Boca Raton History

Boca Raton History Part 2: The Pioneer Era

boca raton history part 2 - the pioneer era

Through our first entry, we reviewed the sometimes sordid history between the natives and the eventual settlers of South Florida. For centuries, the area known as Boca Raton was a sparsely inhabited area known for its beauty by the Spanish and Seminoles alike. The wild, salt-kissed hammocks of Boca Raton were hardly inhabitable save for the cultures who knew the land for millennia and the pirates who sheltered from storms and attacks by the Spanish galleons they sought to plunder. During the late 19th Century, Palm Beach and Miami became the only significant American towns in the region. Boca Raton was host to less than a dozen white families for the decades that followed, supplying the honorable Joshua Bowen as its first serving congressman. As evidenced by the legend of the Barefoot Mailmen, the journey from Palm Beach to Miami was made solely by doggedly determined pioneers, soldiers, outlaws, and natives.

In the 1890s, this would change drastically. Led by a legendary entrepreneur with a near-ubiquitous name in our state, the first surveys and settlements began to truly take root in Boca Raton. Today's story begins with that man, his right hand in the region, and the few brave enough to settle and change the landscape of Boca Raton forever.

florida east coast railway


Boca Raton History Part 1: Presettlement and The First Pioneers

boca raton presettlement era

The illustrious city of Boca Raton is a jewel on Florida's East Coast. What was once nothing but swampy hinterlands and untamed wilderness evolved over centuries to become the envy of the world - a place for celebrities, the ultra-wealthy, upstart businesspeople, and successful retirees to settle as their own. Yet, before the days of high-impact windows, central A/C, and the many guard-gated communities we feature as part of our landscape, a few brave settlers would attempt the earliest forays into the land we call Boca Raton. As part of our first chapter in profiling Boca Raton's historical chapters, and in concert with our friends at the Boca Raton Historical Society, we're excited to begin our series where it all began, at least for us. Our blog will illuminate the key figures, moments, and decisions that led from those first incursions to the glamorous present and future we live in today.

glades culture tribesmen

Early Florida Natives fashioning weaponry from the shell of the lightning whelk (Courtesy: Boca Raton Historical Society)

The Native Origins

The earliest vestiges of human habitation are evidenced in the area currently known as Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, just north of our beachfront office. Known as The Glades Culture, these early natives were here as early as 2,000 B.C. Though South Florida is primarily defined by its...