Fort Lauderdale is a city in the U.S. state of Florida, on the Atlantic coast. It is the county seat of Broward County. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 165,521. It is a principal city of the South Florida metropolitan area, which was home to 5,564,635 people at the 2010 census.
The city is a popular tourist destination, with 10.35 million visitors in 2006. Fort Lauderdale is sometimes known as the "Venice of America" because of its expansive and intricate canal system. The city is a major yachting center, with 42,000 resident yachts and 100 marinas and boatyards in 2006. The city sits 23 miles (37 km) north of Miami. Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding area hosted over 4,000 restaurants and 120 nightclubs in 2006.
Fort Lauderdale is named after a series of forts built by the United States during the Second Seminole War. The forts took their name from Major William Lauderdale, who was the commander of the detachment of soldiers who built the first fort. However, development of the city did not begin until 50 years after the forts were abandoned at the end of the conflict. Three forts named "Fort Lauderdale" were constructed; the first was at the fork of the New River, the second at Tarpon Bend on the New River between the Colee Hammock and Rio Vista neighborhoods, and the third near the site of the Bahia Mar Marina.
The area in which the city of Fort Lauderdale would later be founded was inhabited for more than a thousand years by the Tequesta Indians. Contact with Spanish explorers in the 16th century proved disastrous for the Tequesta, as the Europeans unwittingly brought with them diseases, such as smallpox, to which the native populations possessed no resistance. For the Tequesta, disease, coupled with continuing conflict with their Calusa neighbors, contributed greatly to their decline over the next two centuries. By 1763, there were only a few Tequesta left in Florida, and most of them were evacuated to Cuba when the Spanish ceded Florida to the British in 1763, under the terms of the Treaty of Paris (1763), which ended the Seven Years' War. Although control of the area changed between Spain, United Kingdom, the United States, and the Confederate States of America, it remained largely undeveloped until the 20th century.
The Fort Lauderdale area was known as the "New River Settlement" before the 20th century. In the 1830s there were approximately 70 settlers living along the New River. William Cooley, the local Justice of the Peace, was a farmer and wrecker, who traded with the Seminole Indians. On January 6, 1836, while Cooley was leading an attempt to salvage a wrecked ship, a band of Seminoles attacked his farm, killing his wife and children, and the children's tutor. The other farms in the settlement were not attacked, but all the white residents in the area abandoned the settlement, fleeing first to the Cape Florida Lighthouse on Key Biscayne, and then to Key West.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 36.0 square miles (93.2 km2), 31.7 square miles (82.1 km2) of which is land and 4.3 square miles (11.1 km2) of which is water (11.91%). Fort Lauderdale is known for its extensive network of canals; there are 165 miles (266 km) of waterways within the city limits.The city of Fort Lauderdale is adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean.
Fort Lauderdale has an official program for designating and recognizing neighborhoods. Under the Neighborhood Organization Recognition Program, more than 60 distinct neighborhoods have received official recognition from the city. An additional 25–30 neighborhoods exist without official recognition, although the city's neighborhood map displays them as well.
Despite being located just outside the tropics, Fort Lauderdale features a tropical rainforest climate (Koppen climate classification Af) with little seasonal variation in temperature. Average monthly temperatures are always above 66 °F (18.9 °C) and average monthly precipitation is above 2.39 inches (60.71 mm). This qualifies the city's climate as a tropical climate, and the city does not have a true dry season. While significant rain does fall in winter, the majority of precipitation is received during the summer months.
Fort Lauderdale skyline, featuring Las Olas River House, completed in 2004. 110 Tower can be seen on the far right of the photo, and the spire of the Bank Of America Plaza can be seen on the far left.
Fort Lauderdale's economy is heavily reliant on tourism. From the 1940s through the 1980s, the city was known as a spring break destination for college students. Cruise ships and nautical recreation provide the basis for much of the revenue raised by tourism. Fort Lauderdale now attracts a more sophisticated and affluent tourist, while largely ignoring the dwindling college crowd. There is a convention center located west of the beach and southeast of downtown, with 600,000 square feet (55,742 m2) of space, including a 200,000-square-foot (18,581 m2) main exhibit hall. Approximately 30% of the city's 10 million annual visitors attend conventions at the center.
Fort Lauderdale is served by Broward General Medical Center and Imperial Point Medical Center, which are operated by Broward Health, the third largest hospital consortium in the United States. Broward General is a 716-bed acute care facility which is designated as a Level I trauma center. It is also home to Chris Evert Children's Hospital and a Heart Center of Excellence. The hospital serves as a major training site for medical students from Nova Southeastern University's College of Osteopathic Medicine, as well as nursing and paramedic programs from throughout the area. Imperial Point Medical Center is a 204-bed facility with a hyperbaric medicine program. Holy Cross Hospital, a 571-bed hospital operated by the Sisters of Mercy, was named by HealthGrades as one of the 50 best hospitals in the country for 2007.
As is true of many parts of Florida, the city's population has a strong seasonal variation, as snowbirds from the north spend the winter and early spring in Florida. The city is also sometimes referred to as "Fort Liquordale" because of its beaches, bars, nightclubs, and history as a spring break location for tens of thousands of college students. However, the city has actively discouraged college students from visiting the area since the mid-1980s, passing strict laws aimed at preventing the mayhem that regularly occurred each year. The city had an estimated 350,000 college visitors for spring break 1985; by 2006, that number had declined to about 10,000.
Fort Lauderdale's arts and entertainment district, otherwise known as the Riverwalk Arts & Entertainment District, runs east-west along Las Olas Boulevard, from the beach to the heart of downtown. The district is anchored in the West by the Broward Center For The Performing Arts, and runs through the city to the intersection of Las Olas and A1A. This intersection is the "ground zero" of Fort Lauderdale Beach, and is the site of the Elbo Room bar featured in the 1960 film Where the Boys Are, which led in large measure to the city's former reputation as a spring break mecca. The city and its suburbs host over 4,100 restaurants and over 120 nightclubs, many of them in the arts and entertainment district. The city is also the setting for the 1986 movie Flight of the Navigator, and host of Langerado, an annual music festival.
Sites Of Interest
In addition to its museums, beaches, and nightlife, Fort Lauderdale is home to the Fort Lauderdale Swap Shop, a large indoor/outdoor flea market and the site of the World's largest drive-in movie theater, with 13 screens. The International Swimming Hall Of Fame is located on Fort Lauderdale beach, and houses a large aquatic complex as well as a museum, theater, and research library. Hugh Taylor Birch State Park is a 180-acre (0.73 km2) park along the beach, with nature trails, camping and picnicking areas, canoeing, and features the Terramar Visitor Center, with exhibits about the ecosystem of the park. The Henry E. Kinney Tunnel on US Route 1 is the only tunnel on public land in the state of Florida. It was constructed in 1960, and its 864-foot (263 m) length travels underneath the New River and Las Olas Boulevard. The James Randi Educational Foundation is also located in Fort Lauderdale.