A popular regional vacation destination, Rehoboth Beach's seasonal population expands to over 25,000 within the city limits and thousands more in the surrounding area in the summer
Human beings probably inhabited the area of Rehoboth Beach as long ago as 10,000 BC; little is known about them because much of the evidence of their existence has been destroyed by development. At that time, sea levels were lower, and the Atlantic Coast lay about 30 miles (48 kilometers) farther east than it does today. At the time, the area would have resembled inland portions of southern Delaware today. By the time the first Europeans arrived in the area in the 1600s, the coastline was at its present location and several Native American tribes lived in the area, including the Lenape (or Delaware), the Sikkonese, the Assateagues, and the Nanticoke. Pressure from English and Dutch settlers radiating outward from Delaware forced the Lenape to migrate to upper New York state, Canada, and Oklahoma, while the Sikkonese and Assateagues were extirpated; the Nanticoke, however, still exist in the general area today. The land later came under the control of the Duke of York, who granted it to various landholders in the 1700s. By the mid-1800s, the descendants of these landholders were farmers attempting to make a living off the relatively poor land.
The city was founded in 1873 as the Rehoboth Beach Camp Meeting Association by the Rev. Robert W. Todd, of St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal Church of Wilmington, Delaware, as a site for Methodist camp meetings in the spirit of similar resorts on the New Jersey shore, such as Ocean Grove. The Camp Meeting Association disbanded in 1881, and in 1891, the location was incorporated by the Delaware General Assembly as "Henlopen City", shortly after which it was renamed to Rehoboth Beach.
Rehoboth is a name of Biblical appellation, meaning "place [or space] for all". The name is strikingly fitting, due to Rehoboth Beach's ability to blend its distinct communities. Rehoboth appears three times in the Old Testament as, variously, a well dug by Isaac (Wadi er-Ruheibeh) (Gen. 26:22), a city on the Euphrates River (Gen. 36:37; 1 Chr. 1:48), and one of the cities of Asshur (Gen. 10:11). Consequently, the name had obvious appeal to the religious founders of the city.
Modern resort town
town often bills itself as "The Nation's Summer Capital" due to the fact that it is a frequent summer vacation destination for Washington, D.C., residents as well as visitors from Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. Vacationers are drawn for many reasons, including the town's charm, artistic appeal, and nightlife.
Still famous for its beaches, wooden boardwalk, eclectic shops, amusements, and sporting activities, today's Rehoboth Beach is also known as one of the mid-Atlantic coast's popular gay and lesbian getaways because of the large number of gay-owned and operated businesses and because of the gay-frequented stretch of beach near Queen Street, known as Poodle Beach.
Rehoboth Beach serves as an alternative to nearby and much more developed Ocean City, Maryland. Rehoboth Beach, together with the towns of Lewes, Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, South Bethany, and Fenwick Island, comprises Delaware's beach resorts and is Sussex County's most densely populated and fastest-growing area.
Reader's Digest named the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk as "Best of America". This celebration of the quirky, amazing and truly extraordinary was featured in the May 2006 issue. Additionally, AARP has named Rehoboth Beach as one of five dream towns as "Best Places to Retire".
The town has several festivals including the Sea Witch Festival, the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival,, and the Rehoboth Beach Autumn Jazz Festival every year.
Beach is located at (38.715794, -75.083138).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.6 square miles (4.3 km²), of which, 1.2 square miles (3.1 km²) of it is land and 0.5 square miles (1.2 km²) of it (28.48%) is water. Rehoboth Beach is bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the north by the development of Henlopen Acres, and on the west and south by unincorporated portions of Sussex County. Cape Henlopen State Park lies just to the north of Rehoboth Beach, and Dewey Beach is just to its south.
Delaware Route 1 (Coastal Highway) does not enter Rehoboth Beach, instead skirting the town to the south and west, but Delaware Route 1A crosses through Rehoboth Beach in an L shape, running from Coastal Highway along Rehoboth Avenue to 2nd Street, then south along 2nd Street, Bayard Avenue, and Silver Lake Drive to another junction with Coastal Highway in Dewey Beach.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,495 people, 847 households, and 343 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,266.5 people per square mile (489.2/km²). There were 3,167 housing units at an average density of 2,682.9/sq mi (1,036.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 98.13% White, 0.27% African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.67% Asian, 0.54% from other races, and 0.27% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.94% of the population.
There were 847 households out of which 6.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 34.8% were married couples living together, 3.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 59.4% were non-families. 47.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 23.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.71 and the average family size was 2.35.
In the city the population was spread out with 7.0% under the age of 18, 3.7% from 18 to 24, 18.5% from 25 to 44, 33.3% from 45 to 64, and 37.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 57 years. For every 100 females there were 92.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $51,429, and the median income for a family was $58,558. Males had a median income of $56,250 versus $28,295 for females. The per capita income for the city was $38,494. About 3.1% of families and 5.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.9% of those under age 18 and 4.5% of those age 65 or over.
- ADC Sussex County, Delaware Street Map Book, 1st Edition. Alexandria, Virginia: Alexandria Drafting Company, 2005.
- Meehan, James D. From Saints to Sinners...Rehoboth Beach Memoirs. Bethany Beach, Delaware: Harold E. Dukes, Jr., 2000. ISBN 00-090163.