April 30, 1915: Broward County created, named after former Gov.
It was supposed to be called Everglades County, which would have been a much cooler name. But in 1915, as the Florida Legislature prepared to vote on a bill to create a new county out of chopped-off portions of southern Palm Beach County and northern Dade County, the Speaker of the House amended the bill to name the new county after former Gov. Napoleon Bonaparte Broward. It was Broward, a former riverboat captain from Jacksonville, who had based his 1904 campaign for governor on the need to drain the Everglades in South Florida for agriculture and residential development.
Other than the oceanfront, most of what we know as Broward County was uninhabitable before Henry Flagler extended his Florida East Coast Railway south to Miami in 1896. The railroad brought new residents to form the communities of Hallandale, Dania, Pompano, Deerfield and Fort Lauderdale. Broward, meanwhile, made it his mission to dry out the muck, and secured necessary state and federal funding to carve up and add canals to the New River -- which runs from the Everglades to the Atlantic Ocean -- to drain what was then considered a useless swamp. The drainage opened inland Broward County first to agriculture and then to the dense residential development that today makes it Florida's second-most populous county, with 1.8 million residents enjoying their own postage-stamps of paradise. Later, of course, we learned it was a colossal environmental screw-up to drain the Everglades, and the public is spending billions of dollars in a long-shot bid to restore the original flow of water from the Kissimmee basin through the Florida Keys. But no one is going to re-flood Broward County east of the Sawgrass Expressway. In fact, with its 31 incorporated places, its shopping malls, gated communities, boat docks, neighborhood canals, imported tropical foliage, and perpetual traffic jams, Broward County remains a living testament to the American spirit of doing whatever the heck we want to do when the climate is good and there's money to be made. Read more at Broward.org: A Short History of Broward County by Bill McGoun