The first documented human activity within the area that would become the city of Delray Beach was the establishment of the Orange Grove House of Refuge by the United States Life-Saving Service, a predecessor to the United States Cost Guard, to assist survivors of shipwrecks off the coast of Florida. In 1884, a moderately-sized group of African-American settlers began farming west of the House of Refuge and eventually built the first school in the area. In 1984, William Linton, a postmaster from Michigan, bought a large amount of land near the coast and began selling it to farmers. Seeing the success of the Linton farms, Henry Flagler built a station there for the Florida East Coast Railroad. After an especially cold winter killed many crops in 1898, William Linton left his town, and it was renamed to Delray, which means “Of the King” in Spanish. Florida officially chartered Delray in 1911. During the 1920s, Delray’s economy shifted from the farming of pineapples and tomatoes to tourism and real estate. Modern utilities and roads were constructed, and hotels sprang up. In 1923, the area between the Florida East Cost Canal (which would later become part of the Intercoastal Waterway) and the ocean became Delray Beach, and in 1927 the towns east and west of the Canal merged under that name.
Delray Beach’s development into a tourism and residential center has continued into the modern era. The city is now home to many upscale beachside hotels and restaurants, and modern sporting and entertainment facilities exist alongside historical sites such as the former Delray Elementary School and High School built in 1913 (now Old School Square), the Cason Cottage, which was built in 1915, and the Marina Historic District, built between 1922 and 1943.
Delray Beach has a total land area of 15.37 square miles. The city’s population as of 2006 is estimated to be 64,757 people, and so its population density is about 4213 people per square mile of land. The current mayor of Delray Beach is Rita Ellis. Its sister cities are Moshi, Tanzania and Miyazu, Japan.