The City of Fort Lauderdale is proud to announce the completion of the Marshall Bridge beautification project and the installation of the Florida Historical Marker in nearby William Lauderdale Park. These neighborhood projects, which were dedicated in a public ceremony on June 2, 2012, celebrate our 100th anniversary and preserve our local history for future generations.
Marshall Bridge Beautification Project
The William H. Marshall Bridge spans the New River to connect SW 4th Avenue/7th Avenue near downtown Fort Lauderdale. This drawbridge, named after the City’s first Mayor, was recently spruced up, thanks to the addition of four tile murals that were mounted on the bridge pillars.
Local artists Kevin Kichar and Diane Hutchinson were commissioned by the Tarpon River and Sailboat Bend neighborhoods to craft the murals, which pay tribute to Fort Lauderdale’s rich cultural heritage. The neighborhood associations raised the funds to create the four 7’x 10’ murals, which are named for their subject matter: Sailboat Bend, Tarpon River, New River and Avenue of the Arts.
Florida Historical Marker
As part of a Centennial initiative to raise awareness of local history, the City applied to the Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources, for four heritage markers to commemorate specific locations and milestones in Fort Lauderdale. One of these markers was erected on the site of the first “Fort Lauderdale,” in William Lauderdale Park, which is just west of the Marshall Bridge, at 400 SW 11th Avenue.
The following is the text that appears on the historical marker, which explains the significance of the historic site:
The prehistoric peoples of Fort Lauderdale, commonly known as the Tequesta, occupied camps as early as 500 BCE in the area now known as Sailboat Bend. By 1800, Seminole Indians and Bahamian and American settlers inhabited lands along New River. In January 1836, after the outbreak of the Second Seminole War, settler William Cooley’s family was killed by the Indians. In response to the incident and to seek out the Seminoles and their leader Sam Jones (Abiaca or Abiaki), U. S. Army Major General Thomas Jesup sent 200 mounted Tennessee Volunteers, commanded by Major William Lauderdale, from Jupiter to New River. They were accompanied by Lieutenant Robert Anderson with Company D, Third Artillery, and followed a route later known as "Military Trail." On March 6, 1838, the soldiers encamped on the north bank of New River at its forks. The new post was designated "Fort Lauderdale" after its commanding officer. Although active during its occupation, the garrison abandoned the fort by May 1838. Soldiers returning to reestablish Fort Lauderdale in February 1839 found that the fort’s blockhouse and stockade had been burned. They chose a site further down river, west of Tarpon Bend, for the second Fort Lauderdale.