Broward County is celebrating a monumental milestone: It will be a century old in 2015 and yearlong festivities will mark the occasion. To commemorate this remarkable evolution, the Broward County Historical Commission has partnered with the County and the BB&T Center to share "Broward Moments."
These 15- to 20-second video spots, highlighting important moments in Broward County history, will be shown during Florida Panthers hockey games whenever the scoreboard is activated. They also will be available on the Broward100.org website and through social networking. In addition, videos will be showcased on television by Comcast.
These historical moments represent just a few tidbits of the rich history of the area. In the past 100 years, Broward County has come a long way. What was once a swampy no man’s land has turned into a thriving region filled with business, culture and industry. From the River of Grass to the west to its sandy beaches to the east, this portion of the Sunshine State has transformed from an agricultural hub to a beacon for tourism.
When Florida was a virtually unpopulated landscape, a special route by foot was established in 1885 to provide a way to transport mail back and forth between the more populated areas of Miami and Palm Beach.
The mailmen walked barefoot for 40 miles near the water's edge and took a small sailboat and rowboat for the remaining 28 miles. They stopped at Houses of Refuge along the way to rest. These houses primarily sheltered shipwrecked sailors. The route lasted until 1892, when a rock road was completed and the mail was taken over by the Bay Biscayne Stage Line. A statue commemorating these brave early postal workers, created by sculptor Frank Varga, sits today next to the Hillsboro Lighthouse.
Tinsel Town comes to the Sunshine state.
South Florida has been an ideal place for the production of many movies and TV shows through the years. One of the more prominent visitors in the early 20th century was well-known Hollywood director D.W. Griffith, who shot his film “The Idol Dancer” in Broward County in 1919. He and his crew stayed at the then-popular Broward Hotel. He transformed the New River into South Seas islands and hired locals, including members of the Seminole tribe, to be in the production,.
James Neville McArthur – philanthropist & businessman.
During the challenges of the Great Depression, some entrepreneurs pulled up their bootstraps and persevered. One such businessman was James Neville McArthur. In 1929, he opened a farm in Hollywood with 20 Jersey cows. By World War II, he had more than 5,000 and, today, the company has more than 16,000 animals. He was one of the first to use a milking machine and to employ artificial insemination. McArthur, inducted into the Florida Agriculture Hall of Fame, is also known for his philanthropy. He gave funds for everything from the construction of the Florida Turnpike to McArthur High School in Hollywood.
Swimming Hall of Fame brings athletes.
The International Swimming Hall of Fame aquatic complex continues to bring athletes and tourists. The complex is located on the site of what once was Fort Lauderdale's Casino Pool, built in1926. It featured an Olympic-sized pool used for swim meets. In 1935, it hosted the first Collegiate Aquatic Forum, which brought participants from around the nation. The pool was torn down in 1966 to make way for the current complex, which also houses a museum filled with swimming memorabilia.
Marine industry helps World War II effort.
As World War II ravaged Europe, Broward became involved early in the war effort. The port and the coast became an arena for some of the fighting. Local businesses such as Dooley's Basin and Dry Dock (where Lauderdale Marine Center is today) which made air-rescue boats, sub-chasers and minesweepers joined the war effort. Airbases, including Forman Field (later the site of Nova Southeastern University) sprung up.
A Naval Air Station was constructed where the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport now stands and was later moved and turned into a Naval Museum. Training camps sprung up at places including Tradewinds and Lauderdale Beach Hotel in Fort Lauderdale. The U.S. Coast Guard made a home at The Silver Thatch Inn in Pompano, while Navy officers settled in at the Hollywood Beach Hotel.
After war waged abroad, the Civil Rights movement escalated at home. In Broward, people such as Eula Johnson, president of the local NAACP, and Dr. Von Mizell, one of the first black doctors, stood up for their beliefs. They helped to stage a series of “wade ins” beginning on July 4, 1961, which hundreds attended. The reason for the demonstrations was the County's failure to provide proper access to the only beach then available for people of color, as well as equal amenities. When the city of Fort Lauderdale filed suit against them and the judge denied the city's request a year later, it was a pivotal step toward the eventual desegregation of all public facilities in the County.
These are just a sampling of some of the Broward Moments that will be included in the videos in order to educate the public and inform viewers about Broward County's rich history. Find out more about Broward Moments at www.broward100.org.