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Fort Lauderdale

Known as the "Venice of America" because of its expansive and intricate canal system, Fort Lauderdale is located where the New River enters the Atlantic Ocean. It is the seat of Broward County, has a population of approximately 170,900, and an area of 36 square miles.

location of Fort Lauderdale

overhead view of Fort Lauderdale


The first residents in the area now encompassed by Fort Lauderdale were Seminole Indians who arrived in the 18th century. In 1838, during the Second Seminole War, Major William Lauderdale led his Tennessee Volunteers into the area and erected New River Fort. In 1893, Ohioan Frank Stranaham built a house that served as the first trading post, post office, bank and town hall of the area. The town of Fort Lauderdale was officially incorporated in 1911.


Tourism is a major component of Fort Lauderdale's economy. Once known as a spring break destination for college students, the city is now better known as a jumping-off point for cruise ships (it is the nation's second busiest cruise port) and recreational boats. Fort Lauderdale is also a major manufacturing and maintenance center for yachts, with the boating industry being responsible for more than 100,000 jobs in the area. Manufactures include diversified electronic products and navigational equipment.

The city is served by Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Amtrak, the Tri-Rail commuter train, and Port Everglades, Florida's deepest port.


Fort Lauderdale has a Commission-Manager form of government. Administrative functions are performed by a City Manager, who is appointed by a five-member City Commission.


Broward County is home to the fifth largest school district in the country.

Fort Lauderdale is served by several institutions of higher learning: Nova Southern University, Fort Lauderdale College, Broward Community College, Florida Atlantic University, and Florida International University.

Sites and Attractions

Fort Lauderdale's beaches and canals draw tens of thousands of visitors every year.

Fort Lauderdale's beach at sunset

kayaking on one of Fort Lauderdale's canals

Cultural attractions include the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center, Bonnet House Museum and Tropical Gardens, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, the Museum of Discovery and Science, a Museum of Art, Old Fort Lauderdale Village and Museum, and Stranahan House, the oldest house in Broward County.

The Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League play in suburban Sunrise, and the Baltimore Orioles conduct Spring Training at Fort Lauderdale Stadium. The International Swimming Hall of Fame is located at Fort Lauderdale Beach.

Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau

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The Robinson Library >> American History >> United States: Local History and Description >> Gulf States >> Florida >> Cities, Towns, Etc.

This page was last updated on June 23, 2017.