The history of the area we now know as Fort Lauderdale started nearly 4,000 years ago with the arrival of the Tequesta Indians. The area wasn’t known as Fort Lauderdale until 1838, however, and it wasn’t incorporated as a city until 1911.
The Florida land boom of the 1920s, the subsequent clearing of the mangroves and creation of the “finger islands” all helped make Fort Lauderdale the city it is today. Numbering just 5,000 people in 1925, the population of Fort Lauderdale grew to 18,000 in 1940, 85,000 in 1960, and over 166,000 by 2013.
Fort Lauderdale was a spring break paradise for decades, immortalized in the Connie Francis movie “Where the Boys Are.” By the 1980s, the spring breakers got too rowdy and the city government decided it wouldn’t put up with their shenanigans even if they brought tourism revenue to Fort Lauderdale. It was at that time that the city chose to invest in the fine arts, high-end shopping, and similarly luxurious lodging and entertainment in order to attract another kind of tourist entirely. Their plan worked: luxury tourists brought in $800 million during the spring months of 2004, compared to $110 million with the spring break crowd of 1984.
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