Boca Raton in Florida

Friday, 2 August 2019 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Miami

Boca Raton is the southernmost city in Palm Beach County, Florida, first incorporated on August 2, 1924 as “Bocaratone,” and then incorporated as “Boca Raton” in 1925. The 2015 population estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau was 93,235. However, approximately 200,000 people with a Boca Raton postal address reside outside its municipal boundaries. Such areas include newer developments like West Boca Raton. As a business center, the city also experiences significant daytime population increases. It is one of the wealthiest communities in South Florida. Boca Raton is 43 miles (69 km) north of Miami and is a principal city of the Miami metropolitan area, which had a population of 6,012,331 people as of 2015.

Boca Raton is home to the main campus of Florida Atlantic University and the corporate headquarters of Office Depot, ADT, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Bluegreen Corporation, and the Gift of Life Marrow Registry. It is also home to the Evert Tennis Academy, owned by former professional tennis player Chris Evert. Town Center Mall, an upscale shopping center in Central Boca Raton, is the largest indoor mall in Palm Beach County. Another major attraction to the area is Boca Raton’s downtown, known as Mizner Park.

Many buildings in the area have a Mediterranean Revival or Spanish Colonial Revival architectural theme, initially inspired by Addison Mizner, a resort architect who heavily influenced the city’s early development. Still today, Boca Raton has a strict development code for the size and types of commercial buildings, building signs, and advertisements that may be erected within the city limits. No outdoor car dealerships are allowed in the municipality; further, Walmart is blocked from within the city proper. No billboards are permitted; the city’s only billboard was grandfathered in during annexation. The strict development code has led to several major thoroughfares without large signs or advertisements in the traveler’s view.

Boca Raton as a city was the creation of architect Addison Mizner. Prior to him, Boca Raton was an unincorporated farming town with a population of 100 in 1920. In 1925, Mizner announced his plan for “the foremost resort city on the North American continent,” “a new exclusive social capital in America.” After spending several years in Palm Beach, where, in his own words, he “did more than any one man to make the city beautiful,” and designed the Everglades Club among many other buildings, in Boca Raton his plan was to create from scratch “a resort as splendid in its entirety as Palm Beach is in spots.” Activity in that area began at least a year, and probably more, before Mizner’s announcement. Land acquisition, tens of thousands of acres, was the largest part. But it is hard not to see Mizner’s hand in the incorporation of Boca Raton in 1924; the city immediately appointed him Town Planner. The Mizner Development Company was incorporated in 1925, and promptly issued $5 million of stock, which was fully subscribed in less than a week. $500,000 was reserved for the “average Floridian”; the remainder was purchased by, as Addison called them, “noted personages”, all with a Palm Beach connection: Lytle Hall, Harold Vanderbilt, J. Leonard Repogle, the Duchess of Sutherland, Rodman Wanamaker, Paris Singer, Irving Berlin, Madame Frances Alda, W. C. Robinson, H. H. Rodgers, D. H. Conkling, A. T. Herd, Porte Quinn, William Kissam Vanderbilt II, Elizabeth Arden, Jesse Livermore, Clarence H. Geist, and T. Coleman du Pont as chairman. Addison’s brother Wilson also appears on the list of investors, but he had little to invest. Instead of the existing Palmetto Park Road, the main street in Mizner’s Boca was to be El Camino Real, 20 lanes wide, which Mizner fancifully translated as “The Royal Highway”, referring to Spain’s road network and to the road to Santa Fe and to the Spanish missions in California. (Spanish kings rarely or never travelled on these roads; “The Government Road” would be just as accurate.) It was originally to be circular, with a lagoon in the middle. Soon it became, in the plans, Boca Raton’s main east-west street, to be 220 feet (67 m) wide and with a canal for pleasure boats in the center. (In the drawing of it on the cover of Mizner Development’s first brochure is a Venetian gondola.) His statement that it was inspired by Botafogo, a neighborhood and beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is another of his many inventions of foreign “facts”. Mizner, who never went to Brazil nor knew Brazilians, simply made it up because the name “Botafogo” (“mouth of fire”) sounded impressive, as was the concept of imitating Rio de Janeiro. (The only street in Rio de Janeiro anything like the supposed picture, actually an artist’s conception, of “Botafogo” that Mizner included in his first catalogue, is the Canal do Mangue, which runs down the middle of two streets, but is nowhere near Botafogo, a more elegant name than Mangue “mangrove“.) Only 0.5 miles (0.8 km) of the road was built (although the street has subsequently been extended to the west at normal scale). According to drawings, the centerpiece of the street was to be a canal for pleasure boats; it was never built. All streets were to be at least 60 feet (18 m) wide. His first buildings in Boca Raton were his Administrative Buildings, on El Camino Real (in 2018 the Addison Restaurant), and a small hotel to house interested investors. Mizner designed Boca’s first town hall/police station/fire station/library, although the design actually built is much smaller and less expensive than what Mizner planned. Today (2018) it is the Boca Raton History Museum, which houses Boca’s Welcome Center and the Boca Raton Historical Society. The hotel was his Ritz-Carlton Cloister Inn, built in 1926, later renamed the Boca Raton Resort & Club, and is one of the only “5 star” hotels in Florida. The 1969 addition of its “pink tower” hotel building is visible from miles away as a towering monument on the Intracoastal Waterway. Because of the end of the Florida land boom of the 1920s and the 1926 Miami hurricane, the Mizner Development Corporation went into bankruptcy in 1927. Little of Mizner’s Boca Raton was ever built: his Administration Buildings, the Cloister Inn, 1/2 mile of El Camino Real, the small Dunagan Apartments (demolished), and a few small houses in what is now the Floresta neighborhood.

Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club © D Ramey Logan/cc-by-4.0 Palmetto Park Road and Mizner Boulevard intersection © Ianaré Sévi/cc-by-sa-3.0 Old Town Hall from 1927, today housing a museum © Ebyabe/cc-by-sa-3.0 Mizners Administrative Buildings © Dtobias/cc-by-sa-4.0 Irish pub Dubliner in Mizner Park © Infrogmation/cc-by-3.0 Mizner Park © Elfguy Mizner Park Mall © Infrogmation/cc-by-3.0 Lake Boca Raton © ReignMan/cc-by-3.0 Boca Raton Resort © D Ramey Logan/cc-by-sa-3.0 Boca Raton Inlet Bridge © Infrogmation/cc-by-2.5 Beach entrance © Sspencerblochh/cc-by-sa-4.0
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Palmetto Park Road and Mizner Boulevard intersection © Ianaré Sévi/cc-by-sa-3.0
In the 1980s, because of an explosion of development to the west of the historical center of the city, some eastern areas began to decay, including the downtown corridor. For instance, the old Boca Raton Mall, a shopping mall in the downtown area, was beginning to experience higher vacancy, and occupancy by marginal tenants, owing to the opening of Town Center at Boca Raton west of the city in 1980. In 1991, the new downtown outdoor shopping and dining center, Mizner Park, was completed over the site of the old Boca Raton Mall. It has since become a cultural center for southern Palm Beach County. Featuring a landscaped central park between the two main roads (collectively called Plaza Real) with stores only on the outside of the roads, Mizner Park resembles a Mediterranean suburban “town center” with a more contemporary look. It features many restaurants and is home to the Boca Raton Museum of Art, which moved to the new facility in 2001. In 2002, a new amphitheater was built, replacing a smaller one and providing a large-capacity outdoor venue where concerts and other performances are held. Mizner Park has significantly aided downtown revitalization. Many new eight- to ten-story mixed-use buildings have been constructed, are under construction, or are proposed for the downtown area. The surrounding areas to the downtown have benefited from the downtown redevelopment. The National Cartoon Museum built a 25,000-square-foot (2,300 m²) facility on the southwest edge of Mizner Park in 1996. Open for six years, the museum relocated to its original home in New York City in 2002. Building renovations for public uses, including the local public TV station, and private uses, such as a locally owned and operated bookstore, were completed in 2008. In addition to the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Association’s theater and space, the building is home to the Schmidt Family Foundation. As development continued to focus to the west of the city in the 1980s and 1990s, the mall area known as Town Center at Boca Raton became the geographic center of what is referred to as West Boca Raton, though this mall was not annexed into the city until 2004. This area, including the unincorporated area west of the city, is now almost entirely built out.

A majority of postal Boca Raton lies outside of the actual city limits. This large unincorporated area to the west of the city limits is included in the Boca Raton mailing address and local telephone calling area. There are many large planned developments in the area, including gated communities, and a number of golf courses. This is a result in the later start of development in these areas, and the availability of large tracts of land. Many of these communities are large enough to be designated as census-designated places, including Boca Del Mar and Boca Pointe, geographically in Central Boca Raton, with Avalon at Boca Raton, Boca Falls, Boca Lago, Boca Winds, Cimarron, Hamptons at Boca Raton, Mission Bay, Loggers’ Run, The Polo Club Boca Raton and polo club movers, Sandalfoot Cove, and Whisper Walk as West Boca Raton. On November 2, 2004, the voters of the Via Verde Association, Waterside, Deerhurst Association (Boca South), Marina Del Mar Association, Rio Del Mar Association (both originally Boca Del Mar communities), and Heatherwood of Boca Raton Condominium Association approved annexation into the Boca Raton city limits, increasing the city land area to 29.6 square miles (77 km²). Pearl City is a neighborhood in Boca Raton, immediately north of downtown. The neighborhood was originally platted on May 30, 1915 for the blue-collar African Americans employed at the Boca Raton Resort and similar establishments, on area farms, in construction, and various other jobs.

Town Center at Boca Raton is an upscale super-regional shopping center in Boca Raton that is the largest enclosed and conventional shopping mall within Palm Beach County, and the third largest by square feet in South Florida, behind Sawgrass Mills and Aventura Mall. In 1999, the Simon Property Group bought Town Center at Boca Raton and began building a new wing on its southeastern side. In late 2006, Simon began the construction stage of an outdoor lifestyle center near that wing which includes a variety of restaurants, bar/lounge (Blue Martini), and a gym (YouFit Health Clubs).

Boca Raton’s eastern coast has two miles of beaches, notably Red Reef Park and South Inlet Park. Red Reef Park has the Gumbo Limbo Environmental Complex, an environmental education center. Founded in 1984, Gumbo Limbo is a cooperative project of the City of Boca Raton, Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, Florida Atlantic University, and Friends of Gumbo Limbo. In addition to the sea tanks, butterfly garden and boardwalk trail through the hammocks complete with an observation tower, Gumbo Limbo also houses a research facility run by FAU where students study coral reefs, sea turtles, sharks, sea grass and other marine-related subjects. Sugar Sand Park is a municipal park in Boca Raton. It contains the Children’s Science Explorium. Another park is the Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park in West Boca Raton. The park contains several amenities, including the Osprey Point Golf Course, a dog park, the Sunset Cove Amphitheater, the Coconut Cove Waterpark, and the Daggerwing Nature Center. Spanish River Park is a family-friendly city park along the Intracoastal Waterway for picnicking, swimming & bird-watching.

Read more on Boca Raton, VisitFlorida.com – Boca Raton, ThePalmBeaches.com – Boca Raton, Boca Raton Resort & Club, Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club, Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce, Wikivoyage Boca Raton and Wikipedia Boca Raton (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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