Previously overshadowed by its neighbor—Miami—during the past few decades Fort Lauderdale has become a stand-alone destination. It's a major yachting center and resort area that has become a major port for cruise passengers. Despite the transients, Fort Lauderdale is a vibrant community that attracts people from all over the world who want to make this beach jewel their home.
Fort Lauderdale is named after a series of forts built during the Second Seminole War. The forts are named for Major William Lauderdale, the commander of the soldiers who built the first fort. However, development of the city did not begin until 50 years after the forts were abandoned.
History and Development
The area in which 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 brought diseases to which the Tequesta had no resistance. By 1763, there were only a few Tequesta left. Most were evacuated to Cuba when the Spanish ceded Florida to the British in 1763. 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.
Before the 20th century, the Fort Lauderdale area was known as the "New River Settlement." In the 1830s approximately 70 settlers lived along the New River. On January 6, 1836, William Cooley, the local Justice of the Peace, who traded with the Seminole Indians was killed by a band of Seminoles while he was salvaging a shipwreck The attackers also killed his wife, children and the children's tutor. The other farms in the settlement were not attacked, but the residents abandoned the settlement.
The first U.S. stockade named Fort Lauderdale was built in 1838, and was a site of fighting during the Second Seminole War. The fort was abandoned in 1842 and remained virtually unpopulated until the 1890s. It wasn't until Frank Stranahan arrived in the area in 1893 to operate the New River ferry; 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.