Dewey Beach History

Our town lies on a small strip of land between the Atlantic Ocean and Rehoboth Bay, is about one mile long and only two blocks wide. Despite its small size and low year-round population of about 300, it is not uncommon for 30,000 to visit the town during summer weekends. 

Our beach was one of four beaches nation-wide to be awarded SUPERSTAR BEACH STATUS in 2011 by the Natural Resources Defense Council, and continued to receive the award as one of 13 beaches nation-wide in 2012, 2013, and 2014 as announced in the NRDC.

In 1868, "Rehoboth City" first appeared on a map of Lewes Rehoboth Hundred in Beer's Atlas of Delaware. It is believed that the name was changed to Dewey Beach following the 1898 Battle of Manilla (Spanish–American War) when Admiral George Dewey became a national hero.The Rehoboth Beach Lifesaving Station, located at the end of Dagsworthy Street, was commissioned in 1878. It became the Rehoboth Beach Coast Guard Station in 1915. In 1921 citizens objected to the closing of the station, and it was recommissioned in 1926. The station was decommissioned in 1937 and abandoned in 1946. The original structure was moved to Lewes and became a residence. A replica of the station was built in 1988 which stands today. Dewey Beach was incorporated as a town in 1981. Dewey Beach is governed by a Town Council and Mayor. The town's first mayor, Bruce Vavala, reportedly spent his first day in office surfing. We hold elections each year to fill the positions of Commissioners who have come to the end of their two-year terms.  Town meetings are held each month at the Lifesaving Station.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 0.3 square miles (0.78 km), all of it land. As of the census of 2000, there were 301 people, 161 households, and 83 families residing in the town. The population density was 876.6 people per square mile (341.8/km²). There were 1,369 housing units at an average density of 3,986.9 per square mile (1,554.6/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 91.69% White, 0.33% African American, 0.33% Native American, 3.65% Asian, 2.66% from other races, and 1.33% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.32% of the population. Of the 161 households, 9.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.1% were married couples living together, 5.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 48.4% were non-families. 40.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older.

The average household size was 1.87 and the average family size was 2.45. In the town the population was spread out with 8.3% under the age of 18, 5.6% from 18 to 24, 23.3% from 25 to 44, 34.6% from 45 to 64, and 28.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 52 years. For every 100 females there were 106.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 110.7 males. The median income for a household in the town was $79,471, and the median income for a family was $97,505. Males had a median income of $56,563 versus $39,583 for females. The per capita income for the town was $51,958. None of the families and 1.9% of the population were living below the poverty line, including no under eighteen and 5.8% of those over 64.

You may be interested in our town history, and if so you may also want to read our town charter.