Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach is a city in Volusia County,  Florida, USA. As of 2004, the population estimates recorded by the U.S. Census Bureau is 64,422. Daytona Beach is a year-round resort area, and home to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Bethune-Cookman College, Daytona Beach Community College, and Keiser College Daytona Beach Campus. The city is also home to the Daytona Cubs, a minor league baseball team of the Florida State League.

Daytona Beach is well-known for its beaches. It is one of the few places in the world where a family car can be driven on an ocean beach. Most other driving beaches require 4 wheel drive or other special equipment.

In the past Daytona Beach catered to spring breakers, but in recent years many of the breakers have migrated to other sites.

As host of the Daytona 500, the opening race of the NASCAR Nextel Cup season, Daytona Beach caters to almost 200,000 visitors during Speed Weeks in early February.

"The World's Most Famous Beach"

The city and its beaches, lined with hotels, motels, condominiums and houses, attract over 8,000,000 tourists each year. In a wide variety of price ranges, hotel and motel rooms are typically plentiful except during special events. Daytona Beach has high security around its main hotel locations, with multiple cameras filming hotel and beach areas.

During motorcycle events (Bike Week and Biketoberfest), several hundred thousand bikers from all over the world visit the greater Daytona Beach area. While the city is often associated with Spring Break, the efforts of the local government to discourage rowdiness, combined with the rise of other Spring Break destinations, have nearly ended Daytona's former preeminence as a Spring Break destination. Indeed, so few students (relative to past years) have come since 2002 that officials stopped estimating their numbers.

Special events that draw visitors to Daytona Beach include:

  • Speedweeks (Daytona 500 NASCAR race, Rolex 24 sports car race, and others)
  • Pepsi 400 NASCAR race on or around July 4 (Traditionally called the Firecracker 400)
  • Daytona Beach Bike Week Daytona 200 motorcycle race in March
  • Biketoberfest in October
  • Turkey Run car show and events during Thanksgiving weekend (Traditionally called the Turkey Rod Run)
  • Black College Reunion (BCR) date varies
  • Spring break date varies

Daytona Beach is also home to the headquarters of the LPGA.

History - 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."

A postcard depicting people gathered to watch the races on Daytona Beach, c. 1908
A postcard depicting people gathered to watch the races on Daytona Beach, c. 1908
A postcard depicting a Seabreeze street scene, c. 1905
A postcard depicting a Seabreeze street scene, 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.

Culture - Daytona Beach is located roughly at the southern end of the cultural South, so its culture has remained somewhat Southern, but due to mass migration from Northern states, it is in many ways more similar to South Florida. It should be noted however that South Florida has a major Hispanic influence, which is not as prevalent in Central Florida. Its Southern heritage cannot be completely forgotten however, thanks to the presence of NASCAR.

The architecture and style of its older homes and buildings and the culture and speech of its older, locally-born inhabitants leaves no doubt as to its cultural roots.

Daytona Beach has often been viewed as a party town. It has been a traditional destination for people who want to drink and get rowdy. There are still very strong remnants of the party culture, but in recent years the local government has made somewhat successful efforts to clean up Daytona Beach's rough, honky-tonk image and turn it into a more family-friendly beach destination

Notable inhabitants

  • Duane Allman and Gregg Allman, musicians
  • Vince Carter, professional basketball player
  • Kevin Nash, former WWE and WCW Champion; founder of the New World Order
  • Ryan Lochte, Olympic gold medalist (swimming)
  • Mary McLeod Bethune, civil rights activist
  • Glen "Fireball" Roberts, former NASCAR driver
  • Bob Ross, host of The Joy of Painting
  • T. K. Wetherell, president of Florida State University
  • Robert Wright, musical theater writer
  • Mike Skinner, NASCAR driver
  • Ron Rice, owner/founder of Hawaiian Tropic

Points of interest

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 64.9 miles, 58.7 miles of it is land and 6.2 miles of it (9.63%) is water. Daytona Beach is located on the Halifax River lagoon, part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, and Atlantic Ocean.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 64,112 people, 28,605 households, and 13,844 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,092.6/mile. There were 33,345 housing units at an average density of 568.3/mile.

There were 28,605 households out of which 18.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 30.1% were married couples living together, 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.6% were non-families. 39.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 14.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.06 and the average family size was 2.77.

In the city the population was spread out with 17.6% under the age of 18, 16.6% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 20.5% from 45 to 64, and 19.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 99.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.5 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $25,439, and the median income for a family was $33,514. Males had a median income of $25,705 versus $20,261 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,530.

External links