Sunday, May 12, 2013

Galt Mile jewels in the 1950s: Ocean Manor, Galt Ocean Mile Hotel and ...

Galt Ocean Mile today, a wall of condos

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By Jane Feehan

By 1958, building on the Galt Ocean Mile was well underway, a dream of developers James S. Hunt and Stephen A. Calder. The mile-long strip of land was sold by Arthur T. Galt* in 1953 for more than $19 million - three times the price that Spain received for the entire state of Florida. Two hotels were opened in the late 1950s and three others were under construction.

The $4 million, 250-room Galt Ocean Mile Hotel opened Dec.19 that year. The New York Times touted it as the largest, most luxurious hotel in the Fort Lauderdale area. Its architecture and furnishings were a blend of American luxury and old English and Bahamian themes set off with old brick, Honduras mahogany paneling, brass and marble. Outdoor lighting was provided by antique street lamps from Copenhagen. Bahamian greens and blues provided backdrop for Florida-themed paintings. Large picture windows in the lounge area and dining room looked out upon the area’s largest private beach.

The five-story hotel was built in a U-shape that embraced an Olympic-size pool, a dining terrace with a dance floor and a bar. Accommodations ranged from single rooms, efficiencies, and studio apartments, to one-bedroom luxury apartments – all with balconies. A parking lot was built for 250 cars, something unheard of in the city until then. Fort Lauderdale was abuzz about the hotel's lounge with telephones at each table, a stock market ticker tape and unique display of dancing waters in the lobby. (Summer rates ran $42.70 per person single occupancy, $30.70 per person double occupancy.) 

The Galt Ocean Mile Hotel was neighbor to luxury. Other buildings and new construction included:
  • The adjacent Beach Club, built in 1954 as a private club, according to The New York Times, later was turned into a hotel. It had 200 rooms, including apartments with full kitchens.
  • The $3 million Ocean Manor, south of the Galt Ocean Mile Hotel and Beach Club, was built as a    co-op and hotel with 84 apartments (about $19,000 to $63,000 with yearly rental fees, an unusual financial arrangement) and 102 hotel rooms.  The Starlight roof supper club topped the building. Johnny Carson later called the Ocean Manor home when he was in town.**
  • The nearby Edgewater Arms was, at sixteen stories, the tallest among the new Galt Mile buildings. It was also a co-operative and consisted of eighty-eight apartments, which ranged from $21,400 to $47,900. Its maintenance charges ranged from $75 to $125 monthly.
The strip's access road, then called Galt Drive, parallel to A1A north of Oakland Park, was still under construction in 1958.

The Galt Ocean Mile Hotel and The Beach Club were torn down in the early 1980s to make room for a two-building luxury high-rise condominium. The Edgewater Arms and Ocean Manor remain. Aggressive condo building along the Galt Mile occurred during the 1970s. Today, ocean waters off this strip of land is home to some of the most pristine reefs of South Florida. Copyright © 2013. All rights reserved. Jane Feehan.

* For more about Arthur T. Galt and the Galt Mile, see:

** For more on Johnny Carson in Fort Lauderdale, see: 

For more Florida history visit my other blog, 

New York Times, Jan. 12, 1958.

Tags: Fort Lauderdale history, Galt Ocean Mile history, Fort Lauderdale during the 1950s, historical researcher, film researcher

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