Palm Bay is a city in Brevard County, Florida, United States. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's population as 100,116 on 1 July 2007; it is the most populous city in the county. Palm Bay is a Principal City of the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had an estimated population of 536,161 on 1 July 2007.
Palm Bay's recent history began in the 1850s when the first European settlers built homes along Turkey Creek. Originally referred to as Tillman, the settlement was described as a "small strip of hammock...on each side of Turkey Creek...mostly pine and palmetto, miserable sandy barren oak scrub, some ponds and interspersed with sawgrass and gallberry."
By the mid-nineteenth century, there was a lumbering operation, packing house, and orange groves, but growth was slow until the arrival of the railroad in 1894. Goods were brought in and produce was shipped to market faster.
Between 1910 and 1914, Tillman became the center for a land company known as the Indian River Catholic Colony. Attempting to grow two crops a season, farmers quickly depleted the soil, and the colony failed. Those remaining built St. Joseph's Church on Miller Street, the oldest building still standing.
In the 1920s, the city was renamed after the bay bordered with palm trees known as Palm Bay located at the mouth of Turkey Creek. A group of Tillman businessmen established the Melbourne-Tillman Drainage District, and issued $1.5 million worth of bonds. Starting in 1922, a 180 mile grid of 80 canals was dug to drain 40,000 acres (160 km²) of swampy land west of Palm Bay. The canals made it possible to control flooding and turn marsh lands to agricultural use. Farmers planted citrus groves and truck farms which shipped winter produce by the Florida East Coast Railroad to northern markets. Farmers sold timber and land to paper companies. In 1926, a fire among the dredges and a severe hurricane economically depressed Palm Bay. The Melbourne-Tillman Drainage District went bankrupt.
In 1959, General Development Corporation purchased land for a residential project now known as the Port Malabar subdivision.
In 2008 the former Port Malabar Country Club property was revalued at $300,000, essentially "worthless" because of arsenic in the groundwater which would require and estimated $12 million dollars to clean up.
The city is broken up into four sections: Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast, each contain multiple zip codes. The most urban area is in the Northeast. The most rural area is in the Southwest, containing an area called The Compound. This area is home to Bombardier Recreational Products. A small portion of Bayside Lakes lies in the area.
Drainage continues to be a problem in some parts of the city, caused primarily by the sudden unplanned transfer from General Development Corporation to the city of the responsibility for planning future growth and designing adequate drainage. This problem has been mitigated since 2000 with the continued design and construction work by Palm Bay City employees. During the early 1990s, Palm Bay Regional Park, a soccer and athletic complex in the Western part of the city, was constructed. It is the largest of a citywide system of parks and recreation areas. The Turkey Creek Sanctuary is a small nature reserve in the northeast part of the city.
As of the census of 2000, there were 79,413 people, 30,336 households, and 21,781 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,247.7/mi² (481.7/km²). There were 32,902 housing units at an average density of 517.0/mi² (199.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 77.54% White, 14.31% African American, 0.35% Native American, 1.71% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 2.38% from other races, and 2.66% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.63% of the population.
There were 30,336 households out of which 34.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.0% were married couples living together, 12.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.2% were non-families. 21.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.03.
In the city the distribution by age was: 26.5% under the age of 18, 7.6% from 18 to 24, 29.6% from 25 to 44, 21.5% from 45 to 64, and 14.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 95.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.4 males.
In 2008, the Census Bureau ranked the city as the 25th fastest growing large city in the United States.
The following corporations are located in the city:
The Big Squeeze Festival promotes Florida citrus, exotic fruit and vegetable juices & related products. It is held the last weekend in March. 30,000 people attended in 2007.
Palm Bay is developing its Bayfront "downtown" to create a focus for the city.
Mayor - John Mazziotti; Councilmembers - Kristine Isnardi, Ed Geier, Milo Zonka, Pat Woodard; City Manager - Lee Feldman
In June 1999 Mazziotti was removed from office by then Governor Jeb Bush when it was revealed that the mayor had previously served two prison sentences and did not have his civil rights restored. Mazziotti had served 27 months in a federal penitentiary for a marijuana trafficking conviction in Pennsylvania and a second separate conviction for smuggling amphetamines across the Canadian border. It was also discovered that, as a 17 year old, Mazziotti drove the getaway car during a robbery. After having his civil rights restored, he ran again for the City Council and won. He ran unopposed during his last campaign for mayor in 2005.
In 2007, the city had a taxable real estate base of $5.84 billion. This amount was the largest of any municipality in the county.
City Hall is located at:
Most roads in the area west of DeGroodt Road are unpaved.