Boynton Beach is a prominent city located in the Miami Metropolitan Area with a population of roughly 79000 people, as of 2019. It experiences a fairly warm and welcoming tropical lifestyle, and with dozens of restaurants, shopping arcades, and recreational centers vying for consumer attention the visitor is presented with a plethora of choices to indulge their senses in.

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Aerial View of the city, alongside the Gulf Stream. [Photograph]_www.neighborhoodscout.com 

History and Development | Boynton Beach

Founded in the autumn of 1889 and incorporated as a city in 1920, Boynton Beach is named after American Civil war soldier, Nathan Boynton. The fertile land and warm weather left a mark on him and he built the now-demolished Boynton Hotel, bringing his family and friends to stay here. The entrance and subsequent expansion of the Seaboard Air Line Railway further spurred land and estate development in the area. 

A major development in the form of the Boynton Beach Oceanfront Park emerged to make Boynton Beach one of the most popular tourist attractions amongst the municipalities of Palm Beach County, gathering enough accreditation to be listed as the best family beach in Palm Beach County by The Palm Beach Post, 2001. In 2011, a redevelopment plan was initiated which saw the refurbishment of not only the oceanfront but also the buildings built along the boardwalk.

Demographics and Crime

The city is inhabited by a prominent population of white caucasian families (62 percent) followed by an African-American population of about 30 percent. A relatively small Hispanic and Asian population also resides in the area. The relatively smaller Spanish-speaking population has nevertheless had an impact on the architectural style of the city, in several places, especially the more public spaces of the society. In fact, many Cuban expatriate communities can be found within the town. 

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Spanish colors and influence on a street in downtown Boynton. [Photograph]_Google Maps
Although Boynton has a median household income of $57000, about 10 percent of the population lives below the poverty figure that slowly continues to climb. This and the slow lifestyle, coupled with the existence of local gang culture has given rise to a lot of gang-related crimes, particularly armed assault and property crime. 

The places next to the beach itself are rather unsafe after certain hours and although the crime rate has come down in the past few years, instances of one getting involved in a violent crime are still 1 in 137, according to the Neighborhood Scout, a popular crime mapping source.

Mapping the Architectural Styles in the City

A lot of factors play into the architectural style of the place, with the style itself remaining peculiarly similar throughout Florida itself. Being close to the ocean, Boynton Beach experiences severe lightning and thunderstorms that originate over the ocean and drive inwards. Tornadoes and Hurricanes map the surface of the area and the structures of built spaces are made to withstand much of the damage while the roofing design and sewer system have to assimilate for large amounts of water runoff.

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A neighborhood in Boynton showing close knit homes. [Photograph]_Google Maps. 
Residential housing styles in Boynton are varied. Many houses are influenced by the Tudor Revival style or rather pieces of a forgotten English Vernacular style in the roofs and colonial facades of the structures. Many are built with traces of influence from the Florida Cracker Architectural style, yet sporting a more modern American farmhouse facade. 

The combination of historic and modern style, oftentimes in the same structure, makes the architecture of Boynton Beach very peculiar and typical of the area. Although much can be said about the styles of residences, most apartments and malls lean towards a Modern Architectural style, with very faint influence, if any, of a Tudor Revival Style.

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Traces of an English Vernacular Style. [Photograph]_Google Maps. 
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Modern apartments in Boynton with faint traces of a Tudor Revival influence. [Photograph]_Google Maps. 
In recent years, following the shift in power from the Democratic-led government to the Republican-led government, the state has seen an increase in real estate prices, following the immigration of many people who eventually retire and settle down, given that the city (and the state itself) does not impose a personal income tax. This has led to major residential land developments and expansions and is another reason for the city having more residences than industries.

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Many apartments have recently sprung up in Boynton to cater to a flush of immigrants. [Photograph]_Google Maps. 

A Look at the Urban Fabric of the City | Boynton Beach

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Driving through the streets of Boynton reveals a typical coastal tropical lifestyle . [Video]_Youtube. 
Boynton Beach has a tight-knit urban fabric with residential areas packed together in ‘residential squares’ that are surrounded by wide state roads and highways. Though not comprehensively known or studied, early settlement maps hint at crimes, being one of the reasons why people collected together in smaller groups, with one plot of land touching the other. Small water bodies dot the undulating terrain, with expensive and rather ‘luxurious’ homes or town halls surrounding them. 

Built alongside the metalled roads are waterways and inlets connecting different parts of the town and people often use small jet boats to traverse small distances. These waterways connect to the Boynton Canal that flows into the Gulf Stream and one can access the towns of West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale by going north and south respectively.

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An aerial map showing ‘residential squares’ and inlets and waterways. [Map]_Google Maps. 
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A waterway flowing behind a residential area in Boynton Beach, Florida. [Photograph]_Google Maps. 
Boynton Beach isn’t the most architecturally traveled city in the United States but hidden behind this ‘easy going’ tropical town is an urban fabric that has loads to uncover and study. The political, demographic, geographic, and climatic dynamics have shaped the city in a very unique way. Traces of influence left by the colonizers, incoming Cuban expatriates, a growing Hispanic population, and gang-related criminal activities have shaped the urban fabric of the city, making it very peculiar or ‘Floridian’, you may say.

References

  1. Unknown (2021). Boynton Beach, Florida. Crime rates. [Online]. Available at: https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/fl/boynton-beach/crime (Accessed: 13 May 2021)
  2. Mileage Mike (2021). Boynton Beach – Florida – 4k Downtown Drive. 13 May. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRdaDdB06rk&t=810s (Accessed: 13 May 2021)
Author

Adriel is a spatial designer who believes writing about design is just as important as the design itself. He believes that architecture and design are instruments of human expression which ought to be unfolded to enable a deeper connection with our surroundings.

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