Things to do, history, shopping center, horse riding facts
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This is the second part of a 10-part series devoted to highlighting the many interesting facts found in the cities of Palm Beach County. Part one: 7 things to know about Jupiter – it’s the home of mansions and moonlight
Wellington will celebrate its 26th anniversary as an incorporated village in December, but its history dates back to the 1950s and involves land speculators, acres of fruit, industry leaders and visits from the British Royal Family.
Here are seven things you might not know about it.
1. Who was Wellington? And what is a flying cow?
In 1951, a New York businessman and investor by the name of Charles Oliver Wellington purchased 18,000 acres of marshland on the banks of the Everglades on the adviceof Arthur William “Bink” Glisson, agent of the Bateman real estate agency in Pompano Beach.
This land later became the village of Wellington. The key change took place in the early 1970s. Investment Corp. of Florida in 1971 purchased 7,400 acres of the Wellington Estate for $ 5.9 million. Palm Beach County approved a plan for the area in 1972, with plans to house 37,000 people. 1974 saw the first houses occupied.
Charles Oliver Wellington was also a pilot and used a western part of his property as a landing strip for his plane. Today, this airstrip is known as the Flying Cow Road, “COW” being Wellington’s initials.
2. Who was Bink and who gave his name to a forest?
The village may be named Wellington, but it was the man nicknamed “Bink” – Arthur William Glisson – who catalyzed his transformation from the swamps into the mix of farmland, neighborhoods and equestrian areas he is today.
He was most proud of what he called the Big Blue, 91 acres of cypress trees he discovered and asked developers to preserve when the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club were under construction decades ago. Legend has it that he fired a gun at a Polo employee who drove a tractor too close to the reserve.
Although the village he helped create does not bear his name, part of the village at Southern Boulevard and Flying Cow Road reminds visitors of his presence: Binks Forest Drive, Binks Forest Elementary School, and the residential community of Binks Forest. The ancients simply called the area Bink Woods.
3. The Acme Improvement District: Is It A Warner Brothers Cartoon?
No. It’s real, it’s not something that comes out of the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, and it’s still a part of Wellington life today.
Two years after Wellington’s purchase of the property, the Florida legislature created the Acme Improvement District to drain land and control flooding in the area, then four years later to build and maintain roads to to prepare the region for development.
Bink was the district’s first employee and general manager, and Wellington was its first chairman.
Until December 31, 1995, the Special District served as Wellington’s local government.
Acme is now a dependent district of the village, and the two bodies share the same board of directors. In addition to providing water, it still builds roads and maintains equestrian trails.
4. Strawberry fields, a moment
After the establishment of the Acme Improvement District, Wellington became a good place for agriculture and portions of the land were sold to farmers for growing crops such as strawberries. In all, there were 2,000 acres of farmland cultivating them, making Wellington for a time the largest strawberry patch in the world. A variety of citrus has also thrived on the property.
Nowadays, strawberries can be found at local farmers’ markets. The Wellington lakeside market in downtown will open every Friday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. starting October 1 to offer a selection of fresh produce. There are other markets in western communities as well.
5. Wellington’s population has grown and diversified
At one point, the number of horses in Wellington today exceeded the number of people who lived there in 1953, when less than 100 people lived there. In 1980, around 8,000 people lived there, and according to the 2020 census the total population of the village is now 61,637, making it roughly the same size as Jupiter.
The village has grown in number and diversity over the years. Today, around 3 out of 5 residents are white. In 2010, when the total population was 56,508, about 4 in 5 residents were white.
Over the past decade, Black, Hispanic, and Asian populations have grown in Wellington, with 6,718 Black residents, 3,245 Asian residents, and 14,912 Hispanic residents, now accounting for about 40% of the total population.
6. Wellington is the “winter riding capital of the world”
The village is deeply rooted in the equestrian way of life, so much so that a horse outline appears on its community emblem, and it has been considered the winter riding capital of the world.
At the height of the season, up to 20,000 horses can be found in Wellington at any one time.
Many of these horses compete in the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center during the Winter Equestrian Festival, the oldest equestrian event in the world. From January to April, thousands of athletes, including some Olympians, demonstrate their skills in sports such as dressage and show jumping.
After the competition ends two weeks earlier scheduled for 2020, and closed to spectators this year due to COVID-19, the Winter Equestrian Festival will make a full comeback on January 12.
To follow the festival’s news, visit the equestrian center website at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center or call the center at 561-793-JUMP (561-793-5867).
7. Prestigious polo players and million dollar spectators
Wellington’s prestigious polo ground has put the village on the map as a community fit for royalty.
William T. “Bill” Ylvisaker is widely credited with bringing the so-called sport of kings to Wellington in the late 1970s when he opened the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club just west of the Houses. current Shopping center in Wellington Green and Wellington Regional Medical Center.
Prince Charles often visited the club to compete in the days leading up to the village’s incorporation. In 1985 he was joined by Princess Diana, where she presented the winning team with the Princess of Wales Trophy.
Prince Harry, Diana and Charles’ son, followed in 2016 when he played a charity match at Valiente Polo Farm.
Polo also helped raise Wellington’s profile with wealthy individuals, many of whom went on to become part-time residents and owners of multi-million dollar homes.
They include former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose daughter Georgina competes in equestrian events; Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates; and rock star Bruce Springsteen, whose daughter, Jessica Springsteen, won an Olympic silver medal in horseback riding this summer in Tokyo.