The city of Boca Raton, Florida, has a rich history, from the Spanish who occasionally used the location for its accessibility by ships to the early settlers and the modern times, plenty of people called this city their home. You’re probably wondering what does that have to do with the city’s name, and you’re right to do so. This has been a curiosity for many of those that call this Playground for the Wealthy their home.
The most curious thing about it is that many people have it wrong. As the first Europeans who used the area to land their ships, the Spanish gave it its first name. Before the name became Boca Raton, the area was known as Boca de Ratones. But even that part about the Spanish disembarking in the area of Boca Raton is wrong. They actually used Biscayne Bay, close to Miami Beach. So what exactly happened?
While Boca de Ratones, the Spanish name to a location, can be translated to “Rat’s Mouth” it wasn’t what the Spanish meant, which means that they weren’t referring to rat infestations or anything like that. The word boca in Spanish does mean mouth, that much is accurate, and ratones literally means mouse; however, the Spanish also used boca as a navigational reference meaning the mouth of a river, an inlet, or bay. That is why Boca de Ratones, or Boca Ratones how it was also used, was a name given to the area because of its mouth-like appearance. Remember, we are talking about Biscayne Bay here. Also, Biscayne Bay is relatively rocky to this day, and it’s safe to assume that it was a lot rockier in 1895. That can be connected to the mouse or rat in the literal translation as rats and mice have sharp teeth. While Biscayne Bay’s “teeth” did not bite, the sharp-pointed rocks along the shore could cause some real damage to ships.
Now back to the city of Boca Raton, a city that wound up with a name that was initially given to a completely different area. With the start of the nineteenth century and additional areas being discovered, the settlers got to the actual site of what we now know as Boca Raton and found a lake that was closed for most of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. That lake was mistakenly named Boca Ratones, and the city that developed in the area got the name from the lake. The “s” and, later, the “e” were both dropped by the 1920s, but the correct pronunciation is Boca Rah-tone to this day. Real estate agents in Boca Raton FL can fill you in on the story of their city’s name while you discuss the housing market and the city’s neighborhoods. This tale may make people think of mice or rats but Boca Raton is, in fact, very safe, from rats but also from crimes.