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Fort Lauderdale History, Florida

With its sub-tropical climate, clean beaches and charming water canals, Fort Lauderdale, known as the ‘Venice of America’, is one of Florida’s top destinations, situated just 20 miles from Miami (see Miami Travel Guide and Miami Sights for details). Fort Lauderdale history as a city begins somewhere at the end of the 19th century, but the area around Fort Lauderdale had belonged for centuries to the Tequesta Indians. Most Tequesta people were either killed by smallpox or died in combat, therefore other Native American tribes emigrated from the continent and settled on their land, forming the Seminole tribe. The conflicts between the US Army and the Seminole tribe generated the three Seminole Wars. During the Second Seminole War, Major William Lauderdale and his soldiers erected a fort on the banks of the New River.

Fort Lauderdale History – The City’s Official Birth

The fort was destroyed and then abandoned, only to be rediscovered in 1893 by Frank Stranahan, who built there a house. It took 18 years for the new settlement to be incorporated as a city. During this period, Stranahan had built other houses – one of which serves today as a museum – and the Florida East Coast Railway arrived into town. In 1925, as a result of the Florida land boom, Fort Lauderdale experienced the fastest population growth in its history: the population tripled from 5000 to 15000 in less than a year. The investment frenzy was soon tempered by a series of disasters: Miami Hurricane in 1926, Okeechobee Hurricane in 1928, followed by the Great Depression in 1929 brought the city’s economy on the verge of collapse. With the US joining the Allies in World War II, Fort Lauderdale’s history took another interesting turn, as the city played a major role during the war, serving as a naval air station and training facility for the Navy (among the soldiers trained here was George H. W. Bush, future US President).

Fort Lauderdale History – Fort Lauderdale as a Tourist Destination

Fort Lauderdale started to get the tourists’ attention in the ‘50s, when east coast college students started to spend their spring vacation here. What started as good source of revenue turned out to be a menace for Fort Lauderdale’s future development. In the mid ‘80s, 350 000 college students took over the city during their spring break, which lead to a series of restrictive laws and the major of Fort Lauderdale almost declaring war to college students. Nowadays, Fort Lauderdale manages to attract mostly families and foreigners. The recent efforts made by Fort Lauderdale municipality to put the city on the map of cultural events have lead to the construction of several new venues and cultural institutions.

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  • szbogiMuseum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale
    travel tip by szbogi posted more then 30 days ago
    You HAVE to visit this museum if you travel to Fort Lauderdale. It not only has a huge IMAX 3D theater where you can watch amazing videos with various themes ranging from nature to outer space. I personally liked the one talking about...
  • SandroThe Stranahan House in Fort Lauderdale
    travel tip by Sandro posted more then 30 days ago
    Built by Florida's first white settler, Frank Stranahan, in 1901, the building is the city's most oldest residential houses. It has a beautiful and simple 'frontier' architecture, and through the years served as a post office, town hall...
  • danpopBonnet House Museum & Gardens in Fort Lauderdale
    travel tip by danpop posted more then 30 days ago
    It was a unique experience to visit an interactive museum, where you could attend workshops and experience for yourself the environment and artistic style of a well preserved, Eco-friendly historical place. We took part on a lecture...
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