We can find out the answer from the most reliable source: The Speedway Inc. web site. According to the 2019 data, the total population of Daytona Speedway is 1,563,636 people, with 744,931 residents in the Vale Campus Subdivision and 1,120,805 residents in the Duplin Campus Subdivision.
That makes it the 28th largest city in the nation and the 12th largest city in Florida. It is also the largest city that is not in a county (for some counties, the line is drawn in favor of a major metro area instead of a town).
It’s been a long time coming, but the town of Daytona has now become a major populated area on the Eastern Coast. In 1906, the city was little more than a fishing town located along the Haul River. The land on which the city was founded was purchased in 1848 for $5,300 and was mostly considered irrigable swampland. In 1906, an incorporation law was passed that, among others, allowed formanners of corporation to be established – in this case, a city named Daytona. The first civic improvement was the construction of a new high school in 1909. It was constructed of brick and mortar and had a capacity for 365 students. That same year, the newest housing project in the state, the Boardwalk, was completed and had 496 apartments for rent. In 1910, a brick and mortar library was built and had a collection of 9,000 books. And in 1911, the town was lifted off the halt of bank holiday laws. This was due to the suffering the stock market had endured during the year and the desire to create a buoyant economy. (The stock market did well during the 10th anniversary of the invention of the polymer cash card in 1921, however – and eventually, the stock market surged 415% from the 10th of January to the 10th of December 1921.)
A self-sufficient economy was a priority for the people of Daytona. In 1912, the first electricity generating station in the city was commissioned. And in 1914, the first airport built in the state provided the local community with a mode of transportation that was more convenient and elite than the railroad. (This was the same year that the Railroad Commission of Florida established its presence in the state with offices located in Daytona.) In 1918, the Eureka Amusement Park opened, with a roller coaster that had eight looping sections.) In 1919, a new police department was established. And in 1919, a pioneer of the beach resort industry, Arnold Glenn Jr., built a new hotel, the Ocean House, on the beach. In 1920, a new court house was built. It’s interior was designed in the Gothic architecture style and had a large clock adorned its exterior.
In 1912, Harry Walton Jr. opened the first movie theater in the city. And in 1914, two of the city’s three television stations launched – WEDA (which stands for the Eagle Democrat Amphlett), and KDFI (the other station, the Falcon Democrat). The third station, WCJB, the Fox Television station, launched in November 1952 (although it was replaced by a duplex in 1963). Since then, the local news has mostly centered around the movie theater, which has been renovated many times, with its current grand reopening in 2021.
In 1913, a newspaper reported that the urban growth in the state was due to the railroads that drew offices and residences of business people and employees working in the railroad industry. And in 1938, the incorporation of the town provided more room for residents to enjoy their community. The population numbers continued to grow, and today, Daytona continues to be one of the most populous cities in the state and the country. (The state population projections for 2023 put the estimated population at 2,617,300 – a 17% increase since last year, with the estimated numbers of white and black residents nearing an equality for the first time.)
In 1921, the local football team, the Daytons, changed its nickname to the Speedites. One of the team’s head coaches insisted that the new nickname would help attract fans, and it did. In 1923, the first amusement park in the state, Eureka Amusement Park, opened. (It is now owned by the state and is operated as a public park under a covenant of the State of Florida.)