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57 T R O P I C M A G A Z I N E So You're Thinking of Living On... Text John T. O'Connor neighborhood close-up THE FIRST LANDFILL AND PLATTING OF FINGER ISLANDS in Fort Lauderdale began in 1921 with the neighborhood now known as Idlewyld. Marking the start of the roaring '20s, Idlewyld's developer, M.A. Hortt could not have timed it better. Prices on lots of land in sun-drenched South Florida were some- times literally doubling in one week. "Clearing a title abstract took about 90 days," says Stuart McIver in his book, Dreamers, Schemers and Scalawags, "And lots were selling and reselling two or three times a week." Noting Hortt's successes, others jumped into the game, dredging and filling finger-like isles to create Rio Vista Isles, Lauderdale Harbors and the isles flanking Las Olas Boulevard between the bridge and the Mola Canal. Now just referred to by most as simply "the Las Olas Isle s," the area is made up of several developments that each became their own little enclave. On the north side of Las Olas, Lauderdale Isles and Lauderdale Shores, (now known as Seven Isles) joined three developments on the south side of Las Olas Boule- vard; Venice, Riviera Isles and the Coral Isles, rising from what had been a large mangrove swamp. The first iteration of what eventually became the Nurmi Isles –– also on the north side of the boulevard –– had romantic street names like Boulevard Bo- livar, canals with names like Rio Aragon and no less than 22 separate bridges. These visions were decidedly grand… that is, before the land bust and subsequent Great Depression smacked the last breath out of eager de- velopers. Those two economic blows turned dreams of isles lined with swirling, Spanish Re vival mansions into desolate land that looked –– as one writer put it –– as "barren as a Kansas wheat field in winter." That 'winter' lasted until the late 1930s. The Coral Isles, although dredged and filled during the 1920s, lay fallow until 1937. Its new developer, Tom Stilwell held onto the Mediterranean theme of earlier proposals, albeit with an Italian accent. Its canals were named Lido, At the southern tip of San Marco Drive, left, is a sprawling point lot home. Currently on the market with 450 linear feet of deepwater frontage, asking $16,900,000. The 1926 land bust and the Great Depression smacked the last breath out of eager developers, turning their dreams of isles lined with swirling mansions into desolate land as "barren as a Kansas wheat field in winter." The Coral Isles 57 T R O P I C M A G A Z I N E

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