and developed a separate city to house hotel workers, which later became West Palm Beach. The town of Palm Beach incorporated on April 17, 1911. Addison Mizner also contributed significantly to the town's history, designing 67 structures between 1919 and 1924, including El Mirasol, the Everglades Club, La Querida, the William Gray Warden House, and Via Mizner, which is a section of Worth Avenue.

Forbes reported in 2017 that Palm Beach had at least 30 billionaires, with the town ranking as the 27th-wealthiest place in the United States in 2016 according to Bloomberg News. Many famous and wealthy individuals have resided in the town, including United States presidents John F. Kennedy and Donald Trump. Palm Beach is known for upscale shopping districts, such as Worth Avenue, Royal Poinciana Plaza, and the Royal Poinciana Way Historic District.

History

Prior to Flagler, Palm Beach was sparsely populated, and was a part of Lake Worth.

Palm Beach was established as a resort by Henry Morrison Flagler, who made the Atlantic coast barrier island accessible via his Florida East Coast Railway. The nucleus of the community was established by Flagler's two luxury resort hotels, the Royal Poinciana Hotel and The Breakers Hotel. West Palm Beach was built across Lake Worth as a service town and has become a major city in its own right.

Flagler's house lots were bought by the beneficiaries of the Gilded Age, and in 1902 Flagler himself built a Beaux-Arts mansion, Whitehall, designed by the New York–based firm Carrère and Hastings and helped establish the Palm Beach winter "season" by constantly entertaining. The town was incorporated on 17 April 1911.

An area known as the Styx housed many of the servants, most of whom were black. The workers rented their small houses from the landowners. In the early 1900s the landowners agreed to evict all of the residents of the Styx (who moved to West Palm Beach, Florida) and Edward R. Bradley bought up much of this land. The houses were razed, according to the Palm Beach Daily News.

The name Palm Beach

The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is not native to Florida (nor anywhere else in the United States). Its presence in Palm Beach is due to the shipwreck of the Spanish ship Providencia in 1878, near Mar-a-Lago. It was traveling from Havana to Cádiz, Spain with a cargo of coconuts. Since the shipwreck was near the shore, the coconuts were salvaged, and many were planted. A lush grove of palm trees soon grew on what was later named Palm Beach.

Geography

Palm Beach is the easternmost town in Florida, located on a 16-mile (26 km) long barrier island.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 10.4 square miles (27 square kilometres). 3.9 square miles (10 square kilometres) of it is land and 6.5 square miles (17 square kilometres) of it is water. The total area is 62.45% water.

Climate

Palm Beach has a tropical rainforest climate. This is a Köppen climate classification of "Af" where it is tropical and there is no dry season.

It is wetter in the summer, from May to October, when convective thunderstorms and tropical downpours are common, and weak tropical lows pass nearby. Average high temperatures in Palm Beach are 86 to 90 °F (30 to 32 °C) with lows of 70 to 75 °F (21 to 24 °C). During this period, more than half of the summer days bring occasional afternoon thunderstorms and seabreezes that somewhat cool the rest of the day.

The winter brings drier, sunnier, and much less humid weather. Average high temperatures of 75 to 82 °F (24 to 28 °C) and lows of 57 to 66 °F (14 to 19 °C). Although most winter days have highs in the 75 F range in Palm Beach, occasional cold fronts during this period can result in a few days of cooler weather with high temperatures in the upper 50s and 60s (10 to 20 °C) and lows of 40s and 50s (5 to 15 °C) while at other times high temperatures occasionally reach the middle 80s F.

The annual average precipitation is 61 in (1,500 mm), most of which occurs during the summer season from May through October. However, rainfall can occur in any month, primarily as short-lived heavy afternoon thunderstorms. Palm Beach reports more than 2900 hrs of sunshine annually. Although rare, tropical cyclones can impact Palm Beach, with the last direct hit in 1928.

Climate data for Palm Beach
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 89
(31.7)
90
(32.2)
94
(34.4)
99
(37.2)
96
(35.6)
98
(36.7)
101
(38.3)
98
(36.7)
97
(36.1)
95
(35)
91
(32.8)
90
(32.2)
101
(-17.8)
Average high °F (°C) 75.1
(23.94)
76.3
(24.61)
79.2
(26.22)
82.1
(27.83)
85.9
(29.94)
88.5
(31.39)
90.1
(32.28)
90.1
(32.28)
88.7
(31.5)
85.0
(29.44)
80.4
(26.89)
76.4
(24.67)
83.15
(28.417)
Average low °F (°C) 57.3
(14.06)
58.2
(14.56)
61.9
(16.61)
65.4
(18.56)
70.5
(21.39)
73.8
(23.22)
75.0
(23.89)
75.4
(24.11)
74.7
(23.72)
71.2
(21.78)
65.8
(18.78)
60.1
(15.61)
67.44
(19.69)
Record low °F (°C) 27
(-2.8)
32
(0)
30
(-1.1)
43
(6.1)
51
(10.6)
61
(16.1)
66
(18.9)
65
(18.3)
66
(18.9)
46
(7.8)
36
(2.2)
28
(-2.2)
27
(-17.8)
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.75
(95.3)
2.55
(64.8)
3.68
(93.5)
3.57
(90.7)
5.39
(136.9)
7.58
(192.5)
5.97
(151.6)
6.65
(168.9)
8.10
(205.7)
5.46
(138.7)
5.55
(141)
3.14
(79.8)
61.39
(1,559.3)
Source: National Weather Service

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1920 1,135
1930 1,707 50.4%
1940 3,747 119.5%
1950 3,886 3.7%
1960 6,055 55.8%
1970 9,086 50.1%
1980 9,729 7.1%
1990 9,814 0.9%
2000 10,468 6.7%
2010 8,348 −20.3%
2020 9,245 10.7%
U.S. Decennial Census

Palm Beach ranks as the 16th-largest municipality in Palm Beach County in terms of population, with 8,816 permanent residents according to 2019 estimates by the United States Census Bureau. The town's population peaked at 10,468 people in the 2000 census but fell by 20.3% to 8,348 people in 2010. However, during the "winter season", defined as November through April, the population of Palm Beach swells to around 25,000. The town's affluence and its recreational facilities, shops, restaurants, social scene, and "community-oriented sensibility" were cited when it was selected in June 2003 as America's "Best Place to Live" by Robb Report magazine.

Between 2014 and 2018, the median household income in Palm Beach was $133,026, more than twice the county mean of $59,943 and the state average of $53,267. Per capita income over the same time period in Palm Beach was $178,568, far higher than the county average of $37,998 and the state average of $30,197. Palm Beach ranked as the 27th-wealthiest place in the United States in 2016 according to Bloomberg News. In the following year, Forbes reported the town had 30-plus billionaires. Palm Beach also has a considerably smaller percentage of minority populations in comparison to the county and state averages. Estimates in 2018 by the American Community Survey indicated 92.9% of the town's population was non-Hispanic white, versus 54.1% for Palm Beach County and 53.5% for Florida.

2010 census

As of the 2010 census, 8,348 people, 4,799 households, and 2,453 families were residing in the town. The population density was 1,997.6 inhabitants per square mile (771.3/km2). The 9,091 housing units averaged 2,164.5 inhabitants per square mile (835.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 97.4% White, 0.6% African American, less than 0.1% Native American, 1.0% Asian, less than 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.5% from other races, and 0.5% from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 3.9% of the population.

In the town, the age distribution was 55.8% at 65 or older, 6.9% was under 18, 4.9% from 18 to 24, 4.6% from 25 to 44, and 27.8% from 45 to 64; the median age was 67.4 years. For every 100 males, there were 123 females. For every 100 males age 18 and over, there were 125.8 females. Around 9.4% of the households in 2010 had children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.2% were married couples living together, 2.7% had a female householder with no spouse present, and 47.8% were not families. About 48.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 65.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.74, and the average family size was 2.28.

Transportation

Worth Avenue Vicinity by Volkan Yuksel 2012-04-14 DSC09553
Worth Avenue

The city is served by Palm Beach International Airport and Amtrak, as well as Tri-Rail—all located in West Palm Beach and connecting Palm Beach to Miami. Public transportation is available through Palm Tran, and connects with the rest of the county.

The northern portion of Palm Beach is served by the Route 41 bus which travels from the northernmost portion of Palm Beach at the inlet and then down to Royal Palm Way, across the Royal Park Bridge (State Road 704) into West Palm Beach and up to the government center, and then follows the same route in reverse.

Private vehicles and taxis are the predominant means of transport in Palm Beach. Bicycles are a popular transport on the island, although most areas have no bicycle trails, so safe and comfortable travel is not always assured. The Lake Trail, exclusively for pedestrian and bike traffic, extends from Royal Palm Way (State Road 704) in the south up to the north end of the island. The trail follows the edge of the Lake Worth Lagoon (part of the intercoastal waterway) except for a section between the Flagler Museum and the Biltmore Condominiums, where the trail follows the streets. Another break occurs to pass around the Sailfish Yacht Club in the north end of the island. The Lake Trail is filled daily with bikers, rollerbladers, runners, and dog-walkers.

Traveling by bike along the ocean can be hazardous. Only a short section in the downtown area has sidewalks. The roads along the ocean are narrow and have small or no shoulders, making biking a potentially dangerous activity in those areas.

In the southern end of the island, south of Sloan's Curve, through South Palm Beach to East Ocean Avenue (linking to Lantana) is a two-mile long, relatively wide pedestrian path that is popular with walkers, runners, and bikers alike.

Points of interest

Night view from Palm Beach Florida by Volkan Yuksel DSC09837
Night view of the Big Kapok tree near Flagler Museum

Economy

Worth Avenue by Volkan Yuksel 2012-06-17 DSC02060
Worth Avenue

In 2018, the town of Palm Beach had an estimated labor force of 2,788 people. Palm Beach had an unemployment rate of just 2.3%, although 66% of the town's population was not in the labor force. The most common professions among the town's labor force are finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing (24.1%); professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste management services (23.6%); retail (12.2%); and educational services, health care, and social assistance (10.5%). However, as of 2017, only 4.1% of jobs in Palm Beach were held by residents of the town, with the most common other home destinations being West Palm Beach (15.4%), Palm Beach Gardens (3.9%), Lake Worth Beach (3.7%), Wellington (3.3%), and Greenacres (3.1%).

Tourism is a major industry in the town, bringing in around $5 billion in annual revenue. Palm Beach has several historical and luxurious hotels and lodgings, most notably The Brazilian Court, The Breakers, the Palm Beach Hotel (now the Palm Beach Hotel Condominium), the Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa, and the Vineta Hotel. The Breakers alone employs more than 2,200 people from around the world. The town of Palm Beach also contains Worth Avenue, an upscale shopping and dining district. Known for selling high-quality merchandise since the 1920s, Worth Avenue includes about 250 high-end shops, boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries. Other commercial districts of note include Royal Poinciana Plaza and Royal Poinciana Way Historic District, with the latter being listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015 due to its status as "the town's original Main Street", as noted by the Palm Beach Daily News.

Education

The School District of Palm Beach County operates one school in the town, Palm Beach Public Elementary School, on Cocoanut Row between Seaview Avenue and Royal Palm Beach and directly east of the Society of the Four Arts. Opened in 1929, Palm Beach Public Elementary School has a school grade of A and an attendance of 362. Palm Beach Day Academy is a private school in the area. It was formed in 2006 from a merger between Palm Beach Day School and the Academy of the Palm Beaches. The school has one campus in Palm Beach and another in West Palm Beach. Most public middle school students attend Conniston Community Middle School in West Palm Beach, while students who live in the southern portions of the town attend Lake Worth Middle School. Public high school students in northern Palm Beach attend Palm Beach Gardens Community High School and students residing elsewhere in the town attend Forest Hill Community High School. Palm Beach is also near Dreyfoos School of the Arts, though that school has no attendance boundaries.

There are no colleges or universities in Palm Beach. However, the nearby cities of Lake Worth Beach and West Palm Beach have a few public and private higher education institutes, including Keiser University, Palm Beach Atlantic University, and Palm Beach State College.

Infrastructure

Transportation

Town of Palm Beach - lake bikeway
Lake Trail along the Intracoastal Waterway

Three bridges traverse the Intracoastal Waterway, linking Palm Beach and West Palm Beach by roadway. The northernmost bridge, the Flagler Memorial Bridge, is along State Road A1A, which is locally known as Royal Poinciana Way in Palm Beach and Quadrille Boulevard in West Palm Beach. First opening in 1938, the bridge underwent a 5-year reconstruction and renovation between 2012 and 2017 at a cost of $106 million. State Road 704, also known as Royal Palm Way in Palm Beach and Lakeview Avenue and Okeechobee Boulevard in West Palm Beach is the location of the middle bridge. Named the Royal Park Bridge, it first opened in 1911 and was most recently replaced in 2005. The Southern Boulevard Bridge at the conjunction of U.S. Route 98 and State Road 80 (locally known as Southern Boulevard) is the southernmost bridge. First completed in 1950, the bridge is undergoing a $93 million replacement project, scheduled for completion in the fall of 2021.

State Road A1A also runs northward through much of Palm Beach, beginning at the southern limits of the town as South Ocean Boulevard until being redirected onto South County Road, which later becomes North County Road. At Royal Poinciana Way, A1A turns westward onto that road and across the Flagler Memorial Bridge. State Roads 80 and 704 and U.S. Route 98 all terminate shortly after entering the town after intersecting with A1A. The town has no interstate highways, though Interstate 95 passes through the nearby city of West Palm Beach. Private vehicles and taxis are the predominant means of transport in Palm Beach. Incidents of profiling of lower-cost cars and minorities have occurred, sometimes resulting in tense relations between visitors and the town.

The nearby city of West Palm Beach has two train stations. Tri-Rail and Amtrak serve the Tamarind Avenue station, while the higher speed Brightline serves the Evernia Street station. Palm Beach is about 4.5 miles (7.2 km) east of the Palm Beach International Airport. The northern and central portions of Palm Beach are served by Palm Tran Route 41, which travels to places in the town such as the Lake Worth Inlet, North County Road and Wells Road, Publix (Bradley Place and Sunrise Avenue), Royal Palm Way (State Road 704) and South County Road (State Road A1A), and various points between. The route returns to the Intermodal Transit Center in West Palm Beach, which connects to several other bus routes and is adjacent to the train station on Tamarind Avenue.

Police

The town has its own police department, established on October 17, 1922. Prior to then, town marshal Joseph Borman served in the capacity of chief law enforcer as outlined in the 1911 charter. The department employed 61 officers in 2018. With a population of 8,295 people in 2018 according to the Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research, this translated to 7.35 officers per 1,000 people, compared to the Florida average of 2.49 officers per 1,000 people. In the same year, the department made 2,039 arrests – equal to about 24,581 arrests per 100,000 people, the highest arrest rate in Florida and over sevenfold the state average.

Firefighting

In its early days, the town of Palm Beach depended heavily on the city of West Palm Beach for firefighting efforts. The Flagler Alerts, a volunteer firefighting group which later became the West Palm Beach Fire Department, responded to fires in Palm Beach by traversing the Intracoastal Waterway via ferry or railroad. Delayed response times and high insurance rates eventually led Palm Beach to establish its own fire-rescue department in December 1921. Today, the Palm Beach Fire Rescue has three stations, retains 82 employees – 75 full-time and 7 part-time, and annually responds to approximately 2,600 calls.

Utilities

Florida Power & Light (FPL) provides electricity to the town of Palm Beach, along with much of the state's east coast. As of December 31, 2019, FPL serves 5 million customers statewide, which is approximately 10 million people. Much of the electricity supplied by FPL is sourced from natural gas, followed by nuclear energy. The nearest FPL power plant is in Riviera Beach, while the closest nuclear power station is the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant, on Hutchinson Island. Palm Beach officials have considered undergrounding at least since commissioning a 2006 study on the burial of electrical lines. In the subsequent years, undergrounding projects were initially performed by neighborhood on a "as requested" basis. However, following a 2014 town council meeting with FPL workers and a related voter-approved ballot question in 2016, it was decided a town-wide undergrounding project would be undertaken at a cost of approximately $90 million. The project is ongoing as of March 2020.

The town government provides and oversees sewage systems and wastewater treatment. Sewage is collected via 41 miles (66 km) of mainline pipes at the more than 40 pumping stations, which are capable of transporting over 100,000 US gallons (380,000 l; 83,000 imp gal) of water each minute. The sewage is then pumped into a regional wastewater treatment facility in West Palm Beach. Tap water has been supplied by the city of West Palm Beach since 1955, when the city purchased Palm Beach's water system, then owned by the Flagler Water Company. West Palm Beach provided tap water services to the town at no cost until the beginning of 1995.

Recycling and garbage collection services are also provided by the town of Palm Beach. The former is taken to a transfer station, where the Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority transports the garbage to a landfill in West Palm Beach. Vegetative yard trash is taken to two different sites in West Palm Beach.

Notable people

MaralagoLoC
Mar-a-Lago, the residence of former president Donald Trump

The town of Palm Beach is also known for its many famous part-time and full-time residents. Prior to the arrival of Henry Flagler in the 1890s, a few wealthy or otherwise notable people already resided in Palm Beach, including businessman and Autocar Company founder Louis Semple Clarke and scientist Thomas Adams, a pioneer of the chewing gum industry. Earl E. T. Smith and Paul Ilyinsky, both of whom formerly held the office of Mayor of Palm Beach, were notable for other reasons. Smith previously served as an Ambassador of the United States to Cuba, while Ilyinsky was the son of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia and heiress Audrey Emery.

Two United States Presidents have been part-time residents, John F. Kennedy and Donald Trump, with both designating their respective Palm Beach properties as a Winter White House. Kennedy's Winter White House, La Querida, was built by Addison Mizner in 1923 and previously owned by department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker of Philadelphia before Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. purchased the property in 1933. Trump has owned Mar-a-Lago since 1985, purchasing the property from the family of the late Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress of Post cereal. In October 2019, Trump and first lady Melania Trump filed to switch their primary domicile from New York City to Mar-a-Lago, officially establishing residency in Palm Beach. Since the conclusion of his presidency in January 2021, Donald and Melania Trump are residing at Mar-a-Lago amidst a dispute from some neighbors about the legality of them taking up permanent residence at the club. Additionally, former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney has been a resident of Palm Beach at least since 2003.

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