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Rockledge, Florida
City of Rockledge
Motto(s): 
"Preserving The Past, Planning The Future"
Location in Brevard County and the state of Florida
Location in Brevard County and the state of Florida
Coordinates: 28°19′30″N 80°43′58″W / 28.32500°N 80.73278°W / 28.32500; -80.73278Coordinates: 28°19′30″N 80°43′58″W / 28.32500°N 80.73278°W / 28.32500; -80.73278
Country  United States of America
State  Florida
County Brevard
Founded August 7, 1887
Founded by Gardner S. Hardee
Government
 • Type Council-Manager
Area
 • Total 14.93 sq mi (38.68 km2)
 • Land 13.22 sq mi (34.24 km2)
 • Water 1.72 sq mi (4.44 km2)
Elevation
23 ft (7 m)
Population
 (2020)
 • Total 27,678
 • Density 2,093.80/sq mi (808.44/km2)
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
32955-32956
Area code(s) 321
FIPS code 12-61500
GNIS feature ID 0294132

Rockledge is the oldest city in Brevard County, Florida. The city's population was 24,926 at the 2010 United States Census, and is part of the Palm BayMelbourneTitusville Metropolitan Statistical Area.

History

Detroit Photographic Company (0275)
A view of early Rockledge, FL and the Indian River
Rockledge FL Magruder-Whaley House03
Modern-day picture of the Magruder-Whaley House

Rockledge was officially founded on August 7, 1887, making it the oldest incorporated municipality in Brevard County. The name Rockledge, attributed to Gardner S. Hardee, an early settler, comes from the many ledges of coquina rock that line the Indian River. Other sources refer to a man named Cephas Bailey Magruder, who built his home after settling in the area in 1876 near the Indian River. Magruder called his home "the rockledge home" and the name was eventually attributed to the whole town. It was originally referred to as Rock Ledge; the two-word name persisted through the 19th century. Early industry in the area was based on the citrus trade and accommodation for tourists traveling to South Florida via the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway of the Indian River.

Towards the early part of the 20th century, Rockledge was known as a resort town. In the winter months, the population would rise from 200 to almost 2,000 people. Up until about 1911, access to Rockledge was via boat and rail. Steamboats in the Indian River connected with Henry Flagler's trains to bring people to the North. Small boats, sailboats, and small launches frequently stopped to unload freight and passengers. Most of the tourists in this time were wealthy and would use the boats to connect to the rail system at that time. After World War I, the automobile allowed the average person to travel to the area and their encampments dotted the area. The Dixie Highway was completed in 1915 and spanned most of Florida. In the 1920s, US1 was paved and replaced the Dixie Highway.

President Grover Cleveland and his wife visited the city in 1888.

The town had several large hotels in the late 19th century to the early 20th century that catered to Northern tourists escaping cold winters. Condominiums are located at the previous site of Hotel Indian River.

Rockledge underwent an expansion further west and south in the 1960s when it became a bedroom community for the nearby Kennedy Space Center. Several hundred families from all over the United States settled in the city with the advent of the Apollo missions and the space shuttle program.

Barton Boulevard replaced US 1 as the town's economic center as new subdivisions spread south along Fiske Boulevard. By the 1970s, the bulk of Rockledge's population lived between US 1 and I-95.

Developments stretched north to south from the late 1950s to the 1990s. Virginia Park, Marlin Manor, Fairway Estates, Rockledge Country Club Estates, Golfview Estates, Kings Grant, Georgetown, Levitt Park and Woodsmere had all been established by the 1970s.

Levitt Park and Woodsmere were built atop a gladiola farm and an orange grove. The huge Australian Pine trees at the southernmost points of Fiske Boulevard are all that remain of the grove's windbreaks. The subdivision of Silver Pines, the most lavish and affluent community in Rockledge, while part of unincorporated Brevard County outside the city limit, was also built during this period and is identified by citizens as a part of the city.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 13.4 square miles (34.8 km2), of which 11.9 square miles (30.9 km2) is land and 1.5 square miles (3.8 km2) (11.03%) is water.

It is bounded on the north by Cocoa, on the west by the St. Johns River and scrubland, to the south by Viera (unincorporated) and Melbourne, and to the east by the Indian River Lagoon and Merritt Island (unincorporated) on the opposite shore.

Climate

Rockledge has a humid subtropical climate, Köppen climate classification Cfa. The area's warm and humid climate is caused primarily by its proximity to the Gulf Stream, which flows off the east coast of Florida. There are two major seasons which characterize the area. One is hot and rainy, lasting from June until late September. The other is the dry season, October through May, brings more moderate temperatures and less frequent rainfall.

Climate data for Rockledge, Florida
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 89
(31.7)
92
(33.3)
93
(33.9)
97
(36.1)
97
(36.1)
101
(38.3)
102
(38.9)
101
(38.3)
98
(36.7)
96
(35.6)
91
(32.8)
89
(31.7)
102
(38.9)
Average high °F (°C) 71
(21.7)
74
(23.3)
77
(25)
81
(27.2)
86
(30)
90
(32.2)
91
(32.8)
91
(32.8)
88
(31.1)
84
(28.9)
79
(26.1)
73
(22.8)
82.1
(27.82)
Average low °F (°C) 49
(9.4)
52
(11.1)
55
(12.8)
60
(15.6)
67
(19.4)
72
(22.2)
73
(22.8)
73
(22.8)
73
(22.8)
68
(20)
60
(15.6)
53
(11.7)
62.9
(17.18)
Record low °F (°C) 17
(-8.3)
27
(-2.8)
25
(-3.9)
35
(1.7)
47
(8.3)
55
(12.8)
60
(15.6)
60
(15.6)
58
(14.4)
41
(5)
30
(-1.1)
21
(-6.1)
17
(-8.3)
Precipitation inches (mm) 2.27
(57.7)
2.63
(66.8)
3.28
(83.3)
2.13
(54.1)
3.29
(83.6)
6.71
(170.4)
5.96
(151.4)
7.68
(195.1)
7.64
(194.1)
5.06
(128.5)
2.88
(73.2)
2.57
(65.3)
52.1
(1,323.3)
Source: Weather Channel accessdate February 29, 2012

Environment

Rainfall can run off from the city into the Indian River Lagoon, with resultant pollution. As a result, the city has banned fertilizing from June 1 to September 30 annually.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1920 453
1930 551 21.6%
1940 725 31.6%
1950 1,347 85.8%
1960 3,481 158.4%
1970 10,523 202.3%
1980 11,877 12.9%
1990 16,023 34.9%
2000 20,170 25.9%
2010 24,926 23.6%
2020 27,678 11.0%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census of 2000, there were 20,170 people, 7,864 households, and 5,677 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,884.4 inhabitants per square mile (727.8/km2). There were 8,353 housing units at an average density of 780.4 per square mile (301.4/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 81.06% White, 14.64% African American, 0.28% Native American, 1.66% Asian, 0.08% Pacific Islander, 0.73% from other races, and 1.56% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.28% of the population.

There were 7,864 households, out of which 31.0% had children living with them, 56.8% were married couples living together, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.8% were non-families. 22.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.51 and the average family size was 2.93.

Per the 2000 Census, the population was distributed as follows:

  • 23.8% under the age of 18
  • 6.0% from 18 to 24
  • 28.6% from 25 to 44
  • 25.2% from 45 to 64
  • 16.4% who were 65 years of age or older.

The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.3 males.

In 2010, the city had the lowest percentage of people living in poverty of any municipality measured in the county, 5%, compared to an average of 10% countywide.

Museums and other points of interest

Parks and recreation

Rockledge has the following parks:

  • Anderson Stormwater Park
  • Barton Park [under construction]
  • Columbia Park
  • Dick Blake Park
  • Cruickshank Sanctuary
  • Golfview Park
  • Holland Park
  • McClarty Park
  • Memorial Walk at Levitt Park
  • Morris Park
  • Raider Park
  • River Groves Dock
  • Riverwalk - A Family Park
  • Rockledge Park
  • Silver Pines Park
  • Taylor Park
  • Valencia Dock

Economy

Local businesses focus on technology and aerospace, especially those related to nearby Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral.

Citrus grove production is nominal, producing citrus confections, juice and souvenirs for the tourist trade and for local consumption.

Personal income

The median income for a household in the city was $45,218, and the median income for a family was $52,332. Males had a median income of $39,434 versus $25,918 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,700. About 4.0% of families and 6.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.2% of those under age 18 and 7.2% of those age 65 or over.

Industry

The leading industries in Rockledge are Educational, health and social services, 20%; Manufacturing, 12%; and Professional, scientific, management, administrative, and waste management services, 11%.

Rivian Automotive, a tiny start-up, plans to begin production of cars in 2013.

Tourism

Rockledge has the following annual community events, festivals, and parades:

  • Art/Craft Fair
  • Cruise-On-In Car Show
  • Independence Day Family Picnic
  • Light Up Rockledge and Holiday Parade
  • Memorial Day Parade
  • National Night Out
  • Taylor Park Fall Family Festival

Workforce

In 2007, the average size of Rockledge's labor force was 11,886. Of that group, 11,455 were employed and 431 were unemployed, for an unemployment rate of 3.6%.

Among the most common occupations in Rockledge are Management, professional, and related occupations, 36%. Sales and office occupations, 28%. and Service occupations, 15%. Approximately 72 percent of workers in Rockledge, Florida work for companies, 19 percent work for the government and 6 percent are self-employed.

Housing

Reflecting economic times, in 2008, 45 building permits were issued for 105 units. In 2007, 131 permits were issued for 158 units. Also, in 2006, an estimated 106 permits for 341 units were issued.

The median home price in 2007 was $214,965.

In February 2011, the average price of homes actually sold was $131,500.

Education

The public schools in Rockledge are operated by the Brevard County Public School Board. Local schools include Hans Christian Andersen Elementary; Golfview Elementary; John F. Kennedy Middle School; Ronald McNair Magnet Middle School; and Rockledge High School.

Private schools include St. Mary's Catholic School, Rockledge Christian School, Trinity Lutheran School, and Rockledge Montessori School. Sawgrass Academy Middle was a former charter school in the town.

Infrastructure

Transportation

Major roads

Rockledge is served by U.S. Route 1. Major east–west roads are oriented towards this north–south road.

The following are at least four-lane roads, unless otherwise designated.

National roads
  • US 1.svg U.S. 1. – This road was constructed east of the railroad throughout the city. In 2010, it was widened to six lanes throughout Rockledge. A landscaped median was installed. Construction in 2010 cost $27.5 million for 2.6 miles (4.2 km). This section of the road carries approximately 45,000 vehicles daily. Major intersections include CR 502 and Barton Boulevard.
  • I-95.svg Interstate 95 – A very small portion runs through the city at Exit 195.
State roads
  • Florida 519.svg SR 519 (Fiske Blvd) is a state road which at the southernmost point connects to Stadium Parkway in Viera and at the northernmost point to SR 520 in Cocoa. SR 519 is a four-lane road. Major intersections include CR 502, Interstate 95, and Barton Boulevard.
County roads
  • Brevard County Road 502 FL.svg CR 502 (Barnes Blvd) links US 1, Murrell Road, SR 519 and I-95. CR 502 is a two-lane road except for the easternmost portion which has four lanes that eventually merge into two. Major intersections include Interstate 95, SR 519, and U.S. 1.
  • Brevard County 515.svg CR 515 (Rockledge Drive) winds along the Indian River edge and is a portion of the Indian River Lagoon Scenic Highway. Along the road are century-old oaks and homes in late 18th century style. There are no major intersections.

Bus

  • Space Coast Area Transit operates a public bus service in Rockledge and vicinity.

Rail

Air

  • The city has a private runway at the Rockledge Airpark that used to be run by Aero Adventures Inc, but was closed over safety concerns in 2015. The paved runway is approximately 2000 feet with a parallel grass runway on the east side of the property, and a local mechanic operates from the former hangars.

Notable people

  • Lyman Barnes, Wisconsin politician, practiced law in Rockledge for five years
  • Lucas "Tiger" Fafara, II, child actor, played Tooey Brown in Leave it to Beaver (1957–1963)
  • Tammy Lynn Leppert, actress
  • Troy Matteson, PGA Tour and 2002 NCAA champion golfer
  • DeLane Matthews, actress, played Beth Barry on Dave's World (1993–1997)
  • Mel Mitchell, professional football player
  • Laurent Robinson, professional football player
  • Scott Thompson, comedian, also known as Carrot Top, was born in Rockledge
  • Melissa Witek, Miss Florida USA 2005, contestant on NBC's Treasure Hunters
  • Beau Taylor, MLB player, #46 catcher for the Cleveland Indians. Former catcher of the Oakland Athletics.
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