A city on Florida
's east coast. Home to lots of senior citizens and retirees. It wasn't always that way though. Many of Titusville's residents have grown with the space program
, beginning work at NASA
in their youth and making a home in the little city by the Indian River
Titusville's founding was dated when Confederate Col. Henry Titus arrived on the banks of the Indian River in 1867 after the establishment of the first U.S. Post Office in 1859 which was then known as Sand Point (today Sand Point Park marks the location). Col. Titus came to Sand Point with the idea of building a town on land owned by his wife Mary and overlooking the Indian River; they built the very first hotel and named it "The Titus House" in honor of the colonel. Henry and Mary donated land for the city's first courthouse, four churches, laid out many of the town's streets, and established a link to the outside world by connecting the St. John's and Indian Rivers with mule-drawn wagons. Today's "Titusville" might have been known as "Riceville" except for the gaming skills of Titus who won a challenge match of dominoes against Captain Clark Rice to determine which player got to rename the town. Thus the outcome of a domino game resulted in Sand Point becoming Titusville, FL in 1873.
In the 1880s Titusville became the birthplace for commercial shipments of the famous Indian River Citrus from Dummitt Grove. With the 1880s and 1890s also came the establishment of the first bank, two newspapers, founding of a fishing Industry (SEE: Dixie Crossroads), railroad connection between Titusville and Enterprise on the north shore of Lake Monroe near Sanford, extension of the railroad from Jacksonville south along the East Coast with Titusville's first railroad station being constructed in 1892.
Titusville was formally incorporated in 1887 and the organization of a Board of Trade which was the beginnings of the present day Chamber of Commerce. Shortly after the turn of the century focus was on construction of schools, roads and a bridge across the Indian River to make it possible for easy access to Playalinda and Desoto Beaches. A water system was installed, a fire department was founded, a second bank was established, first permanent street paving was accomplished and stormwater drainage systems were installed.
Titusville was deeply changed by the burst of the Florida Boom in the mid 1920s and the economic depression of the 1930s. Since no airports existed on the east coast between Jacksonville and Miami a highlight of 1927 was the opening of present day Arthur Dunn Airpark for use as an emergency landing field for the airmail service of the times. During World War II many enemy ships were sunk off nearby beaches, a boat construction company built hundreds of landing craft at a plant located at the yacht basin. In fact, the empty shell of a warehouse is still standing, abandoned and left empty except for the ghosts of the past. A Navy fighter field was also established just south of Titusville which today is known as Space Coast Regional Airport.
The 1950s and early 1960s were a period of steady growth with additional population increases being counted when the towns of Whispering Hills and Indian River City were consolidated with Titusville. The 1960s also commenced man's conquest of space and with Kennedy Space Center came the accompanying boom which produced the first motels, the first multi-rise apartment building, a public hospital, shopping centers, new golf courses, churches, and sub-divisions. Along with the names of the astronauts the area became familiar with such major companies as TWA, McDonnell-Douglas, Boeing, North America, Grumman, Bendix and many many more.
The city was largely behind the times during the 1980s and early 90s. In 1985 the city only had six movie screens: 1 drive-in, 1 discount cinema, and 2 seperate movie theaters with 2 screens each. In the late 80s the Challenger disaster nearly sank the town as work and commerce dried up. The drive-in was demolished, one of the 2-screen theaters shut down, and the discount cinema just faded away. Fortunately the remaining 2-screen theater bought out a large space in the mall it occupied (quite easily, considering most of the stores in the mall had closed up and moved on) and turned into a 10+-screen miniplex. The city bounced back after the Space Shuttle Discovery took America back to space.
Today the city relies on tourism to the Space Center and spectators coming to stand on the shores of the Indian River to watch space shuttle launches. The city continues to grow with the additions of Super Wal-Mart, Office Depot, and Lowe's. It's a mixture of the old and the new as long time favorite stores Ace Hardware, Dixie Crossroads, and the old Searstown Cinema continue to do good business. Chances are the city will continue to prosper in the future.
History comes from http://www.floridatoday.com/sections/titusville/history.htm