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West Palm Beach in 1907

Ken Brower of Brower Architectural Associates in Palm Beach sent us this 1907 map of Palm Beach and West Palm Beach published by Currie Investment Company.

Click on the map to view a larger version, or click here for an even larger version in a PDF file.

George Graham Currie, a native of Quebec, arrived in Florida penniless, became a lawyer, made and lost a fortune in real estate, and was West Palm Beach mayor from 1901 to 1902. He wrote at least 18 books of poems, musical lyrics and essays and aspired to be Florida’s poet laureate. Currie died in 1926, soon after the Delray Beach park named for him was was dedicated. Currie Park in West Palm Beach was dedicated in 1949. Currie’s son, longtime county judge Francis Angevine “Banzai” Currie, died in 1979.

Judge James Knott featured the 1907 map in the Brown Wrapper in 1981: “A legacy from Mr. Currie’s career as a major land developer is a 1907 map of the coastal area comprising the Palm Beaches and neighboring towns.”

Places featured on the map include a tea house and restaurant called the House Boat in Lake Worth near the inlet, described by Judge Knott as “not a boat, but a capacious structure set several feet above the water on concrete pilings.” The House Boat was destroyed by the 1928 hurricane. Coniff Hermitage, just above the inlet, “now almost vanished from human memory, was a picturesque shack inhabited (as its name suggests) by an old hermit.”

The map also lists “sights to be seen by horseback, bicycle, rail, automobile, launch, or canoe,” including Haley’s Island (“the smallest homestead in the United States”), the Loxahatchee River (“with its mangrove bordered shores and beautiful, sinuous arms”), Hobe Sound (“the theatrical company”), Stuart (“where ex-President Cleveland spends his winter”), the Boynton Hotel (“fine place for an ocean bath and a good meal”), Delray (“where the largest shipments of pines are made on the east coast”), and the castaway’s lonely grave in Boca Raton.

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Posted in Flashback blog April 25, 2012 at 6:00 am.

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This week in history: St. Lucie County formed

On March 14, 1844, before Florida was a state, the territorial legislature created St. Lucia County from the southern part of Mosquito County, stretching from Cape Canaveral to near Orlando, and diagonally south to near Pompano Beach. In 1855, when the county’s name changed to Brevard, the boundaries also changed, and the area now known as Palm Beach County became part of Dade County. A new St. Lucie County was carved out of Brevard County in 1905. Click here for a series of maps showing the evolution of Palm Beach County at Palm Beach County History Online, brought to you by the Historical Society of Palm Beach County.

St. Lucie County in 1850 (map courtesy of the Exploring Florida Maps collection at the University of South Florida Center for Instructional Technology)

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Posted in Flashback blog March 14, 2011 at 6:00 am.

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Some oddities on 1921 map explained; others remain mysterious

Last week we introduced a 1921 map that lists numerous long-gone towns. Here’s more:

West of Sewall’s Point is Goslingville. That was the area north of the St. Lucie River near where the Roosevelt Bridge now crosses. The Historical Society of Martin County says George Townsend Gosling came in 1885 with Homer Stuart, the city’s namesake.

Here’s some illumination on the rest, courtesy of the St. Lucie County Historical Society:

Sprucebluff: In the 1890s, about a dozen early pioneers set up the area’s first settlement on about 600 acres. They called it Spruce Bluff, after the rare spruce pines that grew atop a broad, steep cliff along the St. Lucie River.

The developers of the Port St. Lucie neighborhood plowed over most of Spruce Bluff, but 97 acres of the original settlement still exist — thick with saw palmetto, slash pines and swampy marsh.

Eldred was named for Lucius Eldred, who bought land for a pineapple plantation in 1879. He sent his daughter and son-in-law to live in the house he had built there. The area is between modern day Midway Road and Palm Cemetery on Indian River Drive.

Ankona was named for Dr. John Fletcher Ankeny, who bought land along the Indian River 8 miles south of Fort Pierce in 1883 and built a small house.

Eden was named by Capt. Thomas E. Richards, a shipbuilder from New Jersey, who started a pineapple plantation along the Indian River and thought the area was beautiful so he named it after the Garden of Eden.

In Eden’s north end was the town of Tibbals, later renamed Walton in honor of 17th-century fisherman and author Izaak Walton, author of The Compleat Angler and the man for whom the Izaak Walton League conservation group is named.

Look for Aberdeen. That settlement originally was called Alicia after Henry Flagler’s second wife. The name later changed to Aberdeen, then Mulford and finally, in 1913, to Salerno, and in 1959 to Port Salerno. But then why is Aberdeen on a 1921 map? And the 1921 map lists a town of St. Lucie. But the Port St. Lucie development wouldn’t get going until the late 1950s, and it became a municipality in 1961.

Readers: Lots of mysteries remain. Can you help?

Florida Map 1921.jpg
Click on the map image to view a larger version (and then click on it again to zoom in to a super-large version).

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Posted in Eliot Kleinberg February 3, 2011 at 1:57 pm.

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Play South Florida version of ‘Where’s Waldo’

Today we’re playing a version of “Where’s Waldo?” Recently we came across a map of Florida, dated 1921. Its origin and source are unknown.

The most interesting aspects: entities that weren’t there then but are now, as well as some that were there then but aren’t anymore.

Click on the map below for a larger version (and then click on it again for a super-large version) to take a closer look and see how many you find before you read on.

Florida Map 1921.jpg

The most obvious missing feature: Martin County. Palm Beach County extends to Sewall’s Point, where it meets St. Lucie County. Portions of the two counties would split off in May 1925 to form Martin County.

Also missing: Indian River County. It formed the same day.

Boca Raton is spelled as one word. Actually, it was Bocaratone when it incorporated Aug. 2, 1924; it began using the “Boca Raton” spelling May 5, 1925.

The “beach” in “West Palm Beach” isn’t capitalized. Riviera Beach is one word, and one that other maps also misspell: Riveira.

The map also shows Yamato, the pineapple colony founded by Japanese settlers. It was gone by the 1930s.

A town called Prairie shows up between “Riveira” and Jupiter.

“Prairie was a farming community located at about where the RCA plant was built,” frequent contributor L.J. Parker of the Lake Park Historical Society writes. “There had been a sawmill located where the RCA plant now stands. The FEC had a loading spur, Prairie Siding. Prairie became Monet Road and later RCA Boulevard.”

Southern Martin County has a town called Likely. That one we know; we wrote about it in 2006. It was a Florida East Coast Railway stop right about at what’s now the northern boundary of Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

And Likely was the original name of the Hobe Sound development. The stop was long gone by the time Camp Murphy, the state park’s predecessor, was built during World War II. Gomez shows up near Hobe Sound. On July 6, 1815. Florida’s Spanish governor granted Don Eusebio Gomez 12,180 acres; the “Gomez Grant” covers what are now Jupiter Island and Hobe Sound.

Next week: St. Lucie County.

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Posted in Eliot Kleinberg January 27, 2011 at 10:08 am.


A magical history tour of historical markers in Palm Beach County

For the county’s 100th birthday in 2009, The Palm Beach Post published a map of the county’s historical markers. Click on the download, print or fullscreen links, or use the controls at the bottom of the page to zoom, scrool, or change the view of the pages.

A magical history tour of Palm Beach County historical markers

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Posted in Flashback blog January 11, 2011 at 1:20 pm.

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