Get Fort Lauderdale essential facts below. View Videos or join the Fort Lauderdale discussion. Add Fort Lauderdale to your PopFlock.com topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Parts of this article (those related to rebuilding following hurricanes, specifically the 2017 Hurricane Irma, and developing discussions of urban resilience and climate resilience planning) need to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(September 2017)
The city is a popular tourist destination, with an average year-round temperature of 75.5 °F (24.2 °C) and 3,000 hours of sunshine per year. Greater Fort Lauderdale, encompassing all of Broward County, hosted 12 million visitors in 2012, including 2.8 million international visitors. In 2012, the county collected $43.9 million from the 5% hotel tax it charges, after hotels in the area recorded an occupancy rate for the year of 72.7 percent and an average daily rate of $114.48. The district has 561 hotels and motels comprising nearly 35,000 rooms. Forty-six cruise ships sailed from Port Everglades in 2012. Greater Fort Lauderdale has over 4,000 restaurants, 63 golf courses, 12 shopping malls, 16 museums, 132 nightclubs, 278 parkland campsites, and 100 marinas housing 45,000 resident yachts.
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 (1782-1838), younger brother of Lieutenant Colonel James Lauderdale. William Lauderdale 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 was at Tarpon Bend on the New River between the present-day Colee Hammock and Rio Vista neighborhoods, and the third was 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 two 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.
The first United States stockade named Fort Lauderdale was built in 1838, and subsequently was a site of fighting during the Second Seminole War. The fort was abandoned in 1842, after the end of the war, and the area remained virtually unpopulated until the 1890s. It was not until Frank Stranahan arrived in the area in 1893 to operate a ferry across the New River, and the Florida East Coast Railroad's completion of a route through the area in 1896, that any organized development began. The city was incorporated in 1911, and in 1915 was designated the county seat of newly formed Broward County.
Fort Lauderdale's first major development began in the 1920s, during the Florida land boom. The 1926 Miami Hurricane and the Great Depression of the 1930s caused a great deal of economic dislocation. In July 1935, an African-American man named Rubin Stacy was accused of robbing a white woman at knife point. He was arrested and being transported to a Miami jail when police were run off the road by a mob. A group of 100 white men proceeded to hang Stacy from a tree near the scene of his alleged robbery. His body was riddled with some twenty bullets. The murder was subsequently used by the press in Nazi Germany to discredit US critiques of its own persecution of Jews, Communists, and Catholics.
When World War II began, Fort Lauderdale became a major US base, with a Naval Air Station to train pilots, radar operators, and fire control operators. A Coast Guard base at Port Everglades was also established.
On July 4, 1961 African Americans started a series of protests, wade-ins, at beaches that were off-limits to them, to protest "the failure of the county to build a road to the Negro beach". On July 11, 1962 a verdict by Ted Cabot went against the city's policy of racial segregation of public beaches.
Today, Fort Lauderdale is a major yachting center, one of the nation's largest tourist destinations, and the center of a metropolitan division with 1.8 million people.
After the war ended, service members returned to the area, spurring an enormous population explosion which dwarfed the 1920s boom. The 1960 Census counted 83,648 people in the city, about 230% of the 1950 figure. A 1967 report estimated that the city was approximately 85% developed, and the 1970 population figure was 139,590.
After 1970, as Fort Lauderdale became essentially built out, growth in the area shifted to suburbs to the west. As cities such as Coral Springs, Miramar, and Pembroke Pines experienced explosive growth, Fort Lauderdale's population stagnated, and the city actually shrank by almost 4,000 people between 1980, when the city had 153,279 people, and 1990, when the population was 149,377. A slight rebound brought the population back up to 152,397 at the 2000 census. Since 2000, Fort Lauderdale has gained slightly over 18,000 residents through annexation of seven neighborhoods in unincorporated Broward County.
Geography and climate
An aerial shot of Fort Lauderdale.
Fort Lauderdale Beach
Fort Lauderdale Beach
Tarpon River Neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 38.6 square miles (99.9 km2), 34.7 square miles (90.0 km2) of which is land and 3.8 square miles (9.9 km2) of which is water (9.87%). 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, includes 7 miles (11 km) of beaches, and borders the following municipalities:
The northwestern section of Fort Lauderdale is separate from the remainder of the city, connected only by the Cypress Creek Canal as it flows under I-95. This section of Fort Lauderdale borders the cities of Tamarac and Oakland Park on its south side. Oakland Park also borders Fort Lauderdale on the west side of its northeastern portion. The greater portion of Fort Lauderdale in the south is bordered, along its north side by Wilton Manors.
Off the coast of Fort Lauderdale is the Osborne Reef, an artificial reef made of discarded tires that has proven to be an ecological disaster. The dumping began in the 1960s, with the intent to provide habitat for fish while disposing of trash from the land. However, in the rugged and corrosive environment of the ocean, nylon straps used to secure the tires wore out, cables rusted, and tires broke free. The tires posed a particular threat after breaking free from their restraints. The tires then migrated shoreward and ran into a living reef tract, washed up on its slope and killed many things in their path. In recent years, thousands of tires have also washed up on nearby beaches, especially during hurricanes. Local authorities are now working to remove the 700,000 tires, in cooperation with the U.S. Army, Navy and Coast Guard.
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.
The wet season runs from May through October, and weather is typically hot, humid, and wet with average high temperatures of 86-90 °F (30-32 °C) and lows of 71-76 °F (22-24 °C). During this period, more than half of summer days may bring brief afternoon or evening thunderstorms with lightning and bursts of intense rainfall. The record high temperature of 100 °F (38 °C) was recorded on June 22, 2009.
The dry season often arrives some time in November and lasts through early to mid April. Sensible weather is often warm, dry, and sunny. Average high temperatures of 75-80 °F (24-27 °C) and lows of 57-64 °F (14-18 °C) are typical in the dry season. On rare occasion, cool fronts may make it all the way south to Ft. Lauderdale and the city will see a day or two of highs in the 60s °F (16-21 °C) and lows in the 40s °F (4-10 °C). Rare frosts occur every few decades, and only once in reported history have snow flurries been reported in the air ;- on January 19, 1977. During the dry season (winter), brush fires can be a concern in many years.
Annual average precipitation is 64.2 inches (1,630 mm), with most of it occurring during the wet season from May through October. However, rainfall occurs in all months, even during the drier months from November through April. Fort Lauderdale has an average of 143 rain days and 250 sunshine days annually. The hurricane season is between June 1 and November 30 with major hurricanes most likely to affect the city or state in September and October. The most recent storms to directly affect the city were Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Wilma, both of which struck the city in 2005. Other direct hits were Hurricane Cleo in 1964, Hurricane King in 1950, and the 1947 Fort Lauderdale Hurricane.
In 2010, 7.1% of the population considered themselves to be of only American ancestry (regardless of race or ethnicity). As of 2010[update], 0.6% were of Arab ancestry.
As of 2010[update], there were 74,786 occupied households, while 19.7% were vacant. 17.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 30.4% were married couples living together, 12.3% have a female head of household with no husband present, and 52.4% were non-families. 39.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older (4.8% male and 6.3% female.) The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 3.00.
In 2010, the city population was spread out with 17.6% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 28.4% from 25 to 44, 30.6% from 45 to 64, and 15.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42.2 years. For every 100 females, there were 111.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 113.1 males.
As of 2010[update], the median income for a household in the city was $49,818, and the median income for a family was $59,238. Males had a median income of $46,706 versus $37,324 for females. The per capita income for the city was $35,828. About 13.1% of families and 18.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 30.3% of those under age 18 and 12.5% of those aged 65 or over.
In 2010, 21.3% of the city's population was foreign-born. Of foreign-born residents, 69.6% were born in Latin America and 15.3% were born in Europe, with smaller percentages from North America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania.
In 2000, Fort Lauderdale had the twenty-sixth highest percentage of Haitian residents in the US, at 6.9% of the city's population, and the 127th highest percentage of Cuban residents, at 1.7% of the city's residents.
Fort Lauderdale's economy has diversified over time. From the 1940s through the 1980s, the city was known as a spring break destination for college students. However, the college crowd has since dwindled, with the city now attracting wealthier tourists.Cruise ships and nautical recreation provide the basis for much of the revenue raised by tourism. 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.
The Fort Lauderdale metropolitan area foreclosures increased 127.4% from 2006 to 2007, or one filing per 48 households in the quarter. Fort Lauderdale ranks fourth in the list of top 10 metropolitan areas ranked by foreclosure filings per household for the third quarter of 2007.
Fort Lauderdale is a major manufacturing and maintenance center for yachts. The boating industry is responsible for over 109,000 jobs in the county. With its many canals, and proximity to the Bahamas and Caribbean, it is also a popular yachting vacation stop, and home port for 42,000 boats, and approximately 100 marinas and boatyards. Additionally, the annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, the world's largestboat show, brings over 125,000 people to the city each year.
Fort Lauderdale was recently listed as 2017's third best city out of 150 U.S. cities by WalletHub for summer jobs, and the 24th best city to start a career in.
Downtown skyline in 2011 at night
Fort Lauderdale has a Commission-Manager form of government. City policy is set by a city commission of five elected members: the mayor and four district commission members. In 1998, the municipal code was amended to limit the mayoral term. The mayor of Fort Lauderdale now serves a three-year term and cannot serve more than three consecutive terms. The current mayor is Dean Trantalis, who succeeded Jack Seiler in 2018. The longest-serving mayor is Jim Naugle, who served from 1991 to 2009. Administrative functions are performed by a city manager, who is appointed by the city commission. Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue Department provides Fire and Emergency Medical Services.
According to 2000 census data, 79.0% of the city's population aged 25 or older were high school graduates, slightly below the national figure of 80.4%. 27.9% held at least a baccalaureate, slightly higher than the national figure of 24.4%. Broward County Public Schools operates 23 public schools in Fort Lauderdale. 2007 Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) results for Fort Lauderdale's public schools were mixed; while ten (of sixteen) elementary schools and one (of four) middle schools received "A" or "B" grades, Sunland Park Elementary School and Arthur Ashe Middle School received failing grades. Boyd Anderson High School, which is located in Lauderdale Lakes but whose attendance zone includes part of Fort Lauderdale, also received a failing grade. None of the three failing schools have failed twice in a four-year period, thus triggering the "Opportunity Scholarship Program" school choice provisions of the Florida's education plan.
Ten institutions of higher learning have main or satellite campuses in the city:
The Wave (streetcar), a new 2.7-mile (4.3 km) electric streetcar system costing $125 million, is being planned for the downtown. Most of the construction funding will come from federal ($62.5 million), state ($37 million) and city taxpayers ($10.5 million), with approximately $15 million from assessments on properties located within the Downtown Development Authority. Broward County (BCT) has committed to operating the system for the first 10 years at an expected annual cost of $2 million, and has guaranteed funding to cover any shortfall in ridership revenues. The construction cost of $50 million per mile is considerably higher than other recently built streetcar projects, in part due to the challenges of building an electric transit system over the 3rd Avenue drawbridge.
As is true of many parts of Florida, the city's population has a strong seasonal variation, as snowbirds from the northern United States, Canada, and Europe spend the winter and early spring in Florida. The city is known for its beaches, bars, nightclubs, and history as a spring break location, back in the 1960s and 1970s, 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 occurred in the 1970s and 1980s. The city had an estimated 350,000 college visitors for spring break 1985; by 1989, that number had declined to about 20,000. Since the 1990s, Fort Lauderdale has increasingly become a location that caters to those seeking the resort lifestyle seasonally or year-round and is often a host city to many professional venues, concerts, and art shows.
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. In 2013, the county welcomed about 1.3 million LGBT travelers who spent about $1.5 billion in area restaurants, hotels, attractions and shops, according to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Fort Lauderdale is also home to the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex, which is located at the International Swimming Hall of Fame. It contains two 25-yard (23 m) by 50-meter competition pools, as well as one 20 by 25-yard (23 m) diving well. The complex is open to Fort Lauderdale residents, and has also been used in many different national and international competitions since its opening in 1965. 10 world records have been set there, from Catie Ball's 100 m breaststroke in 1966 to Michael Phelps' 400 m individual medley in 2002.
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. Hugh Taylor Birch came to Florida in 1893. He purchased ocean-front property for about a dollar per acre, he eventually owned a 3.5-mile stretch of beachfront. The Bonnet House is a historic home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States. Bonnet House's modern history began when Birch gave the Bonnet House property as a wedding gift to his daughter Helen and her husband, Chicago artist Frederic Clay Bartlett in 1919. The site was listed on the National Register of Historic places in 1984 and declared a historic landmark by the City of Fort Lauderdale in 2002.
Henry E. Kinney Tunnel on U.S. Route 1 is the only tunnel on a state road 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 Florida Everglades is a popular site of interest among visitors to Fort Lauderdale, although the city is roughly fifty miles away from the nearest border of the Everglades. Despite the distance, some services are available to bring visitors from Fort Lauderdale Beach to the Everglades. Just minutes from the beach is the Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District in downtown Fort Lauderdale, home to cultural attractions, shops, parks and restaurants. Along Riverwalk, the brick-lined meandering promenade, discover the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Museum of Discovery and Science with its AutoNation 3D IMAX Theater, Florida Grand Opera, Fort Lauderdale Historical Center, Stranahan House and the Museum of Art.
Las Olas Boulevard is a popular thoroughfare in downtown Fort Lauderdale that runs from Andrews Avenue in the Central Business District to A1A and Fort Lauderdale Beach. The boulevard is a popular attraction for locals and visitors, being ideally situated close to Fort Lauderdale beach, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Port Everglades. It is considered to be South Florida's most architecturally unique, authentic, and eclectic shopping and dining district.
Fort Lauderdale harbor
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 following are images of some of the remaining historical structures in Fort Lauderdale. Some are listed in the National Register of Historic Places:
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The Bonnet House was built in 1895 and is located at 900 Birch Road. In 1919, the owner, Hugh Taylor Birch, gave the property to his daughter Helen and artist Frederic Clay Bartlett as a wedding gift. The property was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on July 5, 1984; reference #84000832.
Entrance of the Bonnet House.
The Dr. Willard Van Orsdel King House was built in 1951 and is located at 1336 Seabreeze Boulevard. In February 21, 2006, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places; reference #06000059.
The Stranahan House was built in 1901 and is located at 335 Southeast 6th. The lower floor of the house once served as a trading post and the upper floor as a community hall. The house also served as a general store and a bank. The owner of the house, Frank Stranahan, committed suicide by drowning in the New River in front of his home. The house was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on October 2, 1973, reference #73000569.
The Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel House located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida along the riverside of New River. This was the residence of the infamous mobster known as Bugsy Seigel.
The Pier 66 Hotel was built in 1957 and is located 2301 SE 17th Street. The hotel was designed by Richard F. Humble a follower of Frank Lloyd Wright.