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A view of the West Palm Beach Canal near Pahokee.

A view of the West Palm Beach
Canal near Pahokee.

First known as East Beach, and then Ridgeway Beach, Pahokee took the  Seminole name for the Everglades, Pay-ha-o-kee, meaning “grassy waters.” Much of the five square miles that became Pahokee was owned either by the State of Florida or the Southern States Land and Timber Company, which often allowed farmers to work the land without requiring purchase or rent payments. Dentist (A)lonzo Warrick “L. W.” Armstrong arrived in 1915. Celery grower B. A. Howard from Sanford, Florida, bought almost 400 acres and established the Pahokee Realty Company to sell it in parcels. 


Although a frost in February 1917 damaged crops throughout Florida, a high ridge in what is now downtown Pahokee protected farms from the elements. News that Pahokee’s vegetable fields had not been damaged, and the opening of the West Palm Beach Canal that year, attracted more farmers, including Dr. William H. Lair. The first county commissioner from the Everglades Drainage District, Lair also helped to organize the Pahokee Drainage District in 1922, when the City of Pahokee was incorporated.

Main Street in Pahokee, 1930.

Main Street in Pahokee, 1930.

During the hurricane of 1928, hundreds of Pahokee residents survived by taking shelter in the new Pahokee High School, now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. By 1930, Pahokee had over 2,000 residents, and it prospered throughout the 1930s.


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