West Palm Beach is a city in and the county seat of Palm Beach County, Florida, United States. It is located immediately to the west of the adjacent Palm Beach, which is situated on a barrier island across the Lake Worth Lagoon. The population was 99,919 at the 2010 census. West Palm Beach is a principal city of the Miami metropolitan area, which was home to an estimated 6,158,824 people in 2017.
It is the oldest incorporated municipality in the south Florida area, having been incorporated as a city two years before Miami in November 1894. West Palm Beach is located approximately 68 miles (109 km) north of Downtown Miami.
Long a place where people of vision have brought their dreams, built new enterprises, and achieved success, the City of West Palm Beach is a regional center of commerce offering an environment where dreams can still come true.
Born among affluence, West Palm Beach has always been, and still is, a place where men and women roll up their sleeves and get things done, yet without the hustle, hassle and hardship found elsewhere in South Florida.
Its government, business community and citizenry unite to build a positive, progressive business environment that is supportive and cooperative, which combined with its outstanding lifestyle and easy workability, creates Florida’s best metropolitan location where professional and personal lives both flourish, and where dreams still come true.
West Palm Beach is the county seat of Palm Beach County. It is one of the three main cities in South Florida.
The city is home to sunny palm-lined streets, breathtaking waterfront views, quaint shopping districts, historic and scenic neighborhoods, and exciting year-round outdoor festivals.
West Palm Beach has several world class shopping and entertainment districts including CityPlace, Clematis Street, Antique Row, Northwood Village and more.
When the sun sets on West Palm Beach, you can indulge the most epicurean of tastes by candlelight at one of the many lovely restaurants.
If you have an interest in the theater and the performing arts, the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts is the premier location to spend an evening. For museum enthusiasts, the Norton Museum of Art houses a world-renowned collection of European, American, Chinese and contemporary art.
For those looking to enjoy the outdoors, the city’s teeming waterfront offers walkways and fantastic views. On the city’s western edge, you can hike, bike, and get a view of the Florida Everglades up close at Grassy Waters Everglades Preserve.
Exquisite shops, fine dining, Broadway-quality shows, a world-renowned art museum and more — this is what awaits the fortunate visitor to West Palm Beach.
Located along Florida’s Atlantic Ocean coast, West Palm Beach offers visitors year-round excitement within easy reach of smooth-sand beaches and some of the nation’s most enticing waterways.
If you want to see some of the nation’s top musical entertainment, time your visit for SunFest – Florida’s largest waterfront music festival.
And downtown West Palm Beach is home to four retail and entertainment districts: Clematis Street, CityPlace, Northwood Village, and Antique Row. These vibrant pieces of West Palm Beach are lined with fashionable bars, nightclubs, boutiques and collectables.
At the Palm Beach Outlets, you’ll find high-end retail at low cost.
The Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach serves the city. The new city public library opened in April 2009 at 411 Clematis Street, replacing the 1962 building which stood at the intersection of Clematis and Flagler Drive, along the Intracoastal Waterfront. Named for a Mandel Foundation grant received in 2012, the Mandel Public Library provides books, performances, classes, research, entertainment, technology, music and more.
The Main Branch of the Palm Beach County Library System is also located in West Palm Beach, as well as the Okeechobee Branch Library.
Companies based in West Palm Beach include Affiliated Managers Group, Florida Public Utilities, ION Media Networks, Ocwen, and The Palm Beach Post. Other major employers are Pratt & Whitney, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Sikorsky Aircraft, General Dynamics, Cemex, and CSC.
West Palm Beach does not host any professional sports teams, but the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey Leagueplay at BB&T Center in Sunrise to the south. Major League Baseball‘s Miami Marlins, the National Football League‘s Miami Dolphins and the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association all play in nearby Miami-Dade County. In the past, West Palm Beach has hosted various professional teams such as arena football, minor-league ice hockey, baseball, and semi-professional football teams.
The area that was to become West Palm Beach was settled in the late 1870s and 1880s by a few hundred settlers who called the vicinity “Lake Worth Country.” These settlers were a diverse community from different parts of the United States and the world. They included founding families such as the Potters and the Lainharts, who would go on to become leading members of the business community in the fledgling city. The first white settlers in Palm Beach County lived around Lake Worth, which at the time was an enclosed freshwater lake, named after Colonel William Jenkins Worth, who had fought in the Second Seminole War in Florida in 1842. Most settlers engaged in the growing of tropical fruits and vegetables for shipment to the north via Lake Worth and the Indian River. By 1890, the U.S. Census counted over 200 people settled along Lake Worth in the vicinity of what would become West Palm Beach. The area at this time also boasted a hotel, the “Cocoanut House”, a church, and a post office. The city was platted by Henry Flagler as a community to house the servants working in the two grand hotels on the neighboring island of Palm Beach, across Lake Worth in 1893, coinciding with the arrival of the Florida East Coast railroad. Flagler paid two area settlers, Captain Porter and Louie Hillhouse, a combined sum of $45,000 for the original town’s site, stretching from Clear Lake to Lake Worth.
The city grew rapidly in the 1920s as part of the Florida land boom. The population of West Palm Beach quadrupled from 1920 to 1927, and all kinds of businesses and public services grew along with it. Many of the city’s landmark structures and preserved neighborhoods were constructed during this period. Originally, Flagler intended for his Florida East Coast Railway to have its terminus in West Palm, but after the area experienced a deep freeze, he chose to extend the railroad to Miami instead.
The land boom was already faltering when city was devastated by the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane. The Depression years of the 1930s were a quiet time for the area, which saw slight population growth and property values lower than during the 1920s. The city only recovered with the onset of World War II, which saw the construction of Palm Beach Air Force Base, which brought thousands of military personnel to the city. The base was vital to the allied war effort, as it provided an excellent training facility and had unparalleled access to North Africa for a North American city. Also during World War II, German U-Boats sank dozens of merchant ships and oil tankers just off the coast of West Palm Beach. Nearby Palm Beach was under blackout conditions to minimize night visibility to German U-boats.
The 1950s saw another boom in population, partly due to the return of many soldiers and airmen who had served in the vicinity during the war. Also, the advent of air conditioning encouraged growth, as year-round living in a tropical climate became more acceptable to northerners. West Palm Beach became one of the nation’s fastest-growing metropolitan areas during the 1950s; the city’s borders spread west of Military Trail and south to Lake Clarke Shores. However, many of the city’s residents still lived within a narrow six-block wide strip from the south to north end. The neighborhoods were strictly segregated between White and African-American populations, a legacy that the city still struggles with today. The primary shopping district remained downtown, centered around Clematis Street.
In the 1960s, Palm Beach County’s first enclosed shopping mall, the Palm Beach Mall, and an indoor arena were completed. These projects led to a brief revival for the city, but in the 1970s and 1980s crime continued to be a serious issue and suburban sprawl continued to drain resources and business away from the old downtown area. By the early 1990s there were very high vacancy rates downtown, and serious levels of urban blight.
Since the 1990s, developments such as CityPlace and the preservation and renovation of 1920s architecture in the nightlife hub of Clematis Street have seen a downtown resurgence in the entertainment and shopping district. The city has also placed emphasis on neighborhood development and revitalization, in historic districts such as Northwood, Flamingo Park, and El Cid. Some neighborhoods still struggle with blight and crime, as well as lowered property values caused by the Great Recession, which hit the region particularly hard. Since the recovery, multiple new developments have been completed. The Palm Beach Mall, located at the Interstate 95/Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard interchange became abandoned as downtown revitalized – the very mall that initiated the original abandonment of the downtown. The mall was then redeveloped into the Palm Beach Fashion Outlets in February 2014. The West Palm Beach station for Brightline, a high speed passenger rail service serving Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach, was opened in 2018.
First Down Funding is one of the top funders in West Palm Beach.