Camino Gardens

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Camino Gardens is nestled in the heart of downtown East Boca Raton with 424 single family ranch homes, prices ranging from $299,000 to $895,000+.  40% of the homes offer waterviews and boat dockage with access to the intracoastal aand ocean..  One of most desirable neighborhoods, this great community is a short bike ride to beautiful white-sand beaches and many cultural amenities i.e. Royal Palm, Mizner Park, City of Boca Raton Downtown Promenade, Boca Resort & Club, finest restaurants, museum, cultural activities, etc. 

Camino Gardens, formerly called "AFRICA USA" has a very special rich history..... 

That is what the billboards along interstate highways called that part of town during a quirky and colorful eight-year period before a New England developer bought the land and built homes.

Nearly 2,000 visitors a day were lured from 1953 to 1960 to what was then the western end of Camino Real and the entrance to one of Florida`s largest and most fabled tourist attractions, a 177-acre tract of simulated African jungle and plains.

The African theme park according to Boca Raton Historical Society records, was the brainchild of John Pederson, a real estate investor now living in Lake Worth who dreamed of Africa but never set foot on the continent.

Instead, he dispatched his son there to bring back a boatload of big-game animals that in 1953 -- the year the park opened -- transformed a palmetto patch and former orange grove into a miniature version of Kenya.

Roaming the grounds were eland, giraffes, gazelles, kudus and monkeys among an inventory of nearly 1,000 animals. Two chained elephants and a caged pair of cheetahs also were inhabitants. Two eight-foot-high fences around the perimeter, and a residence Pederson built in the compound to keep close watch over it, ensured none escaped.

``It wasn`t anything hokey. It was well-run,`` said Peggy McCall, the historical society`s archivist.

``Africa USA`` was pictured on the cover of a 1960 issue of Life magazine that featured theme parks in the country, including a California amusement park named Disneyland. Visitors paid 25 cents to ride a tram on six miles of roadway crisscrossing the African outpost less than two miles from the center of town. The tram took them past the menagerie of uncaged animals, plus a thatched-roof African village, spear-toting ``Masai`` Warriors in native garb and a cascading artificial waterfall. The scenic tour also included a 160-foot ``hidden geyser`` that spouted from the 7-acre man-made lake and swamp that still exists today.

In 1960 Pederson, who bought the 177-acre tract at a city auction for $25 an acre, sold the land for more than $1 million.

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Fort Lauderdale listings last updated Jun 29, 2022 8:24:am.