is a city in Brevard County, Florida, United States. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the city's population as 100,116 on 1 July 2007; it is the most populous city in the county. Palm Bay is a Principal City of the Palm Bay–Melbourne–Titusville Metropolitan Statistical Area, which had an estimated population of 536,161 on 1 July 2007.
The Timucuan Indians, attracted to the mouth of Turkey Creek at the Indian River by fresh water springs, fish, oysters, and wildlife, are thought to have been the first inhabitants in the Palm Bay area.
Palm Bay's recent history began in the 1850s when the first European settlers built homes along Turkey Creek. Originally referred to as Tillman, the settlement was described as a "small strip of hammock...on each side of Turkey Creek...mostly pine and palmetto, miserable sandy barren oak scrub, some ponds and interspersed with sawgrass and gallberry."
By the mid-nineteenth century, there was a lumbering operation, packing house, and orange groves, but growth was slow until the arrival of the railroad in 1894. Goods were brought in and produce was shipped to market faster.
Between 1910 and 1914, Tillman became the center for a land company known as the Indian River Catholic Colony. Attempting to grow two crops a season, farmers quickly depleted the soil, and the colony failed. Those remaining built St. Joseph's Church on Miller Street, the oldest building still standing.
In the 1920s, the city was renamed after the bay bordered with palm trees known as Palm Bay located at the mouth of Turkey Creek. A group of Tillman businessmen established the Melbourne-Tillman Drainage District, and issued $1.5 million worth of bonds. Starting in 1922, a 180 mile grid of 80 canals was dug to drain 40,000 acres (160 km²) of swampy land west of Palm Bay. The canals made it possible to control flooding and turn marsh lands to agricultural use. Farmers planted citrus groves and truck farms which shipped winter produce by the Florida East Coast Railroad to northern markets. Farmers sold timber and land to paper companies. In 1926, a fire among the dredges and a severe hurricane economically depressed Palm Bay. The Melbourne-Tillman Drainage District went bankrupt.
In 1959, General Development Corporation purchased and platted extensive tracts of land in Palm Bay for its large residential project known as Port Malabar.
The active development of the city after that point was intertwined with GDC, who laid out and built many of the streets, sold and built many of the city's now older homes, and built a water treatment plant later purchased by the City after GDC filed for bankruptcy in 1991.
The City's budget for 2009 contained little if any funds for repairing and maintaining its increasingly deteriorating road system, much of which is left over from GDC days. A bond referendum which included projected funds for road repairs was soundly defeated by voters in May 2009.
In 2008 the former Port Malabar Country Club property was revalued at $300,000, essentially "worthless" because of arsenic in the groundwater which would require an estimated $12 million dollars to clean up.