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Fort Lauderdale History

The city was named for Major William Lauderdale, who oversaw the building of the first of a series of forts constructed during the Second Seminole War in the 1830s. That was about the extent of development for the next half-century, until Ohioan Frank Stranahan arrived to operate the ferry on the New River. He built the first trading post, which also served as a post office and bank. One still stands today and is a popular attraction. In the 1960s, the city became a favorite destination for college students on Spring Break, a tradition spotlighted in the movie "Where the Boys Are." Soon after, the city experienced explosive growth. However, like Miami, it’s sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Everglades, so its land area is limited, and by 1967 developers were estimating it was 85 percent developed. In 1986, the city embarked on an aggressive endeavor to link its arts and entertainment district, the historic downtown area and the Las Olas Shopping and Beach district to shake the reputation as a rowdy student party town. They succeeded, and today the parties are more likely to be on board million-dollar sport fishing yachts in the harbor. A nice downtown museum and outdoor bars dominate the social scene which, due to the transient nature of the boating community, welcomes everybody. 
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