West Palm Beach Point of Interest: Worth Avenue

Palm Beach, Florida’s Worth Avenue is a posh shopping and eating destination for the rich and famous. The Avenue is a four-block length that connects Lake Worth to the Atlantic Ocean. Worth Avenue also has smaller, more architecturally important “vias” that branch off the main street. Worth Avenue’s pedestrian spaces set it apart from other shopping avenues.

The roadway was renamed after General William Jenkins Worth in 1913. [2] The Everglades Club, built in 1918 at the western end of a dirt road, was the first step towards becoming fashionable in South Florida. Because of rising prices in the then-trendy Beaux Arts Building on Lake Trail, north of the Biltmore Hotel, businesses moved south to what is now Worth Avenue. To honor Worth Avenue’s initial developers, architect Addison Mizner and Paris Singer, the first businesses were erected near the Everglades Club on Via Mizner and Via Parigi. In the twenties, the region became well-known for the exceptional quality of its products. In 1938, the Worth Avenue Association was established by the businesses as a result of their appreciation of the potential of the still-undeveloped roadway.

When Mary Duggett Benson first launched the Worth Avenue Gallery in 1942, it was in a different location on Worth Avenue than it is today. Until Benson retired and shuttered the gallery in 1965, Benson’s gallery was a vital element of Palm Beach’s visual arts community. Her friend Alice De Lamar had assumed that Benson owned the gallery, but this proved incorrect. State records reveal that Benson originally shared ownership with a family member before taking it solely on her own. Emily Rayner, the sister of New York artist and art dealer Betty Parsons, worked with Mary Benson and De Lamar to run the gallery. While it was still Benson’s gallery, several of De Lamar’s artist colleagues held exhibitions there.

Worth Avenue was once bordered with coconut palms, but those trees died from a fatal yellowing disease in the 1970s. Adonidia, or “Christmas palms,” took their place, although they were out of scale with the surrounding structures. Though work on the roadway began in 1983, it was not completed until 2010. The Worth Avenue Improvement Project, which cost $15.8 million and took two years to complete, was funded by the Town of Palm Beach and the City of West Palm Beach, who each contributed $1.25 million, and the state, who provided $14.77 million in revenue from the sale of public improvement revenue bonds.

Kassatly’s, the avenue’s first store, has been around since 1923. In keeping with the high-end lifestyle of the Palm Beach market, the street has about 250 high-end stores, boutiques, restaurants and galleries, including Trillion, Giorgio Armani and Cartier as well as Hermès and Ralph Lauren and Gucci and Chanel as well as Vineyard Vines and Brooks Brothers. Other high-end brands represented include Valentino, Akris, Bottega Veneta and Brioni. Located at the eastern end of Worth Avenue, 150 Worth (originally The Esplanade and constructed by Murray H. Goodman) is an open-air mall with a range of luxury stores.

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