Sculpted from the swamp, saw grass, and sand of Florida scrubland, Palm Beach Gardens emerged as a pristine embodiment of the dream of eccentric—but brilliant—billionaire John D. MacArthur, who appealed to the Florida Legislature in 1959 for the creation of this new city. A larger-than-life character who relocated an 80-year-old, 76-ton banyan tree several miles down roads and across railroad tracks to mark the entrance to his city, MacArthur later fully financed the Palm Beach Gardens interchange on Florida’s Turnpike to promote growth in the western part of the city. Palm Beach Gardens, with 30 percent of its 4,000 acres devoted to green space, was ecologically sound before the environmental movement began. With the RCA Corporation and nearby Pratt & Whitney providing employment in the early years, schools and churches nourishing families, and a strong strain of volunteerism among residents, by 1970 Palm Beach Gardens was the fastest-growing municipality in the nation. Although “Mr. Mac” did not play golf nor particularly like the game, he encouraged its development in the “Gardens” because of its positive influence on real estate sales and tourism. Indeed, he invited the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) to make its home there and declared Palm Beach Gardens the “Golf Capital of the World”—today, there are 17 golf courses in the city.
Author Bio: The seven authors of Images of America: Palm Beach Gardens are founding members of the Palm Beach Gardens Historical Society, established in 2008 in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the city. They amassed information and photographs from longtime residents, the City of Palm Beach Gardens, Lake Park Historical Society, Palm Beach County Historical Society, Nyack College, and their own organization to paint a colorful picture of this impressive community.
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