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Address: Clematis Street, West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Phone Number:
+1 561-404-9787

The History of Clematis Street & West Palm Beach

Henry Flagler

A history...

The History of Clematis Street & West Palm Beach

Henry Flagler

A history of the Clematis Street District or of West Palm Beach cannot be told without mentioning the name of Henry Flagler. Anyone who has been in Florida for even a short amount of time will recognize the name. It's all over Florida roads, bridges and beaches as well as countless other monuments and museums.

Flagler's Dream:

Palm Beach

Henry Flagler co-founded Standard Oil Company with John D. Rockefeller and also built the Florida railroad from Jacksonville to Key West. He came to the West Palm Beach area in 1893. After being impressed with the natural beauty of the area, he sought to create the most famous resort in the world, Palm Beach. The resort would be conveniently accessible by his own railroad. He built two major hotels, The Breakers and the Royal Poinciana Hotel (later destroyed by a hurricane). He also built what is now West Palm Beach directly across Lake Worth for the service people who worked on the island and as a commercial district.

Clematis Street

Not only is it one of the trendiest places to be today, it also boasts a long and important history. Clematis Street began as the main thoroughfare of West Palm Beach in the early 20th century. It connected the train station on the west with the ferry to Palm Beach Island on the east.

Early 20th Century:

Storefronts logically multiplied and lined each way, as Clematis became the "Main Street" of West Palm Beach. The commuters of the day would traverse Clematis Street and frequent these shops before and after work, much like we do today. It's many older buildings display a fascinating journey through South Florida history.

Automobiles Change Everything

Eventually automobiles, bridges and highways replaced the train, ferry and buggies as the main means of transportation. While once the train station was the link to the outside world, visitors could now arrive via various routes. Okeechobee Boulevard would eventually become the main connection from route 95 over to Palm Beach and Clematis Street would lose its steady flow of passers-by. As the area progressed, suburban sprawl contributed to the growth of metropolitan West Palm Beach, yet the downtown business area remained.

The Downtown Development Authority

In 1967 the Downtown Development Authority was created to impact Downtown's economic conditions, formulate long-range plans for improving the appeal and accessibility of Downtown facilities, promoting their use, providing remedy to any deterioration of Downtown property values, and most importantly, retaining and attracting businesses to Clematis Street.

In short, the DDA works to retain and attract business and to protect the investments of its constituents. Largely due to the Downtown Development Authority Clematis Street is still considered the Main Street of West Palm Beach.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 605 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 254
  • 207
    Very good
  • 58
  • 25
  • 12
Where most live events happen in downtown West Palm Beach

The scenery is lovely, the streets are clean, and the area feels safe. Whenever there is a holiday or special events, this is usually where it happens. Tip: arrive early to get a... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
Vero Beach, Florida
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605 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 556: English reviews
Level Contributor
140 reviews
25 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

I think the title says it all. Its a food mecca. There are really no stores so unless your hungry really no need to visit.

Thank Denise H
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviewed 1 week ago

Nice area to walk around, shops, restaurants. Thursday's there is a concert! Activities close by, Palm Beach Segway Tours, Fun time.

Thank Robin S
Vero Beach, Florida
Level Contributor
62 reviews
16 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 week ago

The scenery is lovely, the streets are clean, and the area feels safe. Whenever there is a holiday or special events, this is usually where it happens. Tip: arrive early to get a good parking place and take time to walk around exploring or to simply enjoy the lovely vistas.

Thank MzElaineous
Lake Worth, Florida, United States
Level Contributor
17 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 week ago

Clematis Street is a nice place to walk around to check out its upscale stores and restaurants! However many establishments do not make it and they go out of business due to the extremely high rent costs! This is a bummer because if the rental prices were more affordable the shoppers would have a much better experience. The area at... More 

Thank Barry C
Andersonville, Tennessee
Level Contributor
241 reviews
54 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 weeks ago

A fun neighborhood to walk around to sight see. Very nice shops and many restaurants to choose from. There are also bikes to rent if you choose to do so. We found parking meter parking on the street that was reasonable. Seemed very clean and safe to walk around.

Thank beachcomber36
Level Contributor
24 reviews
15 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

There's always something to do or see here. Shops and restaurants all around. Be careful where you walk though. Just one street over and you could find yourself in the wrong neighborhood.

Thank Jenn G
Falls Church, Virginia
Level Contributor
11 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 weeks ago

many wonderful places to eat and shops to examine in one two block area. 'Pistache' one of the best brunch cafes I've ever visited in the world.

Thank rwscjs
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 5 weeks ago via mobile

Good time,lots to do, hot chicks and nice cars everywhere. Luv west palm beach! Can't wait to see it on the weekend.

Thank lonzD
West Palm Beach, Florida
Level Contributor
26 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 14 March 2017

The Clematis street district has many things to offer from the local library, to restaurants, bars, and clubs. There is no shortage of flavors on Clematis with restuarants ranging from mexican style, japanese, mediteranean, and classic american. There are also a flew places to pick up a quick bite if you want to grab it and eat down by the... More 

Thank Brittany M
Level Contributor
45 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 March 2017

I remember back in 1976 my family moved to Palm Beach , and my father wanted to show us down town Clematis. It was a ghost town ' not a soul was walking around. Burdines department store was a place to go and shop. Roxy's was not on Clematis. Pioneer linins is still in it's the original spot. Now it's... More 

Thank Catie C

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