West Palm Beach is historically recognized, among the large cities of South Florida, as the rival of Miami. If it lacks the international recognition, and flashy side of its competitor, the rich history and cultural diversity of West Palm Beach leaves nothing to envy from the star of Florida!
Founded by Henry Flagler, one of the region’s major real estate entrepreneurs, West Palm Beach was intended to house the workers involved in erecting the luxury hotels in Palm Beach, a resort area situated on the opposite side of Lake Worth Lagoon. Flagler’s 1839 urban plan foresaw the island was intended for tourism and the mainland side. West Palm Beach was intended for trade and workers’ quarters. For that reason, the workers’ community was originally created to be a modest neighborhood, simply arranged, where many “pleasure houses” appeared. Driven by population growth, schools, churches and shops were grafted onto this city of vice, transforming it dramatically. From 1909, and more significantly in the 1920s, the city was energized and became an important economic and cultural hub. With investors such as IBM and Pratt & Whitney, West Palm Beach was quickly freed from its subordinate role to the luxurious Palm Beach. Enthroned in the middle of the city itself is the Trump Plaza, the symbol of economic development.
Today, West Palm Beach has 1.3 million residents, which include large Cuban, Haitian and African communities that enrich the urban landscape.
Every year, West Palm Beach hosts Florida’s largest waterfront music and art festival, the SunFest. Founded in 1982 as part of a non-profit project, this event attracts thousands of tourists every year. The Palm Beach International Film Festival brings movie lovers from around the world, with nearly 40,000 visitors at each event. The Norton Museum of Art presents unique exhibits that connect
American art with Austrian, Chinese, French, and German art. The Clematis by Night event features free concerts every Thursday. While CityPlace offers an atmosphere inspired by European town centers, where you will find boutiques, upscale bars, promenades adorned with palm trees, and attractions for youngsters. These are only a few of a wide range of examples that show how the city of vice was quickly transformed into a city of culture, growth, and get-togethers!
When to Go
Events We Love
SunFest is Florida’s largest waterfront music and art festival held annually in downtown West Palm Beach.
South Florida Fair occurs over a 17 day period, generally in the last two (2) weeks of January each year. The fair incorporates a theme as a means of stimulating tourism as well as the educational and cultural interest of the residents of Palm Beach County.
A great way to get around West Palm Beach is by car. The city is set up on a grid system, and is fairly easy to navigate. Enjoy driving along the State Road A1A which provides a scenic drive along the beach.
West Palm Beach Essentials
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