The Bicycle Chair

The bicycle chair- sometimes called the "Afrimobile" or "Palm Beach Cab" was the only wheeled conveyance (other than a railroad or trolley car) allowed on Palm Beach at the turn of the century. The hotels employed drivers by the hundreds during the season.
The Palm Beach Hotel, which stood on the lake front about a half-mile north of the Royal Poinciana provided guests with this handy price list. Click to enlarge!

Paradise Found

A striking panorama featuring the famous gardens of the Hotel Royal Poinciana. The architecture of the building was a relatively modest Colonial design. The interior decoration, featuring grass-green carpets, soft pastels and wicker furniture amid   potted trees and plants suggested an eternal Spring- to the delight of guests escaping the harsh northern Winter. Click to enlarge! (Library of Congress)

The Palm Walk

The Palm Walk ran parallel to the mule trolley line from the Royal Poinciana to the Breakers- about a half mile. A fashionable lady strikes a pose ca. 1905. (James D. Phelan Collection)
The native sable palms cast a lovely lattice-work of shadows on the walk. Portions of the trail still exist a century later! (Library of Congress)


Afternoon Concert

Guests enjoy tea in the Coconut Grove while the hotel band serenades them from
the end of the Piazza that extended west from the front entrance. The bands played all day between both  the Royal Poinciana and the Breakers hotels. This appears to be the 4:30 p.m. concert. Click to enlarge! (Library of Congress)

Note the bottom of the program- The "Colored Sextette" (or sometimes a banjo quartette) provided late night  entertainment for the younger crowd in the Palm Room just across the hall from Hypocrite's Row.

A Tour Of The Rotunda

Welcome to Palm Beach. Your train arrived at the little station (where the Royal Poinciana Plaza stands today) where you were whisked away to the hotel by bicycle chair. You make a mental note to be one of the lucky few admitted to Col. E.R. Bradley's Beach Club casino tonight. First order of the day- check in.

You are standing on the lawn of the hotel, facing southeast. Just past the hotel and to your right, stands Henry Flagler's magnificent winter home, Whitehall. Head up the steps through one of the arched doorways. (Click to enlarge.) Views are marked on floorplan below.

B) The first thing you see is the great rotunda. Straight ahead is the stairway to the men's and ladie's lounges. In the men's washroom, follow the secret hallway (called "Hypocrite's Row) from to the bar and pool tables! The bar itself still survives and was last seen at the recently closed Hoboken Grill in West Palm Beach. To the left , a hallway leads to the shops. To the right are the elevators, doctor's office and writing room where postcards like these were written.

C) Just off the Rotunda and looking north you can see the long hallway leading to the shops featuring the latest in New York fashion, jewelry and souvenirs. Handy spitoons scattered around the parlor (lower left) saved the weary guest a trip outside.

D) Take a few steps back- same view at a slightly different angle. Just behind you are the elevators.

E) Now take a few more steps to your left. Directly behind you is the doorway to the writing room. Stationary and lots of desks provided. Winter guests were delighted with the
potted plants and wicker furniture that filled almost every room in the hotel. Most of the interior was painted cream with green trim.


Strictly Ballroom

This rare view of the Ballroom (Florida Historical Society collection) shows the entrance (center) as you enter from the top of the stairs in the Rotunda. Looking west, down the entrance hall you can see the center front entrance door of the hotel (bottom, viewed from the outside.) In the picture below (courtesy Historical Society of Palm Beach County) the steps are partially obscured by what appears to be the same plant.  
The doors were framed with leaded  glass. A piece of wicker furniture is visible just inside the doorway. Note the cuspidors scattered around the room- a measure to keep the grass-green carpets clean.
 In the top picture, the Ballroom (more here) is decorated with Japanese lanterns- a very popular motif of the day. Flagler's hotels staged three important balls every season: The New Year's, George Washington Birthday and St. Patrick's Day Ball.
Eventually the parties got so large they were moved into the massive dining room (below.)