Brevard County is named after Theodore W. Brevard, and was first established in 1848, when the Cape Canaveral area was settled. Seminole Indian attacks were residents’ main concern back in the late nineteenth century, but despite the battles over land, the county grew at a fairly rapid rate. Several cities popped up next to the Indian River: Titusville, Rockledge, Cocoa, Melbourne, and Palm Bay are just a few.
After the invention of the automobile in the early 20th century, engineers designed and built several roads, which linked Brevard County with the rest of the state and the country. When the Long Range Proving Ground was established at Cape Canaveral in the 1950s, Brevard was no longer viewed as a “backwoods” area of Florida. The space industry and the advent of space missions, along with high-tech engineering jobs deemed Brevard the “Space Coast.” Even though much of the county still primarily depended on agricultural production, the technological and space exploration growth transformed the overall economy of the area; Brevard’s population grew rapidly in the ten-year span between 1950 and 1960. As of 2014, there were 495 aerospace companies in the county. During the 1960s, Orlando also grew as people flocked to Florida to visit Disney. The retail malls and other shops spurred Brevard County’s growth in the retail sector with many of the county’s cities sprucing up and reviving their downtown communities. Another high-growth area has been in Port Canaveral, which is now the world’s busiest cruise port with six major cruise terminals. Brevard also boasts several conservation areas including the Merritt Island National Refuge, the Canaveral National Seashore, and the St. John’s National Wildlife Refuge. Two Brevard companies, Harris Corporation and Health First Health Plans, were rated by Florida Trend as two of the best places to work in the state of Florida. Higher education institutions include Eastern Florida State College and Florida Institute of Technology.