The region that is today’s Palm Beach was previously known as ‘Lake Worth’, named after Major General William Jenkins Worth, a fighter in the 2nd Seminole War. The first permanent pioneers arrived in the region in 1872, and they seemingly had a hard time in clearing land for their houses and in making room for their crops. According to their accounts of the area, Palm Beach derived its name from ‘Providencia’, a serious shipwreck. Apparently, in January 1878, the ship, carrying tons of coconuts, en-route to Barcelona from Havana, got washed ashore. The settlers wasted no time in claiming salvage the coconuts. These coconuts were native to South Florida, and the settlers planted them with the aim of establishing a thriving coconut industry.
By the 1880s, word of the region’s beauty had seriously spread, and shortly afterwards, the ‘Coconut Grove House’, the first hotel in the area, was launched. As Palm Beach ushered in the 1890s, the island community was quite well established, featuring signature hotels, thriving businesses and several winter residents. In 1894, the pioneer era came to an end, with the arrival of the Florida East Coast Railroad and the opening of the grand Royal Poinciana Hotel (a Henry M. Flagler’s owned establishment) in 1896. The railroad system cut across Lake Worth, making it possible for passengers to get directly delivered to Flagler’s hotel systems.
In April 1911, Palm Beach got incorporated. By then, women were not allowed to vote; 35 men converges at the Palm Beach Hotel, voting to incorporate the only 2nd recognized municipality. It was on that night that the first city officials, including Elisha N. Dimick, the mayor, Joseph Borman, the town clerk, and William Fremd, J. B. Donnelly, Enoch Root, John W. Doe, and J. J. Ryman, the councilmen, got elected.
After a century of steady evolution, Palm Beach is today a thriving community, globally-recognized for its sheer beauty, high quality life and small-city character. Palm Beach is home to the world-renowned Worth Avenue and the ‘Captains Industry’. The city is home to approximately 9,000 permanent residents and nearly 20,000 more own seasonal homes here for enjoyment during the harsh winter months. Combined, these residents contribute the hugest chunk of per capita money to charities as compared to any other American community. The city is governed by a mayor and 5 council members, all who are elected by the residents.