Clematis Street: West Palm Beach, Florida
Clematis Street has been the commercial district for Palm Beach County since the 1890s. Today it is known as the "Main Street" and entertainment center of West Palm Beach. The street is viewed by locals as the city's living room — a place where people come to shop, dine, do business, relax, and have fun. The eclectic and authentic architecture along Clematis has evolved over the last century, spanning nearly every significant era and style from 1890 to 2009.
Extends for five blocks along the center of downtown West Palm Beach from Flagler Drive to Rosemary Avenue.
Shops and restaurants line the ground floor of historic buildings for the length of the street, providing abundant dining and entertainment options. Businesses range from 100-year-old retailers and modern dance clubs to health food emporiums. Annual events, concerts and festivals draw crowds of locals and visitors to Clematis Street.
Increasingly, startup businesses, small tech companies, creative office industry offices, and artists are occupying spaces above shops and restaurants, further energizing and activating the street, often at off hours, reflecting residents' non-traditional work schedules.
Defining Characteristics, Features
History and Redevelopment
- The configuration of Clematis Street as it is known today has its origins in the initial settlement of the city by Henry M. Flagler's surveyors and engineers for the East Coast Railroad (1893)
- City planner John Nolen surveyed the city and created a general plan for development (1923)
- In the early 1990s the street was converted back to a two-way street, travel lanes were reduced, intersections were raised for pedestrians, mid-block crossings were constructed, and the now iconic palms and live oaks were added
- City adopted the Downtown Master Plan, setting the ground rules for the future growth of downtown West Palm Beach as a pedestrian friendly environment (1995)
- The 500 block of Clematis Street listed in the National Register of Historic Places (1996)
- Downtown Master Plan Update created a conservation district to preserve the scale of the existing buildings and protect the character of the street (2007); transfer of development rights was allowed to compensate property owners for the preservation of the buildings
- A library located at the east end of Clematis Street was demolished in 2008 and a new waterfront park and pavilion opened to the public in February 2010; provides access and connection to the waterfront from Clematis Street
- New library and city hall complex built on the Clematis Street Corridor, adding life to the street and replacing an old building that had been vacant for 10 years (2009)
Features and Events
- Centennial Fountain and Waterfront Park, the iconic open space within the city, feature an interactive fountain, shady plaza, and expansive lawn; ideal for large gatherings and shows
- A trolley system with two routes runs the length of Clematis Street connecting, the area to CityPlace, the train station and bus facility, Palm Beach Atlantic University, and the office district in downtown West Palm Beach
- "Clematis by Night" draws thousands of people weekly since 1996 for a fountain-side concert series featuring local, regional, and national entertainment, food, art, and children's activities
- Other festivals and events include: "SunFest," the annual boat show, and "Corvettes on Clematis"
- Clematis Street's nightlife scene draws nearly 80,000 visitors each week