Dedication of the Commodore A. H. Brook Causeway in Fort Lauderdale (1956)

Dedication of the Commodore A. H. Brook Causeway in Fort Lauderdale (1956)

Often referred to by residents as the “17th Street Bridge,” the Commodore Avylen Harcourt Brook Memorial Causeway (and bridge) over the Intracoastal Waterway was dedicated in 1956 in memory of the man most responsible in Fort Lauderdale for a Federal takeover of the old privately owned Florida East Coast Canal and its conversion into the modern toll-free Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

Built between 1881 and 1912 the owners of the old canal from Jacksonville to Miami collected tolls from marine traffic yet still failed to maintain it. In 1927, the State of Florida created the Florida Inland Navigation District (FIND) to issue bonds to purchase the old Canal and any necessary right-of-way for turnover to the federal government.  In 1929, FIND turned the Canal over to the Federal government for enlarging and perpetual future maintenance. The toll chains used for collecting tolls were removed. This bridge memorialized Brook’s work in getting the federal government to take over the old Canal and improve it. Several years ago, this bridge was demolished and replaced with a new bridge named after Congressman E. Clay Shaw, Jr., who secured substantial federal funds to build the new bridge. Signs along the causeway road, however, remember Brook’s work. Postcard collection of the author.

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