West Palm Beach, Florida has a population of 108,896. It is the county seat of Palm Beach County. It has experienced a 7.9% increase in population in the recent past. The town is one of three major cities in the South Florida area and is the oldest municipality in the metropolitan Miami area.
West Palm Beach was incorporated into a city in 1894. It sits 68 miles north of Downtown Miami. Because the area in between West Palm Beach and Miami are urbanized, it is considered to be its own principal city. The population of the Miami metro area includes all of Palm Beach County, however. That population is 6,012,331 at the 2015 census.
Situated on Florida’s Atlantic Ocean Coast, the city attracts many tourists each year. The waterways are some of the best in the world. Some tourists go to bask in the sun, enjoy the sandy beach or to take a swim in the warm, blue ocean. Others simply want to enjoy the exquisite shops, world-renowned art museum or the amazing, lively nightlife.
Downtown West Palm Beach has four entertainment and retail districts: Cityplace, Northwood Village, Antique Row and Clematis Street. In these areas, you can find vibrant nightclubs, boutiques, delicious dining and the best bars in the city.
The Palm Beach Outlets and the notorious Norton Museum of Art are attractions in West Palm Beach that are not to be missed. The downtown Kravis Center for the Performing Arts is quite popular.
The Palm Beach Zoo is another beloved attraction in the town as well. Over 550 animals are cared for there on 23 acres of habitat. Many are endangered species that find solace there.
Juan Ponce de Leon came to West Palm Beach in 1513 when he made contact with the native people. Originally, there were about 20,000 Native Americans in the area. By 1763, when the English took over the state of Florida, there were few left due to diseases, war and enslavement.
In the early 18th century, a variety of other native peoples moved to the area from places like Alabama and Georgia. The Seminoles were among those who came. They clashed with the settlers and several wars were fought because of the friction. They all but vanished by 1858.
In the late 1880’s, a couple of hundred settlers landed in the area. They called it “Lake Worth County” at that time. Among the group were two prominent business families, the Potters and the Lainharts. They became leaders in the business community.
A decade or so later, when the Florida East Coast railroad came through, some of the settlers rounded up $45,000 for the official town site that was eventually incorporated into the Town of West Palm Beach. It was the first municipality in South Florida.
The Florida Land Boom instigated the wide population growth in the 1920’s. During the course of seven years, the number of residents quadrupled. But, a hurricane did massive damage in 1828 and the Great Depression hit shortly after. Growth slowed down tremendously.
But, there was another boom to drive up the population in 1950. Many of the airmen and soldiers who served in the area during the war decided to make it home. When air conditioning was invented, shortly after that, even more were enticed to live in the warm to hot climate.
As with most metropolitan areas, West Palm Beach has its share of crime. The rate of criminal activities became a huge issue during the 70’s and 80’s where it impacted businesses and residents alike. Today the crime rate is 61 and the city continues to struggle with such things as drug activity, rapes and robberies. Measures are continually being put in place in an attempt to remedy the problem.
Historical areas in West Palm Beach include Northwood, El Cid and Flamingo Park. The Bel Air Historic District gives honor to the businessmen and women who helped develop the town in the 20’s and 30’s. The Ponce de Leon museum is a popular attraction too.
The Armory Art Center is a beloved part of the cultural division of the city. For three decades, visual arts lessons have been provided there to embrace the experience and creation of art. Classes are available for all ages and special events are frequent.
Construction is underway for a high speed rail service in West Palm Beach, All Aboard Florida. The transit service will connect Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and West Palm Beach.
There are nineteen incorporated cities within West Palm Beach’s urbanized area. Within them, both upscale, very expensive upper-class homes and rundown, poverty level housing can be found. West Palm Beach is a place where the rich and the poor can be found as well as average income citizens as well.
The average temperature of West Palm Beach is 65.7 degrees. The average high is 74.6 and the average low is 56.8. The average rainfall is 3.15 inches. Snow practically never falls in the area. The mild to moderate, warm weather is an attraction to the area, especially since air condition is now readily available.
Since 1871, there have been sixty-seven tropical storms or hurricanes that have hit the area or have come within sixty miles of it. Twenty-six hurricanes have greatly impacted the town. Perhaps the worst was the 1928 hurricane. In those times, hurricanes did not have names.
Despite the downfalls, like crime and hurricanes, the beaches and watersports, the shopping, the weather and the tropical beauty of West Palm Beach make it one of the most desirable tourism destinations and places to live in the nation.