Palm Beach was established as a resort by Henry Morrison Flagler, a founder of Standard Oil, who made the Atlantic coast barrier island accessible via his Florida East Coast Railway. The nucleus of the community was established by Flagler's two luxury resort hotels, the Royal Poinciana Hotel and The Breakers Hotel.
West Palm Beach was built across Lake Worth as a service town and has become a major city in its own right. Flagler's houselots were bought by the beneficiaries of the Gilded Age, and in 1902 Flagler himself built a Beaux-Arts mansion, Whitehall, designed by the New York–based firm Carrère and Hastings and helped establish the Palm Beach winter "season" by constantly entertaining.
The town was incorporated on April 17, 1911.