The land before 1920. Today I will go backwards. I’ve been describing Hollywood’s development from 1920 forward. Now I realize people don’t know much about the land before J. W. Young acquired it, or about our Florida in general. Born and raised here, I learned the basics in school, but of course half my readers went to school somewhere else. So here is some basic Florida history, with a bias toward Hollywood.

Florida is a comparatively old state, having entered the union in 1845. But it was only settled about halfway down, to the top of Lake Okeechobee, until the railroad men, Henry Flagler, Henry Plant, and others began to open up the wilderness along both coasts. That didn’t happen until the end of the 19th century. Before the railroads there were other trailbreakers. I’ll list these trails chronologically, again as a very general overview.

This might also answer another question I’m often asked: who owned the land that became Hollywood before J. W. Young? Quick answer: local farmers. How did they get here? That is also in my highly selective chronology.

Please note: much of this info is found in my Guide to Historic Hollywood, pp. 139-59

Mickelson.Guide cover  My book is available at the Hollywood Historical Society at the newly reduced price of $15.  Also in bookstores.


Let it be noted that there were no east-west passages through Florida below Lake Okeechobee in the 19th century—with an important exception. The Seminoles, who generally inhabited high ground, islands and hammocks, to the west of future Hollywood, would have made their way from the Pine Island area east to the ocean, hunting and fishing.

Tony Mickelson, surveyor of Hollywood.

Tony Mickelson, age 26, began surveying Hollywood in 1921

At right, Tony Mickelson and his surveyor’s transit are working in the East Marsh, which became part of the Lakes Section.

Photo collection of Joan Mickelson

My father, Tony Mickelson, recalled seeing one poling his dugout through the coastal marshes in about 1921.

I have no maps to show you where these earliest north-south passages were, in the then empty land between Fort Lauderdale on the New River, and Miami and the small settlements just to the north of it.

So just think of the land between today’s Florida’s Turnpike and U. S. 1 as bare and empty (in future Hollywood), but nevertheless transversed by intrepid pioneers.

Here are the north-south routes through future Hollywood currently identified:

MILITARY TRAIL, 1838     route of Major William Lauderdale and his Tennessee Volunteers, and Company D, 3rd US Artillery, in 1838, a pine ridge route down to New River from the north, according to historian Susan Gillis

DOUBLEDAY’S ROAD, 1850s        Surely the soldiers in Fort Lauderdale and Fort Dallas in Miami in the 1830s occasionally rode between these encampments.  In the 1850s Captain Abner Doubleday oversaw construction of a road from Arch Creek in North Miami to the Fort Lauderdale area (Gillis).

BEACH SHORELINE      1885-1892        route of the “Barefoot Mailman.” In the 1890s it was possible to walk from Palm Beach to Miami along the beach barrier islands in the company of the Barefoot Mailman.

beach for Barefoot Mailman    Next time you are on the beach, picture a solitary man with a mail sack striding along toward Miami. Or perhaps he has a companion who pays a small fee to walk to Miami with the mailman as guide.

BAY BISCAYNE STAGE LINE route       Beginning 1892 this stage coach line (also Bay Stage Line) operated over a shell-rock road between Hypoluxo at the south end of Lake Worth and Lemon City, now part of Miami. Passengers on the two-day trip stopped overnight at New River. (Gillis and Bill McGoun)

OLD SIGNPOST.  Proof that at least one of these trails–Doubleday’s road or the stage coach line–went through the future Hollywood was an old signpost for a north-south route that still existed at 26th Avenue and Johnson Street in the 1920s, according to Virginia TenEick in her History of Hollywood, Florida.


Johnson Street looking west, crossed by 26th Avenue, where the signpost was      At left, Johnson Street heading west, crossed by 26th Avenue, site of a 19th century north-south route signpost.

26th Avenue looking north, from Johnson Street. 2016

At right, 26th Avenue looking north from

Johnson Street.   Picture if you can, a stagecoach

and four to six horses rumbling along here, headed to Miami.

26th Avenue at Johnson St., looking south   Now look south on 26th Avenue, toward today’s City Hall Circle, and see the dust kicked up by the retreating coach!

The stage coach was soon replaced by:

FEC RAIL ROAD     1896-1912       Henry M. Flagler had brought his Florida East Coast Rail Road south along the Atlantic coast to Palm Beach, then on to Fort Lauderdale by February, 1896, then on to reach Miami by 1912 (thus passing through future Hollywood).IMG_2550

This photo, above,  jumps the gun by about a decade, but gives a good idea of how the land looked when J. W. Young chose it for his new city. Looking straight ahead we are on the Dixie Highway looking north. The FEC railroad tracks run along to the right of the road and were laid there around 1900, followed in 1915 by the Dixie. The Australian pine trees were planted by the Miami Woman’s Club before Young arrived.

(Further quoting Bill McGoun) “Besides making it possible for more settlers to reach Broward, the railroad also made it necessary. If Flagler were to reap any return on the state and private lands which he had been given in return for laying the rails, it was absolutely necessary that he find prospective buyers. His land companies sought immigrants both in the North and in the South.”  These prospective farmers were given land that became Dania, Pompano, Deerfield, and Hallandale, joining Fort Lauderdale which existed on the banks of the New River.

That should explain how there came to be towns on either side of future Hollywood. Incidentally, as a Norwegian, I’ve always been interested to know that Hollywood’s first neighbors were Scandinavians, Dania settled by Danes from the Midwest, while Hallandale pioneers were Swedes brought from Sweden by Luther Halland, a connection of Flagler’s.

Note to TV announcers:  It’s not “Hollandale.” Nothing to do with the Dutch Netherlands.


DIXIE HIGHWAY      1915. This important road was created by Carl Fisher of Indianapolis, to bring people from Chicago and Indiana down to his new resort city, Miami Beach. Fisher and his entourage were the first to drive down the route, passing through Dania in 1915 on the way to huge celebrations in Miami.  08Mickelson

 At left, Fisher’s entourage heading south through Dania toward future Hollywood on the brand-new Dixie Highway

As there was no Hollywood at the time, hence no roads, Fisher’s engineers cut west at the then Dania border to cross the FEC tracks and continue this highway south along the west side of Flagler’s railroad, where the Dixie is in Hollywood today.IMG_3712                                                                                                  At left, the Dixie looking north from Hollywood Boulevard. The FEC tracks at at right behind the shrubs.

At right, the FEC tracks looking north from Hollywood Boulevard, with the Dixie beyond the embankment to the left.


INLAND WATERWAY           In 1920 when Young first set foot in his city, this waterway was privately owned, by the Florida East Coast Canal Company. Also called the Intracoastal Waterway, it was generally navigable, with toll-takers at various sites including Dania. Young made much use of it in the 1920s.


Map detail, 1923 showing Broad Walk

This is the initial city plan, before Young bought more land to the west, north and south. He had already purchased the beach island, seen at the bottom of the plan. The heavy line between the 2 circles represents the FEC railroad tracks and just above them, the Dixie Highway. The Inland Waterway would be between the beach island and the land. And that was all Young had to start with.

“Old Dixie” or “West Dixie”   and “East Dixie” 1923

Once J. W. Young had put in his roads, his 4th Avenue (changed to 18th Avenue) went north to Dania on the east side of the FEC railroad. This was a straight shot south from Dania to the Circle.(See city plan, above. The line going right from the Circle out of the plan is 18th Avenue.)  Locals began to refer to that stretch of road as the “East Dixie,” while the original Dixie highway that continued on to Miami became somewhat confusingly the “West Dixie.”

BROADWALK            Begun March 1923 at Johnson Street, by J. W. Young, who called it the Broad Walk from the beginning. At the same time, Young’s engineers were laying in the north-west avenues in the city; the Broad Walk was the first N-W passageway on the beach. Or at least the first PAVED passageway, since it very likely was along the same route walked by the Barefoot Mailman.

Broad Walk. Reporter July 1924. p. 17

Broad Walk. Reporter July 1924. p. 17

Broadwalk looking north  Same scene some 92 years later.Hollywood Broadwalk.

Incidentally, why isn’t Hollywood’s unique Broadwalk on the National Register of Historic Places?

1924     FEC Passenger Station, and first passenger stop in Hollywood.  J. W. Young convinced the FEC company to include a passenger stop in Hollywood, by building a station, so handsome it was considered the most beautiful on Florida’s east coast.dragimage





OCEAN DRIVE, A1A      begun in 1925 at Johnson Street on the beach as Ocean Drive.Note that Young put the road for autos along the canal side of the beach rather than spoil the ocean side.  I’ve read that Young and Carl Fisher had hopes of connecting their two properties, Hollywood and Miami Beach, with this scenic beach drive. Eventually this happened under the State jurisdiction, who numbered this easternmost major north-south road as A1A in 1946.

A1A north

At right is Ocean Drive, route A1A today, looking north toward the Boulevard bridge. It is considerably wider than it was several decades ago.


When the Railway was brought through Young’s Hollywood the rail company constructed the station house, and the first passenger stop occurred in January, 1927.100_1892

Today these rails are used by Amtrak and Tri-Rail.


STATE ROAD 7, US 441        opened 1927. At that time the area was not part of incorporated Hollywood. For a long time it was chiefly a truck route between Miami and the Lake Okeechobee area

Port Hollywood, Port Bay Mabel, PORT EVERGLADES    opened February, 1928.      Creation of the port was begun by J. W. Young’s Tropical Dredging & Construction Company in May, 1925 (Young owned the land around the then Lake Mabel).   Ft. Lauderdale Daily News, Feb. 21, 1928 HHS

US 1, FEDERAL HIGHWAY     1930-31. This was J. W. Young’s 18th Avenue, which as his Hollywood Reporter noted in 1923, had “inevitably” become the “East Dixie.”  In 1930 the U.S. government decided to extend U. S. 1 south along 18th Avenue and around then-Harding Circle.

At right, US 1, “the Federal” in the 1930s, looking north. Traffic was not much of an issue.

US 1 in 1930s

While this made road sense, it entirely changed Young’s original plan for his city. He anticipated that travelers would arrive on the original Dixie Highway, or the train, both of which ran between Harding (Young) and City Hall circles, then turn east or west on wide, inviting Hollywood Boulevard. Putting the major north-south route around the Circle, creating traffic snarls, was not Young’s original intention.

US 1 south facing Circle    At left, U.S. 1 looking south to Young Circle.


FLORIDA’S TURNPIKE      passed through Hollywood c. 1960-64. 

Florida's Turnpike at Johnson Street

Above, Johnson Street at 62nd Avenue passes under the Turnpike.    

I-95         1976. This interstate highway was put through Hollywood paralleling the Seaboard railway (now Amtrak and Tri-rail), rather than slicing it through the heart of Downtown, as happened in so many other communities in the 70s.

I-95, Stratford's bill

I-95 under construction runs along the top of the postcard. From left to right Hollywood Boulevard, near top, passes under the highway. Besides the Howard Johnson’s, another landmark is the 2 story white building in the upper left, south side of Boulevard. This is Stratford’s bar & grill. Orange Brook Golf course is at the very top left.


I hope you enjoyed this. I am soon off to Malice Domestic, a mystery writers conference, to show off my art museum mystery, Done For at the Danford, by Michal Sherring.

If you read and enjoy my book, it would be great if you would comment under the book title on Amazon!








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  1. Susanna Martinez says:

    Do you have anything on Hollywood Hills I know most of it was built in the 1960s but I can’t find much on it

    • Susanna, I don’t work after about 1945-50, as a historian. You should contact the Hollywood Historical Society (open every Friday from 10-11:30 and by appointment). There is a great deal of material there that would interest you, including bound copies of the Hollywood Sun-Tattler. It was so nice to have a home-town paper. The HHS email is hollywoodflhistory@att.net

  2. Ann Elkins says:

    I grew up in Danie in the 40’s and 50’s. Early 50’s Hollywood hills wasn’t there. we used to go out there and roam around and we found sidewalls and street s and would wonder why they were t here. Ann Fisher Elkins

    • Hello, Ann,

      Hollywood Hills was created, the hotel was built on the circle, and the streets were laid out in the mid-1920s by Joseph W. Young. He had great plans for making that area as handsome as the Lakes section. However, he never got to do this, and the next land owners there, Hollywood, Inc., allowed the palmetto to grew back, between the cement sidewalks that you remember. I used to ride my bike on them, all by myself. It was like finding a ruined city. There were a few private homes there from the 20s on, and Riverside Military Academy was in the hotel. But further development didn’t begin until 1959, as you all recall.
      I won’t be working on the late 50s, 60s, 70s, etc., but there are others at the Hollywood Historical Society who are. So contact the Historical Society with questions.
      Meanwhile, I’ll be happy for any discussion about transportation in Hollywood.

      • Ann Elkins says:

        At my age now it was nice to know how those sidewalks got there. I lived in Hollywood for many years and later in Hollywood Hills .I live on Arthur street.
        At one time I lived at 2009 Filmore street and my husband built an apartment building there across the street an old hotel for got the name of it.
        wondered if that old hotel was still there. Ann Elkins

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