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Introduction

The 1980s brought renewed in Palm Beach County's downtown areas. One developer, Henry Rolfs, Sr.'s motto was, "Buy in the path of progress." And that's what he and others did.

After 1980, the changes in Palm Beach County were increasingly influenced, not just by population growth alone, but by the growing diversity in that population and by increasing acceptance of that diversity.

Although relations between whites and African Americans would continue to change over time, the the civil rights era was over. After completing mandatory school desegregation in the 1970s, the Palm Beach County School Board introduced magnet programs in special subjects to encourage a more diverse mix of students in some schools.

In contrast to the intense building of the Urban Expansion era, municipalities redeveloped their aging downtowns.  During the planning stages, county officials solicited input from all segments of the population and embraced their history through preservation and restoration of early structures. Several communities created or revised comprehensives plans during this period, incorporating "smart growth" methods that were environmentally friendly.

One of the many ethnic groups that grew after 1980 was the Jewish population, especially in the southern end of Palm Beach County. The culture of giving in the Jewish community made many new buildings and organizations possible, particularly in the arts, healthcare, and education.

Private philanthropists were also inspired by Alexander W. Dreyfoos, Jr., who led a 14-year effort that resulted in the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts in West Palm Beach. The Kravis Center and the development that follow nearby created not only a gateway to the city, but also an explosion in activity that took Palm Beach County to a position as Florida's Cultural Capital.

 

 

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