West Palm Beach History
West Palm Beach is the largest city of Palm Beach County and is the oldest municipality in South Florida. It was founded by Henry Flagler in 1893 and became an incorporated city in 1894.
Just after being incorporated, West Palm Beach became a busy town with stores and saloons lining almost every street in the city. The population of the city from 1920-1927 quadrupled as a result of the twentieth (20th) century Florida land boom. Neighborhoods and buildings were constructed from this time going forward.
The West Palm Beach cityâ€™s economy was mainly fueled by farming and sugar businesses in the early years. As a result of the growing population, power plants were opened in the city. Most of these power plants were operated by Florida Power and Light Company. Pratt & Whitney Aircraft also opened a facility in the city at the time.
World War II brought change to the city and community of West Palm Beach. Some buildings including hotels were converted for the needs and support of the war. For example, Breakers Hotel became the Ream General Hospital and the Biltmore was lent to the United States Coast Guard.
After the war, the city underwent major developments of swampland west of downtown West Palm Beach. Eventually a shopping boulevard and tourist hotspot was constructed. TheÂ largest employers in the city are the City School System, Florida Crystals and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.
Asbestos and West Palm Beach job sites
Several job sites in the city have been identified as harboring asbestos containing materials. These job sites were known to have caused asbestos exposure to workers and may have led to mesothelioma, asbestosis or asbestos related illnesses. Some of these job sites are:
- Palm Beach County Solid Waste Authority
- East Coast Electric Light & Power & Ice Company
- Grumman Ecosystems Corporation
- Southern Utilities Company
The manufacturing and construction history of the city of West Palm Beach puts it at high risk of asbestos exposure.