History Happened Here

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Melbourne

Brevard County

Year Founded: 1888

History

On the morning of Dec. 22, 1888, a group of 23 qualified electors gathered to create the “Village of Melbourne” and by evening those settlers had elected their first officers and agreed on a corporate seal depicting a pineapple plant, a crane, and a palmetto tree. The area around Crane Creek, a tributary to the Indian River Lagoon, was first named Melbourne when a post office was opened eight years before a town was officially established. The first postmaster was an Englishman who spent much of his life in Melbourne, Australia, before opening a general store at Melbourne Harbor. However, Mrs. R.W. Goode is credited with suggesting the Melbourne name. Straws representing several proposed names were drawn. In the late 1800′s, much of Melbourne’s commercial activity was conducted from wooden buildings clustered along the Lagoon shoreline. Several piers jutted into the Lagoon to receive goods and travelers arriving by steamboat. New arrivals were greeted by the pungent odor of burning insect powder. After the railroad arrived in 1893, businesses were drawn toward the iron tracks perched on high ground a few blocks to the west.  In 1919, the original downtown area was consumed by fire. To the north of Melbourne another group of settlers established the neighboring community of Eau Gallie, also located at a harbor where a freshwater tributary flowed into the Lagoon. The two cities were consolidated in 1969. The Melbourne Naval Air Station was opened in 1942 to train Navy and Marine pilots, and was located on property that is now part of the Melbourne International Airport. Those who have served in all military branches are honored at the Melbourne Military Memorial Park. Today, Melbourne continues to evolve and serves as the business, educational, and cultural hub of South Brevard County. The high-tech character of the area is in part a reflection of the profound influence of the Kennedy Space Center on the county. Melbourne, home to the headquarters of Harris Corporation and to Florida Institute of Technology, now hosts a variety of technology industries and enterprises.

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