One of the wealthiest towns in Florida, Palm Beach has become synonymous with comfortable living, exceptionally pleasant weather, and unparalleled recreational options. Given the area's inherent economic stability, invested capital, and highly professional population, its position as one of America's top retirement locations is sure to continue for decades to come.
Developed as a vacation destination at the beginning of the 20th Century by Henry Morrison Flagler, whose Florida East Coast Railway was largely responsible for developing the southern half of the state, Palm Beach benefited from being built around a core of luxury hotels that were operated by the railroad and that catered to the scions of 'Gilded Age' families and their attendants. Marketed as a place where the wealthiest of the wealthy could retreat from the harsh climate that rules northern cities during the winter, Palm Beach soon became famous for the great houses these captains of industry and their descendants would erect and, eventually, retire to.
Though many of these estates, like the exclusive hotels and clubs that initially drew society's elites to the area, were inspired by the Beaux-Arts movement, other styles that continue to be popular among Floridians, including Mediterranean Revival, Italianate, and Art Deco, began to appear during the succeeding decades. Fortunately, however, the town has always had a strict building code and no single estate, even those designed by the noted architect Marion Sims Wyeth, completely dominates the landscape of another. Indeed, as the town was founded upon Florida's easternmost barrier island, all of its residents have easy access to the Atlantic ocean as well as the Lake Worth Lagoon.
Palm Beach is not, however, simply a place for individuals to hide away, as it has a noted social and cultural scene. As early as the 1930s, even, society ladies were planning public areas like the noted Four Arts Gardens, a combined sculpture and botanical garden that, today, has various themed enclaves, and the Society of the Four Arts, which currently operates several botanical gardens, libraries, and the Esther B. O'Keeffe Art Gallery and Mary Alice Fortin Children's Art Gallery. Palm Beach is also home to Mar-A-Lago, a Wyeth designed mansion that became a National Historic Landmark in 1980, and the Breakers Hotel, which was designed by the firm of Schultze and Weaver and features frescoes by the noted Cooper Union artist Alexander Bonanno.