City Lake Worth Historic Building
Lake Worth

Lake Worth FL History

The City of Lake Worth Florida FL was named for Major General William Jenkins Worth who was born March 1, 1794.

Worth entered active military service during the War of 1812 and promoted to the rank of Major by the time he was 20 years old.

When he was 26, worth became the commandant of West Point where he taught military tactics for eight years. Cadet Robert E. Lee formally announced his resignation in 1828.

Lake Worth Beach SwimwearIn 1841, worth was named the tenth commander appointed to close the war in Florida with the Seminole Indians. On April 9, 1831, the final battle took place against Hallect, the last resisting chief of the Indians. Worth was honored by the State of Florida for his military skill and dedicated service. He went on to distinguish himself in Texas and Mexico during the Mexican War. Fort Worth, Texas is also named for this military hero.

The development of what is now Lake Worth FL, has its beginnings in the early 1900s.

The Palm Beach Farms Company, with its vice-president, Harold Bryant, purchased thousands of acres of Everglades land in 1909. In 1910, this company bought a large tract of coastal land. Harold Bryant, his brother F.E. Bryant, and William Greenwood were hired as agents to promote this new land.

These agent developers concentrated on the section now known as Greenacres City. They sold five, ten-acre tracts of fruit and truck land for $250. As an added incentive, a free lot in town on the shores of Lake Worth was offered with each tract purchased!

Platted in January 1912, as the town of Lucerne, the area of the giveaway lots became so popular that the area to the west was virtually abandoned until the late 1920s. Because a post office was now necessary and there was another “Lucerne” in Florida, the founders changed the name to Lake Worth, honoring the famous General.

Between April and December of 1912, the early settlers changed the town site from a “sand lot in a clump of wild palmetto land with 38 residents” to a town of 308 permanent residents, 77 completed buildings and 48 more under construction. It became known as the “Wonder City” when, in this short time, they formed the Chamber of Commerce, a Women’s club. The Lake Worth Herald, Lake Worth’s oldest business, printed its first issue in August 1912.

In May 1914, electric lights were turned on the first time. Settlers in the community before that date, and their descendants are known as the Pioneers of the City of Lake Worth.

A 30-mile roadway opened in 1917 connecting Palm Beach to Delray Beach; however, its shortcoming was no access from the mainland portion of Lake Worth to this new linking road. The solution to this problem was a bridge bond issued for $55,000.

The city was officially incorporated in 1912. Many of the first residents were farmers from other parts of the American south and mid-west, looking to benefit from the growing winter vegetable market of the time. The city benefited with the rest of south Florida during the Florida land boom of the 1920’s. A wooden automobile traffic bridge over Lake Worth was completed in 1919. The 1920s also saw the completion of the Gulfstream Hotel, which towers over the downtown to this day.

Lake Worth Beach FloridaWith all obstacles overcome, the bridge opened on a beautiful Fourth of July in 1919. At 3,200 feet, it was the longest toll-free bridge along Florida’s east coast set on 200 concrete pilings. Although long, the bridge was so narrow two cars of that day barely had enough room to pass. One resident chose to ride her bike across the bridge rather than “mess up” the bow on the back of her dress while sitting in an automobile.

The devastating Hurricane of 1928 moved the bridge off the pilings and was replaced by a second bridge at an estimated cost of $250,000. Part of this 2nd bridge is still in use as a fishing pier. In 1973, a third higher, wider and more modern bridge was built alongside the 2nd.

The mainland portion of the City is situated along a wide stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway with the same name as the city, Lake Worth FL. The municipal beach complex located on Palm Beach Island is a focal point for the residents and visitors who take advantage of the sun, surf sand, dining and shopping. This complex is called the Casino. Built in 1922, it has seen many architectural changes, especially after the 1947 hurricane.

In the heart of the Palm Beaches, Lake Worth is cooled by the easterly tropical prevailing Trade Winds and warmed by the Gulf Stream.

(“Nature’s Beauty Path”), comes closer to the shore than any point in the United States. It IS Lake Worth, where the quality of life is seen in its people.

After Henry Flagler extended his rail line south from West Palm Beach to Miami in 1896, a land development scheme was created to plant a townsite between the railroad and the lake. Purchasers of lots within the townsite would also receive a larger plot of land west of town for agricultural use.

The initial name proposed for the new town was Lucerne. The city was severely damaged in the 1928 hurricane, toppling the bell tower on the elementary school (today the City Hall Annex) and destroying the beachfront casino and automobile bridge over Lake Worth. This led to a severe economic decline within the community which led into the Great Depression.

Things were so dire in the city in the 1930s, that FDR’s Works Progress Administration built a striking, Moorish-styled “City Gymnasium” on the corner of Lake Avenue and Dixie Highway to provide employment for the impoverished citizenry. The building today serves as City Hall. Development started again after World War II with many modest pensioners, especially from Quebec, Finland and eventually Germany, moving to the city and building 1,000 square foot cottages.

These new immigrants brought their industrious nature with them as well as their native customs, restaurants, shops, and churches and for decades the town flourished. To this day one can find an unusual abundance of beer halls, chocolatiers, Bavarian delicatessens and Lutheran churches, which stand out in the semi-tropical urban sprawl of south Florida. After a short period of neglect and decline in the 1980s and 1990s, the downtown area has seen a huge resurgence in interest and development and once moribund property values have soared.

The city’s charming main street, Lake Avenue, contains some of the oldest commercial structures in south Florida, including the Lake Worth Play House and the art deco building, originally a cinema, which formerly housed the PBICA. The re-discovery of this unique charm has spurred new interest in Lake Worth FL.

Lake Worth FL Street Painting Festival

Experience a completely different type of art gallery. Artists from across the globe use pavement and streetscapes of downtown Lake Worth as an open-air canvas during the annual Street Painting Festival. Widely considered the largest festival of its kind, the event is free and features plenty of great food, drink and live music. You can’t take the street-level masterpieces home with you, but that doesn’t matter, you’ll love every second of seeing art from a whole new viewpoint.

Pride Fest of Lake Worth FL and the Palm Beaches

Lake Worth, long since known as a lively community, showcases what makes it extraordinary – its diversity. For two days, the downtown is alive with music, fine merchandise, a terrific selection of foods and of course, the Pride Parade. Sponsored by Compass, one of the largest gay and lesbian centers in the entire Southeast, Pride Fest welcomes everyone, of every background to celebrate life.

Snook Islands Natural Area

The shoreline of one of the most distinctive urban estuaries located in Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway is Lake Worth Lagoon, just a few steps from dynamic downtown Lake Worth. Now, if you’re looking for something on the peaceful side, stroll from downtown to this protected Natural Area located along the banks of the Lagoon. Launch your canoe or kayak to explore, meander along the boardwalk or drop a line into the water. Be on the lookout for manatee, sea turtle, crab, osprey, heron and just maybe, a dolphin.

Park Ridge Golf Course

If you notice, you don’t find many hills in South Florida – but then you haven’t been to Park Ridge. This just may be the highest golf experience in South Florida. The 18-hole course has shifting elevation gains that top off with an 85-foot high point. Built upon a former industrial ground, Park Ridge is recognized as an Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary for excellent stewardship of its natural setting. Play excellent golf in exceptional surroundings.

Lake Worth FL Municipal Golf Course

You came to Florida for a reason – fun along the water. And if golf is your thing, then you have to try golfing along this beautiful waterside course. Why not after all, brag to your golf buddies back home. Located along Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway, the city’s Municipal Golf Course is full of light tropical breezes and has that terrific backdrop – the urban estuary of Lake Worth Lagoon. It’s an 18-hole course, open all year with a first-rate pro shop, bar & grill and only a short walk from the great times of downtown Lake Worth FL.

Duncan Theatre

The city of Lake Worth thrives on the arts. The Duncan Theatre, located on the campus Palm Beach State College, has that artistic awareness that gives Lake Worth the reputation as a city to see arts come alive. From modern dance to music to ballet to shows for the kids – the Duncan plays to its audience.