After World War II when Port Everglades was dredged, Dania was drenched in salt water, and the land that made the city famous for its tomatoes went bad. Land values plummeted, and the main drag on Federal Highway emptied out. Then Genevieve Ely, a member of one of South Florida's pioneering families, opened up an antiques shop. Soon one antiques dealer after another began showing up in town, filling up the empty buildings. Dania was no longer synonymous with new fruit but with old furniture. After decades of gradual growth, more than 100 dealers and dozens of shops are crammed into a few blocks. Whether it's a 200-year-old silver set going for $10,000 or a kitschy old Coca-Cola sign for $100, there's a world of stuff to be found there. You can get a little medicine bottle from Colonial times or a really cool grandfather clock or even a ship's binnacle dating to the 1800s. The smart antiques shoppers set aside an entire day for the district and leave with a little piece of history.
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