The History of Singer Island

Singer Island

In 1906, Singer Island was referred to as “Inlet City”, the first record of settlement on the peninsula.  This simple community was comprised of fishermen and squatters, known as “conchs”, from the Bahamas. These inhabitants loved the area because of its lack of an established government; there were no ordinances to prohibit them from setting up their shacks or huts wherever they wanted. What began as seasonal fishing during the winter, the fisherman and squatters eventually transformed their temporary set up into a more permanent stay. The dry, warm air provided the perfect weather for drying fishing nets and the peninsula was also closer to the Gulf Stream than any other place in North America. For these reasons combined, it was decided that the peninsula provided the ultimate location for a deep sea fishing Mecca.

In 1915, the location of Palm Beaches’ current inlet was surveyed by Isham Randolph, the famous civil engineer responsible for the backward flow of the Chicago River. Originally, the Palm Beach inlet was dredged at a whopping 4ft deep! It wasn’t until 1963 when the channel’s depth was increased to its current depth of 35 feet.

Spoils from the original dredging of the inlet were piled up on shoals in the Intracoastal, creating what is now known as Peanut Island. Peanut Island is most famous for housing a bomb shelter for John F. Kennedy and his family to use during any emergencies while vacationing to Palm Beach, Florida. Since then, the shelter has been restored and is open to the public for tours. Today you can also visit the Island to enjoy the onsite camping facilities, bike trails, a fishing pier, and various beach space for snorkeling.

Paris Singer

Paris Eugene Singer

Singer Island was named for Paris Eugene Singer, the infamous developer of Palm Beach and 23rd child of Isaac Singer, sewing machine magnate. Paris Singer loved the area so much that he was often seen taking friends on picnics to the island. In addition, local stories say that Paris Singer purchased the land of Singer Island as a gift to his mistress; who, unfortunately, did not share Paris’ admiration for the land. In 1920, Singer met Addison Mizner, the famous architect of that era. Singer agreed to pay him a $6,000 retainer per year for life to keep his work confined to Palm Beach area. Together, Paris Singer and Adison Mizner created the area of Palm Beach we know today. If you stroll down the roads of Palm Beach, you are greeted by lovely picturesque streets, exclusive shops, and Mizner’s notable Spanish architecture.

During the 1920s, both Singer and Mizner anticipated a huge real estate boom, and turned their attention to developing two resort hotels. One of the hotels, to be named “Blue Heron”, was set to break ground on the Northern end of the island. Next, a more luxurious hotel named the Paris Singer Hotel, was in the plans for the Southern portion of the island. Finally, to top off this four million dollar project, a 36-hole golf course would sit between the two hotels.

Singer was so eager to start this immense project that he ordered construction of the Blue Heron to begin before the drawings were even started. The initial plan was to finance the building from the sale of lots throughout island, but the “Florida land boom” that was so eagerly anticipated, started to slow down during 1925. The Blue Heron’s service wing was the first and only section of the hotel that the construction workers completed before a 1928 hurricane and the 1929 stock market crash which caused the end of Singer’s finances. The shell of the Blue Heron remained for some time but was eventually burnt down 14 years later. Today, the Hilton Hotel stands in its place.

Development

Collonades HotelThe area really began to advance in 1947, when A. O. Edwards, railroad and hotel tycoon, bought 240 acres on Singer Island for $240,000 and then invested nearly $500,000 towards renovations. Edwards successfully developed a master planned city complete with parks, walkways, roadways, steel and a concrete drawbridge. Edwards also built Inlet Court Hotel in 1948, which later became known as the Colonnades Hotel.  Even the first Sebring-style race was held on Singer Island in 1950! (It ended at the Colonnades Hotel). In 1952, A.O. Edwards became Singer Island’s first mayor.

Enter now, John D. MacArthur, who was one of the greatest financiers of his day after building Chicago’s Banker’s Life and Casualty Insurance Company. MacArthur purchased up over 100,000 acres throughout Palm Beach County – including many acres on the northern end of Singer Island. He donated a large portion of his land towards the creation of the state park which bears his name today. John D. MacArthur state park opened in 1989 showcasing and preserving natural beauty of our subtropical flora and fauna, a haven for several rare or endangered native coastal plant species.

Throughout the 1950s until today, Singer Island evolved into a magnificent resort area of hotels and condos for both seasonal and year round residents.

There is no guessing as to why Singer Island has become such a premier destination. The Island features everything you would expect to find in a tropical resort area – parks, marinas, hiking and biking paths, 47 miles of sparkling white sand beaches, kayaking opportunities, bird-watching spots, fishing, snorkeling, and more.

Phil Foster Park, located at the west entrance of Island, offers additional picnic space and other outdoor activities such as day cruises, jet ski rentals, and boat launching facilities.

There is also small commercial area located on the Island that contains all your daily conveniences such as banks, grocery stores, drug stores, a gas station, and a few retail shops. At the Ocean Mall, facing the large public beach, you will also find a handful of restaurants, shops, playgrounds, and tennis and volleyball courts.

If you’re interested in finding your ideal Singer Island home, visit our custom search page to save your favorite properties, or explore the 29 communities located on our Singer Island Communities page.

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