Boca Raton’s History and
Arvida | Arthur Vining Davis
Boca Raton … It began with the Tequesta and Calusa Indians. And since then has been a safe harbor to the Spanish Conquistadors. A stopover for The Barefoot Mailman. A thoroughfare for Henry Flagler. A dream of Addison Mizner. A livelihood for Japanese immigrants. A base for servicemen. A challenge for Arthur Vining Davis. With its continuous balmy weather and unparalleled beauty, the area continues to this day as a resort mecca and haven for those seeking the good life, and the stage was set for the abundance of riches that comprise the Palm Beaches’ and Boca Raton’s allure today.
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History of Boca Raton
The railroad also opened up Boca Raton to the rest of the country. And open up it did. With its completion in 1896, families arrived from Georgia and South Carolina, and the fledgling settlement was born. One year later, in 1897, the city incorporated and officially became known as Boca Raton, although the name was attached to the present site in 1838. Boca Raton, translated from Spanish means “mouth of the rat.” But according to old charts that guided the buccaneers of Blackbeard’s day, marks the entrance to Boca Raton inlet as “Boca de Ratones.” The word “raton” originates from an old Spanish word for “thief,” and Boca Raton or “thieves inlet” describes the sheltered harbor as a popular hiding place for pirates fleeing the would-be avenging galleons of France, Spain and England.
In 1895 the first house was built by civil engineer Captain Thomas Moore Rickards. The year 1904 saw the arrival of Japanese immigrant farmers, encouraged by Flagler, who needed land cultivated to feed his railroad employees. The Japanese settled in North Boca which came to be known as Yamato. One Japanese truck farmer, George Morikami, spent his money buying up land. After becoming a US citizen at age 82, Morikami presented the community with 150 acres just northwest of the city – today the site of Delray Beach’s Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens.
History of Arvida – Arthur Vining Davis
It was in 1958 when Arthur Vining Davis took notice of our sleepy little town. He saw the charm and envisioned the life one could lead here. Former Chairman of Alcoa Company, Davis was worth an estimated $400 million, $2 million of which he used to purchase the Boca Raton Hotel and Club and, at the same time, a one-mile stretch of beach and many acres of land to the west. Arvida Corporation was then formed to sell and develop his vast land holdings and run the Hotel and Club. Arvida was an acronym for Arthur Vining Davis. Davis had decided then to perpetuate the influence of Addison Mizner and create the definitive haven for those who wanted and understood a glorious lifestyle. That dream was to be the cornerstone of residential living, unequaled anywhere in Florida.
That year saw the development of the first Arvida community. The Royal Palm Yacht and Country Club, one of the most luxurious communities of its kind. Soon to follow was the Royal Palm Plaza, a collection of the first “designer” shops in Florida. Additional golf was needed for the Hotel guests and Boca West became the west course to which guests were shuttled by bus. Then came a totally new concept in living, the beachfront condominium, which became one of Florida’s greatest commodities. Sabal Point, Sabal Shores and Sabal Ridge were three of the condominiums to first carry the Arvida name.
In the 1960’s, the advent of the Florida Turnpike, followed by Interstate-95, spawned a westward movement of both residential and commercial developments. Boca Raton’s subtropical and beckoning business climate attracted prestigious International Business Machines (IBM) and Florida Atlantic University – both set up shop here in the mid-’60’s. IBM’s purchase of Arvida property to open its computer manufacturing plant ultimately provided jobs for over 8,000 employees. In 1978, The Arvida Park of Commerce opened and is still considered one of the premier industrial parks in the nation. Other businesses soon followed suit. Between 1965 and 1980, newcomers in the pursuit of the good life tripled Boca Raton’s population. Today, Greater Boca Raton’s population is more than 180,000.