The city is named for Henry A. DeLand. It was founded in 1876, and incorporated in 1882. DeLand was the first city in Florida to have electricity.
Stetson University in DeLand is Florida's first private university, founded in 1883 by Henry A. DeLand and originally called the DeLand Academy. John B. Stetson, whose name is also associated with the hats he manufactured, was a founding trustee of the university; the university was named after him in 1889. The sports teams are appropriately referred to as the Hatters. In 1900, Stetson created the first law school in Florida.
As of the censusGR2 of 2000, there were 20,904 people, 8,375 households, and 4,631 families residing in the city. The population density was 508.6/km² (1,317.1/mi²). There were 9,272 housing units at an average density of 225.6/km² (584.2/mi²).
There were 8,375 households out of which 23.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.0% were married couples living together, 14.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 44.7% were non-families. 37.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.22 and the average family size was 2.92.
In the city the population was spread out with 20.7% under the age of 18, 14.9% from 18 to 24, 23.2% from 25 to 44, 17.6% from 45 to 64, and 23.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 83.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 77.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $28,712, and the median income for a family was $35,329. Males had a median income of $26,389 versus $20,114 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,936. About 14.2% of families and 19.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 31.3% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over.
Manatees in Blue Spring State Park near DeLand