In 1876, there was little between Lake Worth and Biscayne Bay except 60 miles of uninhabited tropical wilderness.  In what is now Delray Beach, a wide beach was lined with wind-swept Saw Palmetto.  The great river in the ocean, the Gulf Stream, swung in close to land here and the area was blessed with a nice refreshing breeze out of the Southeast.  Very few humans frequented Delray Beach up until 1895.

A swampy creek called the Spanish River rambled along the coast from Boca Raton to Boynton Beach.  Cabbage Palms, scrub pine and Palmetto surrounded the meandering stream.  This stream was later dredged and with further improvements eventually became the Intracoastal Waterway.

Captain George Gleason, the son of the Lieutenant Governor, purchased the land in what is now Delray Beach, for $1.25 an acre under the historic Homestead Act in 1868.  In 1890, the East Coast Canal (now called the Intracoastal Waterway) had been made navigable to the northern edge of Delray.

When the Florida East Coast Railway built by Henry Flagler and Company gradually proceeded southerly, Mr. Gleason, in anticipation of more settlers coming to the area, advertised the land for sale at $25 per acre.  A Postmaster from Saginaw, Michigan, William Linton, saw the advertisement and purchased 160 acres.

When Mr. Linton arrived in Delray he brought with him a civil engineer, a railroad clerk, a railroad supply agent and five farmers.  There were about 14 African-American families already settled west of the canal earning a living as farmers and fishermen.  He named his new town Linton and he had high hopes for making big money by sending crops North on the new railway, which had been completed around 1896.

In 1900, approximately 150 people lived in Linton.  Atlantic Avenue was, as it is now, the main street.  The first primarily residential street, Swinton Avenue, was built on the old coastal ridge, some distance from the beach and Intracoastal.

Clearing the land and enduring the heat, snakes, scorpions and other insects was extremely difficult work.  Everything was proceeding nicely and there was great anticipation of sending the first big crop North on the new railroad.  Unfortunately, the crop was prematurely destroyed by an unusually severe winter freeze, which struck and lasted for several days.  Most of the settlers were financially wiped out and many of them left the area.  Mr. Linton could not make the payments on his land and soon defaulted on the mortgage.  Those that remained lost everything and were faced with starting over again!

The little settlement decided to put the past behind them and changed the name of the town.  A Mr. Blackmer from Detroit liked the name of a suburb near Detroit and suggested that name.  The Detroit suburb, Delray, was in reality named after a village in Mexico.

The new settlers of Delray had many setbacks, but they stuck it out.  Physical hardships, as well as hurricanes in 1903, 1926, 1928 and again in 1947, the Great Depression and World Wars 1 and 2, were among the many setbacks.  During the prosperous years of the 1920s, a small group of seasonal visitors began to return each year.  This regular business soon grew and developed into a regular income source for the locals.

Around 1953, just prior to the building boom of the 1970s, a large section of lowlands on the West side of the Intracoastal Waterway was purchased for development.  The land which was South of Linton Boulevard and East of Federal Highway was mostly scrub land, with a small portion used for farming.

Tropic Isle originally extended from Linton Boulevard on the North to a point well into what is now Boca Raton to the South.  The C-15 canal separated the two large tracts of land so the developer built a bridge, which crossed the C-15 canal.  This bridge was located West of the Intracoastal and East of Federal Highway (US-1).  This bridge was later removed when the state built a new bridge, which is now located on Federal Highway.

When the City of Delray Beach and Boca Raton took over the Tropic Isle area from Palm Beach County and incorporated it into their respective cities, Tropic Isle was split into several sections.  The southernmost portions in Delray were thereafter known as Tropic Harbor and Pelican Harbor.  The extreme southern portion in Boca Raton also took on different names, which they retain to this day.  Those portions are known as Walkers Cay and Bay Colony.

The developer moved in with heavy equipment and dug the canals around 1954.  As the canals were dug, the developer put in the cement seawalls.  He used the sand and soil he dug out of the canals to build up the lowlands behind the seawalls.  This was then graded and the lots were made ready for developing.  After adding sewers, water lines and paved streets, the building lots were then placed for sale to the general public.

The original bare building lots in Tropic Isle, with the canals and seawalls constructed, sold for around $7,000 per lot.  Soon after, prices fell and most lots were selling for around $5,000.  To help develop the area, Palm Beach County refrained from charging any county tax on the property for up to 10 years, or until a home was built on the lot.  When the real estate market worsened, some lots sold for as little as $3,500.  One lot actually sold in 1967 for only $1,800.  Around late 1967, the market began to improve and lots began to sell more briskly and soon homes were popping up all over Tropic Isle.  Most of these early houses were one story “Florida” homes.  Early pictures show large sections of bare ground with a sprinkling of houses mixed in.  Soon, trees and shrubbery were planted and Tropic Isle began to take on the unique character that it has today.  When one looks at Tropic Isle today, it is hard to believe that back in the early ‘60s you had an unobstructed view all the way from Linton Boulevard to the C-15 canal.  The mature tree lined streets of today give Tropic Isle its unique appearance.

Original property owners were required to join the Homeowner’s Association.  But sometime after 1969, as Tropic Isle began to develop, the builder legally dissolved the Homeowner’s Association and a completely voluntary association was formed called the Tropic Isle Civic Association (often referred to as TICA).  Through the years, many people have served as president of the association and have made significant contributions to our community’s advancement.

Those persons who served as President are as follows:


1961Jim Schefly became the first president of the Tropic Isle
Association. Jim also spent from 1961 to 1971 on the Delray Beach City Commission. He also served the City as Vice-Mayor for one year and was also the Mayor for two years.
1974Records are unavailable on those who served during this period.
1975Frank Noble
1976 Amy Noble
1977Cliff Van Treece
1978Hans Van Alphren
1979-1985 Jimmy Carter of Tropic Boulevard served for seven years!
1986Dale Blank
1987 Mary Banning
1988-1989Charlie Carman of Fern Drive
1990 Bill Schnabel of McCleary Street
1991-1992Jean Beer
1993Mike Pakradooni of Cypress Drive
1994Bill Oehme
1996-1998Stan Scheinberg of Cypress Drive
1999-2000Bob Desjean of Banyan Drive
2001-2002Kelli Freeman of Banyan Drive
2003 Mary Ellen Mitchell of Jasmine Drive
2004-2005Fred Fetzer of Evergreen Drive
2006 John Spaulding
2007-2017Kelli Freeman
2018-PresentMichael Hanuschak

As noted in the previous list, many people have furthered the interests of Tropic Isle through their service to TICA.  In addition to the above, far more have served in the capacities of Vice-President, Treasurer, Secretary, Director, Editor, Street Captain, Project Leader or Committee Member.  Their names are far too numerous to mention here, however, they represent every street in Tropic Isle and have very diversified occupations and backgrounds.  Many of your neighbors have, at one time or another, volunteered to help the Association.  We are fortunate to have been blessed with so many wonderful people, who have given of their valuable time, to make our community a better place to live.  Through the dedicated efforts of so many people, TICA has evolved into the dynamic organization it is today.

Your support by becoming a member of the Association is appreciated by those who give so unselfishly of their time and talent to benefit everyone in Tropic Isle.

Special thanks to Jimmy Carter and Dick Van Gemert for creating this TICA History.