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McCormick Place September 2018

W hen I arrived about this time of the month in the year 1970, I did not know exactly what to do with a local magazine that was so different from the one we were leaving in Philadelphia. Philadelphia magazine had built its reputation on hard-hitting stories. Among them: One of the first challenges to the Warren Commission Report saying a lone nut had murdered former President Kennedy; an expose of a crooked reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer who took payoffs from those seeking to avoid negative coverage, including the city’s largest bank; and poignant coverage of the funeral of a young kid killed in Vietnam, at precisely the time the country was questioning our involvement in what seemed to be an unwinnable war.

The magazine in Florida had no such stories. Its niche was social coverage, featuring pages of people dancing for disease, and profiles of community and business leaders, many of whom just happened to be advertisers in the magazine. But one thing I knew for sure. It needed a new name. Pictorial Life did not suggest any geographical focus. Although the magazine was based in Fort Lauderdale, it regularly covered events and personalities in Hollywood, Pompano Beach, Boca Raton and even as far north as Palm Beach.

There was only one name that fit that long market. “Gold Coast” had long been used to describe the wealthy coastal communities from Miami to Palm Beach. It also reinforced the magazine’s image as focusing on the more creditworthy residents, those who could afford the pricey homes and luxury cars that advertised, many of them snowbirds, clustered along the southeast Florida coast.

We also saw the trend of people moving north from Dade and Broward counties, usually seeking the kind of quiet, sub-tropical lifestyle that attracted them to South Florida in the first place. We followed that trend, with features on Boca, Delray Beach, Palm Beach and eventually the Treasure Coast towns of Stuart and Vero Beach.

Although based in Fort Lauderdale, Gold Coast followed its audience north to Palm Beach County and eventually the Treasure Coast.

I spent a lot of time in Palm Beach in the 1970s. I knew the owners of the Ta-boo, the storied Worth Avenue restaurant that opened the same week as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. The original owner thought the war would kill business; it did just the opposite. Training camps appeared all over South Florida, and wealthy Palm Beachers showed their patriotism by entertaining young military people in the town’s hottest new spot. By the 1970s, Ta-boo was a Palm Beach institution. My late father-in-law, the magazine’s principal investor, loved to drive up for its classic Sunday brunch when he made his annual visits.

As the years passed, the name Gold Coast became less inclusive. All the towns were growing, and in the 1980s and ’90s cities such as Jupiter appeared in places that for 100 years had been little more than historic lighthouses. As the newer communities emerged, they adopted proud identities. I found that people in Stuart cared little about what was going on in Fort Lauderdale (unless it was a hurricane heading their way) and vice versa.

The magazine changed with the times. As the new century began, Gulfstream  Media Group segmented an almost 150-mile-long market into magazines bearing the identities of the principal towns. Gold Coast remained our Broward name (with a hotel/marina version titled Fort Lauderdale). Heading north, we launched Boca Life, The Palm Beacher, Jupiter Magazine and Stuart Magazine. In 1970 our single magazine printed 8,500 copies. Today the combined circulation is more than 75,000. Of that total, 50,000 is in our three Palm Beach County titles.

It is those three magazines that carry this special salute to Palm Beach County. We are writing for practically a new audience from the one we reached back in the 1970s. And for those oldtimers who think they have read some of this stuff before, they probably have. In the pages of our magazines.