The Beach in 1906
The area was once inhabited by the Timucuan Indians, who lived in fortified villages. War and disease, however, would decimate the tribe. Florida was acquired from Spain by the United States in 1821, although permanent settlement was delayed until after the Second Seminole War from 1835 to 1842. When the Civil War ended, Florida experienced a boom in tourism.
The city was founded in 1870 and incorporated in 1876. It was named for its founder, Matthias Day. In 1886, the St. Johns & Halifax River Railway arrived in Daytona. The line would be purchased in 1889 by Henry Flagler, who made it part of his Florida East Coast Railway. The separate towns of Daytona, Daytona Beach and "Seabreeze" merged as "Daytona Beach" in 1926, at the urging of civic leader J.B. Kahn and others. By the 1920s, it was dubbed "The World's Most Famous Beach."
Races in c. 1908
Seabreeze in c. 1905
Daytona's wide beach of smooth, compacted sand attracted automobile and motorcycle races beginning in 1902, as pioneers in the industry tested their inventions. The area would be nicknamed "The Birthplace of Speed." On March 8, 1936, the first stock car race was held on the Daytona Beach Road Course. In 1959, William France created Daytona International Speedway to replace the beach course. Automobiles are still permitted on the beach, although now only at slow speeds.
As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 64,112 people, 28,605 households, and 13,844 families residing in the city. The population density was 421.8/km² (1,092.6/mi²). There were 33,345 housing units at an average density of 219.4/km² (568.3/mi²).