Friday, June 22, 2018

“We take a look back at the road that created Florida”, Post reporter Barbara Marshall wrote.


“100 years ago, Dixie Highway began winding through Palm Beach County, spawning today’s tourism industry.”



Dixie Highway is a historic highway in this little six square mile City of Lake Worth.


Click on image to enlarge:
Does this lot look familiar? This is now the Gonz Auto Collision Center at 1401 N. Dixie Hwy.
in the City of Lake Worth.

Barbara Marshall at The Palm Beach Post published an article about the origins of Dixie Hwy. back in early 2016. It is easy to forget that the development of Florida is a relatively recent phenomenon. First came the trains, ushered in by Henry Flagler on the east coast and Henry Plant on the west coast of Florida. With the advent and mass production of the automobile in the early part of the 20th century the burgeoning middle class needed more and more roads for travel and leisure. That was the genesis of Dixie Hwy. — what we know as U.S. 1 — that goes right through the center of this City. The article details some of the old routes that made up the original road and where you can find other sections in Palm Beach County.


It’s true. Once upon a time this City had its
very own Chamber of Commerce.

This sign was at the corner of Dixie Hwy. and
Lake Ave., outside City Hall:
Further up north on Dixie Hwy. ‘back in the day’ was a popular restaurant called Christine’s. The structure survived. Its now called the Blue Front BBQ, an excellent example of roadside architecture from the Mom & Pop era when motels, small businesses, and restaurants lined Dixie Hwy.


Dixie Hwy. meant opportunity for the communities that lined it. Lake Worth took advantage of that by having many motels, restaurants and attractions (including signs over the highway pointing travelers to the Beach, the Casino building, and the Gulfstream Hotel), all in the hopes of snagging dollars from tourists and create a local economy that could sustain the resident population. As you have read on this blog many, many times before, all that changed as the main source of vehicle travel switched to I-95 in the 1970s. Since then Lake Worth, and other cities to a lesser extent, have been trying to re-carve its niche in the “new” economy of the 21st century.

There are very few communities that celebrate their old historic roads that continue to exist and how crucial they were to early development. As a redevelopment effort and focus this City could consider designating a portion of the road as a Historic Highway. This might help attract tourists and visitors, classic car enthusiasts, history “buffs” and others just as Route 66 and now U.S. 27 in the State of Michigan are historic attractions.

The Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency (TPA), to name one organization, could be the catalyst for this type of redevelopment and marketing effort. It has worked in other locations and we are already an attractive tourist destination. This would be another way to put us “on the map”.


Click on this link for a documentary about Route 66 and the Iconography of the American Highway.

Hope you enjoy the video: