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Before Henry Flagler arrived in the 1890s, very few people had ever lived in modern-day Palm Beach County. Flagler, a Standard Oil tycoon, and entrepreneur was crucial in the development of the county around the turn century. He first bought land on both Lake Worth sides. Others followed his lead, creating a small boom that brought in new businesses and helped to establish many more businesses. Flagler and his crew built the Royal Poinciana Hotel to host wealthy tourists. It opened its doors in February 1894.
Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway reached West Palm Beach a little over a month later. West Palm Beach was established as the oldest city in Palm Beach County on November 5, 1894. Flagler also built another hotel, the Palm Beach Inn. Later renamed The Breakers, it was opened in 1896. His own home for winter was also built by Flagler, which he and his spouse moved into in 1902. In the 1890s, Major Nathan Boynton, William S. Linton, and Thomas Rickards, a railroad surveyor, arrived. They helped to build communities that would become Boynton Beach and Delray Beach and Boca Raton.