Indian River Lagoon at Palm Bay
Indian River Lagoon at Palm Bay

The first homes built in what is now palm Bay came in 1850 with a group of pioneers. They built along both sides of Turkey Creek and named their settlement "Tillman." Within a few years there were a lumbering operation, a packing house and acreage planted in citrus. But growth didn't really begin until the railroad arrived in 1894. Right after the railroad came the Great Freezes of 1895.

The Indian River Catholic Colony was established in 1910 and they tried to grow two crops per season on their land. That depleted the soil so quickly they were out of business by 1914.

In the 1920's the town was renamed after a group of Sabal palms standing on the coastline at the mouth of Turkey Creek. A development company came together, plans were made, bonds issued and work began to drain the marshy area on the west side of Palm Bay. Then a fire wiped out most of that work and a bad hurricane blew through to finish the disaster. The Melbourne-Tillman Drainage District went bankrupt in 1926.

General Development Corporation arrived in 1959, buying large chunks of land and surveying thousands of home sites in the area to be part of their Port Malabar development. The residents responded by incorporating the City of Palm Bay and included all the land in Port Malabar. GDC was an unholy partner of the city in everything the city did until GDC filed for bankruptcy protection in 1991. At this point in time, many of the roads in the city (built by General Development Corporation before 1991) haven't been repaired or repaved since 1991. And the voters have consistently refused to allow assesments, taxes or bonds to fix the roads.