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How much do you know about where you live? This story is part of a series that delves into quirky stories and fun facts about cities in Palm Beach County.
Royal Palm Beach was once a hunting ground for the Florida Seminoles. In the course of time it became the dream fabric of house builders. Today it is one of Palm Beach County’s most diverse communities, home to 39,000 people.
Here are seven things you might not know about Royal Palm Beach.
1. From the Seminoles to the speculators in the suburbs
It was the Seminoles who first claimed land in what is now Royal Palm Beach in the 19th century.
The Creek Indian tribe, originally from Georgia and Alabama, moved south for years to avoid conflict over Indian territory and jurisdiction by white settlers. Seminoles, meaning “runaways,” moved further south with each war, eventually making their way to South Florida and onto the lawns near Okeechobee and Royal Palm Beach boulevards.
Several communities still bear the traces of the tribe. Royal Palm Beach has no monuments, but Seminole Palms Park, Seminole Drive near the Village Golf Club and Seminole Lakes, a gated community on Lamstein Lane that bears the tribe’s name.
On June 18, 1959, the land that was previously a Seminole hunting ground was renamed the Village of Royal Palm Beach by. incorporatedan act of the Florida legislature. At a groundbreaking ceremony attended by Seminole Indians, Chief Billy Bowlegs III rejected any authority his tribe might have had in the country.
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2. What makes Royal Palm Beach so royal? Note: facing east
According to reports, Royal Palm Beach takes its name from the dozen of royal palm developers that have been planted along the boulevard that runs through the entire village.
But former employees believe Miami developer Arthur Desser, the founder of Lefcourt Realty Corp. and the man who designed the village’s first homes was inspired by the marketability of the city’s name, Palm Beach.
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In the 1950s, Desser bought 3,750 acres that would become the heart of the village from Pennsylvania supermarket mogul Samuel N. Friedland. According to the Historical Society of Palm Beach County, Lefcourt declared bankruptcy in 1961 and Desser resigned before the village was fully developed.
3. The pastures that emerged from the wetland
Although Friedland did not name the village, the Philadelphia supermarket tycoon – he founded the Food Fair / Pantry Pride chain that spanned the east coast from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Miami-Dade County – is responsible for the design of the village a neighboring community to what it is today.
His multi-million dollar purchase of 56,000 acres of wetland in the 1950s included The Acreage, an unincorporated parish north of Royal Palm Beach.
It wasn’t until he took over for Desser and founded Royal Palm Beach Colony Inc., a development company, that the village began to flourish, according to historical society.
The remaining 52,000 acres were developed as The Acreage. According to the historical society, Friedland was selling each for about $ 5,000 to $ 95 and $ 25 a month.
By the 1980s, the village had Royal Palm Beach Boulevard stretching north from Southern Boulevard, cobbled streets, single-family homes, a lake, and a golf course, making it one of the fastest growing communities of its size in the country.
Many of the single-family houses were built as part of the first phase of village development, the so-called “colony”. These neighborhoods with streets with flower names still exist today.
Royal Palm Beach Colony Inc.’s development efforts have helped create other neighborhoods such as The Willows and LaMancha near Southern and Royal Palm Beach Boulevards. The village now has nearly 40,000 residents, many of whom live in some of the original houses from the early 1970s.
4. Who needs New York? Royal Palm has its own central park
Just as Central Park is Manhattan’s outdoor sanctuary, Common Park is part of Royal Palm Beach.
The 167-acre park, which made its debut in 2013, is a collection of playgrounds, waterways, pavilions, a great lawn, a three-story communal area, and more. After one golf course was down, the course was remodeled, but residents can still practice their swing at the park’s golf training center.
Commons Park has served several purposes that benefit the villagers since it opened. Every Wednesday, it serves as the food distribution point for over 600 households in partnership with Feeding South Florida. The park has also served the community as a test site since the COVID-19 outbreak.
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And last summer it was a cultural hub as the Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival brought “Twelfth Night” to the park as part of a “Shakespeare in the Palms” program.
According to Mayor Fred Pinto, the village has more parks per capita than any other parish in the county that is set at 10 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents.
5. Looking for a diverse community? look here
Over the past decade, Royal Palm Beach has seen an increase in diversity and is now more diverse than West Palm Beach, a city with a population three times the size.
According to the 2020 census, Royal Palm Beach has a total population of 38,932, an increase of 4,792 – or 14 percent – from 2010. Its diversity index – the likelihood of two randomly selected people belonging to a different race or ethnic group – increased to 80, compared to 64 in 2010.
According to the 2020 census, non-white residents make up nearly 59 percent of the population, a total of 22,932 residents.
- The Hispanic population rose to 10,502 in 2020, up from 6,950 in 2010.
- Its black population is 8,855, up from 7,738.
- The number of people from two or more races totaled 6,598, up from 1,109 in 2010.
2020 census:Hispanics are increasingly calling this Palm Beach County bedroom community home
6. It’s time to celebrate The Wildcat Way
In 1983, Crestwood Middle School on Sparrow Drive opened its doors as the first public school in the village and gave new meaning to the first day of school for many students. HL Johnson and Cypress Trail elementary schools opened over the next four years.
It wasn’t until 1997 that classes began for 1,100 students at Royal Palm Beach High Schoolon Okeechobee Boulevard, the only public high school in the village.
Now students and staff from the past and present have come together to celebrate the school’s 25th anniversary “the wild way”.
Jesus Armas, who has been the school’s director since 2010 and named Director of the Year 2020 by the Palm Beach County School District, announced that he will be joining John I Leonard High School as the new director.
At a council meeting in July, he announced plans for a year-long celebration to celebrate the school’s quarter century.
The first two events to kick off the celebrations will take place this weekend:
Today: Homecoming football game, from 6:30 p.m.
Saturday: Alumni kickball tournament. Check-in starts at 10 a.m.
22nd of January: Alumni family field day
February 26th: Alumni 3-on-3 basketball tournament
March 12th: Royal Palm Beach High School banquet
For updates on the latest celebration plans or to get back in touch with former classmates, you can join the school’s 25th anniversary Facebook page, which currently has over 2,500 members.
7. Royal Palm Beach is, as its name suggests, a parish in Tree City USA
Since 1990, Royal Palm Beach has been recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a Tree City USA community for its commitment to urban forest management.
The trees lining the village’s boulevards and in its parks make it one of the country’s 3,600 Tree City parishes.
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To qualify as a tree city, the community must meet these four requirements set by the National Arbor Day Foundation and the National Association of State Foresters:
- A tree board or a department.
- A tree care regulation.
- An annual community forestry budget of at least $ 2 per capita.
- An observation and proclamation for Arbor Day.