The Garden City
On March 20, 1959, John D. MacArthur, multimillionaire insurance magnate and landowner, announced plans to develop approximately 4,000 acres and provide homes for 55,000 people in a new community. The land would be developed under his careful supervision. Mr. MacArthur's chosen name for the city was Palm Beach city.
However, permission to use that name was denied, so MacArthur, in keeping with his "garden city" plan, decided to call the city Palm Beach Gardens. He wanted this new city to be a place to raise a family and earn a living - to realize the American dream. With this in mind, he set to work carving the City of Palm Beach Gardens from empty miles of dairy cattle grazing land.
Mr. MacArthur envisioned the city streets lined with trees and flowers. Millions of dollars were wisely invested by MacArthur to create a Florida community with hundreds of waterways, rolling terrain, magnificent mature pine and shade trees, and rich foliage. Because Mr. MacArthur was a lover of trees and Mother Nature, he instructed that city streets and construction go around trees that had been growing there for many years, such as the Banyan trees. This made for an expensive proposition but he wanted to build a city that was entirely new and unblemished. Churches were the first buildings to be built in the city. He wanted to ensure that the city had a variety of houses of worship to serve residents of all faiths.
By 1964, Mr. MacArthur was satisfied with the industry and recreation in Palm Beach Gardens. He heard that the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) was looking for a new site for their home offices and golf courses. MacArthur donated more than $2,000,000 to the project.
John D. MacArthur and His Dog
Christmas in Dixie Parade, 1955
Easter Egg Hunt, Mid 1960s
City Council Identification Badges, Worn Early 1980s
In March 1965, the clubhouse was completed and the PGA moved in. Several PGA tournaments, including the Seniors and the World Cup, were hosted by the city in 1971, but the relationship would not last. In 1972, the PGA moved from the property that would become the J.D.M. Country Club and today is known as BallenIsles.
The City of Palm Beach Gardens has grown steadily during its forty years in existence. In 1999, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation sold approximately 14,000 acres of land including approximately 5,000 acres in the City of Palm Beach Gardens. The City Council, entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring quality development, was able to reach an agreement with the purchasers to manage this new growth.
Through the cooperation of the parties involved, the reputation and beauty of the City of Palm Beach Gardens will be preserved and enhanced by keeping in mind the "garden city" philosophy of its founder John D. MacArthur. The City of Palm Beach Gardens remains a premiere community in which to live and work, and will for future generations. As our city slogan suggests, we are "Growing Together in the Gardens".
History in the Making
The City of Palm Beach Gardens renovated the old Westminster Presbyterian Church on Military Trail. It has been transformed into an extension of the Burns Road Community Center Complex. This new facility, named Lakeside provides additional space for new and existing recreational programs that primarily include wellness classes and programs for seasoned adults.
Lakeside Center is also home to our permanent and growing exhibition of the city's history. During its history, newspaper clippings, photographs, maps and awards have been archived by city volunteers and members of the Palm Beach Gardens Women's Club. Scrapbooks, framed photographs, and a showcase of documents, awards, and other noteworthy accolades are on display throughout the building.
Future plans include scanning images collected over the years and posting them to the city's website. Visitors to the site can then view historical data gathered from the police and fire departments, special events and recreation departments spanning 50 years. Look for this exciting new way to view our past. It is 'History in the Making'.
History Scrapbooks by the Palm Beach Gardens Women's Club
Original Art rendering of the Palm Beach Gardens City Shield
Parade of Homes Ad, 1962
History Showcase of City Memorabilia