Originally named “Linton” in 1894 after the name of his founder, a Michigander, this city has firmly ended its identity crisis. Once also referred to as “North Boca” alluding to Boca Raton, its ritzy neighbor to the south, Delray Beach has decidedly taken on an identity of its own. East Atlantic Avenue has become a trendy center of entertainment venues and restaurants in this southern Palm Beach County beach town of more than 65,000 residents (est. 2017).
A collection of once-abandoned and vandalized elementary and high school buildings has become the centerpiece of downtown revitalization at Old School Square, now a successful cultural and arts center.
Those changes began in 1988, when a group of diverse citizens held a retreat. In 1989, voters approved a $21.5 million "Decade of Excellence Bond" referendum that enabled the city to widen sidewalks and pave them with brick, improve the lighting and plant trees.
The city's Community Redevelopment Agency encouraged developers to build small stores in keeping with the town's old-fashioned, village-by-the-sea character. In 1990, voters threw out the City Commission and pulled in a slate of people with new ideas.
Among the rewards of such civic engagement: in 1993 and again in 2001, the city became one of 10 communities nationwide to be named “All-America City” by the National Civic League. And in 1995, Florida Trend Magazine named it “The Best-Run Town in Florida”.