Fort Lauderdale, the “American Venice” dips its feet in 250 miles of canals. The small seaside resort is just a few minutes drive from Miami. Fort Lauderdale is located in the South Florida metropolitan area. It is the capital of Broward County. It is a city on a human scale, with a population of just over 180,000. Keep reading to discover the history of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Where does the name Fort Lauderdale come from?
Fort Lauderdale takes its name from a series of forts built between 1835 and 1840 by the U.S. Army. It took place during the Second World War against the Seminole Indians. Major William Lauderdale was one of the officers in charge of the detachment. They erected the first fort near what is now downtown on the banks of the New River. Yet, the town did not develop until much later in the early twentieth century.
The founding of Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Like many communities in the New World, Fort Lauderdale was recently established in 1911. It experienced immediate and dramatic population growth. The latter was exacerbated by the recent expansion of tourism in Florida. In 1960, the city already had 83,000 inhabitants, a remarkable increase of 230%.
At the end of the Second World War, Fort Lauderdale became the American capital of “Spring breaks”, a week of madness during which American university students went wild, drank… and not so much anymore. In the 1960s, the rose-water film “Where the Boys Are” tells the straightforward story of spring break for young girls and boys on the beaches of Fort Lauderdale. The characters experience sexuality outside the bonds of marriage, shocking Puritan America.
The myth of Spring Break in Fort Lauderdale was born. But the students’ binge drinking does not sit well with the local population. At the turn of the 80s, the seaside resort counted up to 400’000 young party-goers on these beaches in the spring. The authorities had to react. In 1985, the city government restricts student parties. The Spring Break tradition in Fort Lauderdale runs out of steam. Today, students have moved to other Florida beaches when they are not going abroad. They have given way to older, more affluent tourists.
Every year, 10 million tourists visit the seaside resort of Fort Lauderdale. This is 50 times more than its population.