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Palm Beach Mall Opened In 1967

Forty years ago this week, on Oct. 26, 1967, then-Gov. Claude Kirk officiated at the opening of the $20 million Palm Beach Mall.
It wasn’t the county’s first mall. That distinction goes to Palm Coast Plaza, which opened in 1959 at the West Palm Beach-Lake Worth line and is still there as Shops of Palm Coast.
In the mid-1950s, West Palm Beach was a mile wide. The West Palm Beach Water Co., owned by Flagler interests, controlled the water supply, and the sewer system was primitive; raw waste flowed into the Intracoastal Waterway.
A polio outbreak spurred the city to action. In 1955, it bought the water company and nearly 27 square miles of land west of the city limits. Most of that became the water catchment area.
In 1957, the city sold off the remaining 5,500 acres for $4.35 million to five investors, including developer Louis R. Perini Sr., who owned the Milwaukee Braves at the time. The development eventually accounted for a third of the city’s area. Interstate 95 cut through, then came the city auditorium and stadium, the Forum offices, the Land of the Presidents golf course, the Villages of Palm Beach Lakes and other developments, including the 87-store Palm Beach Mall.
The new shopping destinations, and America’s growing suburbanization, took their toll on West Palm Beach’s historic downtown shopping area. The final blow came in 1979 when Burdines, a fixture for four decades, fled to the mall.
Now, the county has eight major malls: Palm Beach (1967); Town Center (1980) and Mizner Park (1990) in Boca Raton; Boynton Beach (1985); The Gardens (1988) and Downtown at the Gardens (2005) in Palm Beach Gardens; CityPlace (2000) in West Palm Beach; and the Mall at Wellington Green (2001).

Posted in Eliot Kleinberg October 24, 2007 at 1:14 pm.

6 comments

6 Replies

  1. george copeland Nov 18th 2009

    How about “Legacy Place” in PBG? It’s bigger than “Downtown at the Gardens.

  2. george copeland Nov 18th 2009

    Please add “Lake Park Historical Society” to your list of Historical Organizations

  3. I believe that Legacy Place had just recently opened and wasn’t fully up and running when this column was written, in October 2007. But now, yes, it is one of the major shopping centers in Palm Beach County.

  4. Does the Lake Park Historical Society have a web site? I didn’t find one when I searched the name in Google. If it does have a web sitee, I’d be happy to add it to the list of organizations on historicpalmbeach.com. The list of historical organizations includes links to the organizations’ web sites. Thank you.

    Michelle Quigley
    historicalpalmbeach.com

  5. Please add Lantana Historical Society to your Historical list. est: in 2003

  6. Palm Beach Post Staff Researchers Jan 15th 2011

    I added a link to the Lantana Historical Society to our list. Thanks for the link!

    We’re working on a blog post about the old Ye Tower Restaurant in Lantana. It’ll be posted next week.

    Michelle Quigley
    News Researcher
    The Palm Beach Post | HistoricPalmBeach.com


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