By Beth Daly, Realtor®
is sometimes referred to as The Island City. This thriving enclave of just over 12,000 residents is completely surrounded by the Middle River on all sides, making it on of our more scenic and unique municipalities. Click this Google Maps link
so you can see the "lay of the land". Bounded at the north end by the north fork of the Middle River (Oakland Park Boulevard) to the south fork of the Middle River (NE/NW 18th St.) on the south end, Interstate I-95 (Powerline Road) to the west and US 1 to the east - with a bit of meandering involved, this is the 1.94 sq. miles that we proudly call Wilton Manors.
The first residents of this "island" were said to be Seminole Indians. In the early 1900's when the railroad first passed through this then densely wooded area was known as Colohatchee; a train stop near what is now NE 24th Street bore that name as well.
In 1924 a gentleman from Georgia; Edward J. "Ned" Willingham; a land developer who had moved to the area first called it Wilton Manors. It is said that the name Wilton Manors is a conglomeration of both his last name and that of his wife; which was Felton ~ the blend being Wilton. Manors is said to be used as his "vision" for the area was upscale. The main street was to be only large homesteads. At the entry to Wilton "Boulevard" at 5 points he constructed 4 Romanesque towers designed by renowned architect Francis Abreu. The entryway had an elegant ambiance with the towers castle like in design. The buyer's could climb the tallest of the towers to choose the lot they wanted to build on.
Unfortunately the devastation of the 1926 hurricane
, the Great Depression and World War II slowed the real estate market and Mr. Willingham's vision did not come to reality at that time. The area was not incorporated until 1947. Wilton Manors is it's own municipality and is not part of Fort Lauderdale. Their local government and the residents embody the vision of creating a sustainable urban village. The city center "Wilton Drive" , just south and west of "5 Points
" is vibrant and thriving. This is a fantastic, eclectic collection of cafes, restaurants, boutiques, gift shops, salons, galleries and business offices; all very pedestrian friendly. Mr. Willingham's vision for Wilton Manors was an upscale community with mansions lining what is now Wilton Drive. At this time, the Richardson Estate at the southern end of Wilton Drive is the oldest structure in town and dates back to "the beginning".
Wilton Manors is one of the most "gay friendly" cities in our nation; second only to Provincetown, MA. The extensive LGBT community is well represented and completely integrated and involved in this wonderful town. Visitors and residents appreciate and enjoy the services, information and recreation activities at the local Pride Center
on Dixie Highway, The Stonewall National Museum and Archives
, The World Aids Museum
and Educational Center among countless other attractions including 7 fantastic parks. Wilton Manors Parks
are a plenty and well utilized in this wonderful island city. To name a few; there is beautiful Colohatchee Park
which is a nature preserve that is home to a 7 acre mangrove preserve which allows visitors to see what the riverfront may have actually looked like 100 years ago. The Island City Park Preserve
features an elevated walkway with a scenic view of the river as well as pavilions, a walking trail, basketball courts and a community center which has a facility capable of hosting about 100 people. The Richardson Historic Park and Nature Preserve
is wonderful. The home and carriage house are lovely. Visitors enjoy the nature trails and habitat areas, an observation pier and a boardwalk along the Middle River, a pavilion area and restrooms.
The homes in Wilton Manors are mostly classic "ranch" style homes and some wooden cottages. Popular back in the 1950's and 60's when these homes were built; terrazzo is the flooring in many of the CBS (Concrete Block & Stucco) homes. You will find a few original homes dotted throughout the city but mostly you'll find homes that have been partially or completely updated; some in period restoration which is awesome. There are many beautiful new homes here as well.
The waterfront homes in Wilton Manors have no less than 2 fixed bridges with only 6' of clearance. This is a perfect fit for kayaks and canoes and paddleboarders also (must duck!). Some of the waterways are absolutely breathtaking and exploring them in solitude rowing or paddling is a real experience.
The location here in central Fort Lauderdale is absolutely optimal. Downtown Fort Lauderdale and the Fort Lauderdale International Airport are about 15-20 minutes south. It's only about 10 minutes the the beach and right here in Wilton Manors there are restaurants, cafes, grocery, churches, and everything you'll ever need!
Direct Cellular Phone (954) 663-3180
E Mail: Beth@LiveByTheSea.com