The history of Palm Beach Gardens dates back to 1959 when John D. MacArthur, a multimillionaire insurance magnate and landowner, announced his plan to develop approximately 4,000 acres of land near the southwestern coastline of Florida and provide homes for 55,000 people in a new community. The land was developed under his careful supervision and Macarthur initially chose the name Palm Beach City. However, permission to use that name was denied, so MacArthur, in keeping with his "garden city" plan, decided to call the city Palm Beach Gardens. He wanted his new city to be a place to raise a family and make an honest living; to realize the "American Dream". With this in mind, he set to work carving the City of Palm Beach Gardens from empty miles of dairy cattle grazing land.
While developing his perfect community, MacArthur envisioned the city streets lined with beautiful trees and flowers. MacArthur then wisely invested millions of dollars to create a Florida community with hundreds of waterways, rolling terrain, magnificent mature pine and shade trees, and rich foliage. Due to MacArthur's love of trees and Mother Nature, he instructed that city streets and construction go around the trees that had been growing there for decades. Of course, this made for an expensive proposition, but he wanted to build a city that was entirely new and unblemished. Churches were the first buildings to be built in the city because he wanted to ensure that the city had a variety of houses of worship to serve residents of all faiths.
By 1964, MacArthur was satisfied with the industry and recreation in Palm Beach Gardens. When he discovered that the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) was looking for a new site for their home offices and golf courses. MacArthur jumped at the chance and donated more than $2 million to the project. In March 1965, the clubhouse was completed and the PGA moved in. In 1972, the PGA moved from the property to a spectacular new complex in the northern portion of the city.
The PGA resort sits on 2,340 acres and boasts five championship golf courses. The resort boasts 339 deluxe guest rooms, 59 club cottages, a world class spa, 19 tennis courts, a complete fitness club, the largest croquet complex in the Western Hemisphere, nine pools, a 26-acre lake, eight restaurants and lounges and a 33,900 square-foot conference center with 23 individual rooms.
The former PGA site has been redeveloped and is now known as Ballenisles, one of the premier upscale developments in Palm Beach County. The newest development in the city is Mirasol, a magnificent 2,300-acre community set among natural preserves and exquisite lakes. The Country Club at Mirasol, is a private, gated country club community with 30 diverse villages.
Golf is not the only activity available for residents in the Palm Beach area. The county is the spring training home of the Montreal Expos and St. Louis Cardinals. Baseball continues through the summer with the Class A Florida State League. Saltwater and freshwater fishing enthusiasts have plenty to choose from. From large-mouth bass to sailfish, the thrill of hooking the "big one" is a memory that will last forever. Polo, the "Sport of Kings," also calls Palm Beach County home. Polo tournaments such as the $100,000 World Cup bring large crowds and international celebrities including the Prince of Wales to Palm Beach County. Other sports that provide entertainment for visitors and residents include: tennis, greyhound racing, drag racing, motorcycle racing, boating, in-line skating, shuffle board and croquet.
Palm Beach County offers a multitude of cultural attractions suitable for even the most discriminating tastes. For those who enjoy the classical sounds of music, the theater, and the ballet, some of the organizations to become familiar with are the Royal Poinciana Playhouse, Watson B. Duncan Theater, Dolly Hand Cultural Arts Center, Palm Beach Ballet Society and the Florida Philharmonic. The Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts provides the finest cultural productions available.
Historical buffs will enjoy touring the museums located in the County. These include the Loxahatchee Historical Museum and the Jupiter Lighthouse Museum, Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, Norton Gallery of Art, the Morikami Museum, the International Museum of Cartoon Art and the Boca Raton Museum of Art, among others.
Mounts Botanical Garden is Palm Beach County's oldest and largest public garden. Mounts' gardens and programs provide the best horticultural and botanical information available related to South Florida's unique plants and environment. Mounts displays tropical and subtropical plants from around the world, including plants native to Florida, exotic trees, tropical fruit, herbs, citrus, palms and much more. Plant sales, family festivals, member breakfasts, and auctions are some of Mounts' exciting special events.
Palm Beach County abounds with parks and other recreational facilities. The County Parks and Recreation Department has 51 developed parks (many with water sports and beaches), four swimming pools, three campgrounds, two golf courses, equestrian facilities, ball fields, fitness trails, and hundreds of handball, racquetball and tennis courts.
Another draw for residents of the area is the award-winning schools. Palm Beach Community College, Florida's first public community college has been recognized as a premier two-year institution, lauded for achievement at the local, state and national level. Presently, PBCC has over 48,000 students enrolled in over 100 programs of study including associate in arts and associate in science degrees and short-term certificates. With two campuses, Florida Atlantic University offers undergraduate, graduate and continuing education programs. Palm Beach Atlantic College is a four-year liberal arts college with a Christian environment. Northwood University specializes in business and management degrees. Other colleges in the area include Barry University, Lynn University, College of the Palm Beaches, and Nova University.
Palm Beach Gardens has grown steadily during its 40 years of existence. In 1999, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation sold approximately 14,000 acres of land including approximately 5,000 acres in the city. The City Council, entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring quality development, was able to reach an agreement with the purchasers to manage and control this new growth. Through the cooperation of the parties involved, the reputation and natural beauty of the city will be preserved and enhanced by keeping in mind the "garden city" philosophy of its founder John D. MacArthur. Palm Beach Gardens remains a premiere community in which to live and work, and will for future generations. As our city slogan suggests, residents are "Growing together in the Gardens."