How 23 Broward Neighborhoods Got Their Names

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Cities, like children, are sometimes named after important individuals (or old-timey developers); other times, they’re just given names that sound pleasant (better for marketing!). After a while, names are accepted but no longer questioned, so it’s totally possible to live your entire life with no idea how your hometown got its name. But that’s sad – because some have really interesting backstories, especially in Broward County. (If you’re from Tamarac, you’ve really been missing out!)

To rectify the situation, we’ve rolled up our sleeves and dug deep into the dusty internet to share with you how 23 Broward cities and towns got their names. (There are 32 municipalities in the county, but we spared you the boringly named ones.)

Coconut Creek: This municipality was named after the many coconut trees planted in the area by the city’s founders. But there aren’t any creeks here. Given that our ancestors just decided to name things half for the fun of it, let’s consider ourselves lucky this place wasn’t called Swampy Boogertown.

Cooper City: Morris Cooper immigrated to the United States from the Ukraine when he was 18, after his father had been robbed and beaten to death by a band of Russian peasants. He worked in factories until he saved enough money to open his own shirt company in New Jersey. When his luck started to change, Cooper invested his profits into a Florida orange grove and acres of surrounding land. Hence, Cooper City.

Coral Springs: You might know Coral Springs as the place your mom drags you to when you have to visit your grandma. The area was named after Coral Ridge Properties, the company that developed the community in 1963. It’s a bit of a misnomer since the nearest spring is hundreds of miles away, in the middle of the state.

Dania Beach: In 1904, this area was settled by a group of people with Danish ancestry. They called the area Modello for a while but changed it to Dania — after the people, not the pastry.

Davie: The land that is now called Davie was once part of the Everglades ecosystem and mostly underwater. A developer named Robert Parsell Davie bought up a bunch of land and built a school. Apparently the townspeople were so grateful, they renamed the town after him. Too bad his name wasn’t R.P. Funkytown or else we could all git down to Funkytown to see the rodeo.

Deerfield Beach: Named quite literally in 1898 after deer that grazed in the fields along the Hillsboro River.
Fort Lauderdale: The 1830s was a tumultuous time along the New River. Settlers were just arriving, but Seminole Indians were already there. By 1838, in the throes of the Second Seminole War, the United States built its first stockades there, part of military encampments named Fort Lauderdale after Major William Lauderdale, who led the soldiers who constructed them. Lauderdale died shortly after, and the forts have long disappeared, but if drunk spring breakers don’t quit with the litter and binge-drinking, they might have to come back.

Hallandale Beach: Back in the 19th Century, developer and railroad magnate Henry Flagler couldn’t get anyone to actually stay and live in the area now known as Hallandale. So Flagler recruited the brother-in-law of one of his workers. His name was Luther Halland, and he praised the area’s cheap land and nonexistent winters. By 1900, a dozen families were living in “Halland,” which was later changed to Hallandale. These days, the area is known for the biggest fire-breathing Pegasus outside of Greek mythology: a $30 million sculpture at the Gulfstream Park racetrack.

Hollywood: Joseph Young was a real estate developer from California with big dreams for all the new land he was purchasing on the east coast of Florida. Young envisioned his city to be a motion-picture colony and even named the town “Hollywood by the Sea” after the West Coast La-La-Land. But if Jimmy Buffett has his way, we’ll be calling it Margaritaville by 2020.

Lauderhill: Herbert Sadkin was Lauderhill’s founding father. In 1959, as the area was being incorporated, Sadkin planned to call the area “Sunnydale.” But Sadkin’s close friend, New York Times journalist William Safire, convinced Sadkin that the name would remind residents too much of the Sunnydale neighborhood in Brooklyn. It’s unclear why, but Safire liked the wordplay of “hill” and “dale” and proposed to name the community “Lauderhill.” Sadkin explained that there were no hills here, to which Safire replied, “There are probably no dales in Lauderdale either!” (A dale is a valley, by the way.) Sadkin was convinced… and now you have something to tell spring breakers who are lost on their way to Fort Lauderdale.

Lazy Lake: Contrary to what you may think, this community was not named after a lethargic turtle. In 1946, a developer built this neighborhood of 13 homes around an old rock quarry. It was eventually filled with water. As legend (or Wikipedia) has it, a friend looked out on the lake and told the developer that the “lake looked so lazy and peaceful.” As of 2012, the village, which is surrounded on all sides by Wilton Manors, reportedly was up to 15 homes and 35 residents.

Margate: Founder Jack Marquese praised this city as the “gateway to western Broward.” When you combine the first three letters of his last name (Mar) with the “gate” from “gateway,” you get Margate.

Miramar: The first mayor, Robert Gordon, named this place Miramar, which translates from Spanish as “look at sea.” But Miramar is landlocked. So, Robert Gordon was not good at naming things, as evidenced by his cat, Diarrhea Jones.

Oakland Park: This area north of Fort Lauderdale was once called Floranada (a mix of Florida and Canada). After the great Miami Hurricane of 1926, residents came to their senses and voted to rename the area Oakland Park instead. But if they wanted to name it after Canada, they should’ve gone with Tim Horton’s Hockeytown.

Pembroke Pines: Sir Edward Reed was a member of the British Parliament, representing the County of Pembroke. Reed purchased a chunk of farmland in the 1880s and put a road through it, which he called Pembroke Road. In 1960, when the city was incorporated, the then-mayor suggested Pembroke Pines, after the road and the row of invasive pine trees that grew along it. The war with the invasive pine trees continues to this day.

Plantation: Last year, as racial tensions flared across America, defenders of the Confederate flag decided to rally at, of all places, Plantation Heritage Park. The coincidence was uncanny. But it turns out the city was named for pretty innocuous reasons and not by white, slave-owning racists. In the 1940s, potato farmer and cattle baron Frederick Peters bought a bunch of land from the Everglades Plantation Co., kept the name, and then developed it. The Confederate flag-waving racists came much, much later.
Pompano Beach: Pompano Beach is actually named after a fish called the Florida pompano that lives in the Atlantic Ocean. These critters are silver with a blue-green sheen. They have awkward, compressed bodies and pudgy snouts. And they’re never as big as your dad claims after one of his fishing trips. (Usually, they’re about 17 inches.)

Sea Ranch Lakes: This village, adjacent to Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, has just 670 residents, according to the 2010 census. It got two-thirds of its name from the Sea Ranch Hotel, the neighborhood’s landmark hotel, and the other third from two artificial lakes within its boundaries.

Southwest Ranches: In 1996, Pembroke Pines tried to incorporate the area that is now Southwest Ranches. Residents refused and packed the city hall, saying their neighborhood was more rural and agricultural than Pembroke Pines — and they wanted to keep it that way. In 1999, the homeowner’s association led its own “independence day” picnic. Residents voted on a name. Southwest Ranches won. The picnic was a success, with the exception of Lisa, who once again left the potato salad at home.

Sunrise: Reportedly this community was all set to be called Sunset Village — but retirees found the name too depressing, considering it a euphemism for death. The community was called Sunrise Golf Village in 1961. Retirees flocked (and eventually died).

Tamarac: Tamarac was named by its founder (and former Seattle Seahawks owner) Kenneth Behrig in the early 1960s. He named his community after Tamarac Country Club in Oakland Park. The country club had been so named because it was the backward spelling of a car-wash chain: Car-a-Mat. Congratulations, Tamarac; you’re basically a backward car wash.

Weston: In the 1970s, Arthur Vining Davis began developing this area in western Broward County. He took the first two letters of each of his names and called the company Arvida. The name was changed to Indian Trace, then to Weston in 1984. Either way, it remains Broward’s most western (and boring) city.

Wilton Manors: Ned Willingham is considered the founding father of Wilton Manors, which by association makes him the most fabulous Ned ever. Willingham’s wife’s maiden name was Felton. When you mash the two together, you get “Wilton.” (“Manors” refers to the two entry towers on Wilton Drive, where Five Points Plaza is situated today.)

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