Old and New Mingle in Fort Lauderdale

These leaders have helped to shape Fort Lauderdale in the last two decades.
By: Ray Brasted and Susan Lazarus
Related To:

Fort Lauderdale is a young city in many ways and its future is still being shaped by the thousands of new residents who move here every year. Even as schools are built, classroom space is being added. High rises share neighborhoods with historic homes and long-time business owners welcome newcomers at chamber meetings.

Many individuals have helped shape Fort Lauderdale in the last 100 years, but it is in the past few decades that there has been a major leap forward. From the economy to tourism to downtown revitalization, these three individuals contributed greatly to the changing image and development of Fort Lauderdale:

H. Wayne Huizenga

Supporting the Local Economy

There is perhaps no other single individual who has shaped Fort Lauderdale as much as H. Wayne Huizenga, who built three Fortune 1000 companies and own three professional sports teams, all in South Florida. Today, you can find his name on parks and buildings, as well as the Huizenga School of Business on the campus of nearby Nova Southeastern University. 

As owner or part owner of the Florida Marlins baseball team, Miami Dolphins football team and the Florida Panthers hockey team, he brought new dollars and jobs to the region and stimulated the local economy.

His generosity and contributions to the community, as well as his and his wife's personal involvement of in local volunteer programs, have helped to shape Fort Lauderdale into the vibrant city it is today.

Nikki Grossman

Shedding the Spring Break Image

As chairman and CEO of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors' Bureau, Nikki Grossman has been a point person for the change of Fort Lauderdale's image from college spring break destination to an upscale community for visitors and residents. She never seems to tire of hammering home her belief that Fort Lauderdale is the best place in the world to live and to visit.

Grossman is a local resident who has stayed the course to change her community. Through strategic planning and continuous marketing programs, Grossman has stayed on task in making Fort Lauderdale a unique community and year-round destination.

Kitty Ryan

Breathing Life Back Into Downtown

Twenty-five years ago, Fort Lauderdale's downtown was similar to other downtown areas, as the development of suburban malls had drawn businesses and entertainment venues away from the urban areas. Las Olas Boulevard's boutique shops and trendy restaurants were often closed on weekends and in the off-season. Surrounding neighborhoods had fallen into disrepair.

Ryan had an idea to open a Jazz and Blues Club on Las Olas, but she had to convince the city to allow sidewalk tables. O'Hara's Jazz & Blues Cafe was opened in 1989 and until new development forced her to close its doors in 2008, locals and residents flocked to hear the hottest sounds in town.

The flood gates opened on Las Olas after her success, and the image of downtown Fort Lauderdale changed. Today, music from clubs and restaurants can be heard on the street, and diners sit at sidewalk tables day and night. As the surrounding neighborhoods made a comeback, Fort Lauderdale became the 24-hour, pedestrian community envisioned by local leaders.

Next Up

Fort Lauderdale Essentials

This guide covers where locals shop, best sites to see, dining any time of day, entertainment to enjoy and more.

Fort Lauderdale: Like No Place Else

Pristine beaches, shore diving, an international film festival and alligators are among the attractions that make this Florida city unique.

Local Life and Lore in Fort Lauderdale

These insider tips and lingo will help you fit in with the local crowd.

Jacksonville Essentials

View Jacksonville's top grocery and specialty stores, museums, parks, restaurants, clubs and more.

The Rich Arts and Crafts Heritage of Asheville

Artists and craftspeople have long been an integral part of what makes Asheville, North Carolina, unique.

Disney and Orlando: Creating the Happiest Place on Earth

For better or worse, Walt Disney World is an integral part of Orlando's economy and culture. Find out more with Great American Country.

Richmond Essentials

Learn about what Richmond has to offer in dining, entertainment and nightlife.

5 Great Neighborhoods in Miami

Discover five of Miami's most notable neighborhoods and find the one that fits you.

7 Atlanta Restaurants for a Memorable Meal

Nothing spices up a meal better than a good story.

On TV

Lake Life

6am | 5c

Lake Life

6:30am | 5:30c

Lake Life

7am | 6c

Lake Life

7:30am | 6:30c

Lake Life

8am | 7c

Lake Life

8:30am | 7:30c

Lake Life

9am | 8c

Lake Life

9:30am | 8:30c

Lake Life

10am | 9c

Lake Life

10:30am | 9:30c

Lake Life

11am | 10c

Lake Life

11:30am | 10:30c

Lake Life

12pm | 11c

Lake Life

12:30pm | 11:30c

Flea Market Flip

1:30pm | 12:30c

Flea Market Flip

2:30pm | 1:30c

Flea Market Flip

3:30pm | 2:30c

Flea Market Flip

4:30pm | 3:30c

Flea Market Flip

5:30pm | 4:30c

Flea Market Flip

6:30pm | 5:30c

Flea Market Flip

7:30pm | 6:30c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Flea Market Flip

8pm | 7c

Flea Market Flip

8:30pm | 7:30c

Flea Market Flip

9:30pm | 8:30c

Flea Market Flip

10:30pm | 9:30c

Flea Market Flip

11:30pm | 10:30c

Flea Market Flip

12:30am | 11:30c

Flea Market Flip

1:30am | 12:30c

Flea Market Flip

2:30am | 1:30c

Flea Market Flip

3:30am | 2:30c

Top GAC Shows

Flea Market Flip

Sundays at 8|7c

Living Alaska

Mondays at 9|8c

Top 20 Countdown

Consult Program Guide

Flippin' RVs

Wednesdays 9|8c

Get Social With Us

Let's explore this country together.