COCOA/SPACE COAST GREATER AREA
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The city was founded by fishermen very early in Florida's history. An authentic, historical account states that the first families
arrived in Cocoa around 1860. A post office was established at Magnolia Point two miles north and the first commercial building
in Cocoa was erected in 1881 or 1882. First plats of the new settlement were made in 1882 under the name "Indian River City" on
land owned by Captain R. A. Hardee. The name Indian River City was unacceptable to the U.S. Postal authorities who claimed it
was too long for use on a postmark.
In 1925, the Cocoa Tribune published several accounts, supplied by readers, of the town's naming. A Mrs. Ruby Myers credited
Captain R.C. May with the choosing of the name Cocoa at a town meeting in 1884. Those attending the meeting focused on a
local product or characteristic feature of the area; e.g., citrus plants and Cedar Key. It was stated that at Captain May's suggestion,
the group finally chose for its association with the Cocoa plant. The name was forwarded to Washington, D.C. where it was officially
Another version suggests that while a group of citizens were seeking a name for the town, an old woman received inspiration from
a box of Baker's Cocoa and her suggestion was adopted. Still another version suggests that along the bank of the Indian River lived
an old woman who would supply hot cocoa to the sailors as they traversed the Indian River. As they passed, they would call out
"cocoa, cocoa" until the woman supplied them with refreshment. Whatever its origin, by 1884 the name Cocoa had become
permanently associated with what was then an infant settlement.
Incorporated in 1895, Cocoa has continued to develop and mature despite serious setbacks early in its history. In 1890, Cocoa's
business district was destroyed by fire. However, in the early 1890's significant development began to occur with the extension of
the Jacksonville, St. Augustine, and Indian River Railway to Cocoa. The new rail connection served as a catalyst for the growth of
the economy and population of the town. By 1895, Cocoa was a maturing community. Cocoa suffered a second severe economic
setback in the winter of 1894-1895 when the "Great Freeze" destroyed the citrus crop and forced many individuals involved in the
citrus industry to seek new occupations according to one source, by 1903, the population of Cocoa had dropped to 382.
During the second decade of the of the twentieth century, population growth and economic development in Cocoa accelerated.
The state business directory of 1911-1912 set the population at 550. By 1925, the population was estimated at 1,800. During the
Great Depression, starting in 1929, the local economy declined and the two local banks failed. Still, according to one source, the
population rose to 2,200 by 1930. The population rose dramatically following the development of the Space Industry.
The population quadrupled from 3,098 in 1940 to 12,244 in 1960. Cocoa and the surrounding area also became integrated with
the tourist industry for the first time as thousands visited the area to witness the launches from Cape Canaveral. By 1980, the
population had grown to 16,096. Based on the 2000 Census, the City's population reaches 16,412.
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