Melbourne Florida is a small city of about 80,000 people in southern Brevard County on Florida's Space Coast about one hour east of Orlando.
The city gets its name from Melbourne, Australia. The area began to be called Melbourne eight years before the town was officially established.
A name was needed because a post office was being established to serve families in the area.
The first postmaster, Cornthwaite John Hector, was an Englishman who spent much of his life in Melbourne, Australia, before opening a general store at Crane Creek. A local pioneer, Mrs. R. W. Goode, suggested the post office be named Melbourne.
The area began to thrive in the late 1800's because of its advantageous location on the Indian River Lagoon. Farmers in the area had easy access to a good port and economic transport of their produce to profitable markets.
An interesting local character was Peter Wright, a black freedman (a slave freed during the Civil War) who became known as the "Sailing Mailman". Wright sailed a regular schedule from Titusville to Malabar to deliver mail to the numerous riverside settlements.
Melbourne prospered along Crane Creek where it empties into the Indian River, and its fortunes were linked to Eau Gallie, another small town north of Melbourne with a nice port on the Indian River.
One of the interesting buildings still standing in Melbourne from the early days is the ice plant. It was originally a power generating plant that also produced ice. It is on US Highway 1 near downtown Melbourne, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Eau Gallie was settled by William Gleason and his friends. Gleason had earlier done a lot of development in the Miami area, and was prominent in state and national politics.
The railroad came to Eau Gallie and Melbourne in 1893, and the focus of commerce moved from the Indian River to the tracks on the higher land to the west.
In 1969, local voters consolidated Melbourne and Eau Gallie into one city and picked the name Melbourne for the new venture. Some wanted it to be named Eau Gallie; others wanted Melbogallie and any other variety of compromise names.
We are all grateful that the name Melbourne won out.
The "new" Melbourne of today has two distinct "old" and renovated downtown areas: historic downtown Melbourne and Olde Eau Gallie, each with lots of restaurants and shops.
The old Melbourne Hotel shown on the postcard below still stands on US-1 and is used today as an office building.
The edge of historic downtown Melbourne Florida near the Indian River was the location of the "Trysting Stairs, a wooden stairway leading up a bluff at the north end of Front Street.
The stairs provided a convenient way to reach residences on the higher ground above and became an informal meeting place which was especially popular among young lovers at the time.
Pineda Crossing, 2515 Roberts Road, Melbourne, FL 32940. Tel: 321-259-7760. Great dining in the Suntree Area: steaks, seafood, full bar.