History recalls the Gilded Age and Progressive Era as times of enormous growth, wealth, luxury and easy living for America's elite, including oil tycoon Henry Morrison Flagler. Originally seeking out Florida's favorable climate to aid the health of his first wife, Flagler saw vast potential in the Sunshine State and began what would be his second career developing resorts, communities, and, most importantly, the Florida East Coast Railway. In 1884, Flagler built his first hotel in The Palm Beaches, the Royal Poinciana, overlooking Lake Worth Lagoon.
The Royal Poinciana is not here today, but Flagler's second hotel, the iconic and breathtaking Breakers Hotel, and his 60,000-square-foot winter home, Whitehall, both stand today as a testament to his ability and love.
Tragedy Strikes the High Seas
As The Palm Beaches thrived and the Gilded Age gave way to the Progressive Era, the world would mourn the loss of more than 1,500 of the elite and working class who were lost in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. Later, the famous "Unsinkable" Molly Brown made The Palm Beaches her winter getaway, but lost many of her belongings salvaged from the Titanic during a fire at The Breakers Hotel.
Beginning November 16, visitors to The Palm Beaches can explore the shared histories of these turbulent times at the Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition on display at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium. Upon entering, exhibit guests are given a replica boarding pass of an actual passenger aboard Titanic, before taking a chronological journey through the life of the Titanic. Visitors will move through the ship's construction, to life on board, to the ill-fated sinking and amazing artifact rescue efforts. Guests can marvel at the recreated First Class and Third Class accommodations, and even press their palms against an iceberg while learning of countless stories of heroism and humanity. In the "Memorial Gallery" guests can take their boarding pass to the memorial wall to discover the fate of their passenger and traveling companions.
Palm Beach Today
Why not continue the remarkable sights of Palm Beach past with a historic walking tour of the streets and vias that still give rise to splendor in the present. Recently celebrating its 100th birthday, this Grand Dame is more beautiful than ever.