History Happened Here

A campaign commemorating Florida's diverse cities.
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Coral Springs

Broward County

Year Founded: 1963Founded by: James S. HuntPreviously known as: TFO (Too Far Out), Pompano Springs, "The City in the Country"

History

Progress took a unique route in 1963 when it arrived in Coral Springs. Previously all farmland, it was envisioned by Coral Ridge Properties as an upscale version of the Old South. The first structure was a covered bridge. The earliest commercial buildings were brick with white columns, starting with the founder’s Administration building, designed similarly to Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia. A bridle path surrounded the center of town. In 1966, Coral Springs became an urban laboratory for Westinghouse Electric Corporation as it created a series of “Electra-Lab” houses with its newest consumer conveniences including microwave ovens, motion detectors, dimmer switches, intercoms and an electric car. Coral Springs soon became a showcase for everything modern.
The original master plan set aside land for schools, churches and parks. From the 1970s through the 1980s, as the population surged from 2,200 to 79,000, the city offered diverse amenities for growing families, including Sportsplex, a park devoted to recreation facilities, to a community center for the arts and shopping malls. In 1977 the city purchased Coral Ridge Properties Administration building to use as City Hall. The 1984 Honda Classic golf tournament was held in the Coral Springs, bringing a national audience for the first time. Coral Springs had evolved from being a “City in the Country” to “the premier city in Florida in which to live, work and raise a family.”
When the Sawgrass Expressway opened in 1986, providing easy access to Coral Springs from both Broward and Palm Beach counties, the city attracted more residents, retailers and corporate entities. A referendum was approved to purchase environmentally sensitive lands and preserve the last of the city’s wetlands, increasing the number of parks to more than 50.
By the 1990s, as the population grew from 79,000 to 118,000, there was a need to create new facilities and improve existing ones for the growing population. The Tennis Center of Coral Springs was added to Sportsplex and the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex was expanded to include a fitness center. Land, long set aside for education, was made available to the Board of Education for four new schools, bringing the total to 17. Renovation began on the first shopping mall, which became the site of the second largest library in Broward County and the city-owned Coral Springs Charter School, complete with a modern auditorium.
A total quality management program was implemented in 1993 to provide customer-focused, high-performance government services via a business-like model. In 1997, the city was awarded the Florida Governor’s Sterling Award for Performance Excellence, the first municipality to be so honored. The city received the same award for a second time in 2003 and, in 2007, was awarded the Malcolm Baldridge Quality Award, again the first municipality to be so honored. With these unique awards, Coral Springs has truly become a Community of Excellence and “the nation’s premier community in which to live, work and raise a family.”

Story of City's Founding

By 1961, James S. Hunt had run out of territory to develop in Fort Lauderdale. After creating one-third of that city’s tax base, he began looking for enough land to develop an entire municipality. As president of Coral Ridge Properties, he had staff capable of producing his visionary master plan. According to architectural engineer George E. Hodapp, Hunt would have created a separate country if he could have. Built on 13,500 acres of barren farmland, the city was drafted on paper before a shovel hit the dirt. Hunt mandated broad boulevards with trees; curved roads to discourage speeding; large setbacks from the road; no neon signs, billboards or advertising in front of businesses; generous landscaping around all new construction; tile roofs; restricted paint colors for building exteriors; and a ban on outdoor clothes lines. Improbably, he told his staff to name the city but was aghast when they suggested Pompano Springs. He didn’t want his dream city named after a fish so it was changed to Coral Springs. As an admiral in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II, he was aware of military pension payouts. Early housing facilities were planned to accommodate these retirees but when moderately priced housing for younger families took off, the focus changed to a family-oriented community with land set aside for schools and parks. James Hunt’s vision of Coral Springs gives the city its uniquely consistent quality; in accordance with his master plan, when you come here, you know you have arrived at someplace special.

Little Known Facts

Historical Sites

Name: Covered Bridge
Location: 4534 N.W. 95 Ave., Coral Springs, FL 33065
Historical Significance: The Coral Springs Covered Bridge, at 95th Avenue off Wiles Road, was built “in the middle of town” as a point of interest for potential homeowners. Originally painted barn red, it was embellished with historic chewing tobacco murals on either side and is the only covered bridge in the public right of way in Florida. It was meant to give a sense of the Old South to the landscape as a temporary structure but all suggestions that it be removed were met with protests and it has become a city emblem.

Name: Coral Springs Museum of History
Location: 10000 Ben Geiger Dr. (NW 29 St), Coral Springs, FL 33065
Historical Significance: The Coral Springs Museum of History, now in Mullins Park at 10000 Ben Geiger Drive (NW 29 St.), was originally the Coral Ridge Properties Real Estate office on the northwest corner of Rte. 441 and Wiles Road. This one-room structure, 30’ x 20’, was meant to attract potential homebuyers. When they needed a bigger office, the developer gave the building to the fledgling city government, which relocated it several times, using it as city hall, a police station and a training facility for the fire department, which accidentally set it on fire. Rescued by residents, it is now used to display early maps, plats and miniatures of the early Coral Springs.

Name: Coral Springs City Hall
Location: 9551 West Sample Road, Coral Springs, FL 33065
Historical Significance: City Hall was originally the Coral Ridge Properties Administration Building, built in 1966 at 9551 West Sample Road, to replace their original one-room office. In keeping with the founder’s vision of a Southern city, it was designed after Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia and constructed of pre-Civil War bricks from Atlanta. As the only commercial building in town, it became a restaurant, library and real estate offices as well as headquarters for Coral Ridge Properties. Purchased by Coral Springs in 1977, it became City Hall for the emerging city government and staff.

Key Historical Events

Event: Coral Springs is born
Event Description:

Coral Ridge Properties bought 38 acres of farmland in northwest Broward County for $1,000,000 and the state legislature chartered the property as Coral Springs on July 10, 1963. It was a planned city with every road, residential community and commercial center platted on paper before it was built.

Event: First Park
Event Description:

Lions Park was dedicated on June 6, 1970, the first of more than 50 local and regional parks within the city. The park system includes nature reserves as well as trails, sports arenas and event areas for fairs and fireworks.

Event: Bond Referendum Approved
Event Description:

On November 11, 1985 voters approved a $16 million bond program for police, fire and recreation facilities and a community center, the first major addition to the city’s infrastructure since its founding. These leisure sites responded to residents’ wishes for local attractions.

Event: Silver Anniversary
Event Description:

The city’s 25th anniversary was celebrated in 1988 by making the world’s largest hamburger and milkshake at the time, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The 26-foot burger was flipped onto individual grills by firemen to complete the cooking process.

Event: Sportsplex Park opens
Event Description:

Sportsplex, which began in 1990 as an aquatic center that expanded to the world-class Coral Springs Aquatic Complex, added 180 acres and now includes a tennis center, triple-rink ice skating arena, dog park, jogging paths, a special event area and the Sawgrass Nature Center.

Event: Baldrige Award received
Event Description:

The Florida Governor’s Sterling Award was presented to Coral Springs in 1997 and again in 2003, the first city in the state to receive the award twice. In 2007, Coral Springs received the Presidential Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the first, and only, city to receive such an acknowledgement.

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