Time Line

Boca Raton History Timeline

2000 B.C.E.

First known inhabitants of Boca Raton occupy a site at today’s Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.


Boca Ratones is shown on the Bernard Romans map located on Biscayne Bay in what is now Miami Beach.


First known appearance of “Boca Raton” on a map in association with its present location.


Second Seminole War begins.


Fort Lauderdale is established on New River. The route from Fort Jupiter to Fort Lauderdale is known as Military Trail.


Capt. Richard A. Wade leads his troops from Fort Jupiter to Fort Lauderdale via a beach-front route, passing through the future Boca Raton.

Second Seminole War ends.


Our first non-Indian settlers, William A. and William T. Cobb, homestead in or near Boca Raton.


Third Seminole War begins.

A man named Cobb is reported living at Hillsboro Inlet.


Third Seminole War ends.


The Jupiter lighthouse begins operations.


U.S. Civil War begins.


U.S. Civil War ends.


The first formal homestead claim is made in the Lake Worth region.


The Orange Grove House of Refuge is established in the future Delray Beach.


The first  Barefoot Mailman walks the beach from Jupiter to Key Biscayne.


The first county (then Dade County) road is completed.  A stage line is instituted from Lantana to Lemon City (North Miami). There is a “dinner stop” to change mules near what is now the Hillsboro Canal and Dixie Highway.

Thomas Moore Rickards buys property in the future Boca Raton.


The last of the Barefoot Mailmen walks the beach.

1894 - 1895

A terrible freeze ruins the Florida citrus crop and Henry Flagler decides to extend his Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) south from West Palm Beach to Miami.


The FEC Railway is completed through Boca Raton.

The section of the Florida East Coast Canal (now the Intracoastal Waterway) between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach is completed.


Surveyor Thomas Moore Rickards plats Boca Raton for the FEC Railway.


Rickards builds the first known house in Boca Raton on the Intracoastal south of today’s Palmetto Park Road Bridge.


Spanish American War.


The Homeseeker magazine reports that citrus, pineapples, tomatoes, eggplants, and beans are being grown in Boca Raton.

Rickards’ 1900 map of Boca Raton indicates the presence of a Seminole camp on what is now the El Rio Canal, south of Palmetto Park Road.


George Long and family come to Boca Raton.


Frank Chesebro and family move to Boca Raton from Michigan to farm.

First successful flight of heavier- than- air powered aircraft at Kitty Hawk.


Joe Sakai establishes the Yamato Colony for Japanese settlers near Yamato Road and Dixie Highway. Never more than 50 people at one time including black and white families, most of the colonists sell their property in the 1920s land boom.

A wood plank bridge is built over the Hillsboro River (now the El Rio Canal) at about NW 20th Street.


George Long’s packinghouse serves as the first school; a schoolhouse for white children is built at the present site of Police Department headquarters.


Palm Beach becomes a county.


Work begins on the Hillsboro Canal, an extension of the Hillsboro River.


The Titanic sinks.


Harley and Harriette Gates arrive from Vermont and purchase five acres along the Intracoastal and build their home. They name it Palmetto Park Plantation, the namesake of Palmetto Park Road.


Dixie Highway is completed through Boca Raton.

Pearl City, a community for African American residents, is established between Dixie and Federal Highways just south of today’s Glades Road.

The Board of Trade (similar to a modern Chamber of Commerce) is established.

Boca Raton gets its first telephone service.

Locals open the previously closed Boca Raton inlet by digging it out by hand.


U.S. enters World War I.

Palmetto Park Road bridge, the first bridge across the Intracoastal, is completed.


World War I ends.

Influenza pandemic.

Macedonia A.M.E. and Ebenezer Baptist Church become the first churches in Boca Raton.

Frank Chesebro establishes a cemetery in what is today Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club.


National prohibition enacted.

Women’s suffrage enacted.

The Florida land boom begins.

Boca Raton’s wooden schoolhouse is replaced by a masonry structure. The wooden school building is moved on rollers by Frank Chesebro to Pearl City to serve the African American children.

The first bridge over the Boca Raton inlet is a fixed wooden span.


The first Boca Raton Woman’s Club is established; the members establish the town’s first library.


Boca Raton is first incorporated as “Boca Ratone.”


Architect Addison Mizner’s Mizner Development Corporation initiates his “Boca Raton” development project to be the “world’s greatest resort.”

Mizner-designed two bedroom bungalows in what is now Spanish Village sell for $7000.

George Harvey, Mizner’s major competitor, establishes the Villa Rica development north of today’s NE 32nd Street.

The Town of Boca Raton is incorporated.

Commissioners enact an ordinance appointing a town marshal (now the Boca Raton Police Department).

Dixie Highway is asphalted, and the route switched from the west side of the FEC tracks to the east side in the area just north and south of Palmetto Park Road.

The Boca Raton Community Church (later the First United Methodist Church) is completed on Royal Palm Road.


Mizner’s Cloister Inn, now the Boca Raton Resort & Club, opens on February 6.

Florida Power and Light brings electricity to Boca Raton.

The Hurricane of 1926, South Florida’s “Hurricane Katrina,” strikes the area September 18, sounding the death knell of the land boom. The Depression comes early to South Florida.

Boca Raton purchases an American LaFrance fire engine, later known as “Old Betsy.”

Town marshal Charlie Raulerson et al discover a stash of bootleg liquor under a building at about SE 4th Street and Dixie Highway. (The building briefly served as city hall.)


Boca Raton Town Hall is completed.

Philadelphia investor Clarence Geist buys the assets of the Mizner Development Corporation for approximately $71,500.

The Seaboard Air Line (today the Amtrak tracks) is completed through Boca Raton. Boca Raton never gets a Seaboard passenger station.

Federal Highway is completed through Boca Raton.

The Ritz Carlton Golf Course (associated with the Cloister Inn) opens on the future site of Sugar Sand Park.


Geist hires architects Schultze and Weaver to design the enlargement of the Cloister Inn.

August Butts begins acquiring farmland in Boca Raton becoming Boca’s largest landowner. Boca Raton becomes known as a “green bean capital.”

The cemetery is relocated to a site on the present Boca Raton Boulevard north of Glades Road.

The “West Palm Beach” hurricane kills over 3000 people and causes widespread destruction in Boca Raton.

The town establishes a volunteer fire department.

Beulah Butler is the first woman elected to the town commission.


The stock market crashes; the Great Depression begins.

Boca Raton builds a state-of-the-art water plant with a loan from utilities magnate Clarence Geist. It is located at the site of the present city hall.

The Florida East Coast Canal becomes part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway under the supervision of the Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND).


The Cloister Inn reopens as the exclusive Boca Raton Club. The Cabana Club opens as the hotel’s beachside venue on Ocean Boulevard south of the inlet.

A wooden bascule bridge replaces the fixed bridge at the Boca Raton Inlet.


National prohibition is repealed.


The Works Progress Administration, a New Deal agency, is established.


Boca Raton gets its first airport, built with WPA funds. It is in what is now the southeastern portion of the FAU campus.


There are two traffic signals in town, one at Federal and Palmetto Park Road and the other a block away at Federal and Boca Raton Road. They operate only during the winter season.


The current bridge over the Intracoastal on Camino Real, aka the Geist Bridge, replaces an earlier swing bridge.


U.S. enters World War II.


The Army Air Forces Technical Training Command establishes Boca Raton Army Air Field as an airborne radar training base. The military leases the Boca Raton Club as base headquarters for two years.


The Federal government authorizes the Palmetto Park Housing Project (later known as the Garden Apartments, for white citizens) and the Dixie Manor Project (for black citizens).


Hotelier J. Myer Schine buys the Boca Raton Club from the Geist estate. Under his ownership, the hotel evolves from a seasonal social hotel to a convention hotel.


World War II ends.


DDT becomes commercially available as a pesticide, causing a revolution in the pest control industry. It is banned by the EPA in 1972.

Two hurricanes cause severe damage to the structures of the BRAAF. Most operations are transferred to Biloxi. The Boca Raton Army Air Field becomes the Boca Raton Auxiliary Air Force Base.

The Boca Raton Lions’ Club, one of the community’s first civic associations, is chartered.


J. C. Morris builds a post office/ commercial building on East Boca Raton Road. The street becomes Boca Raton’s “downtown” retail business district.

Artist Leno Lazzari and his wife Louise are found shot to death in their home near the intersection of Federal Highway and Fifth Avenue. It remains the city’s coldest cold case.

The city begins the use of DDT in its mosquito control truck helping eliminate the mosquito and sand fly as major pests.


The city acquires 2400 of the 5800 acres of the former Boca Raton Field and many of its buildings. It is able to sell the land and buildings to attract new businesses to the area. It also agrees to maintain an airport on former base lands.

Highland Beach is incorporated.


Korean War begins. Cold War begins.

Local citizens establish the Art Guild of Boca Raton (now the Museum of Art).

Ira Eshleman establishes the Bible Conference Grounds (Bibletown), a Christian resort, on land s and in buildings of the former Boca Raton Army Air Field.


The Boca Pops orchestra is formed.

The Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce is organized.


Korean War ends.

Africa U.S.A., a wild animal nature park, opens in what is now the Camino Gardens neighborhood.

Ancient America, a tourist attraction on the site of a pre-Columbian burial mound, opens on North Federal Highway in the Boca Marina neighborhood.

The Boca Raton Garden Club is organized.


Houses in Boca Villas sell for $10,000 to $12,000.


The Boca Raton News publishes its inaugural paper.

Sanborn Square Park is donated to the city by Eleanor Sanborn in honor of her late husband, Dr.
W.E. Sanborn.


Arthur Vining Davis purchases the Boca Raton Hotel and Club and founds ARVIDA, the real estate development company responsible for much of the growth of Boca Raton.

The Boca Raton Negro School is renamed Roadman School for Frank Roadman, a former city councilman and school supporter.

Slammin’ Sammy Snead becomes the golf pro at the Boca Raton Hotel and Club.

Federal TV & Appliance at 107 Palmetto Park Road offers air conditioners for $199.95.

Boca Raton initiates home mail delivery.


USSR launches Sputnik; the Space Race begins.

Royal Palm Polo Club plays its first game.

The town of Boca Raton becomes a city and adopts the city manager-commission form of government.

Government leaders and activists appear on WPTV Channel 5’s “Salute to Boca Raton Day.”


The Teen Age Center, aka Teen Town, opens.

The city holds its first Fourth of July fireworks display at Memorial Park.

Microchip invented.


Arvida opens the Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club, the first of many local developments.

University Park, an Arvida project, is incorporated as a separate town. The state government disallowed the incorporation in 1971, and citizens elected to be annexed into Boca Raton.

The Boca Raton Auxiliary Air Force Base closes officially.


The state cabinet approves the construction of the newest state university, Florida Atlantic, to be built in Boca Raton.

St. Joan of Arc Catholic School opens.

The city’s only boat ramp (Silver Palm Park) opens.


St. Andrew’s School opens.

Arvida pays for a Glades Road exit on the Sunshine State Parkway.

New houses in Royal Oak Hills feature central air conditioning and optional screened pool.


Marymount College, now Lynn University, opens.

The Atlantic Cloisters open as the state’s first condominium.


President Kennedy assassinated.

The FEC Railway ends passenger service.

Boca Raton Community High School, the city’s first, opens.

Royal Palm Plaza opens as the town’s first real shopping center.

The current bridge over the Boca Raton inlet opens.


Civil Rights Act passed.

Hurricane Cleo delays the opening of Florida Atlantic University, FAU.

Boca Raton gets a new city hall, community center, and municipal court and police headquarters along Northwest 2nd Avenue (now known as Boca Raton Boulevard).

The Debbie Rand Foundation hosts the first Fiesta de Boca Raton, a city-wide festival to raise money to build a hospital.


U.S. sends active combat units to the Viet Nam conflict.

County schools are desegregated; the Roadman School for African American children holds its last class.

Students from Marymount march to Pearl City in sympathy with the arrival in Montgomery of the march for civil rights lead by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., from Selma.


Boca Raton citizens pass the first of a series of bond issues to purchase beachfront property for city parks.

St. Andrew’s School is the site of the Miami Dolphins training camp.


IBM opens a manufacturing facility for the IBM 360/ Model 20 in Boca Raton.

Boca Raton Community Hospital opens its doors.


Man walks on the moon.

Arvida opens a twenty-six-story tower addition to the Boca Raton Hotel and Club.

Phase 1 of Spanish River Park opens to the public.


IBM completes the “main complex” building designed in the Brutalist style by architects Marcel Breuer and Robert Gatje.


Marymount College becomes the College of Boca Raton.

The 40th Street Bridge, aka the Spanish Boulevard Bridge and the “Theodore Pratt Bridge,”
is open to the public.


The Watergate scandal ends in the resignation of President Nixon.

The Boca Raton Historical Society is founded.

Citizens pass a referendum to establish a “growth cap” of 40,000 dwelling units drawing national attention. The cap is struck down by the county circuit court in 1976, but the city continues its appeals all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Chris Evert wins the first Virginia Slims Tennis Tournament, held at the Boca Raton Hotel and Club. As an amateur, she is unable to claim the prize.


Boca Raton Christian School is established.

The U.S. experiences an energy crisis due to an OPEC oil embargo; national speed limits are reduced to 55 and the U.S. economy is negatively impacted.


The first condominiums open at the Boca West development.

The Boca Mall opens on Federal Highway.

The Fire Department hires its first EMTs.


The U.S. pulls out of Viet Nam.

Boca Raton gets a historic preservation board, one of the first in the state.

The Caldwell Playhouse puts on its first show.

Boca Raton holds its first holiday Boat Parade.

I-95 is completed through Boca Raton and South Florida.


The U.S. celebrates its bicentennial year.

Boca Raton Federal bank advertises 24-hour-a-day service at their new ATMs.


The Arvida Park of Commerce, a research and light industry development, opens north of Yamato Road.


The Royal Palm Dinner Theatre opens in Royal Palm Plaza.


The city adopts a land use plan placing density ceilings on all properties.

Donna Klein Jewish Academy opens.


Town Center Mall opens well away from the “town center.”

The city gives up its fight to maintain the “growth cap.”

The city council establishes the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) to facilitate the revitalization of downtown.

Saint John Paul II Academy opens.

Sears at Town Center Mall offers BetaVision VCRs for $695.00.

The Wildflower nightclub opens on the site of the former Palmetto Park Plantation, at the Intracoastal Waterway on Palmetto Park Road.


The Boca Raton Bicentennial Committee publishes a history of Boca Raton, Boca Raton a Romance of the Past.

IBM Boca Raton introduces its first personal computer, the IBM PC, the ancestor of all “PCs,” and revolutionizes the industry. Boca becomes the center of IBM PC operations.

The Count and Countess de Hoernle, two of the community’s most generous philanthropists, move to Boca Raton.


The City leases Town Hall to the Boca Raton Historical Society, which begins its restoration.


Spanish River Community High School opens in West Boca Raton.


The Historical Society completes the restoration of Town Hall.


The Historical Society purchases the FEC Railway Station and begins its restoration.


The Art Guild becomes the Boca Raton Museum of Art.

Mission Bay Aquatic Center opens west of State Road 7.

Office Depot begins operations from its headquarters in Boca Raton.


Boca Raton Academy becomes Pine Crest School.

Boca Raton Synagogue opens on Montoya Circle; it becomes the center for a large orthodox Jewish community.


The Historical Society completes the restoration of the Boca Raton FEC Railway Station.


The Boca Mall closes.

The Berlin Wall comes down; the Cold War ends.

The World Wide Web is invented.


Old Floresta, site of twenty-nine homes designed by Addison Mizner, becomes the city’s first historic district.

Gulf War begins.

Stewart Cellular offers Motorola cell phones for $249.00


Gulf War ends.

Mizner Park opens.

The College of Boca Raton becomes Lynn University.

The Richard and Carole Siemens campus in West Boca Raton becomes the new home of the South Palm Beach County Jewish Federation.

Olympic Heights Community High School opens in West Boca Raton.

The Glades Road branch of the county library opens in West Boca.


The International Museum of Cartoon Art opens in Mizner Park.


The huge South County Regional Park (now Burt Aaronson Park) opens ten miles west of downtown Boca Raton.

IBM sells its Boca Raton property.


A 128,000 square foot convention center known as the Mizner Center opens at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.


People worldwide fear the Y2K or the “millennium bug.”


The U.S. suffers terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The American Media Inc. (AMI) building, home of the National Inquirer, is one of several sites infected by anthrax by means of the U.S. mail.

The FAU owls play their first football game.

The Museum of Art opens a new facility in Mizner Park.

The Boca Pops plays its last concert.

Houses in Boca Villas sell for $208,000 to $500,000


The International Museum of Cartoon Art Museum closes.

Pearl City becomes the city’s second historic district.


The Boca Raton Historical Society completes the restoration of two historic streamline rail cars at the FEC Railway Station.

Iraq war begins.


Boca Raton is pounded by Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, the worst hurricanes to hit the area since the 1960s.

West Boca Raton Community High School opens.


Hurricane Wilma does more damage to Boca Raton than any storm since Cleo in 1964.

Houses in Boca Villas sell for $650,000 to $1,225,000.


The Spanish River branch of the Boca Raton library opens to the public.


The Royal Palm Polo Club closes.


The West Boca branch of the county library opens.


Iraq war ends.


Lynn University holds the last of the presidential debates between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.


The city opens a new main library building on NW 2nd Avenue (Boca Raton Boulevard).

The Wick Theatre and Costume Museum opens in the former Caldwell Theatre building on North Federal Highway.


Downtown Boca Raton begins a controversial building boom.



Hurricane Irma, a cat 5 storm, threatens the entire state of Florida, with the eye centered over Boca Raton. Fortunately, the big storm tracks further west and south leaving the city with minimal damage.


Boca Villas houses sell for $700,000 to $3.9M

Mizner houses in Spanish Village are appraised for as much as $485,000.


COVID-19 pandemic

The city requires the community to wear face masks and practice “social distancing” as thousands of local citizens fall ill. The government, businesses, and services are temporarily “shut down” resulting in permanent business closures and unemployment.


The Boca Raton Historical Society opens its renovated building and exhibits called “History Alive!,” in the newly renamed The Schmidt Boca Raton History Museum.