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The Town of Palm Beach is an incorporated town in Palm Beach County, Florida, United States. The Intracoastal Waterway separates it from the neighboring cities of West Palm Beach and Lake Worth. In 2000, Palm Beach had a year-round population of 10,468, with an estimated seasonal population of 30,000. In 2018, Bloomberg ranked Palm Beach as the 27th-wealthiest place in the United States.
Prior to being established as a resort by Henry Morrison Flagler, who made the Atlantic coast barrier island accessible via his Florida East Coast Railway, Palm Beach was a sparsely populated part of Lake Worth. The nucleus of the community was established by Flagler's two luxury resort hotels, the Royal Poinciana Hotel and The Breakers Hotel. West Palm Beach was built across Lake Worth as a service town and has become a major city in its own right.
Flagler's house lots were bought by the beneficiaries of the Gilded Age, and in 1902 Flagler himself built a Beaux-Arts mansion, Whitehall, designed by the New York-based firm Carrère and Hastings and helped establish the Palm Beach winter "season" by constantly entertaining. The town was incorporated on 17 April 1911.
An area known as the Styx housed the people who built up the island. Workers rented small houses from the landowners. In the early 1900s the landowners agreed to evict all of the residents of the Styx (who moved to West Palm Beach, Florida) and Edward R. Bradley bought up much of this land. The houses were razed, according to the Palm Beach Daily News.
The wreck of the Providencia is credited with giving Palm Beach its famous name. The Providencia was traveling from Havana to Cádiz, Spain with a cargo of coconuts harvested on the Caribbean island of Trinidad, when the ship wrecked near Palm Beach. Many of the coconut naturalized or were planted along the Palm Beach coast. A lush grove of palm trees soon grew on what would later be named Palm Beach. Today the tallest coconut palms in the United States can be found along the Palm Beach coast.
Palm Beach is the easternmost town in Florida, located on a 18-mile (29 km) long barrier island between Lake Worth Lagoon on the west and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. At no point is the island wider than three-quarters of a mile (1.2 km), and in places it is only 500 feet (150 m) wide.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 10.4 square miles (27 square kilometres). 3.9 square miles (10 square kilometres) of it is land and 6.5 square miles (17 square kilometres) of it is water. The total area is 62.45% water.
According to the Köppen climate classification Palm Beach has a tropical rainforest climate, having slightly too much rainfall in its driest month to meet the tropical savanna criteria.
The wet season is from May to October, when convective thunderstorms and tropical downpours are common, and weak tropical lows pass nearby. Average high temperatures in Palm Beach are 86 to 90 °F (30 to 32 °C) with lows of 70 to 75 °F (21 to 24 °C). During this period, more than half of the summer days bring occasional afternoon thunderstorms and seabreezes that somewhat cool the rest of the day.
The winter brings drier, sunnier, and much less humid weather. Average high temperatures of 75 to 82 °F (24 to 28 °C) and lows of 57 to 66 °F (14 to 19 °C), and is considered the main tourist season in the Palm Beach area. Although most winter days have highs in the 75 F range in Palm Beach, occasional cold fronts during this period can result in a few days of cooler weather with high temperatures in the mid 60s F (15 to 20 °C) and lows in the upper 40s and 50s (8 to 14 °C) while at other times high temperatures occasionally reach the middle 80s F in mid winter. In some years, the dry season can become quite dry, and water restrictions are imposed.
The annual average precipitation is 61 in (1,500 mm), most of which occurs during the summer season from May through October. In the wet summer season, short-lived heavy afternoon thunderstorms are common. Palm Beach reports more than 2,900 hours of sunshine annually. Although rare, tropical cyclones can impact Palm Beach, with the last direct hit in 1928.
Palm Beach has a median household income of $124,562 and a median family income of $137,867. The town's affluence and its "abundance of pleasures" and "strong community-oriented sensibility" were cited when it was selected in June 2003 as America's "Best Place to Live" by Robb Report magazine.
As of the 2000 census, over half the population (52.7%) are 65 years of age or older, with a median age of 67 years. 9.4% are under the age of 18, 1.5% are from 18 to 24, 11.5% are from 25 to 44, and 25.0% from 45 to 64. For every 100 females, there are 79.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 77.0 males.
The household income for the town is $109,219. Males have a median income of $71,685 versus $42,875 for females. 5.3% of the population and 2.4% of families are below the poverty line. 4.6% of those under the age of 18 and 2.9% of those 65 and older are living below the poverty line.
The racial makeup of the town is 96% White (93.8% were non-Hispanic White), 2.57% Black, 0.53% Asian, 0.04% Native American, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.21% from other races, and 0.63% from two or more races. 2.56% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
The 10,468 people in the town are organized into 5,789 households and 3,021 families. The population density is 2,669.2 inhabitants per square mile (1,031.1/km2). There are 9,948 housing units at an average density of 1,006.5 per square mile (387.7/km2). 7.7% of the households have children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.1% are married couples living together, 3.3% have a female householder with no husband present, and 47.8% are non-families. 42.6% of all households are made up of individuals and 27.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 1.81 and the average family size is 2.38.
In 2000, English was the first language of 87.81% of all residents, while French comprised 4.48%, Spanish consisted of 3.65%, German made up 2.16%, Italian speakers made up 0.45%, Yiddish made up 0.36%, Russian was at 0.30%, Arabic and Swedish at 0.25%, and Polish was the mother tongue of 0.24% of the population.
In 2000, Palm Beach had the 40th highest percentage of Russian residents in the U.S., with 10.30% of the populace (tied with Pomona, New York, and the township of Lower Merion, Pennsylvania). It also had the 26th highest percentage of Austrian residents in the US, at 2.10% of the town's population (which tied with 19 other US areas).
The city is served by Amtrak and Tri-Rail, which connect Palm Beach with Miami, as well as Palm Beach International Airport, all located in West Palm Beach. The higher speed Brightline has a stop in West Palm Beach as well. Public transportation is available through Palm Tran, and connects with the rest of the county.
The northern portion of Palm Beach is served by the Route 41 bus which travels from the northernmost portion of Palm Beach at the inlet and then down to Royal Palm Way, across the Royal Park Bridge (State Road 704) into West Palm Beach and up to the government center, and then follows the same route in reverse.
Private vehicles and taxis are the predominant means of transport in Palm Beach. Profiling of lower-cost cars and minorities has resulted in tense relations between visitors and the Town.
Bicycles are a popular mode of transportation on the island, although most areas have no bicycle trails, so safe and comfortable travel is not always assured. The Lake Trail, exclusively for pedestrian and bike traffic, extends from Royal Palm Way (State Road 704) in the south up to the north end of the island. The trail follows the edge of the Lake Worth Lagoon (part of the intercoastal waterway) except for a section between the Flagler Museum and the Biltmore Condominiums, where the trail follows the streets. Another break occurs to pass around the Sailfish Yacht Club in the north end of the island. The Lake Trail is filled daily with bikers, rollerbladers, runners, and dog-walkers.
Traveling by bike along the ocean can be hazardous. Only a short section in the downtown area has sidewalks. The roads along the ocean are narrow and have small or nonexistent shoulders, making biking a potentially dangerous activity in those areas.
In the southern end of the island, south of Sloan's Curve, through South Palm Beach to East Ocean Avenue (linking to Lantana) is a two-mile (3200 m) long, relatively wide pedestrian path that is popular with walkers, runners, and bikers alike.
Palm Beach Public Elementary is located on the island and has kindergarten through fifth grade. It has a school grade of A and 477 students attend the school. Palm Beach Day Academy is a private school in the area. It was formed in 2005 from a merger between Palm Beach Day School and the Academy of the Palm Beaches.
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