Katharina G. Austria

My husband and I visited Panama City Beach in June, and we had a great experience. We are from Florida and have been to many, many beaches. Panama ..

Isabelle V. Belgium

Absolutely soft, white sand and crystal clean waters. What more could you ask for? I went in February, and there was no spring break crowd yet ..

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Panama City Beach History

Panama City Beach History
Before it was settled as a community in the 1800s, the St. Andrew’s Bay area was home to many Native Americans. The abundant amount of fish in the Gulf of Mexico and Bay attracted many to our sandy white shores, as it still does today. The area is an integral part of Florida history.
Pirates also found the deep pockets of the Bay to be one of their prime spots to troll. It was there that they would lie in wait for the richly laden ships en route to Mexico or Spain. An old Spanish galleon and a 700-pound cannon were recovered from a motel site in the early 60s, proving the presence of such pirates. Legend has it that many a pirate hoarded treasure at Spanish Shanty Point on ShellIsland off Panama City Beach. Who knows what treasures these emerald blue waters still hold! The Bay is also known as the “Wreck Capital of the World,” prompting many a diver to search for lost treasure beneath the waves.

Although the area was alive with settlers and development, Panama CityBeach history doesn’t officially begin until May 2, 1936, when the city was founded. The city’s name was reportedly based on being the nearest American port to the newly opened Panama Canal. Surrounding the new city were other, small cities known as WestPanama CityBeach, Long Beach and Edgewater. Some years later, the four merged to form a single chartered government, which kept the name of Panama CityBeach.

In 1935, developer Gideon Thomas built the Panama City Hotel. Thomas saw great potential in the area for tourism development at a time when most people were only concerned with harvesting crops. Many criticized his vision of Panama City BeachFla, arguing that there was no future in what they deemed “the ugly white sand.”

Thomas, however, responded by simply stating, "I’m not attempting to grow vegetables here; I’m going to grow people." And grow people he did! Florida history was never the same after Gideon Thomas' ideas began to catch on.

Soon, the beach became a popular destination for fun-loving travelers. In the 30s and 40s the beach was known for a trendy bar called The Hangout. The white building with bright red trim was a hotspot for dancing and mingling on the beach. Unfortunately, The Hangout was destroyed by Hurricane Eloise in 1975 - a sad moment in Florida history.
Today Panama City Beach is a premiere destination for visitors from across the world, many of whom flock to bask in the glistening beauty of what was once known as “the ugly white sand.” The region holds a proud place in Florida history.

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