The first settlers in this region of Florida were Native Americans. White settlement began with the establishment of Fort Defiance in 1836 and increased during the course of the Second Seminole War from 1835 to 1842, when most Indian tribes had been removed from the state. The area became part of Melbourne sometime after that city’s founding on September 27, 1848.
In 1880 West Melbourne was incorporated as a town (population 250). In 1889 it was granted a village charter by its residents and named “West Melbourne Village.” It is not clear exactly what year they reincorporated as a city; sources seem to indicate about 1900 or 1910 but no specific date can be found. A major impetus for incorporation may have been because citizens felt they were being taxed twice for services.
West Melbourne was an agricultural trading center and had a milk condensery, packing warehouses, canneries, fertilizer works and ice plants. It also served as the terminus of the Florida Railroad Company’s southernmost railroad line (1903-1945). The population rose to about 2500 in 1915 but declined after WWII when VA hospitals were built nearby at West Palm Beach and Miami. In 1975 its status changed from city to town (population 1457) with “village” dropped from its name since it no longer qualified for that designation under state law; then back into a city in 2002 due to growth which boosted population past 15000 .
Today, West Melbourne is a bedroom community for the nearby cities of Palm Bay and Rockledge. The city has grown considerably in recent years, as evidenced by its 2006 population increase from 11,000 to 14,200 people.