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no likeness of him exists, William Lauderdale rose to become a wealthy
farmer in Sumner County, Tenn. who served Gen. Andrew Jackson in the Creek
Wars and the War of 1812.
In 1838, then-Major William Lauderdale and
his Tennessee Volunteers were called out to help with the Second Seminole
War. He and his men built a fort at the edge of the Florida Everglades to
help in the Seminole removal.
Following his service, Major Lauderdale died in Baton Rouge, LA the night
before he and his men were to be mustered out and sent home. The Tennessean
was laid to rest in the officer's cemetery amid a ceremony fitting for a
decorated military officer.
His brother, who was killed in the Battle
of New Orleans, had a county named in his honor and one of William
Lauderdale's sons was later killed in the Mexican War.
Through the years, Lauderdale's grave has
become lost to time and experts are still searching to recover it. The city,
which sprang up around the fort built by him and his Tennessee volunteers,
however, adopted the name and today Fort Lauderdale, FL is regarded as one
of America's premier cities.
A monument in the city's Forest Ridge Park is the only known monument
honoring the Tennessee native
Today's Broward county is very much a product of the industrial age. The sun
and sand and sea have been here for millennia, but the roads, railroads and
seaport are new additions which have vastly transformed the area's
landscape. Until the Florida East Coast (FEC) Railroad was brought through
in 1896, the area was accessible to only a hardy few. Until Everglades
drainage was begun a decade later, only the coastal ridge and scattered
spots of high ground to the west were habitable. Dania became the area's
first incorporated community in 1904, followed by Pompano in 1908 and Fort
Lauderdale in 1911.
The land and residents thrived until a great hurricane roared out of the
Caribbean and smashed squarely into South Broward on September 17 and 18,
1926. Much of Hollywood was flattened and/or flooded. There were 34 verified
deaths. Observers insisted, however, that the real toll was much higher.
Damage in Fort Lauderdale was less, but still considerable. Fifteen were
dead. North Broward, which had both fewer people and lighter winds, had no
deaths and only minor damage. In the long run, however, the worst damage was
done by the black headlines in northern newspapers that scared away
potential replacements for those who either had died or fled.
For south Florida, the Depression began three years before it hit the rest
of the nation. The closest the area came to combat was in the week beginning
May 4, 1942, when German submarines off southeast Florida torpedoed seven
ships, one of which limped into Port Everglades. Watch towers were set up
along the ocean. The beaches were closed at night and patrolled by mounted
Coast Guardsmen with attack dogs.
As far as Broward's future was concerned, however, the most significant
thing about the war was the plethora of training bases that were
established. Every airfield in the county, plus the future site of Broward
Community College's central campus was a World War II training facility.
When peace came, thousands of service men recalled how nice it had been in
Broward. With their families, they returned. Thousands of others joined
them. The greatest boom was on. Even in these days of trillion dollar gross
national products, the figures are sobering. In the 30 years from 1940 to
1970, Fort Lauderdale's' population shot from 17,996 to 139,590.
South Florida was just one more victim of a recession which was sweeping the
nation. It was not the inability to build that cooled the boom. Rather, it
was the inability to sell. At one point, there were an estimated 50,000
unsold condominium apartments in the area. By 1976 the building industry
began to revive. With it came a concern that the uncontrolled and,
sometimes, unwise growth that characterized the past would not be repeated.
A new county charter gave Broward's government broad powers to monitor and
improve the quality of life and the environment. The passage of the 1977
Land Use Plan was a major step toward limiting urban sprawl and insuring
that the area's resources, natural, economic and social, would be put to
their best use. In short, citizens and leaders had allied in their desire to
see that the land once "unfit for human habitation" would not become
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