- Larry Aydlette Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Happy 106th birthday to Delray Beach, the Motown of Palm Beach County!
A little explanation is needed: Today, Oct. 9, marks the date that the Delray settlement area, previously known as Linton, was incorporated as the Town of Delray. If you want to be a stickler about when it was incorporated as the Town of Delray Beach, it’s still the same birthday, but that happened 12 years later on Oct. 9, 1923. (It was incorporated as a city four years later.)
Now, about the Motown reference.
According to Wikipedia, times were hard in old Linton. The farmers and vegetable growers who pioneered the area were doing well enough until the end of the 1800s, when bad weather, specifically the Hard Freeze of 1898, combined to make many people give up on Linton. That included the Michigan congressman William Linton, the area’s godfather developer.
So, folks thought a name change would create a fresh start. Still in a Wolverine state of mind, they decided to name it Delray, after a Detroit neighborhood. As the years have gone by, fortunes have reversed. Delray Beach is a thriving community, while Delray in Detroit was described by one publication there as “the closest thing to a ghost town within a city.”
Speaking of Detroit, plenty of its automobiles have been clogging Delray Beach’s main drag for years. Here are some views of Atlantic Avenue that you won’t see anymore:
ATLANTIC AVENUE, 1900: Here is Atlantic, pre-car era, west of the railroad tracks as the new century began.
ATLANTIC AVENUE, 1912: The avenue may have bicycle shops and barber shops today, but back at the turn of the century, there was the combined Miller and Son’s Bicycle and Barber Shop, which was on Atlantic east of the train tracks.
ATLANTIC AVENUE, 1914: This Fourth of July parade proves that the community spirit you see at Delray’s holiday bashes has always been strong.
ATLANTIC AVENUE, 1938: Good luck ever seeing Atlantic Avenue having this few cars again.