Delray Beach, Florida

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Delray Beach
Delray Beach Florida 900 block Seagate photo D Ramey Logan alt.jpg
Motto: "Village By The Sea"
Location in Palm Beach County and the state of Florida
Location in Palm Beach County and the state of Florida
Coordinates: 26°27′33″N 80°4′59″W / 26.45917°N 80.08306°W / 26.45917; -80.08306Coordinates: 26°27′33″N 80°4′59″W / 26.45917°N 80.08306°W / 26.45917; -80.08306
Country United States
State Florida
County Palm Beach
Incorporated (city) 1911
 • Type Commission-Manager
 • Mayor Cary Glickstein
 • City Manager Donald Cooper
 • Total 15.89 sq mi (41.2 km2)
 • Land 15.37 sq mi (39.8 km2)
 • Water .53 sq mi (1.4 km2)
Elevation[2] 9 ft (2.7 m)
Population (2013 est.)[3]
 • Total 64,072
 • Density 3,905.6/sq mi (1,507.9/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
Zip Code 33444–33448, 33482–33484
Area code(s) 561
FIPS code 12-17100[4]
GNIS feature ID 0281485[5]

Delray Beach is a coastal city in Palm Beach County, Florida, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 60,522. It is part of the Miami metropolitan area.


Early years[edit]

Native Americans lived or passed through the area at various times, and hunters, trappers, and runaway slaves may also have lived or passed through the area in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but there is no record or evidence of them.

Recorded history begins with the construction of the Orange Grove House of Refuge in 1876. The house derived its name from the grove of mature sour orange and other tropical fruit trees found at the site chosen for the house of refuge, but no record or evidence of who planted the trees has survived.

Settlement began around 1884, when African-Americans from the Panhandle of Florida purchased land a little inland from the Orange Grove House of Refuge and began farming. By 1894 the Black community was large enough to establish the first school in the area.

In 1894 William S. Linton, a Republican US Congressman for Saginaw, Michigan, bought a tract of land just west of the Orange Grove House of Refuge, and began selling plots in what he hoped would become a farming community. Initially, this community was named after Linton. In 1896 Henry Flagler extended his Florida East Coast Railroad south from West Palm Beach to Miami, with a station at Linton.

John and Elizabeth Shaw Sundy House, built in 1902, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Delray School, built in 1913, now houses the Cornell Museum, part of Old School Square in Delray Beach.
The Arcade Tap Room was a popular gathering place for Delray's "Artists and Writer's Colony" visitors from the 1920s to the 1950s.

The Linton settlers began to achieve success with truck farming of winter vegetables for the northern market. A hard freeze in 1898 was a setback, and many of the settlers left, including William Linton. Partly in an attempt to change the community's luck, or to leave behind a bad reputation, the settlement's name was changed in 1901 to Delray, after the Detroit neighborhood of Delray ("Delray" being the anglicized spelling of "Del Rey," which is Spanish for "of the king"), which in turn was named after the Mexican-American War's Battle of Molino del Rey).

Prior to 1909, the Delray settlement land was within Dade County. That year, Palm Beach County was carved out of the northern portion of the region. In 1915, Palm Beach County and Dade County contributed nearly equal portions of land to create what is now Broward County between the two, leaving Delray situated within the southeastern portion of Palm Beach County.[6]

By 1910, Delray had a population of 250. In 1911, the area was chartered by the State of Florida as an incorporated town. In the same year, pineapple and tomato canning plants were built. Pineapples became the primary crop of the area. This is reflected in the name of the present day Pineapple Grove neighborhood near downtown Delray Beach. By 1920, Delray's population had reached 1,051.

In the 1920s, drainage of the Everglades west of Delray lowered the water table, making it harder to grow pineapples, while the extension of the Florida East Coast Railway to Key West resulted in competition from Cuban pineapples for the markets of the northern United States.

The Florida land boom of the 1920s brought renewed prosperity to Delray. Tourism and real estate speculation became important parts of the local economy. Delray issued bonds to raise money to install water and sewer lines, paved streets, and sidewalks. Several hotels were built. At that time Delray was the largest town on the east coast of Florida between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. The collapse of the land boom in 1926 left Delray saddled with high bond debts, and greatly reduced income from property taxes.

Delray was separated from the Atlantic Ocean beach by the Florida East Coast Canal (now part of the Intracoastal Waterway). In 1923 the area between the canal and the ocean was incorporated as Delray Beach. In 1927 Delray and Delray Beach merged into one town named Delray Beach.

Beginning in the mid-1920s, a seasonal "Artists and Writers Colony"[7] was established in Delray Beach and the adjacent town of Gulf Stream. Throughout the 1930s and '40s, Delray became a winter enclave for artists and authors, especially famous cartoonists. Two nationally syndicated cartoonists — H. T. Webster (creator of "Casper Milquetoast") and Fontaine Fox of "Toonerville Trolley" fame — had offices upstairs in the Arcade Building over the Arcade Tap Room; a popular gathering place where the artists and writers were often joined by aristocrats, politicians, entertainers, and sports figures. Other well-known artists and writers of the era who had homes in Delray Beach include: Herb Roth, W.J. “Pat” Enright, Robert Bernstein, Wood Cowan, Denys Wortman, Jim Raymond, Charles Williams, Herb Niblick, Hugh McNair Kahler, Clarence Budington Kelland, Nina Wilcox Putnam, and Edna St. Vincent Millay. These seasonal visitors helped soften the effect of the real estate downturn and The Great Depression on the city.[8][9]

Post World War II[edit]

For the four years of World War II, citizens of Delray Beach volunteered to watch the beach and ocean 24 hours a day from the faux bell tower atop the seaside Seacrest Hotel. Military personnel patrolled the beach on horseback. Shipping attacks could be seen from the coast. During WWII Delray Beach also saw an influx of service personnel stationed at the nearby Boca Raton Army Airfield. Some of the veterans who had trained at the airfield returned to settle in Delray Beach after the war. Steady growth of the city continued though the 1950s and 1960s.[10]

The Seacrest Hotel.
Atlantic Avenue, mid-20th century.

In the 1970s, Interstate 95 between Palm Beach Gardens and Miami was fully completed and development began to spread west of the city limits. This pattern continued and accelerated through the 1980s, as downtown and many of the older neighborhoods fell into a period of economic decline.[11][12]

Revitalization of some historic areas began during the last decade of the twentieth century, as several local landmark structures were renovated. These include the Colony Hotel[13] and Old School Square (the former campus of Delray Elementary School and Delray High School, since turned into a cultural center).[14] The Old School Square complex now comprises the Crest Theatre, a venue for the performing arts, in the former High School building; the 1925 Gymnasium, restored to maintain its appearance, which has since become a venue for local events such as wedding receptions and dances; the Cornell Museum of Art and History, built in the restored Elementary School; and an outdoor entertainment pavilion, which serves as a venue for musical performances and other events such as political rallies. The city also established five Historic Districts, listed in the Local Register of Historic Places, and annexed several other historic residential neighborhoods between U.S. Route 1 and the Intracoastal Waterway in an effort to preserve some of the distinctive local architecture.[15][16][17]

In 2001, the historic home of teacher/principal Solomon D. Spady was renovated and turned into the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum. The Spady Museum houses black archives. It hosts exhibits and programs designed to recognize the efforts of blacks who were instrumental in shaping Delray Beach and Palm Beach County.[18] In 2007 the museum was expanded by renovating a 1935 cottage as a Kid's Cultural Clubhouse, and the construction of a 50-seat amphitheater named for C. Spencer Pompey, a pioneer black educator.[19]

Downtown Delray, located in the eastern part of the city, along Atlantic Avenue, east of I-95 and stretching to the beach, has undergone a large scale renovation and gentrification. The Delray Beach Tennis Center has brought business to the area. It has hosted several major international tennis events such as the April 2005 Fed Cup (USA vs. Belgium, the April 2004 Davis Cup (USA vs. Sweden), the Delray Beach International Tennis Championships (ATP Event), and the Chris Evert / Bank of America Pro Celebrity.[citation needed]

Atlantic Community High School was rebuilt in 2005 on a different site from the previous school, a plan which was met with much contention.[20][21]

When DayJet operated from 2007 to 2008, its headquarters were in Delray Beach.[22]

From 2009 to 2012, Pet Airways had its headquarters in Delray Beach.[23]


In 2007, Delray Beach was labeled as the drug recovery capital of the United States because it had one of the country’s largest recovery communities and relative number of halfway houses.[24] As a result of the article, as of July 7, 2009, the city government approved ordinances that made it illegal for sober houses and other transient rentals to operate in the area.[25] These ordinances may be tested in the courts in the future.[25]


The city's eastern boundary includes 4 miles (6.4 km) of beachfront along the Atlantic Ocean.

Directly to the south, the city is bordered by Boca Raton.

To the south and southeast, the city is bordered by Highland Beach on the same barrier island east of the Intracoastal Waterway.

Directly to the north, the city is bordered by Boynton Beach.

To the north and northeast, the city is bordered by Gulf Stream on the barrier island and along a section of mainland east of U.S. Route 1.

To the west, an urbanized area that includes High Point, Kings Point, Villages of Oriole, and several gated communities extends beyond the city's western boundary to the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge portion of the Everglades. Many residences and businesses within this suburban corridor of unincorporated Palm Beach County possess a Delray Beach postal address despite technically lying outside the city limits.[26] This area is often referred to collectively and informally as "West Delray".[27]

Delray Beach's location in Southeastern Palm Beach County is in the middle of Florida's Gold Coast region.[28]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city of Delray Beach has a total area of 15.9 sq mi (41.2 km2), of which 15.4 square miles (40 km2) is land and .53 square miles (1 km2) is water (3.34%).

Downtown location[edit]

In earlier years downtown Delray was centered along Atlantic Avenue as far west as Swinton Avenue and as far east as the intracoastal waterway. Downtown has since expanded. By 2010, downtown extended west to I-95 and east as the Atlantic Ocean; The north-south boundaries extend roughly two blocks north and south of Atlantic Avenue.[29]


Delray Beach's climate barely qualifies as a tropical rainforest climate (Köppen climate classification Af), as its driest month (February) averages 64.8mm of precipitation, narrowly meeting the minimum standard of 60mm in the driest month needed to qualify for that designation.[clarification needed]

Climate data for Delray Beach
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 75
Average low °F (°C) 57
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.75
Source: [30]


Census Pop.
1910 904
1920 1,051 16.3%
1930 2,333 122.0%
1940 3,737 60.2%
1950 6,312 68.9%
1960 12,230 93.8%
1970 19,366 58.3%
1980 34,329 77.3%
1990 47,789 39.2%
2000 60,020 25.6%
2010 60,522 0.8%
Delray Beach demographics
2010 Census Delray Beach Palm Beach County Florida
Total population 60,522 1,320,134 18,801,310
Population, percent change, 2000 to 2010 +0.8% +16.7% +17.6%
Population density 3,828.4/sq mi 670.2/sq mi 350.6/sq mi
White or Caucasian (including White Hispanic) 65.7% 73.5% 75.0%
(Non-Hispanic White or Caucasian) 59.2% 60.1% 57.9%
Black or African-American 28.0% 17.3% 16.0%
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) 9.5% 19.0% 22.5%
Asian 1.8% 2.4% 2.4%
Native American or Native Alaskan 0.2% 0.5% 0.4%
Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian 0.1% 0.1% 0.1%
Two or more races (Multiracial) 1.7% 2.3% 2.5%
Some Other Race 2.5% 3.9% 3.6%

As of 2010, there were 34,156 households out of which 20.4% were vacant. As of 2000, 18.9% of households had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.4% were married couples living together, 10.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 43.7% were non-families. 35.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 18.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.87.

In 2000, the city's population was spread out with 18.2% under the age of 18, 6.3% from 18 to 24, 27.1% from 25 to 44, 22.4% from 45 to 64, and 25.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44 years. For every 100 females there were 91.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.0 males.

In 2000, the median income for a household in the city was $43,371, and the median income for a family was $51,195. Males had a median income of $33,699 versus $28,469 for females. The per capita income for the city was $29,350. About 8.2% of families and 11.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.6% of those under age 18 and 7.8% of those age 65 or over.

As of 2000, speakers of English as a first language accounted for 75.44% of all residents, while French Creole accounted for 11.73%, Spanish consisted of 7.02%, French was at 1.87%, Italian at 0.88%, and German made up 0.75% of the population.[31]

As of 2000, Delray Beach had the sixteenth highest percentage of Haitian residents in the US, with 10.50% of the population.[32]


Delray Beach International Tennis Championships (ITC) is an ATP World Tour 250 series men's tennis tournament held every year in the city. It is played on hard courts. The event was held in Coral Springs from 1993–1999; in 1999, it was relocated to the Delray Beach Tennis Center. American Todd Martin won the first ever ITC in 1993.[citation needed]

On July 20, 2010, the city's commissioners proclaimed that the city's name would be officially changed to Tennis Beach for one week in honor of its nomination by the United States Tennis Association as one of the top tennis towns in the United States.[33]



The area offers restaurants, retail shops, nightclubs, and art galleries. There are a number of free municipal parking lots and garages downtown.[34]

Tourist attractions[edit]

The city has 2 miles (3.2 km) of public beach accessible from Florida State Road A1A. The remains of the steamship Inchulva that sank on Sept 11, 1903 are located in shallow water near the public beach, acting as habitat for native fish and corals.[35] Better known today as the Delray Wreck,[36] this is a popular site for both snorkeling and scuba diving.

Downtown Delray Beach has undergone a gentrification program centered on East Atlantic Avenue, also known as simply "The Avenue". The area is noted for its nightlife, dining, and shopping.[37] In 2012 USA Today Travel named Delray Beach America's Most Fun Small Town.[38]

In 2009, expansion of the Downtown Arts District was established. The arts district, centered in Pineapple Grove just north of Atlantic Avenue, is noted for its galleries, performance art, and cultural organizations.[39] Art and Jazz on the Avenue is held six times a year.[40]

Recent development[edit]

Downtown Delray has had a building boom since roughly 2003. New mixed-use development projects have recently been constructed, and more are planned, in the areas immediately north and south of Atlantic Avenue. To accommodate the anticipated growth the city has also built two new municipal parking garages.[41][42]

Top employers[edit]

According to Delray Beach's 2011 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report,[43] the top employers in the city are:

# Employer Number of
1 Delray Medical Center 1,520
2 Publix 496
3 JET Flite 425
4 Amnoco Services 400
5 Target 350
6 Ed Morse Delray Toyota Kia 350
7 Lincoln of Delray 300
8 Hardrives 280
9 Marriott Hotels & Resorts 275
10 Gleneagles County Club 250

Notable landmarks and buildings[edit]

Cabbage palm trees and seagrapes line the public beachfront. 100 block of North Ocean Boulevard (Florida State Road A1A) in Delray Beach.

Points of interest[edit]



  • Florida A1A.svg Florida State Road A1A, locally known as "Ocean Boulevard", is a north-south Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway passing through the city between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean.
  • US 1.svg U.S. Route 1, also known as "Federal Highway", is a north-south road passing through downtown, commercial districts, and residential areas in the eastern part of the city. US1 splits into a divided one-way pair through downtown.
  • I-95.svg Interstate 95 bisects the city from north to south with two Delray Beach interchanges.
  • Florida's Turnpike shield.png Florida's Turnpike is a north-south toll road passing through unincorporated Delray Beach, with an interchange at Atlantic Avenue.
  • US 441.svg U.S. Highway 441, also known as State Road 7, is a north-south highway passing through residential and commercial areas west of the city limits.
  • Other major north-south roads include Congress Avenue, Military Trail, and Jog Road.
  • Florida 806.svg Florida State Road 806, locally known as "Atlantic Avenue", is the primary east-west route between State Road A1A and US 441, and the central commercial thoroughfare downtown.
  • Atlantic Avenue, Linton Boulevard, and George Bush Boulevard are the east-west roads with drawbridge crossings over the Intracoastal Waterway.




  • The Downtown Roundabout: A free shuttle that connects the Tri-Rail Station to Downtown Delray Beach. With two routes, and 22 stops throughout the downtown, it operates 7 days a week.[51]
  • The Downtowner: An on-demand, local, free ride service utilizing green technology.[52]


The city of Delray Beach does not have a public aviation facility, but is within a metropolitan area served by three major international airports. Palm Beach International Airport is 19 miles (31 km) to the north, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is 33 miles (53 km) to the south, and Miami International Airport is 55 miles (89 km) to the south. The nearest local/executive airports are the Boca Raton Airport 9 miles (14 km) to the south and the Palm Beach County Park Airport 14 miles (23 km) to the north.[53]


Downtown Delray Beach is accessible by boat via The Intracoastal Waterway. Yacht cruises also launch daily from Veteran's Park at the Atlantic Avenue crossing.[54]

Notable people[edit]

Sister cities[edit]

Delray Beach has two sister cities, as designated by Sister Cities International:[158]

See also[edit]


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