Merritt Island owes its name to the king of Spain. The entire island was part of a land grant given by the king to a nobleman named Merritt.
In 1605, Spanish explorer Alvaro Mexia visited while on a diplomatic mission to the local tribes living in the Indian River area. He called the local tribe the Ulumay. Merritt Island is the prominent island on a color map he drew of the area, a copy of which is in the archives at the Library of Congress and the archives in Seville, Spain.
In April 1788, French botanist Andre Michaux traveled in Merritt Island, near Cape Canaveral . He spent five days looking for plants. He wrote a letter on April 24, 1788 from St Augustine. He reported discovering the flag or bigflower paw-paw, Asimina obovata Fort Ann was constructed on the east coast of Merritt Island, to protect the area against the Seminoles.
Merritt Island’s recent history dates back to the mid-19th century and centers on the growth of citrus, stressing the cultivation of pineapples and oranges. The Indian River oranges and grapefruit come from this sandy area.
The island’s population grew in the 1950s and 1960s as the Space Race began and nearby NASA expanded. Construction of a barge canal to the Intracoastal Waterway from the Atlantic Ocean (for power plant oil shipments) cut off the northern half of the island for many years. To this day, the northern portion of the island remains slightly less developed, with a few areas remaining as cattle pasture or citrus land. The small towns on the island vanished with the coming of the Space Age, and now only live on in the names of streets and historic churches.
In 1988, citizens defeated a proposed incorporation into a city, 77% opposed to 23% in favor.
Sea Ray operated a factory on Merritt Island from 1978 to 2012. At one time it employed 1200 people. It closed the plant in 2013
The unincorporated “town” of Merritt Island is located on Florida’s largest island, which serves as the home of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, still a major tourist attraction, even though space shuttles are no longer being launched from Merritt Island. You can enter the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, meet an astronaut, enjoy the automated thrills of the Shuttle Launch Experience and explore other interactive displays. And, if you are fortunate, you will be in Merritt Island when an unmanned rocket blasts off from the space center or from the adjacent Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Juxtaposed with all of this is the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, a 140,000-acre nature sanctuary. Merritt Island has real estate available in all price points.
Merritt Island Real Estate
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Merritt Island Schools
Dining and Shopping
Merritt Square Mall is a popular choice for shoppers. http://www.merrittsquaremall.com/
Located right on Highway 520 there is a large amount of shopping and restaurant choices in this area and is the hub for commercial on Merritt Island.
The Island Waterfront Grill, Bugnutty Brewing Company, Shuttles Restaurant and Bar are a few of my favorites. For Sushi I love to go to Pacific Rim.
Parks and Recreation
Parks by City/Town Merritt Island
- Audubon Elementary School
- Dolphin Park
- Gardendale Elementary School
- Harbor Point Park
- Intracoastal Waterway Park
- Jefferson Middle School
- Kelly Park-East
- Kelly Park-West
- Kings Park
- Kiwanis Island Park
- Manatee Cove Park
- Margaret and Danny Strickland Park
- MILA Elementary School
- Mitchell Ellington Park
- Osteen Park
- Pineview Park
- Ron Smith Park at Tropical Elementary School
- Rotary Park-Merritt Island
- Stevenson Elementary School
- Ulumay Wildlife Sanctuary
- Veterans Memorial Park
- Watts Park
- Woody Simpson Park