World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Lake Worth, Florida

Article Id: WHEBN0000109607
Reproduction Date:

Title: Lake Worth, Florida  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Palm Springs, Florida, West Palm Beach, Florida, Gun Club Estates, Florida, High Point, Palm Beach County, Florida, Kings Point, Florida
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Lake Worth, Florida

Lake Worth
Lake Worth Lagoon
Lake Worth Lagoon
Motto: "Where The Tropics Begin"
Location of Lake Worth, in Palm Beach County, Florida
Location of Lake Worth, in Palm Beach County, Florida
Country United States
State Florida
County Palm Beach
Incorporated (city) 1912
 • Acting City Manager Michael Bornstein
 • Mayor Pam Triolo
 • City 6.46 sq mi (16.7 km2)
 • Land 5.64 sq mi (14.6 km2)
 • Water 0.86 sq mi (2.1 km2)  12.69%
Elevation[2] 16 ft (5 m)
Population (2010)[3]
 • City 34,910
 • Density 5,945.2/sq mi (2,295.5/km2)
 • Metro 5,463,857
  2010 Census
Time zone EST (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 33460
Area code(s) 561
FIPS code 12-39075[4]
GNIS feature ID 0285292[5]

Lake Worth is a city in Palm Beach County, Florida, United States, which takes its name from the body of water along its eastern border, originally called "Lake Worth," and now generally known as the Lake Worth Lagoon. The lake itself was named for General William J. Worth, who led U.S. forces during the last part of the Second Seminole War. As of 2010, the population estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau was 34,910.[3] The city is included in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach Metropolitan Area, which is home to approximately 5,563,857 people.[6]


A native American tribe known as the Jaega were the earliest reported inhabitants of the section of the Florida Atlantic coast in the areas of Martin and Palm Beach Counties. Remains of shell mounds can be found near the Jupiter inlet, inland in what is now Boynton Beach and just south of the Boynton Inlet, indicating pre-Columbian Jaega habitation.[7]

The city's first settlers were Samuel and Fannie James, an African American couple and reported to be ex-slaves, known as the Black Diamonds, who settled on the shores of the Lake Worth Lagoon near the current 5th Avenue South in 1885. (The stone monument located at the northwest corner of Lucerne Avenue and J Street inaccurately uses the date 1883, due to a transcription error). The couple made a claim for their land under the Homestead Act in 1885 and received a receipt for their claim on February 1, 1887. Their holdings, originally 187 acres, increase over time and came to include and additional 160 acres south of Lake Aveune between M and F Streets, 160 acres in College Park where Fannie ran a pineapple farm, and 160 acres to the south including the traditional Osborne Colored Addition.[8] were subsequently sold to the Palm Beach Farms Co. in 1910.[9][10]

The initial name for the post office was Jewell (sometimes spelled Jewel).[11] Fannie James was the first postmaster. The post office was located in a small dry good shop which the couple operated to serve the lake traffic which connected the small pioneer homesteads located along the banks of the Lake Worth Lagoon. Area pioneers report that Jewell was included as a stop on the route of the Barefoot mailman via the Celestial Railroad by July 1889.[12]

Other early settlers who acquired homesteads in Jewell under the Federal Homestead Act included Dr. and Mazie Stites, Squire John Hoagland, Olai Gudmundsen, William Stephan and Owen Porter.[10]

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 agricultural lots, west of town, would also receive a small 25 foot lot within the City of Lake Worth,[13] closer to the beach. The developer, Bryant & Greenwood, proposed to name the town Lucerne,[14] however the United States Postal Service refused to accept the name because there already was a Lake Lucerne post office north of Miami in Dade County. Therefore, the city fathers settled on the name Lake Worth, for the lake on which the fledgling town was sited. One of the main streets was named Lucerne Avenue instead.

In April 1911, "A solitary Indian mound surrounded by wild woods marked the spot where flourishing Lake Worth is now growing beyond the most vivid imagination", according to a promotional article published in the Lake Worth Herald,[15] The population of the nascent city stood at 38 in July 1912.[16] During that busy year, the library, schoolhouse, newspaper, Women's Club, Chamber of Commerce and first church were established.[17] By year end, publication of the "city's first census showed 308 residents, 125 houses, 10 wagons, seven automobiles, 36 bicycles and 876 fowls.".[18]

The town was growing so fast that a new addition was platted in that inaugural year. The area along the Intracoastal from 5th Avenue South to 15th Avenue South still bears the name Addition 1. "In the new addition, the Lake front has been divided into large lots covered with palm and tropical growth, where we expect to see charming villas and winter homes spring up as by enchantment. It will be the fashionable part of town, where the wealthy of the earth can display their artistic taste and make ideal homes. These lots are selling so fast that but very few are left."[19] Included in the new addition were South Palm Park, a boat dock and P Street (now South Palmway) with its vibrant, green median and collection of 31 species of palm trees.

Later history

Lake Worth was incorporated as the "Town of Lake Worth" in June 1913. 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 1920s. A wooden automobile traffic bridge over Lake Worth was completed in 1919. The first casino and municipal beach complex was completed shortly thereafter. The 1920s also saw the completion of the Gulf Stream Hotel, now on the National Register of Historic Places.

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, during the Great Depression. Things were so dire in the city in the 1930s, that President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration built a striking, moorish-styled "City Gymnasium" on the corner of Lake Avenue and Dixie Highway. The building today serves as City Hall.

Lake Worth 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 (93 m2) 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 abundance of beer halls, chocolatiers, Bavarian delicatessens, and Lutheran churches, which stand out in the semitropical urban sprawl of south Florida.

The South Florida construction boom brought a new wave of immigrants in the past few decades. Central Americans have added a Hispanic aspect to Lake Worth's culture. Included in the 1980s immigration were many Guatemalan-Mayas who consider themselves indigenous peoples, rather than Hispanic and may not speak Spanish. They mostly converse in M'am, Q'anjob'al, or any one of 22 other Indian languages. Adding to the racial and linguistic mix of the city is a large Haitian population, speaking Haitian Creole and French.

After a short period of neglect and decline in the 1980s and 1990s, the downtown area has seen a huge resurgence in interest and now sports an array of art galleries, sidewalk cafés and night clubs. Once moribund property values have soared. The city's main street, Lake Avenue, contains some of the oldest commercial structures in south Florida, including the Lake Worth Playhouse.

The city was hit especially hard by Hurricanes Frances, Jeanne, and Wilma in 2004 and 2005. The fishing pier was quite damaged but was repaired (with the help of FEMA) and reopened in May 2009. The pier is currently open to the public with entry fees of $1 per adult sightseer, and $3 per adult fisherman. The decaying Casino Building (no gambling) is in the process of being rebuilt in the style of the historic Casino Building of the 1920s. The city's public swimming pool has been restored, and besides serving to instruct Palm Beach County residents in swimming and water safety, hosts water-sport competitions.


Lake Worth is located at ,[20] bordering West Palm Beach to the north, and Lantana to the south. 60 miles (97 km) north of Downtown Miami. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 6.46 square miles (17 km2). 5.64 square miles (15 km2) of it is land and 0.86 square miles (2 km2) of it (12.69%) is water.

Several geographical features in Palm Beach County somewhat confusingly share the name Lake Worth. The city of Lake Worth is named after a lagoon which is officially known as the Lake Worth Lagoon. This lagoon opens to the Atlantic Ocean at the Port of Palm Beach via the Lake Worth Inlet. The next closest inlet exists further south in Boynton Beach. The port and two inlets are all distant from the actual city of Lake Worth. The lake is a long channel that spans much of northern Palm Beach County; indeed, the Intracoastal Waterway traverses the length of the lagoon. The manmade inlets to the ocean have replaced the natural freshwater with saltwater, such that the lagoon is actually now a tidal body, instead of a true lagoon.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has mapped most of Lake Worth in the Southern Florida Flatwoods land resource area.[21]

Deep, poorly drained acidic sandy soils are typical for the area; they have gray topsoil, white subsoil, and a dark hardpan. Much of Lake Worth is built on a rapidly drained white or gray sand which is too dry and infertile to support vigorous plant growth. The western outskirts of Lake Worth are in the Southern Florida Lowlands area. Topsoils there are sandy, but the subsoils have a much higher content of clay and the soils are relatively fertile. As in the flatwoods, these soils are poorly drained for many purposes unless drainage systems are installed.[22]

Lake Worth bills itself as "Where the Tropics Begin." Many tropical plants grow in the city; among the more prominent examples are mahogany, royal poinciana and many species of palm, including coconut palm. African tulip tree, avocado and many species of eucalyptus may also be found, although they are on the city's list of trees to avoid. Temperate-zone trees native to Lake Worth or Palm Beach County include American elm, live oak, red maple, red mulberry, and slash pine. Species grown south of their native areas include American sweetgum, Shumard oak, and tulip tree.

Although the incorporated city of Lake Worth is small geographically, as is common in Palm Beach County, a large unincorporated urbanized area with a Lake Worth postal address lies to the west of the city, and includes the census-designated place of Lake Worth Corridor. It also includes western neighborhoods and communities such as The Fountains, Lago Lucerne, Lake Osborne Estates, Melaleuca Lane Corridor, and Palm Beach National. The total population of both incorporated and unincorporated Lake Worth is estimated by the 2006 Census to be 190,377.{fact}


As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 35,133 people, 13,828 households, and 7,688 families residing in the city. The population density was 6,225.5 per square mile (2,405.1/km²). There were 15,861 housing units at an average density of 2,810.6 per square mile (1,085.8/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 65.12% White,[23] 18.86% African American, 0.78% Native American, 0.75% Asian, 0.11% Pacific Islander, 9.57% from other races, and 4.82% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 29.71% of the population. 12.3% were of West Indian, 7.5% German, 7.0% Irish and 5.6% American ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 13,828 households out of which 26.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.9% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.4% were non-families. 33.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.19.

In the city the population was spread out with 22.9% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 32.6% from 25 to 44, 19.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 108.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 110.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $30,034, and the median income for a family was $35,374. Males had a median income of $24,862 versus $22,971 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,517. About 15.8% of families and 20.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.1% of those under age 18 and 12.7% of those age 65 or over.

As of 2000, the three most spoken first languages in Lake Worth were English at 56.61%, Spanish at 26.57%, and French Creole which was spoken by 9.17% of the population.[24]

Lake Worth has a large Finnish expatriate population, and Finnish is spoken by 2.57% of the city's residents as their native language. Other languages spoken by residents of the city include French at 1.96%, Mayan languages were spoken by 1.11% (primarily spoken by Guatemalans of Mayan descent), and German as a mother tongue was spoken by 0.52% of the population.[24]

As of 2000, Lake Worth had the twentieth highest percentage of Guatemalan residents in the US, with 4.87% of the populace.[25] It had the twenty-first highest percentage of Haitian residents in the US, at 8.10% of the city's population,[26] and the eighty-third highest percentage of Cuban residents in the US, at 3.47% of its population.[27] It also had the twenty-third most Hondurans in the US, at 1.59% of all residents.[28] According to Census 2000, people of Finnish ancestry were 3.4% of the population.

Lake Worth's downtown area has distinct character and is a regular destination for both tourists and residents of South Florida. Downtown Lake Worth is home to the Lake Worth Playhouse and the Lake Worth Historical Museum. Yearly festivals such as the Street Painting Festival and Finlandia Week (a celebration of Lake Worth's Finnish population) attract thousands of people. When combined with neighboring Lantana's Finnish community, it becomes the largest Finnish community in the United States. The largest Oktoberfest in south Florida is held every October just outside the city on Lantana Road. The city holds a biweekly street festival called "Friday on the Avenues," with both Lake and Lucerne Avenues being blocked to traffic and food and art kiosks being set up around the antique Town Clock in the square in front of City Hall Annex.

Epiphany Lutheran Church

The city has a vibrant religious community, along the distinction of the largest freestanding cross in Florida residing within the city. Completed in December 2009 at Epiphany Lutheran Church, the cross received international attention upon its completion and is more than 100 feet high, thirty feet across, and over nine feet in circumference at its base.

With 1,026 people claiming Finn descent in 2000,[29] Lake Worth boasts the second largest Finnish diaspora as a percentage of total population in the world. In addition, Lake Worth has a large population of new immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean, though the downtown area has become increasingly gentrified in recent years. Some of South Florida's most attractive architecture can be found in College Park, an affluent neighborhood in the northeast corner of the city. The festival is an annual fundraiser which supports an array of social services for low to moderate income individuals and families.

A substantial portion of the 1981 movie, Body Heat, starring William Hurt and Kathleen Turner, was filmed in downtown Lake Worth.


Public K–12 primary and secondary schools are administrated by the School District of Palm Beach County.

Lake Worth Community High School, established in 1922, serves the city, along with Lake Worth Middle School and several elementary schools.

The main campus of Palm Beach State College is located in unincorporated Lake Worth. It is the oldest community college in Florida, founded in 1933 as Palm Beach Junior College. It was at one time located on the campus of Palm Beach High School, at the present day Dreyfoos School of the Arts in downtown West Palm Beach. The school moved to its present location in 1956. The name was changed to Palm Beach Community College in 1988. To reflect the availability of 4 year degrees the name was changed to Palm Beach State College in 2010.[30]

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church runs a separate private school (pre-K through 8).

Public Transportation

Lake Worth is served by a Tri-Rail station of the same name. It is also served by PalmTran buses.[31]


Lake Worth Pier damaged by Hurricane Frances, Jeanne & Wilma

Lake Worth contains a bounty of public parks and open space. The Municipal Beach is one of the last remaining large tracts of open, public space on the ocean in southeast Florida. Historically, it has always been a destination complete with a Casino building with retail shops. Currently, a proposal to renovate the beach park is underway through a public/private partnership. The William O. Lockhart Municipal Pier, jutting into the Atlantic, is a recognizable symbol of the city; much of it was destroyed by Hurricane Frances in 2004, but has since been rebuilt and raised 5 feet (1.5 m). The pier creates sandbars which catch ocean swells, making Lake Worth one of the most consistent surfing spots in South Florida.

Bryant Park, located in downtown Lake Worth, has a 1920s-era bandshell which is used for festivals and other events. The nearby municipal golf course offers low-cost golfing with views of Lake Worth and Palm Beach beyond. On the west side of town, the county-owned John Prince Memorial Park follows the winding shores of Lake Osborne and offers several miles of bike and walking trails as well as hundreds of acres for picnicking, volleyball and overnight camping.

On February 29, 2012, the Snook Islands Recreation Boardwalk was opened to the public providing access to Lake Worth and the Intracoastal Waterway. Amenities include a kayak launch, eight mooring slips, fishing pier and nature walk around the mangroves of the southernmost of the Snook Islands. Dolphin, manatees and an assortment of tropical birds are commonly seen including Heron, Ibis, Egret, Oyster Catchers, Pelicans, Cormorants and other waterfowl.

Notable people

Sister cities

See also


  1. ^ "Florida by Place. Population, Housing, Area, and Density: 2000".  
  2. ^ "Lake Worth, United States Page". Falling Rain Genomics. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  3. ^ a b "Florida growth outpaces national trend". USAToday. Retrieved 2010-01-19. 
  4. ^ a b "American FactFinder".  
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names".  
  6. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Population of Metropolitan and Micropolitan Statistical Areas: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2006" (XLS). U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  7. ^ , David J. CastelloBoynton's Indian Mounds
  8. ^ Osborne Neighborhood Master Plan, Rachel Waterman, Lake Worth Community Development Corporation, 2003, section 3, p. 6
  9. ^ Lake Worth: Jewel of the Gold Coast, Jonathan W. Koontz, The Greater Lake Worth Chamber of Commerce, 1997, p. 22
  10. ^ a b Pioneers of Jewell, Ted Brownstein, Lake Worth Herald Press, 2013.
  11. ^ Ibid., p. 20.
  12. ^ Lake Worth Pioneer Association,
  13. ^ Koontz, op. cit., p.74
  14. ^ Lucerne - The City Beautiful, Lucerne Herald, May 23, 1912
  15. ^ Lake Worth Herald, February 28, 1963, p.12, reprint of Bryant & Greenwood promotional article entitled, The Eyes of the World are Turned Toward Lake Worth,1912
  16. ^ Palm Beach Neighborhood Times, March 28, 1974, p.1, Early Resident Recounts Lake Worth History
  17. ^ Ibid.
  18. ^
  19. ^ Op. Cit. The Eyes of the World.
  20. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990".  
  21. ^ United States Department of Agriculture (1997). Map of Major Land Resource Areas in Florida (Map). Retrieved 2007-10-07.
  22. ^ "Major Land Resource Areas in Florida". United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2007-10-07. 
  23. ^ "Demographics of Lake Worth, Fla.". Retrieved 2007-11-20. 
  24. ^ a b "MLA Data Center Results for Lake Worth, Florida".  
  25. ^ "Ancestry Map of Guatemalan Communities". Retrieved 2007-11-20. 
  26. ^ "Ancestry Map of Haitian Communities". Retrieved 2007-11-20. 
  27. ^ "Ancestry Map of Cuban Communities". Retrieved 2007-11-20. 
  28. ^ "Ancestry Map of Honduran Communities". Retrieved 2007-11-20. 
  29. ^ "Fact Sheet, Lake Worth city, Florida".  
  30. ^ "History of Palm Beach State College".  
  31. ^
  32. ^ Andy Hansen Statistics -
  33. ^ Andy Hansen Baseball Stats by Baseball Almanac
  34. ^ "Raven Interview - The Miami Herald - 2004". Retrieved 2011-03-04. 
  35. ^ Herb Score, Big League Star who Pitched at Lake Worth, Dies at 75. Palm Beach Post, November 11, 2008, [1]
  36. ^ "N.C. State's Trea Turner combines power with speed". 2013-06-15. Retrieved 2013-07-28. 
  37. ^ "Twin cities". Retrieved 29 April 2014. 

External links

  • Lake Worth official city website
  • Greater Lake Worth Chamber of Commerce
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.