Boca Raton

BOCA RATON

Boca Raton (play /ˈboʊkə rəˈtoʊn/) is a city in Palm Beach County, Florida, USA, incorporated in May 1925. In the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 74,764; the 2006 population recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau was 86,396. However, the majority of the people under the postal address of Boca Raton, about 200,000[5] in total, are not actually within Boca Raton’s municipal boundaries. It is estimated that on any given day, there are roughly 350,000 people in the city itself.

In terms of both population and land area, Boca Raton is the largest city between West Palm Beach and Pompano Beach, Broward County.

History

The literal translation of “Boca Raton” is “Mouse Mouth” (“mouse” in Spanish is “ratón”), the Spanish word boca meaning inlet and ratón being a Spanish nautical term describing rocks that gnawed at a ship’s cable. Another explanation is that it refers metaphorically to a pirate’s cove.[7][8] The name Boca Ratones originally appeared on eighteenth century maps associated with an inlet in the Biscayne Bay area of Miami. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the term was mistakenly moved north to its current location on most maps and applied to the inland waterway from the closed inlet north for 8.5 miles (13.7 km), which was called the “Boca Ratones Lagoon”.

The first settler was T. M. Rickards in 1895 who resided in a house made of driftwood on the east side of the East Coast Canal south of what is now the Palmetto Park Road bridge. He surveyed and sold land from the canal to beyond the railroad north of what is now Palmetto Park Road.[9]
[edit] Land boom

During the city’s early history during the Florida land boom of the 1920s, Addison Mizner’s Ritz-Carlton Cloister Inn was built in 1926,[10] later renamed the Boca Raton Resort & Club. It is today often referred to as the “pink hotel” and a 1969 addition is visible from miles away as a towering building on the Intracoastal Waterway.
[edit] War

Japanese farmers of the Yamato Colony converted the land west of the city into pineapple plantations beginning in 1904. During World War II, much of their land was confiscated and used as the site of the Boca Raton Army Air Force Base, a major training facility for B-29 bomber crews and radar operators. Much of the airbase was later donated to Palm Beach County and later become the grounds of Florida Atlantic University, many of whose parking lots are former runways of the airbase; when viewed from above, the site’s layout for its previous use as an airfield is plainly evident. Boca Raton Airport’s runway 5/23 was once part of the original airbase, and is still active to this day.

The Japanese heritage of the Yamato Colony survives in the name of Yamato Road (NW 51st Street) just north of the airport and at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens northwest of the city. The headquarters building of the Army Air Forces Base has survived as the office building for the Cynthia Gardens apartment complex on Northwest 4th Avenue.
[edit] Post-war

In the late 1960s, the International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) announced their intentions to open a manufacturing plant in the area. In 1965, well before the extension of I-95 into Southern Florida, IBM, working in secret with the Arvida corporation, quietly purchased several-hundred acres of real estate just west of the CSX rail line and northwest of Florida Atlantic University in University Park. Originally situated in unincorporated Palm Beach County, the site was controversially annexed into Boca Raton almost a year following its dedication in 1970.[11]
The Boca Corporate Center and Campus was originally one of IBM’s research labs where the PC was created. It is located on Yamato Rd (NW 51st St), and stands next to the Boca Raton Tri-Rail Station.

Construction of IBM’s main complex began in earnest in 1967, and the mammoth manufacturing and office complex was dedicated in March 1970. The campus was designed with self-sufficiency in mind, and to that end sported its own electrical substation, water pumping station, and rail-spur. Among other very noteworthy IT accomplishments, such as the mass manufacture of the System/360 and development of the Series/1 mainframe computers, IBM’s main complex was the birthplace of the IBM PC, which later evolved into the IBM Personal System/2, developed in nearby Delray Beach. Starting in 1987, IBM relocated their manufacturing for what became the IBM PC division to Research Triangle Park in Raleigh, North Carolina, and converted the cavernous manufacturing facilities into offices and laboratories, later producing products such as the OS/2 operating system and VoiceType Dictation, later known as ViaVoice voice-recognition software.

IBM maintained its facilities in the South Florida area until 1996, when the facility was closed and sold to Blue Lake Real Estate, who in turn sold it to T-REX Management Consortium. Today, T-REX has revitalized the facility and its surrounding real estate into a highly-successful and landscaped business/research park. What used to be IBM’s Building 051, an annex separated from the former main IBM campus by Spanish River Boulevard was donated to the Palm Beach County School District and converted into Don Estridge High Tech Middle School. It is named for Don Estridge, whose team was responsible for developing the IBM PC. IBM later returned in July 2001 opening the current software development laboratory at Beacon Square off Congress Avenue.

Bluegreen Corporation, a real-estate and timeshare resort developer, has had its main office in Boca Raton since 1966.

In the 1980s, because of an explosion of development to the west of the historical center of the city, some eastern areas began to decay, including the downtown corridor. For instance, the old Boca Raton Mall, a shopping mall in the downtown area was beginning to experience higher vacancy, and occupancy by marginal tenants, due to the opening of Town Center at Boca Raton west of the city in 1980.
Mizner Park is a downtown attraction in Boca Raton’s financial district. It is the furthest north part of Boca’s downtown area, and home to ‘Mizner Park Amphitheater’.

In 1991, the new downtown outdoor shopping and dining center, Mizner Park, was completed over the site of the old Boca Raton Mall. It has since become a cultural center for the southern Palm Beach County. Featuring a landscaped central park between the two main roads (collectively called Plaza Real) with stores only on the outside of the roads, Mizner Park resembles a Mediterranean suburban “town center” with a more contemporary look. It features many restaurants and is home to the Boca Raton Museum of Art which moved to the new facility in 2001.”Boca Raton Museum of Art” In 2002, a new amphitheater was built replacing a smaller one, providing a large-capacity outdoor venue where concerts and other performances are held.[12]

Mizner Park has significantly aided downtown revitalization. Many new eight to ten story mixed-use buildings have been constructed, are currently under construction or are proposed for the downtown area. The surrounding areas to the downtown have benefited from the downtown redevelopment.

The National Cartoon Museum (formally the International Museum of Cartoon Art) built a 25,000-square-foot (2,300 m2) facility on the southwest edge of Mizner Park in 1996. Open for six years, the museum relocated to its original home in New York City in 2002. Building renovations for public uses, including the local public TV station, and private uses, such as a locally-owned and operated bookstore were completed in 2008. In addition to the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Association’s theater and space, the building is home to the Schmidt Family Foundation.

As development continued to focus to the west of the city in the 1980s and 1990s, the mall area, Town Center at Boca Raton, became the geographic center of what is referred to as Boca Raton, though this mall was not actually annexed into the city until 2004. The area referred to as Boca Raton, including the unincorporated area west of the city (and discussed below), is now almost entirely built out.

In 1999, the Simon Property Group bought Town Center at Boca Raton and redeveloped it. Nordstrom was added as the anchor department store for the new wing. Neiman Marcus is the newest department store tenant as of 2006. In-late 2006, Simon began the construction stage of an outdoor lifestyle center near the new wing. Town Center Mall has become a tourist attraction and the largest indoor mall in Palm Beach County.

Boca Raton has a strict development code, including the size and types of commercial buildings, building signs and advertisements which may be erected within the city limits. No outdoor car dealerships are allowed in the municipality, according to the city zoning code. Additionally, no billboards are permitted in the city. The only billboard was grandfathered in during a recent annexation. Corporations such as McDonald’s have subdued their Golden Arches due to the code. The unincorporated areas still contain restaurants with the classic arches, but the heights of the signs have also been reduced. Many buildings in the area have Mediterranean and Spanish architectural themes, initially inspired in the area by Addison Mizner. The strict development code has resulted in several major thoroughfares without large signs or advertisements in the traveler’s view; significant landscaping is in its place.
BocaSkyline2.jpg
[edit] Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 29.1 square miles (75.4 km²). 27.2 square miles (70.4 km²) of this is land and 1.9 square miles (5.0 km²) of it (6.63%) is water. Boca Raton is a ‘principal city’ (as defined by the Census Bureau) of the South Florida metropolitan area. Like most south Florida cities, Boca Raton has a water table that does not permit building basements, but there are several high points in the city, such as 4th Avenue which is aptly named “High Street”. The highest point in this area is the guard shack at Camino Gardens, which is 24 ft (7.3 m) above sea level. The Boca Raton Hotel’s Beach Club rests at 23 ft (7.0 m) above sea level.[13]

Several small tunnels run under roads in Boca, but the roads are built up several feet at these locations, or are located on dunes. Several of these tunnels are under State Road A1A at Spanish River Park, from the west side of the road where parking is available to beachgoers, to the east side of the road, which is where the beach is located. A1A is already higher than the surrounding land here due to sand dunes formed by erosion and other natural features.[13]
[edit] Climate

Boca Raton’s climate barely qualifies as a Tropical rainforest climate (Köppen climate classification Af), as its driest month (December) averages 62.5mm of precipitation, narrowly meeting the minimum standard of 60mm in the driest month needed to qualify for that designation.

As of 2010, there were 44,539 households, out of which 17.4% were vacant. As of 2000, 24.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.1% were married couples living together, 7.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.2% were non-families. 29.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.26 and the average family size was 2.81.

In 2000, the city population was spread out with 18.9% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 26.7% from 45 to 64, and 19.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 95.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.8 males.

According to a 2007 estimate, the median income for a household in the city was $67,531, and the median income for a family was $92,057.[15] Males had a median income of $52,287 versus $33,347 for females. The per capita income for the city was $45,628. About 4.1% of families and 6.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.0% of those under age 18 and 4.9% of those age 65 or over.

According to Forbes, Boca Raton has three of the ten most expensive gated communities in the U.S. The Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club holds the #1 spot, The Sanctuary takes #6, and Le Lac takes the #8 spot.[16]

As of 2000, English was spoken as a first language by 79.89% of the population, Spanish by 9.28%, French by 1.46%, Portuguese by 1.45%, French Creole by 1.29%, and Italian by 1.05% of the population. There is a substantial Jewish population in Boca Raton, and a small percentage of them add to the linguistic variety, with 0.36% of Boca Raton residents speaking Hebrew and 0.27% of the population speaking Yiddish at home.[17]
[edit] Culture and attractions

Boca Raton is known for its affluent social community and high income demographic. Boca Raton was the site of two now vanished amusement parks, Africa U.S.A. (1953–1961) and Ancient America (1953–1959). Africa U.S.A. was a wild animal park in which tourists rode a “Jeep Safari Train” through the park. There were no fences separating the animals from the tourists on the “Jeep Safari Train”.[18] It is now the Camino Gardens subdivision one mile (1.6 km) west of the Boca Raton Hotel. A red wooden bridge from Africa USA can still be seen at the entrance to Camino Gardens. In the 1970s, peacocks could still be found in the subdivision, having escaped from the attraction. Ancient America was built surrounding a real Indian burial mound. Today, the mound is still visible within the Boca Marina & Yacht Club neighborhood on U.S. 1 near Yamato Road.[19]

Boca Raton is home to the Caldwell Theatre Company, the longest-running professional theater in South Florida, celebrating its 34th season in the recently[when?] inaugurated Count de Hoernle Theatre on South Federal Highway.[20]

Boca Raton has beaches along its eastern shore, notably Red Reef Park,[21] where snorkeling from the shore can bring a visitor to a living reef without the expense of renting a boat. Also in the 20-acre (81,000 m2) park is Gumbo Limbo, an Environmental Education Center. A small fee is charged to enter the park.