The first people to live in the area around present-day Fort Lauderdale were the Tequesta Native Americans, who inhabited that area for more than a thousand years. They thrived off of the natural resources along New River, but their population began to decline in the 16th century because of conflict with the neighbouring Native American tribe, the Calusa, and the diseases brought from Europe by Spanish explorers. The area remained highly undeveloped until the 20th century, and was known as the "New River Settlement" before then. The first U.S. stockade named "Fort Lauderdale" was built in 1838 on the banks of New River as a fortification during the Second Seminole War. It was named after Major William Lauderdale, who led a group of Tennessee Volunteers during that war. Two more forts would be constructed with that name in Florida, and the city was to be named after these forts many years later.
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Various forms of transportation were constructed in the area that allowed organized development, starting with a single rock road in 1892. Later on, there would be an overnight camp, a ferry on New River, a trading post, and in 1896, the Florida East Coast Railway extended through Fort Lauderdale. The population began to increase, and Fort Lauderdale was incorporated as a city in 1911, and the county seat of Broward County in 1915. The city would experience various population booms in the Florida land boom of the 1920's, after World War II, and continued growth until the 1970's. Today, Fort Lauderdale has developed into one of the most popular tourist destination in the U.S., a major yachting center, and an increasingly diverse industry.