About Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton is the southernmost city in Palm Beach County, Florida, United States, first incorporated on August 2, 1924 as “Bocaratone,” and then incorporated as “Boca Raton” in 1925. The 2015 population estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau was 93,235. However, approximately 200,000 people with a Boca Raton postal address reside outside its municipal boundaries. Such areas include newer developments like West Boca Raton. As a business center, the city also experiences significant daytime population increases. It is one of the wealthiest communities in South Florida. Boca Raton is 43 miles (69 km) north of Miami and is a principal city of the Miami metropolitan area, which was home to an estimated 6,012,331 people at the 2015 census.
Boca Raton is home to the main campus of Florida Atlantic University and the corporate headquarters of Office Depot, ADT, Lynn University and Cancer Treatment Centers of America. It is also home to the Evert Tennis Academy, owned by professional tennis player Chris Evert. Town Center Mall, an upscale shopping center in Central Boca Raton, is the largest indoor mall in Palm Beach County. Another major attraction to the area is Boca Raton’s downtown, known as Mizner Park.
Many buildings in the area have a Mediterranean Revival or Spanish Colonial Revival architectural theme, initially inspired by Addison Mizner, a resort architect who heavily influenced the city’s early development. Still today, Boca Raton has a strict development code for the size and types of commercial buildings, building signs, and advertisements that may be erected within the city limits. No outdoor car dealerships are allowed in the municipality; further, Walmart is blocked from within the city proper. No billboards are permitted; the city’s only billboard was grandfathered in during annexation. The strict development code has led to several major thoroughfares without large signs or advertisements in the traveler’s view.
“Boca” means “mouth” in Spanish. “Ratón”, contrary to popular misconception, means “mouse”, not “rat”.
The city’s name when first incorporated in 1924 was “Boca Ratone”. Residents of the city have kept the pronunciation of Boca Raton similar to its Spanish origins. In particular, the “Raton” in “Boca Raton” is pronounced as /rəˈtoʊn/ instead of /rəˈtɒn/. The latter is a common mispronunciation by non-natives to the region.
In 1991, the new downtown outdoor shopping and dining center, Mizner Park, was completed over the site of the old Boca Raton Mall. It has since become a cultural center for southern Palm Beach County. Featuring a landscaped central park between the two main roads (collectively called Plaza Real) with stores only on the outside of the roads, Mizner Park resembles a Mediterranean suburban “town center” with a more contemporary look. It features many restaurants and is home to the Boca Raton Museum of Art, which moved to the new facility in 2001. In 2002, a new amphitheater was built, replacing a smaller one and providing a large-capacity outdoor venue where concerts and other performances are held.
Mizner Park has significantly aided downtown revitalization. Many new eight- to ten-story mixed-use buildings have been constructed, are under construction, or are proposed for the downtown area. The surrounding areas to the downtown have benefited from the downtown redevelopment.
The National Cartoon Museum built a 25,000-square-foot (2,300 m2) facility on the southwest edge of Mizner Park in 1996. Open for six years, the museum relocated to its original home in New York City in 2002. Building renovations for public uses, including the local public TV station, and private uses, such as a locally owned and operated bookstore, were completed in 2008. In addition to the Mizner Park Cultural Arts Association’s theater and space, the building is home to the Schmidt Family Foundation.
As development continued to focus to the west of the city in the 1980s and 1990s, the mall area known as Town Center at Boca Raton became the geographic center of what is referred to as West Boca Raton, though this mall was not annexed into the city until 2004. This area, including the unincorporated area west of the city (discussed below), is now almost entirely built out.
On November 2, 2004, the voters of the Via Verde Association, Waterside, Deerhurst Association (Boca South), Marina Del Mar Association, Rio Del Mar Association (both originally Boca Del Mar communities), and Heatherwood of Boca Raton Condominium Association approved annexation into the Boca Raton city limits, increasing the city land area to 29.6 square miles (77 km2).
Pearl City is a neighborhood in Boca Raton, immediately north of downtown. The neighborhood was originally platted on May 30, 1915 for the blue-collar African Americans employed at the Boca Raton Resort and similar establishments, on area farms, in construction, and various other jobs.
Boca Raton hosts one of the largest Greek Festivals in southern Florida during the last weekend of January on Yamato Road. Tens of thousands of people come to sample authentic Greek food while watching Greek dancing. One lucky person each year even wins a brand new luxury car.
Additionally, the town hosts the “Festival of the Arts BOCA” annually during the spring, and the Brazilian Beat Festival in the fall.
In 1999, the Simon Property Group bought Town Center at Boca Raton and began building a new wing on its southeastern side. In late 2006, Simon began the construction stage of an outdoor lifestyle center near that wing which includes a variety of restaurants, bar/lounge (Blue Martini), and a gym (YouFit Health Clubs).
Red Reef Park has the Gumbo Limbo Environmental Complex, an environmental education center. Founded in 1984, Gumbo Limbo is a cooperative project of the City of Boca Raton, Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District, Florida Atlantic University, and Friends of Gumbo Limbo. In addition to the sea tanks, butterfly garden and boardwalk trail through the hammocks complete with an observation tower, Gumbo Limbo also houses a research facility run by FAU where students study coral reefs,sea turtles, sharks, sea grass and other marine-related subjects.
Sugar Sand Park is a municipal park in Boca Raton. It contains the Children’s Science Explorium. Another park is the Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park in West Boca Raton. The park contains several amenities, including the Osprey Point Golf Course, a dog park, the Sunset Cove Amphitheater, the Coconut Cove Waterpark, and the Daggerwing Nature Center. Spanish River Park is a family-friendly city park along the Intracoastal Waterway for picnicking, swimming & bird-watching.
The Glades Road Branch Library and the West Boca Branch Library of the Palm Beach County Library System serve Boca Raton residents who live outside the city limits. The West Boca Branch opened on February 20, 2009. It is on State Road 7 just north of Yamato Road. The Glades Road Branch Library, formerly known as the Southwest County Regional Library, is on 95th Street and Glades Road, between Lyons Road and State Road 7. It closed for renovations in early 2009 and reopened as the Glades Road Branch Library on May 29, 2010. County library card holders may use any of the sixteen branches in the Palm Beach County Library System and have access to many databases and downloadable e-books and audio books.