What is now one of the biggest vacation destinations in the country, and boasts approximately 176,000 people living in its metropolitan area, Fort Lauderdale was one time an area that was abandoned!
More than 4,000 years ago, the first to live on the land were the Tequesta Indians, but the tribe slowly declined and no one lived on the land until the 1830s when a few pioneer families made the area their home down by the New River. This became known as the New River Settlement. Seminole Indians made an attack on these families and those remaining after this attack fled to other parts of Florida and this area became uninhabited.
In 1838, the United States chose this land to put up its first stockade and this military camp was named Fort Lauderdale after Major William Lauderdale. This fort remained here until 1842 where it was once again deserted at the end of the Second Seminole War.
In the 1890s, the Florida East Coast Railroad constructed tracks through the Ft Lauderdale area and that’s when city development began. At the beginning of World War II, Fort Lauderdale housed a major US Navy training area, which is now known as Fort-Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, the 11th busiest airport in the country. After the war ended in 1945, many servicemen returned to this area and that’s when the city saw a huge population expansion.
In 1950 through the mid 1980’s, Fort Lauderdale started the trend of being a spring break haven for college students because of “the strip” which is a section of SR A1A, famous for its night spots and beaches. In 1985, an estimate 350,000 college students descended on the city and caused such a disturbance that the city decided they no longer wanted to be known as the party town. The mayor went to great lengths to get the word out and even went on the tv show, Good Morning America, to tell the nation that they no longer welcomed those students looking to party.
With this decision to change their reputation, efforts were started by the city started to join and promote their arts and entertainment district, their historic district and their shopping and beach districts, in order to discourage a younger crowd but instead attract families and tourists from other countries.
Their efforts have paid off and the city you see today is one that is continuing to experience economic growth and attract tourists and visitors that can enjoy luxury accommodations, beautiful beaches and a city that is alive.
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