Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Florida history: A-bomb fears fuel Fort Lauderdale growth?

By Jane Feehan

A building boom hit Fort Lauderdale after World War II. According to realtors in 1951, the growth was fueled by American fears of an enemy A-bomb hitting the industrial Northeast.  South Florida wasn’t important enough to attract military interest so investments would be safer here.

While that notion could be debated, the economic boom was at full throttle. Investors would buy a piece of property and within a week were offered considerably more than what they paid. Most sought improved parcels – lots with buildings—to avoid high war-time taxes on vacant property. If such lots were unavailable, investors poured foundations or partially constructed buildings before a deal was closed. Mindful of the war-driven materials shortage that caused a post-war housing crisis throughout the U.S., investors began construction with what was available. Lots with nothing but foundations were a common sight in 1950-51 Fort Lauderdale.

Conventional military wisdom of the day suggested South Florida wasn’t necessarily safe from an enemy incursion. The state’s coastline provided plenty of strike opportunities but an attack would most likely occur north of Cape Canaveral to avoid the Bahamas and its dangerous shoal waters. In such an event, South Florida would be isolated and its hotels likely filled with the enemy.

South Florida growth exploded during the 1950s but A-bomb fears could not be credited. For the real reasons behind the boom, see:

Fort Lauderdale Daily News, Jan. 1951.

Tags: Fort Lauderdale history, Fort Lauderdale in the 1950s. Post war Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale boom,  historical researcher

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