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Boca Raton
 
 

Boca Raton is a city in Palm Beach County, incorporated in May 1925. Boca Raton is the largest city between West Palm Beach and Pompano Beach. As of 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. The majority of population using the postal address of Boca Raton are not actual residents of Boca Raton, and thus 120,000 people who do not live within the incorporated city are not counted as population. The number of people using the postal address Boca Raton is about 200,000. The city of Boca Raton estimates that on any given day, there are roughly 350,000 people in the city itself. 

The Gulf Stream weaves its way closer to Boca Raton than any place else on the Florida coast. Because of these balmy breezes, Boca Raton is an ideal place for all the fun of Florida recreation. Watersports in the area include drift fishing, sailing, water-skiing and surfing. Scuba diving is also popular along these sunny shores where a variety of reefs and wrecks hug the coastline. For the less adventurous, the beaches here are ideal for simply idling a day away. Nearby Deerfield Beach offers wide beaches and a quiet atmosphere.

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Boca Raton's ideal climate that first drew the wealthy to these shores. A haven for the affluent since the turn of the century, Boca Raton blends culture with small town appeal. Polo matches are played regularly in the winter and the cultural events calendar is packed year round.

Boca Raton beautiful homes, and Boca Raton luxury condo buildings are famous among Florida resident and visitors.  A great choice of hotels and resorts make the city of Boca Raton a well know destination for Florida visitors.

Boca Raton is known around the country for its well to do lifestyle and flashy shopping and dining. Boca Raton is a favorite winter home for northeasterners trying to escape the ice and snow for South Florida's tropical climate. Boca Raton offers visiting tourists miles of beautiful beaches, fishing, scuba diving, golf and some of the best tennis in the country. Boca Raton's great outdoors can be enjoyed year round. Like many South Florida cities, Boca Raton was founded after railroad magnate Henry Flagler forced his railway further south. After an early rural existence growing fruit and pineapples, Boca Raton was developed as a vacation spot for wealthy northerners. The city has gained a reputation as a home to the rich and famous, the Boca Raton airport is the base of operations for more private jets than anywhere else in the nation.

In addition to its exclusive reputation, Boca Raton is home to arts and Boca Raton cultural institutions such as the Boca Raton Museum of Art, the Caldwell Theatre, the Children's Museum, the Little Palm Family Theatre  in Mizner Park. Fine arts are also represented by the Boca Pops, the Boca Ballet Theatre Company, the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra and the Harid Conservatory. Boca Raton was the long time home of IBM and was the birthplace of the PC computer revolution. High fashion and fun are available at the Town Center of Boca Raton and Mizner Park. Mizner Park is located in downtown and features fine dining at Max's, bookstores, boutiques, the cartoon and art museums and an outdoor performing theater. Town Center features famous stores such  as Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale's, Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma and Abercrombie & Fitch. Gumbo Limbo Environmental Center is a unique educational site where children and parents can learn about the Florida environment and even touch live starfish and marine plant life. The Loxahatchee Wildlife Refuge is west of Boca Raton with hundreds of acres of wetlands, alligators, white cranes and canoe trails. Boomer's Family Recreation Center is a huge place where kids can run wild playing arcade games, video or sports games or take a turn in the batting cage. A stay in Boca Raton will place visitors in the middle of South Florida's action. The city is only about an hour's drive from Miami and Boca Raton the resurgent nightlife of South Beach. Fort Lauderdale is just down Interstate 95 and more adventurous travelers can make the trip to Metro Zoo, the Everglades National Park or the Florida Keys.

A famous aspect of Boca Raton is the pink architectural designs of designer and builder Addison Mizner. Mizner was the man who created so many Mediterranean style buildings in Boca Raton. The centerpiece of the Boca Raton Resort & Club is the Cloister hotel, which Mizner created in 1926. Today, hundreds of buildings of all sizes and shapes are painted in Mizner Pink with many housing developments and businesses using his name for recognition. The Boca Raton Resort & Club is perhaps the signature site in the city with its pink tower rising 27 stories above the Intracoastal Waterway. The resort offers fine dining, charter fishing, two golf courses and championship tennis to its guests.

In 1991, the new downtown outdoor shopping center, Mizner Park, was completed over the site of the older Boca Raton Mall. It has since become a cultural center for the city. 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.

Mizner Park has significantly aided downtown revitalization. Many new 8-10 story mixed-use condo buildings have been constructed, are under construction or are proposed for the downtown area. The surrounding areas to the downtown have benefited from the downtown redevelopment. 

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. In 1999, Simon Property Group bought Town Center at Boca Raton and renovated and expanded it. Nordstrom is the anchor department store of a 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 car dealerships are allowed in the city limits, according to the city zoning code. Additionally, no billboards are permitted in the city. The only billboard was grandfathered in during 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 been reduced. Many buildings in the Boca Raton 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. 

Boca Raton History: 

The meaning of the name Boca Raton has always aroused curiosity. Many people wrongly assume the name is simply Rat’s Mouth. The Spanish word boca (or mouth) often described an inlet, while raton (literally mouse) was used as a term for a cowardly thief. But the “Thieves Inlet,” Boca Ratones, 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 applied to Lake Boca Raton, whose inlet was closed at the time. The “s” and later the “e” were dropped from this title by the 1920s, yet the correct pronunciation remains Rah-tone.

The construction of the Florida East Coast Canal (today’s Intracoastal) and the Florida East Coast Railway in the 1890s made the region accessible to a group of resourceful pioneers. By the early 1900s Boca Raton was a tiny agricultural community, many of the farmers specializing in pineapple cultivation. Amongst these were a group of Japanese immigrants under the leadership of Joseph Sakai, who formed a community along today’s Yamato Road in 1904.

In May of 1925, the Town of Boca Raton was incorporated at the height of the Florida land boom. The town council commissioned noted society architect Addison Mizner to plan a world-class resort community. His exclusive hotel, known as the Cloister Inn, was completed in 1926 and continues its reign as a city landmark as the Boca Raton Resort and Club. Although many of Mizner’s plans for the young community were squelched by the demise of the land boom in 1926, a few survive today—and his architectural style continues to influence the city.  

One of Mizner’s projects was a design for a city hall for Boca Raton. Completed by Delray architect William Alsmeyer in 1927, Old Town Hall at 71 North Federal Highway still bears the original footprint of the Mizner design, and was constructed using ironwork, tile, and woodwork supplied by Mizner Industries. Today the restored Town Hall is the home of the Boca Raton Historical Society.  

In the 1930s and 40s, Boca was known for its winter vegetable crop, particularly the green beans which commanded a premium in northern markets. In 1942, the Army Air Corps established its only war-time radar training school at the site of what is today F.A.U. and the Boca Raton Airport. The facility brought over 30,000 servicemen as well as families and civilian employees to the tiny community of Boca Raton, with a population of 723 in 1940.  

In the 1950s, the still small town played host to a safari park called Africa USA which opened where the Camino Gardens development stands now. E. G. Barnhill offered an attraction called Ancient America on the site of prehistoric burial mounds on U.S. One in the area of today’s Sanctuary neighborhood. And the Winter Bible Conference Grounds—Bibletown—was established in buildings of the former Air Field.  

In the 1960s, South Florida experienced another great land boom, with developments pushing the Everglades and former farmlands increasingly westward. The population grew to almost 30,000 residents by 1970, continuing to increase well outside city limits to this day. In 1962, Boca Raton attracted the newest state university, Florida Atlantic, to the site of the old army airbase. IBM moved one of its computer facilities to Boca Raton in 1967, and in 1981, it was there the first IBM PC, or personal computer, was developed.

 During the 1980s and 1990s, the city focused much of its attention on downtown redevelopment, and a number of important historical properties, such as Boca Raton’s original Town Hall and F.E.C. Railway Station were restored and opened to the public.