1925 was the height of the Florida land boom – real estate was king and new developments were springing up all around the Sunshine State. The future Oakland Park was a community of farmers and small businesses centered along Dixie Highway.
Fort Lauderdale and Pompano were looking to expand their territory into what is now Wilton Manors and Oakland Park, but the locals resisted, so they set a meeting date in November of 1925 to vote to incorporate as a separate town. The meeting never took place because out of the blue local citizens found out they were in the newly incorporated city of Floranada – supposedly a term coined from a combination of Florida and Canada.
Floranada: Biarritz of America
Floranada was the scheme of a group of wealthy Palm Beachers including the Countess of Lauderdale (yes a real person). Imitating similar developments like Coral Gables and Boca Raton, it aspired to be the “Biarritz of America,” a swanky resort community. Floranada was to have grand mansions, yacht clubs, golf courses, and even a grand canal like that proposed for Boca Raton. The city spanned from the ocean to US 441—twelve square miles.
Natural Disasters and Great Depression
Alas the grandiose plan began as the land boom was going bust. Many factors contributed to the collapse of the real estate bubble, including a terrible hurricane which hit Miami and Fort Lauderdale in September of 1926. Anyone who could get out of South Florida did, anyone who was planning to come, didn’t.
The Great Depression arrived early for South Floridians. The rich folks pulled out and the local folk were left holding a very large bag with no way to collect taxes for it. Finally, in 1929, the citizens voted to disincorporate as Floranada and reincorporate as the much smaller Oakland Park—3/4 of a square mile and a population of 463, but curiously, debt free.
Oakland Park Centennial is Approaching!
Oakland Park is fast approaching its centennial year in 2029! As a part of our celebration, the city is planning a new history of Oakland Park. We are currently working with local historian Susan Gillis to compile information and images (photographs, documents, postcards, and brochures) on the history of our fast-growing community. If you would like to be part of this project, please contact us at [email protected].
*LivingInOaklandPark.com is an independent publication, not affiliated with the City of Oakland Park.
About the Author
Susan Gillis is a local historian, museum curator, and museum consultant. She is the author of seven books on local history and oversaw the cataloguing and digitization of the City of Oakland Park’s Historical Archive, housed at the Ethel M. Gordon Oakland Park Library. She has been commissioned by Oakland Park to research and write a new narrative history of Oakland Park.
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