Lesson 1: An Introduction to Geography in Greater Fort Lauderdale
What’s Our Address?
Do you know your address? The area we know as Broward County (also, Greater Fort Lauderdale) is located between:
N25° 58’ and N26° 19’ and W80° 0’ and W80° 52’
That is: between “twenty-five degrees, fifty-eight minutes AND twenty-six degrees, nineteen minutes latitude north”, and “eighty degrees, zero minutes AND eighty degree, fifty-two minutes longitude west.”
But what does that all mean?
It means that Greater Fort Lauderdale is a county in southeastern Florida, about 50 miles wide and just over 27 miles from north to south. On the east side of the county, that means 27 miles of beautiful beaches and beach towns, from Deerfield Beach to Hallandale Beach.
We are also one of the three counties in South Florida that make up what some people call the “tri-county” metropolitan area (Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties), which was home to an estimated 6,198,782 people in 2018. (With this year’s census we will know if there are more of us now). Broward alone counted 1,951,260 residents, making it the second-most populous county in the state of Florida and the 17th-most populous county in the United States.
And here’s something interesting, most of us live in about one third of the area (the eastern part of the county), because the other two thirds (western) are a “Conservation Area” of protected wetlands, which is part of the Everglades National Park.
Greater Fort Lauderdale Is Pretty Flat and Surrounded by Water
The tallest features in Broward may be the building in downtown Fort Lauderdale or the hotels on the beach in Hollywood and Hallandale Beach, because our area averages five to 25 feet in elevation. In other words, we do not mountains or hills. In fact, our lowest point is right at ZERO feet above-sea-level. This is why if you climb to the rooftop of one those tall buildings you see as far as you can. There are no topographical features in the way!
The Everglades is ACTUALLY a River
We are also surrounded by water, with the Atlantic Ocean in the east and the Everglades to the west. And, did you know that the water in the Everglades is always moving? Ever-so-slowly, but always going south toward Florida Bay, the waters have given the Everglades the nickname “The River of Grass.”
There’s a lot to geography, a lot more than just studying and creating maps (that is “cartography”), but for example: if you're passionate about protecting the environment you may want to investigate one day working as an environmental consultant.
The main goal of an environmental consultant is to offer expert advice about minimizing or even eliminating environmental damage of any given project. Projects such as construction of houses or shopping malls, the extension or expansion of roads, construction of airports, and others. One thing you may love about this work is that you will be sometimes in an office, but often times you will be working “in the field,” where the site of the work actually is (they call that “in-situ” or on-site). It is a career that will take you places…literally!
Of course, if you know and like geography, and want to share that with others, there is no better way than becoming a teacher. For this subject, you should probably aim at Middle or High-School.
We hope you have a teacher that inspires you to love to learn. And you can be that for someone else, when you grow up.
Learning about geography will inspire the love of places and spaces. Parts of the world you know and the many parts you don’t know yet. But a good geography teacher can help us dream of getting there and of what to do once we arrive. As a geography teacher you will instill in your students a healthy culture of learning, there is always something new to learn.
One thing you may love about this work is that you will work not just with your students, but with their parents, other teachers and the school’s administrators. Teachers must keep up to date with education of their own, so there will be many conferences and conventions in your future, as well.
A very interesting career related to geography is “Urban Planning” (also called “Urbanism”). These folks are involved in one of the most important jobs, particularly for us here in South Florida. The goal of this work is to balance the conflicting demands of housing, industrial development, agriculture, recreation, transport and the environment. As an urbanist, or urban planner, you'll be involved in the management and development of cities, towns, villages and the countryside.
The work is completely different if you work in a big city or if you work for a rural community. The work is like a “referee” trying to maintain the rules of the game between businesses, homes, shopping areas, agriculture, protected areas, and others. Not easy, right?
One thing you may love about this work is that you will have a direct impact in the sustainable development and protection of the place where you live.