Fort Lauderdale (pronounced /ˌfɔrt ˈlɔːdərdeɪl/) is a city in the U.S. state of Florida, on the Atlantic coast. It is the county seat of Broward County. According to 2007 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the city had a population of 183,606. It is a principal city of the South Florida metropolitan area, which is home to over 5,413,212 people.
The city is a popular tourist destination, with 10.35 million visitors in 2006. Fort Lauderdale is sometimes known as the “Venice of America”because of its expansive and intricate canal system. The city is a major yachting center, with 42,000 resident yachts and 100 marinas and boatyards in 2006. The city sits 23 miles north of Miami, Florida. Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding area host over 4,000 restaurants and 120 nightclubs in 2006.
Fort Lauderdale is named after a series of forts built by the United States during the Second Seminole War. The forts took their name from Major William Lauderdale, who was the commander of the detachment of soldiers who built the first fort. However, development of the city did not begin until 50 years after the forts were abandoned at the end of the conflict. Three forts named “Fort Lauderdale” were constructed; the first was at the fork of the New River, the second at Tarpon Bend, in what is now known as the Sailboat Bend neighborhood, and the third near the site of the Bahia Mar Marina.
As of the census of 2000, there were 152,397 people, 68,468 households, and 33,001 families residing in the city. There were 68,468 households out of which 19.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.2% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.8% were non-families. 40.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older.
The median income for a household in the city was $37,887, and the median income for a family was $46,175. Males had a median income of $34,478 versus $27,230 for females. The per capita income for the city was $27,798. About 13.8% of families and 17.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.0% of those under age 18 and 11.1% of those aged 65 or over.
Fort Lauderdale has a significantly higher percentage of foreign-born residents than the United States as a whole; the 2000 census data indicated that 21.7% of the city’s population was foreign-born. Of foreign-born residents, 69.2% were born in Latin America and 17.3% were born in Europe, with smaller percentages from North America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. In 2000, Fort Lauderdale had the twenty-sixth highest percentage of Haitian residents in the US, at 6.9% of the city’s population, and the 127th highest percentage of Cuban residents, at 1.69% of the city’s residents.
Like many cities in South Florida, Fort Lauderdale has a large population of people who do not speak English as their first language at home, although not as high as the county average. As of 2000, 75.63% of the population spoke English as their first language, followed by Spanish at 9.42%, Haitian Creole 7.52%, French 2.04%, Portuguese 1.02% and Italian 0.81% .
As is true of many parts of Florida, the city’s population has a strong seasonal variation, as snowbirds from the north spend the winter and early spring in Florida. The city is also sometimes referred to as “Fort Liquordale” because of its beaches, bars, nightclubs, and history as a spring break location for tens of thousands of college students. However, the city has actively discouraged college students from visiting the area since the mid-1980s, passing strict laws aimed at preventing the mayhem that regularly occurred each year. The city had an estimated 350,000 college visitors for spring break 1985; by 2006, that number had declined to about 10,000. In recent years (starting around the 1980′s), the city has become known for having a large gay community and being a popular vacation spot for gay and lesbian tourists.
Fort Lauderdale is served by English-language newspapers South Florida-Sun Sentinel and The Miami Herald, as well as Spanish-language newspapers El Sentinel and El Nuevo Herald. The city is also home to alternative newspapersCity Link and New Times Broward-Palm Beach, monthly magazine HOME Fort Lauderdale and gay-interest publications South Florida Gay News, Mark’s List, andHotspots Magazine.
Fort Lauderdale’s arts and entertainment district runs east-west along Las Olas Boulevard, from the beach to the heart of downtown. The district is anchored in the West by the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, and runs through the city to the intersection of Las Olas and A1A. This intersection is the “ground zero” of Fort Lauderdale Beach, and is the site of the “Elbo Room” bar featured in the 1960 film Where the Boys Are, which led in large measure to the city’s former reputation as a spring break mecca. The city and its suburbs host over 4,100 restaurants and over 120 nightclubs, many of them in the arts and entertainment district. The city is also the setting for the 1986 movie Flight of the Navigator, and host of Langerado, an annual music festival.