Tea Among the Palms

Tea Palms

The Royal Poinciana was a Gilded Age hotel in Palm Beach, Florida, with rooms for 2,000 guests. The hallways were more than three miles in length; bellhops delivered messages and packages from the front desk by bicycle. It was built as a winter retreat for the elite by railroad baron Henry Flagler, who began buying the land when Palm Beach was a desolate barrier island. He built a spur line to Palm Beach, allowing the wealthy to arrive directly at his hotel’s entrance in their private railway cars. Palm Beach became a destination for golf, tennis, boating, bathing, fishing, and, of course, afternoon tea among the palms. But in the 1920s, tourists began to consider Victorian hotels as relics. The 1928 Okeechobee hurricane shifted the north wing off its foundation; the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and Great Depression dealt fatal blows. The Royal Poinciana closed in 1934, and was torn down in 1935.

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