Buying & Selling June 23, 2022

7 things you didn’t know about Delray Beach, FL

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Delray Beach

Known as a vibrant, intimate town with a big city’s sophistication, Delray Beach is one of South Florida’s gems on the West Coast. And while the city boasts of posh neighborhoods, upscale shops, fine restaurants, and award-winning beaches, they also have a rich story to tell. So if you’re a history buff and you’re looking for some lesser known facts about Delray Beach, then brace yourself for you’ve come to the right place.

1) Native Americans were there first

Before any Europeans stepped foot on the area of what will become Delray, the land was first inhabited by tribes of Native Americans. The Jaega people were the first known chiefdom that settled there, and there were also records suggesting that Tequesta Indians lived there at certain periods. There was even an 1841 U.S. military map showing a Seminole camp near Lake Ida. Other than these shreds of evidence, few other documented details of indigenous settlements have survived.


2) It was a haven for shipwrecked sailors

Delray Beach became home to the Orange Grove House of Refuge, one of the first five stations built by the United States Life Saving Service in 1876 to rescue and shelter shipwreck survivors. This particular outpost got its name from the grove of oranges growing nearby its site, although it’s still unknown who planted the trees.


3) Its original name was Linton

To build a farming community near the Orange Grove House of Refuge, Republican Congressman William S. Linton bought a large portion of land near the area in 1894 and began selling plots of it. Hence, the Linton Settlement was born. By the second half of the 1890’s the community was flourishing, having its own post office, store, and train station and having success with truck farming vegetables. However, a hard freeze in 1898 caused many settlers to leave, including William Linton himself. So in an attempt to revitalize the community, the settlement is rechristened Delray after the Detroit neighborhood of the same name.


4) Delray had a diverse citizenry by 1910

During the early 1900s, “Nassaws,” immigrants from The Bahamas, started settling in Delray, making a living from fishing, sponging, and salvaging, and remaining a strong presence there to this day. A Japanese community also began burgeoning in the then town after 1905, participating in various activities like watching movies, shopping and going to parades. By 1910, Delray has a population of 904 citizens, most of whom originated from at least 24 U.S. states and nine foreign countries.


5) Pineapples was once their major crop

1911 saw Delray chartered as an incorporated town by the State of Florida; the same year also saw pineapple plants being built in the area and the fruit becoming a major export. However, the drainage of the Everglades west of Delray lowered the water table, making growing pineapples harder, and the extension of the Florida East Coast Railway to Key West resulted in competition with Cuban pineapples for dominance in the northern U.S. market. But while pineapples don’t play a significant role in their economy anymore, it’s still fondly remembered in Delray, as reflected by present-day Pineapple Grove downtown.


6) A shipwreck made Delray a popular surfing destination

By the early 1960s, Delray Beach was becoming known as a surfing hotspot, with Atlantic Avenue being the biggest surfboard seller in Florida at the time. However, its surfing fame only skyrocketed in 1965 after the 441 feet freighter Amaryllis got beached on Singer Island during Hurricane Betsy. The ship helped create a windbreak that caused correctly breaking waves to form. And although there were initial misgivings about its presence, the shipwrecked Amaryllis, alongside her marooned Greek crew, became an attraction for both tourists and locals.


7) The city is into New Urbanism

Since 2003, Delray Beach has been experiencing a building boom, with recent developments somewhat reflecting New Urbanism trends similar to those land-use strategies employed elsewhere like the Vireya Resortin the Philippines and the Melrose Arch in South Africa. Other mixed-use projects have also been recently constructed, with more being currently planned.