Even the New River building itself is fascinating. The inn was constructed in 1905 by a U.S. senator from Florida, assembled from hollow concrete blocks and, like the Egyptian Pyramids, held together only by its own weight. For 50 years, it was a prominent hotel. Today, one of the rooms is preserved as it was in the New River Inn's heyday. A charming hotel room, indeed.
The rest of the building also feels old, with its gorgeous hardwood floors and creaky staircase. But the remaining rooms serve as small exhibition halls for reminders of our early South Florida past. You'll find information about the Seminole Wars and the Army fort that gave this city its name. Gwendolyn and I both were especially attracted to some of the surprising wall displays. We learned, for instance, that Broward County was home to a vibrant newspaper for African-Americans in the days of segregation - and that I live fairly close to a spot where there was a thriving nightclub for blacks of that racially separate era. We poured over a travel map of the time too, a long thin paper with only one road on it: Dixie Highway. The map also showed that new communities such as Hallandale Beach and Dania Beach offered hunting among other activities for tourists. All the difficult work that led to the Greater Fort Lauderdale of 2014 was started by pioneers who envisioned things such as beachside hotels, Las Olas Boulevard, Port Everglades ... and then worked to make them real among the mangroves and mosquitoes. You'll find the New River Inn at 231 SW 2nd Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, not far from the Museum of Discovery and Science. For more info, visit the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society website at this link: http://www.fortlauderdalehistoricalsociety.org/. The Labor Day holiday is intended as time off for rest and relaxation. But it's good to remember that our R&R in today's Greater Fort Lauderdale is possible only because many others before us worked so hard.