As we continued along on our water taxi tour, we passed the Stranahan House Museum. It stands on its original location on the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale, nestled in between some of the modern high rises. It was originally built as a trading post for settlers and the Seminole Indians, evolving into a post office, town hall, and community center.
It was built by Frank Stranahan of Vienna, Ohio. He relocated to Florida in 1890 due to health reasons (the same reasons we give for leaving Ohio every winter, although it might be said that ours are mental health reasons, having grown weary of winter). Frank married Ivy Julia Cromartie, the area’s first school teacher. In 1906 the building became their personal residence, and remained that way until Ivy’s death in 1971. Frank committed suicide during the Great Depression in 1929.
The structure was built with Dade County Pine, a hard old wood that is termite resistant. Based on what our guide said and what I can (and cannot) find on the internet, Dade County Pine is not available anymore because the trees were all cut down and used. But you can find houses in Florida — quite a few of them in Key West — built with it.
Just past the Stranahan House Museum, we passed the Broward County Jail (nicely located on the waterfront) and entered what our guide referred to as “Condo Canyon.” According to our guide, this part of Fort Lauderdale wasn’t always as nice as it is now (hence the location of the jail). The condos were built in an attempt to lure in working and middle class people. That said, none of the condos are affordable for working and middle class people so apparently it failed in that regard.
We exited the water taxi at stop 11 (Las Olas Riverfront/Briny Pub) and promptly checked out Briny Pub for a little libation before taking a walk along the Riverwalk/Esplanade Park.
The drawbridge near the pub happened to be opened for a yacht coming through while we were quenching our thirst. There seems to be a lot going on in this photo so you might want to click on it for the larger view (something you can do with any of the photos).
We left the pub and strolled along the Riverwalk to Old Fort Lauderdale Village where you will find four turn-of-the-20th-century buildings. I’m not sure if the buildings were open to the public or not. They didn’t appear to be. We didn’t really have the time to check them out as it was getting pretty late in the day by the time we arrived here.
I’m not sure but I think this might be the 1905 Philemon Nathaniel Bryan House, a hollow concrete block home which now houses the administrative offices of the Fort Lauderdale History Center.
We met this unusual looking kitty here on our way back. M was trying to see if it had six toes. I thought he might be confusing the area with Key West and Hemingway’s cats, but it seems polydactyl or six-toed cats are most commonly found on the East Coast of the U.S. so I suppose it’s possible. The cat’s eyes drew me in. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cat with eyes slanted that much.
The 1905 New River Inn is the oldest remaining hotel building in Broward County. It is also built of hollow concrete blocks, and featured 24 hotel rooms and a dining room.
From there we wandered over towards the Museum of Discovery & Science, where we had a look at the sun dial built into the grass and then wandered back to catch a water taxi that would take us back to where we started.
I ducked into this small park before we went back to the Riverwalk so I could have a look at the fountain/waterfall.
Our ride back was very entertaining. In addition to the guide’s witty chatter, we were able to almost watch the sunset. Unfortunately all that great light was wasted on yachts, hotels, and million dollar homes so I have no photos of beautifully lit (during the golden hour) trees or flowers. Still, it was quite pretty.
So ends our water taxi tour. I’ve read a few reviews of about it since coming home and they don’t make it sound good. Our experience differs greatly from those bad reviews. We enjoyed the chatter of the guides, the boats arrived on time, and we had no difficulties at all along the way.
Sources used for this post:
- Historic Stranahan House Museum
- Fort Lauderdale History Center
- Water Taxi — “More than just a boat ride.”
Today’s outdoor adventures
It’s raining here in the Bogs today. I did get out and about in between the raindrops, but have no photos to share or big tales to tell. It was mostly uneventful.
Today’s visitors to the pond include a pair of mallards, three hooded mergansers (one male and two females), and one great blue heron.
Alternate title for this post is: How the other half lives
I promised you some photos from our water taxi ride along the Intracoastal Waterway. If you want more information about the Intracoastal Waterway, you can find it here.
The walk to where we caught the Water Taxi was about 2-1/2 miles from where we were staying. Instead of walking there, we decided to catch the Pelican Hopper, a free shuttle service provided by Lauderdale By The Sea. The bus runs until about 5pm so we knew we’d be walking back later that evening. The driver dropped us off at Stop 1A when we told him we were taking the Water Taxi. From there we walked down to Shooter’s where we had lunch, and caught the Water Taxi from there.
The food at Shooter’s, by the way, has always been consistently good. We ate there twice last year so we knew we’d find something good on the menu and were unlikely to be disappointed. Plus you can sit outside by the water and watch the yachts go by.
We did not see any manatees. I was hoping we might, but I’m not sure what time of year they’re more likely to be seen in that area.
We did see a lot of folks working, mostly gardeners and a few construction workers. Although the housing boom (we were told) is over in Florida, there are still a few new McMansions going up along the waterway and rivers, some owned by foreclosure lawyers who have benefited greatly by the mortgage fiasco of the past few years.
Along with mega houses, the very rich also have yachts, sailboats, and plenty of interesting sculptures. This one in particular caught my eye. I’m not sure but it looks like it might be holding a camera.
The guides on the water taxis are very knowledgeable and entertaining, making the trip more than just a ride on the water. We learned about some of the people who own the homes and yachts that are worth millions (and millions!). There are a few celebrity owners, and some of the older homes were once owned by celebrities such as Burt Reynolds, Dinah Shore, Nick Nolte, and there is a little gray home once lived in by Vivien Leigh (of Gone With the Wind fame). I liked the “old Florida” homes best. They are a lot smaller than what people are building now. Many of the old ones get torn down and replaced with a McMansion.
I’m not a big fan of celebrity home tours or celebrity watching (couldn’t care less, really), but the guides did make it fun and interesting. Our guide on the way back was particular funny, sometimes in a snarky sort of way. I can appreciate good snark.
We took our water taxi ride on Friday while the wind was still blowing and gusting. Near the coast, the wind was pretty bad, but on the waterway it didn’t seem nearly as gusty.
The colors and landscaping were beautiful.
I played with the above photo and the next one in Photoshop, just for fun and giggles.
Later this week, when I have the time and have gone through more of the photos, I’ll bring you a few more scenes from along the waterway as well as part of Old Fort Lauderdale.
Today’s Outdoor Adventures
The sun has been shining down upon us here in the Bogs today. It’s still a bit chilly (high of 37 degrees today), but the sun makes it feel so much warmer. I actually went out and about without a hat or gloves.
The crocuses are really taking off now. The little purple guys are spreading their joy all over the flower bed and beyond.
The tulips are looking good too. If we don’t get a prolonged hard freeze over the next few weeks, there ought to be a riot of color out there when the bulbs all come into bloom.
I found a way into the woods and down to the creek that didn’t involve slipping and sliding in the mud. Even so, there is plenty of slippery stuff to be found once down there.
I was surprised by how high and how fast the creek is running. Water continues to drain into it from the pond and the various little streams that run down to it. We’re expecting more rain tomorrow and Wednesday so I doubt it will be going down anytime soon.
The pond is waking up. I noticed when I was walking down there from the house that there were ripples appearing, a sure sign that the fish are becoming active. I did see some tiny fish along the shoreline, but nothing more than a splash or a ripple from the bigger fish. They tend to stay out of sight.
There are also all kinds of insects out and about. The birds must be having a feast. I saw a bluebird, his blues brilliant in the sunlight. A red-winged blackbird stopped by the feeder. And (I almost forgot!) I saw a great blue heron at the pond for the first time this season.
Things are starting to get pretty exciting out there. 🙂