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Neighborhood Spotlight: West Palm Beach

Written by Kelly Weimert on Wednesday, August 1st, 2018 at 4:06am.

Image source: thepalmbeaches.com

When you think about the hippest areas in the country, chances are, Florida doesn’t come to mind. But the growing hipster vibe of West Palm Beach proves that it most definitely should.

West Palm Beach is situated just to the west of its big sister, Palm Beach, and boasts the oldest municipality in metro Miami having been incorporated way back in 1894. Unsurprisingly, the city has evolved quite a bit in its nearly 130-year existence.

During the Florida land boom of the 1920s, West Palm Beach’s population quadrupled in just seven years, from 1920-1927. As a result, all kinds of businesses, residences, and public services sprouted up, with many of the city’s landmarks and preserved neighborhoods developed during this period. However, just as the city was beginning to boom, it was hit by the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane, which devastated the people and the landscape alike. After that, the Great Depression hit and contributed to a rather bleak decade for the area, causing lower property values and only marginal population growth.

Image source: mypalmbeachpost.com

However, things really turned around for West Palm Beach at the start of World War II thanks to the construction of the Palm Beach Air Force Base, which played a pivotal role in the war as well as brought thousands of military personnel and their families to the city. Despite this resurgence, though, the combination of an increase in crime and the depletion of resources due to suburban sprawl led to high vacancy rates and criminal activity in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Fortunately, this rough time ultimately made way for better days as the city committed to preserving and renovating its 1920s architecture on the now-bustling Clematis Street, bringing an increasing number of people, businesses, and entertainment to downtown. Fast forward to today and it’s hipster central, with an ever-growing selection of live music to listen to, cool galleries to peruse, and delicious restaurants to enjoy.

Architectural Preservation

Image source: wpbmagazine.com

As mentioned, much of West Palm Beach’s resilience can be attributed to the city’s commitment to preserving its historic buildings and landmarks, particularly on Clematis Street. A couple decades ago, the city’s planners created a conservation district designed to preserve and protect the existing buildings and their character. As an incentive, property owners were compensated for a willingness to preserve their buildings.

These days, you’ll find a healthy mix of old and new developments, combining the preserved 1920s style with more modern buildings and landmarks, creating an aesthetic that runs the gamut from Mediterranean and Venetian design to Postmodernism.

Eat, Drink, & Play

If you really want to get to the heart of what West Palm Beach has to offer, then head to Clematis Street and the surrounding area, where you’ll find all the food, shopping, and entertainment you could possibly want.

Image source: wpbmagazine.com

Start by getting your morning buzz on at Subculture Coffee, where you’ll find virtually every kind of caffeinated beverage under the sun in addition to tasty breakfast sandwiches, quiches, and bowls of goodness, like the Bliss Acai Bowl. Once you’re satiated, take a brief walk to Centennial Fountain and Waterfront Park and absorb the views of the interactive fountain while lounging in the shady plaza. From there, walk over to CityPlace, an upscale shopping center spanning several city blocks that’s overflowing with shops, restaurants, galleries, and a movie theater.

After you’ve worked up an appetite shopping at CityPlace, check out the ever-popular Kapow Noodle Bar, where you can get down on innovative dishes like Duck Lettuce Cups, Salmon Tartare Gyoza Tacos, and Pork Belly Buns. Then, wash it all down with a Blueberry Lavender Mojito to prepare for the bustling nightlife ahead.

Image source: thepalmbeaches.com

With over 80,000 weekly visitors, West Palm Beach's Clematis Street nightlife is a major draw for residents and tourists alike. There’s a seemingly endless stream of bars, clubs, and music venues to enjoy, including the iconic Respectable Street, which has hosted everyone from The Red Hot Chili Peppers to The Misfits to indie newcomers like Surfer Blood.

Of course, Clematis Street isn’t the only place in the city where you’ll find fun things to see and do. With nearby escape rooms, art galleries, striking outdoor murals, and a wide range of yearly art and music festivals, it’s pretty much impossible not to fall in love with this city.

Looking for new digs in the West Palm Beach area? Check out West Palm Beach homes for sale.

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