area now encompassed by the City of West Palm Beach was first
homesteaded in 1873 and was a sleepy frontier outpost during
its first two decades of existence.
April 2, 1895, Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway
began regular rail service to West Palm Beach and the city entered
its first period of substantial growth.
1885 photograph shows early pioneers standing on what
is believed to be the site of present-day West Palm Beach.
economic activity was centered around tourists drawn to the
area’s lovely beaches and climate, particularly those
visiting the Royal Poinciana and Breakers hotels on the island
of Palm Beach. Over the next decades the city experienced cyclical
land booms and busts which had the cumulative effective of increasing
the city’s population and the demand for single family
homes. By 1920, the city boasted 8,669 residents and total property
value of $12.6 million in 1920 dollars.
Street, downtown West Palm Beach.
Grandview Heights neighborhood was established in 1910 and is
first residents were ministers, downtown shopkeepers and the
craftsmen who built the luxury hotels of Palm Beach. Most historic
homes in the neighborhood were completed by 1925.
1929, total property values in the city reached $89 million,
despite the fact that South Florida experienced major hurricanes
in 1926 and 1928. By 1930 however, West Palm Beach was in the
throes of a land bust in which the speculative buyers who had
driven land prices upward abandoned the market and were often
cycle of growth and contraction would be a continuing motif
in the development of the Grandview Heights neighborhood.
the 1980s, the neighborhood was a textbook case of urban decline,
with high crime rates and few property owners interested in
maintaining or restoring their historic homes. Rampant drug
dealing and prostitution made the neighborhood unsafe and unattractive.
In 1989, the City of West Palm Beach acquired approximately
half of the properties in the neighborhood and demolished the
homes to make way for a planned downtown redevelopment project.
years later the city’s project was finally completed;
today the buildings that were made possible by the city’s
eminent domain action have become significant community institutions:
the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, CityPlace and the
Palm Beach County Convention Center.
1990s also saw a resurgence of interest in urban living –
a trend noticeable in many cities around the country but especially
critical in coastal Florida municipalities, which had experienced
major depopulation in connection with the rise of suburban developments.
Historic marker located at Palm Street entrance to Grandview
Grandview Heights is a fine example of community revitalization,
with a diverse group of dedicated homeowners who are active
community participants. The neighborhood works closely with
the City of West Palm Beach, the police department, the parks
department and many other nonprofit organizations to continue
improving the quality of life for Grandview residents.