The history of Central Brevard County is almost as long and complicated as the geographical borders of the county itself. Stretching north and south for 77 miles, Brevard County is a thin strip of land, barely 20 miles across at its widest point. Within these narrow confines, however, diverse and dynamic communities have left their marks and many continue to flourish, among them Merritt Island and Cocoa Beach. Only 32 miles in length, Merritt Island was once a scrub-covered parcel of land settled by hardy pioneers who raised cattle and cultivated citrus, vegetable, and pineapple crops. Though now a commercial and residential center, the careful observer can still find, tucked away in hammocks along the shore and surrounded by million-dollar homes, the old citrus groves, simple homes built by early settlers, and the remnants of small communities that were once hubs of activity. Cocoa Beach owes much of its story to the vision and energy of a single man, Gus Edwards, who promoted the area as a resort to rival the communities of Miami Beach and Venice. With the coming of the space program to Florida’s Atlantic coast in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the area built upon elaborately drawn subdivision plats and a few scattered buildings to become the bustling modern city it is today.
About the Author
In Merritt Island and Cocoa Beach, a new volume of history dedicated to these two Brevard County communities, authors Ada Edmiston Parrish, A. Clyde Field, and George Leland “Speedy” Harrell have gathered vintage photographs and other memorabilia from the archives of the Tebeau-Field Library of Florida History, the North Brevard Historical Museum, and the Central Florida Mosquito Beaters, as well as from the collections of local and longtime residents. This entertaining and informative retrospective will surely be a treasure to those who grew up in the area and a treat to those who visit these memorable places.