When I arrived in Palm Beach for the first time, my experience began with a stop at the Flagler Museum. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was to frame my experience and understanding of Palm Beach. Learning about the Flagler family is synonymous with a history lesson on the beginnings of the Town and settlement of Palm Beach, and indeed all of Florida.
As the buggy swamp land that once was Palm Beach initially was described over my museum headset, I stared up at the Flagler Museum’s massive golden encrusted ceilings open mouthed. Palm Beach was one single man’s grand dream that once was opaque to the layman and now lives in some ways gloriously to so many of us now.
But the time we had meandered to Worth Avenue, I was already starry-eyed when we found the Vias – which are, to me, forever enchanting. I never want to leave them. Then, I wanted to just sit up all the rest of my life on the benches and just bask in the scene surrounding us. We peeked inside Renato’s as the staff joyfully bustled through their open dining room and courtyard. We ordered Gelato from Piccolo and it was the best gelato ever- enjoyed under palm trees!
Finally, we rounded out the evening at the Breakers with cocktails at HMF, and drank in our surroundings. Again- the ceilings! The Flagler family certainly has a flare for beautiful ceilings.
The Breakers, if you’ve never been, is the staple of Palm Beach.
There must have been a minimum of ten formal events going on at the Breaker’s that evening- of all different types- weddings, car award ceremonies, alumni events, and possibly a Miss America gathering. All of the lobby spaces were packed! Everyone was dressed so beautifully. It was certainly a spectacle!
My husband and I explored the Breakers, and as we walked down one long and grand hallway, past the ballrooms where speeches were being given by men and women in tuxedos and gowns. Suddenly the doors to the Atlantic opened and the roar of the ocean filled the air! It took my breath away. The waves were crashing powerfully before us- in an intense debate of the waters - entirely unaware of us.
Back in the main lobby of the Breakers, my husband went to call the car, and I waited just to the side of all the activity, quietly surveying the scene. No one else was alone in the space; it was a particular moment to stand and take in all that we had seen and experienced that day. Everything was so grand. Everyone there was very important.
”Mustn’t they be? “
In many ways I stood in the same posture has I had stared at the ceilings in the Flagler Museum, entirely in awe of the grandeur that still persists in this place. There was a subtle juxtaposition about this place that began to dawn on me and captivate me.
Palm Beach is a slice of perfection and all that has been crafted there is grand and beautiful; all from this larger than life ambitious vision. As magnificent and as important as any other place on earth. And yet all of this sits on a very thread of land against a vast and powerful ocean. Precariously, almost, placed at the tip.
Suddenly, my husband was there with the car. And I soaked in every last second of the vision of The Breakers, and of Palm Beach, before it disappeared from view that night.
Since that visit, I’ve been entirely captivated by Palm Beach. And each visit I’ve enjoyed as I did the first. The series of juxtapositions I believe will continue to inform my work of Palm Beach for future additions to this collection.
I hope you enjoy Palm Beach!