The Roaring 20s: America Comes of Age
World War I, the most devastating industrial war the world had ever seen, ended on November 11, 1918. The experience changed everyone who lived during that time. Many of those that it experienced it first hand, having come so close to death, emerged with a different outlook on life – they wanted to live it up.
At this time, American was also coming of age. The economy boomed, cities grew, unemployment dropped and a great majority of Americans began to enjoy an economic prosperity unseen before (George). This led to the Era of Wonderful Nonsense, an age of great excesses and experimentation, the 1920s.
Florida in the 1920s
Florida experienced a land boom in the 1920s which attracted a lot of speculators (George). Among those who had a vision for what Florida could become was Gwendoline Maitland, the 14th Countess of Lauderdale*. She wintered in Palm Beach county and thought this would make a great resort town. She envisioned it becoming the Biarritz of the Americas (the original Biarritz is a very popular resort town in southern France).
*(Not a coincidence! Fort Lauderdale was named for her husband’s relative.)
The Floranada Club is Born
The well connected Countess put together a group of investors which included a viscount, the former King of Greece, and the former owner of Dodge Motor Cars to name a few. Together with her investors they formed the American-British Improvement Corporation and set to the task of building the Biarritz of the Americas.
The American-British Improvement Corporation purchased 12 square miles of land from Arthur Galt, a Chicago lawyer. Oakland Park was a subdivision included this land purchase. The town of Floranada, a combination of the words Florida and Canada, was incorporated on November 25, 1925. Soon after construction began on the Floranada Inn and golf course (Salle).
Less than a year later the Great Miami hurricane hit South Florida and was one of a series of disasters that led to the end of Floranada. Florida’s land boom soon ended, and the Floranada declared bankrutpcy. Investors were refunded their money and farmers took over the administration of Floranada.
Oakland Park is Born
Soon after the farmers took over management of Floranada they dissolved the town. They voted to revert it back to its former size and incorporated the town of Oakland Park on July 1, 1929 (Salle). And the rest is history!
George, Paul S. “Flamboyant Floranada : Broward’s Unique Boom-Era Development”. Broward Legacy, vol. 15, nos. 3-4, 1992, pp. 2-10.
Salle, Anne. Images of America, Oakland Park. Charleston, SC. Arcadia Publishing. 2009. Digital.