broward county history

Learn about Broward County's rich history, including Seminole Indian heritage, Major William Lauderdale, the dredging of the Everglades and the South Florida landscape and how it shaped our destination today.

Short history of Broward County

National Register of Historic Places in Broward County

Broward Historical Timeline 

prepared by the Broward County Historical Commission

c.1400 B.C. --- Prehistoric Indians living in southeast Florida.

1513 --- Juan Ponce de Leon passes Broward coast on voyage south after landing near St. Augustine.

1631 --- First known appearance of name "R. Novo" (New River) on a map of Florida.

1763 --- Florida passes to Great Britain under the Treaty of Paris ending the Seven Years War.

1765 --- High waters from heavy rains and high seas break out new inlet at New River.

1783 --- Florida returned to Spain by Treaty of Paris ending American Revolution.

1788 --- Bahamians Charles (or Surlie) and Frankee Lewis and family settle on New River.

1793 --- Spanish expedition from St. Augustine investigates Lewis settlement.

1810 --- Spanish nobleman Juan Arrambide awarded large land grant between New River and Biscayne Bay and brings slaves to cut timber.

1819 --- Spain cedes Florida to the U.S. for $5 million.

1822 --- Florida Territory established.

1824 --- Widow Frankee Lewis awarded one square mile of land on New River under the Donation Act.

1825 --- First survey of present-day Broward County undertaken by Col. James Gadsden.

1830 --- Richard Fitzpatrick of Key West purchases Frankee Lewis Donation and establishes plantation growing tropical plants.

1831 --- Maryland native William Cooley appointed justice of the peace of "New River Settlement."

1835 --- Second Seminole War begins. Hurricane strikes Broward County area.

1836 --- William Cooley's wife and three children massacred by Indians, New River Settlement abandoned.

1838 --- U.S. artillerymen and Tennessee Volunteers under Major William Lauderdale establish Fort Lauderdale at the forks of New River.
American troops under Col. James Bankhead skirmish with Seminoles at Pine Island.

1839 ---Second Fort Lauderdale established by U.S. Army at Tarpon Bend on New River. Third Fort Lauderdale constructed on the beach.

1842 --- Seminole War ends; Fort Lauderdale decommissioned.

1845 --- Florida becomes 27th state in the Union. George MacKay conducts official government survey of what is now Broward County.

1849 --- Settlers reported on New River, fear renewed Indian hostilities.

1850 --- Swamp and Overflowed Land Act passes Congress, gives 22 million acres of federal land, including most of present-day Broward, to the State of Florida.

1855 --- Third Seminole War begins in Big Cypress Swamp.

1856 --- Hillsboro River settler Cobb warned by Indians of attack, abandons his home.

1857 --- Road constructed between Fort Dallas (Miami) and New River by U.S. artillerymen under Capt. Abner Doubleday.

1858 --- Third Seminole War ends.

1861 --- Florida secedes from the Union, Civil War begins. Florida coast blockaded by Union Navy.

1863 --- Family of Unionist Isaiah Hall driven from Miami area by Confederate sympathizers, settle on New River. Sloop Enterprise capturedoff Hillsboro Inlet for running blockade.

1865 --- Civil War ends, Confederate Secretary of War John C. Breckinridge and companions pass through Broward on escape to Cuba. 1868--- Hog farmer and beachcomber John J. "Pig" Brown settles on New Riverwith his family.

1870 --- Marcellus A. Williams conducts government survey of Broward area.

1872 --- "Pig" Brown defeated for state legislature by Miami "carpetbagger" William H. Gleason.

1873 --- William and Mary Brickell of Miami purchase old Frankee Lewis Donation.

1876 --- United States Life Saving Service establishes House of Refuge for shipwrecked sailors on beach at present Birch State Park. "Pig" Brown defeats Gleason for legislature as Reconstruction ends.

1881 --- Philadelphia promoter Hamilton Disston purchases 4 million acres of overflowed lands from the State of Florida, including land in the Broward County area.

1882 --- 25-30 Seminole families reported living at Pine Island.

1883 --- Florida Land & Mortgage Company, group of British investors, buys Disston holdings in present Broward.

1885 --- "Barefoot Mailmen" begin carrying mail down beach from Palm Beach to Miami. Arthur T. Williams of Fernandina purchases land from Florida Land & Mortgage Company. First known photographs of Broward County taken on New River by Commodore Ralph M. Munroe of Coconut Grove.

1887 --- Arthur T. Williams plats "Palm City" south of New River and advertises lots in Jacksonville newspapers. Barefoot Mailman James E. Hamilton disappears while crossing Hillsboro Inlet.

1890 --- Florida Fiber Company buys 1,310 acres on Middle River and begins growing sisal hemp. Survey made of proposed road from Lantana on Lake Worth to Lemon City on Biscayne bay.

1891 --- Fort Lauderdale House of Refuge moved south down beach to present site of Bahia Mar Yachting Center. Post office established at Fort Lauderdale with W. C. Valentine as postmaster. Henry J. Burkhardt reported building home at Hillsboro Inlet.

1892 --- Dade County road constructed from Lantana to Lemon City with ferry crossing at New River, Bay Biscayne Stage Line goes into operation.

1893--- Frank Stranahan arrives from Melbourne to operate ferry at New River, eventually becomes known as the "first permanent white settler ofFort Lauderdale."

1894-95 --- "Big Freeze" destroys crops as far south as Palm Beach, causes many Florida farmers to look southward.

1895 --- Surveying and construction of Florida East Coast Railway through Broward area begins. Town of Fort Lauderdale platted. Several pioneer families, including Olivers, Bryans, Kings, Marshalls, arrive.

1896 --- F.E.C. Railway completed from Palm Beach to Miami. Flagler interests begin efforts to colonize land near railroad with farmers. Modelo (Dania) platted.

1897 --- "Filibusters" use New River as a base to run guns to Cuban revolutionaries in months before the Spanish-American War.

1899 --- Schools established at Fort Lauderdale and Pompano settlements.Several pioneer Pompano families, including Hardys, Smoaks, McNabs, arrive.

1898 --- Danish families colonize Modelo, which becomes known as Dania. Hallandale platted.

1904--- Dania is incorporated, the first town in Broward County to do so. First general-purpose bridge over New River is constructed at Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale. Napoleon Bonaparte Broward elected governor of Florida, pledges to drain the Everglades.

1906 --- Dredging begins on North New River Canal, first in south Florida's drainage canal system. Coral rock road suitable for automobiles completed between Palm Beach and Miami.

1907 --- Hillsboro Lighthouse, one of the most powerful on the Atlantic coast, begins operation.

1908 --- Pompano incorporated.

1909 --- Palm Beach County formed from Dade County, taking in Pompano and Deerfield.

1911 --- Fort Lauderdale incorporated. Florida Fruit Lands Company landdrawing at Progresso attracts several thousand people, eager to buy Everglades land.

1912 --- North New River Canal completed from Lake Okeechobee to the NewRiver. Fire demolishes Fort Lauderdale's business district. Florida East Coast Canal (later Intracoastal Waterway) completed from Jacksonville to Biscayne Bay. Men from Panama Canal organize the Zona Glades Company and name their new settlement Zona.

1914 --- Broward County portion of the Hillsboro Canal completed.

1915 --- Broward County established on October 1st. Dixie Highway completed through Broward County.

1916 --- Settlement of Zona renamed Davie in recognition of Robert P. Davie, a land developer who purchased a great deal of reclaimed Everglades land.

1917 --- Broward County men fight in World War I. Bridges from mainlandsettlements to the beach completed at Pompano, Hallandale, and Fort Lauderdale.

1919 --- Broward County's first "tourist hotel," the Broward Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, opens. The county's first seawall is constructed on New River, opening the area to yachtsmen.

1920 --- Developers begin dredging and clearing mangrove swamp at New River Sound to create island subdivisions.

1921 --- Joseph W. Young begins development of Hollywood.

1924 --- U.S. Coast Guard commissions "Base 6" at House of Refuge site on Fort Lauderdale beach. Florida Land Boom underway.

1925 --- Peak of the Florida land boom. Davie, Deerfield, Floranada, Hollywood all incorporated. Florida East Coast Railway places embargo on building materials coming into Florida.

1926 --- Dania (now Hollywood) Seminole Indian Reservation opens. Disastrous hurricane puts finishing touches on land boom, period of economic depression begins.
Lillie Mae Smith is elected as the County Tax Collector, becoming the first woman elected to countywide office in Broward County. She had been appointed in 1925 by Governor Martin to fill the office after W. O.Berryhill resigned.

1927 --- Seaboard Air Line completes second railroad through Broward County. Dania, absorbed by Hollywood during the boom, reincorporated. Lauderdale-by-the-Sea incorporated.

1928 --- Port Everglades channel opened.

1929 --- Floranada disincorporated. Oakland Park incorporated from portion of old Floranada area. Merle Fogg Airport (now site of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport) dedicated.

1935 --- First annual National Collegiate Aquatic Forum held at Fort Lauderdale Municipal Casino Pool.

1939 --- Hillsboro Beach incorporated. Gulfstream Park opens in Hallandale. German freighter Arauca chased into Port Everglades by British cruiser Orion.

1941 --- World War II begins.

1942 --- Fort Lauderdale Naval Air Station established at old Merle Foggfield. German submarines begin attacking Allied ships off the Florida coast. Navy section base established at Port Everglades. Several navy airfields constructed around Broward County.

1945 --- World War II ends.

1946 --- Fort Lauderdale Naval Air Station deactivated.

1947 --- Fall hurricanes cause extensive flooding, particularly in Davieagricultural area. Pompano merges with beach area to form present Cityof Pompano Beach.

1949 --- Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District established. Hacienda Village incorporated.

1953 --- Plantation, Lazy Lake, Ferncrest Village incorporated. Coral Ridge Properties acquires Galt Ocean Mile property.

1955 --- Margate and Miramar incorporated.

1956 --- Florida Turnpike completed through Broward County. Lighthouse Point incorporated.

1957 --- Pembroke Park incorporated.

1959 --- Cooper City, Lauderhill and Sea Ranch Lakes incorporated.

1960 --- Pembroke Pines incorporated, Federal Highway tunnel under New River, only public road tunnel in Florida, opens. Broward Community College opens.

1961 -- Lauderdale Lakes, Sunrise incorporated. Davie, whose charter had lapsed in 1927, reincorporated.

1963 --- Coral Springs, North Lauderdale, Parkland, Tamarac incorporated.

1967 --- Coconut Creek incorporated.

1970 --- Ferncrest Village disincorporated.

1972 --- Broward County Historical Commission established.

1974 --- Kathleen Cooper Wright, PhD was the first African-American to win countywide election when she was elected to the Broward County School Board. Anne Kolb was the first woman elected to the Broward County Commission.

1975 --- Broward County charter goes into effect, setting the structure of county government. The Seminole Tribe, Inc., incorporates as a governing entity and begins organizing cigarette sales, bingo and land leases that will bring millions of dollars in annual revenue in later years.

1976 --- Interstate 95 completed through Broward County.

1977 --- Snow falls on Fort Lauderdale for the first time in recorded meteorological history.

1980 --- U.S. census reports over 1 million people living in Broward County. Half the population lives west of State Road 7 on land that wasonce under water.

1984 --- Sheriff Nick Navarro is the first Hispanic elected to countywide office in Broward County.

1984 --- Hacienda Village disincorporated.

1985 --- A record Spring Break brings 350,000 students to Fort Lauderdale. Public nudity and alcohol excesses lead officials to begin a crackdown. The Mayor goes on national television and states Fort Lauderdale no longer wishes to hold Spring Break.

1986 --- Sylvia Poitier is elected the the Broward County Commission after having been appointed by Governor Graham in 1985. She is the first African-American elected to the Broward County Commission.

1992 --- On August 24 Hurricane Andrew shears Broward County causing $20million in damage and leaving at least a dozen residents homeless as a result of storm related fires. Broward becomes a base of operations to shuttle supplies to neighbors in devastated Dade County which suffered the brunt of the storm. Hurricane Andrew caused a massive exodus from South Dade to Broward County filling Pembrook Pines and other Broward bedroom communities with tens of thousands of transplanted families.

1996 --- Weston incorporated on a swath of former marsh land purchased years earlier by developer and millionaire Arthur Vining Davis, founder of the Arvida Company.

2000 --- South West Ranches incorporated, U. S. census reports total population 1,623,018, the Broward Count Board of County Commissioners membership goes from seven to nine.

2005 --- West Park incorporated becoming Broward County's 31st municipality. On October 24 Hurricane Wilma hit South Florida leaving the entire area damaged and causing almost universal power outages. It was the most severe storm in Broward County in a half century.

2009 --- The world's largest cruise ship, Oasis, docks at its new home in Port Everglades.

2015 --- Broward County commemorates its centennial.