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Daytona Beach History, Florida

Home to one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Daytona Beach City was established only in 1870 when the famous business tycoon Matthias D. Day bought 3200 acres of land in this part of Florida from the US government. It is a well-known fact that the city was named after Day, who built the first hotel, ‘The Palmetto House’ (in 1874) along with commercial complexes in his property.

Before jumping to that part of Daytona Beach history, however, we would like to take a look at the region’s pre-history. Timucuan Indians are believed to have populated these regions before the arrival of the Europeans. Like other parts of Florida, Daytona Beach area was also under the Spanish-rule during the colonial days. Following the end of the Spanish rule in 1821, the US government took steps to promote settlement in the region. The Seminole Wars, however, hindered permanent settlement in the region like it did in the case of Orlando, Sarasota, Tampa and other Florida-cities. As the Civil War came to an end and peace prevailed, the area started attracting tourists and investors alike. Matthias D. Day was one such investor, who had faith in the region’s potential and chose to invest in property here – he acquired 3200 acres of land for the sum of $1200 in the fall of 1870.

Daytona Beach History – Foundation and the Rest of the 19th Century

The city was founded by Matthias D. Day in 1870; the official incorporation, however, took place in 1876. A decade later, Daytona Beach was connected to the St. Johns & Halifax River Railway; and when Henry Flagler bought the lines in 1889, he made it a part of the Florida East Coast Railway owned by him. These events/ significant happenings, more or less, summed up 19th century history of Daytona Beach.

Daytona Beach History – 20th Century Onwards

Daytona Beach history took a fresh turn as it entered the 20th century – the initial years of the century saw Daytona’s beach gaining popularity among motor-sports enthusiasts even as new automobiles/motorbikes were test-driven on the compact-sand beach. This brought the city more fame, more prominence, ultimately boosting its populace. (As the city’s reputation spread, famous people like John D. Rockefeller became permanent residents of the city). Things took such a favorable turn that by 1926 the three separate settlements of Daytona, Daytona Beach and Seabreeze were united in 1926 to give shape to present-day Daytona Beach.

The next important thing to happen in Daytona Beach history was the first stock-car race held in 1936. By 1959, Daytona International Speedway (a world-class racetrack built by William ‘Bill’ France) was ready and the city not only became the venue of the most famous NASCAR race, Daytona 500 (which is held even today at the beginning of every racing season), it also became the H.Q. of the NASCAR and the Grand American Road Racing Association.


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