In honor of Black History Month, X1023 partnered up with @CBS12 for an X-clusive look into the folklore surrounding The Styx of Palm Beach! Join us tonight at 7:30pm on @CBS12!
The Styx has been the subject of local lore for decades, a place just as integral to the history of Palm Beach County as Henry Flagler and the Breakers Hotel.
During the construction of the Royal Poinciana Hotel, laborers from all over came to Palm Beach County to work on the project, according to the Historical Society of Palm Beach County. A temporary camp, where Seaview Avenue is today, accommodated only white men.
Flagler’s Black laborers, which included many people from the Caribbean and former slaves from northern states, formed a settlement called the “Styx” where Sunset and Sunrise Avenues exist today off North County Road.
Even after Flagler’s hotels were built, the location of the Styx made it a convenient location for the employees of those hotels, according to the Historical Society. The Styx was mostly made up of rough shacks for the residents’ homes and businesses.
It’s believed that the Styx was home to more than 2,000 African Americans.
So what did happen to the Styx?
Local legend says that Flagler wanted to move people out of the shantytown so he could build a hotel there. He gave the residents free tickets to a carnival on the mainland and while they were there, had their homes burned down.
However, the Palm Beach Historical Society’s version is very different. Published texts only say that by 1912, the tenants of The Styx had been evicted, with no mention of a fire or any record of the large-scale homelessness that would have followed such a devastating blaze. Everee Clarke, author of Black America Series: Pleasant City West Palm Beach, believes this version is the most accurate and The Styx was actually legislated out of existence.
“They claim there was a fire,” she told CBS12 News. “And Flagler had the people come to the circus and all of that but that’s not true.”