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How Florida was Mapped: The First Survey of Coral Springs — History is Now Magazine, Podcasts, Blog and Books

Like many cities fashioned in the course of the rise of suburbia in post-World War II America, Coral Springs, Florida expanded extraordinarily quickly. Founded in 1963, it grew from simply 1,489 residents in 1970 to over 134,394 in 2020, turning into one of the most important fifteen municipalities in Florida. Also like many different new American cities, its story began properly earlier than incorporation.

For over a thousand years, Tequesta natives occupied the world that might ultimately turn out to be Coral Springs. Archaeological digs confirmed a number of areas of native occupation together with camps and burial websites, ending when the final of the tribe, decimated by European illness, departed for Cuba in 1763. While Seminole natives and others possible crossed by means of the world within the many years after the Tequesta left, the primary recorded go to to the long run space of Coral Springs didn’t come till lengthy after the Tequesta departed.

Upon receiving Florida from Spain by the treaty of Adams-Onis in 1819, the United States started to arrange the territory that they had acquired. Starting with the Land Ordinance Act of 1785, the United States adopted a standard system, the Rectangular Method, for measuring land. Starting from a delegated level known as a meridian, the brand new territory was divided north and south into 36-square-mile blocks known as townships that had been additional measured east and west by ranges. Measured from a meridian established at Tallahassee, the land that might ultimately turn out to be Coral Springs sat at Township 48 South, Range 41 East.

Working by means of the swamps

George MacKay, a 35-year-old New York surveyor who had moved to Florida to conduct varied enterprise pursuits, was employed by the United States Surveyor General’s Office in 1845 to conduct surveying work within the southeastern half of the state. Valentine Y. Conway,  the Surveyor General of Florida, instructed MacKay to survey land south of Township 44 “to the Atlantic coast, and as far west as practicable.” Using a magnetic compass and a surveyor’s chain which was  specified to be “33 feet in length . . . containing 50 links . . . made of good iron wire,” MacKay’s group – which included his youthful brother Alexander in addition to a number of enslaved individuals –  proceeded to work their means by means of the south Florida swamps, enduring the bugs, warmth, snakes, and alligators that the career routinely skilled at the moment.

On March 26, 1846, MacKay surveyed the world through which the long run Coral Springs would sit. His transient survey notes present he discovered a rocky space with “scrub pine, cypress . . . and sawgrass.”  In a later account of his surveying expedition, MacKay described the circumstances they encountered, stating typically the climate was so nonetheless “there was not enough air stirring to move as aspen leaf” and that their measuring strains might solely go in locations “by cutting away the lofty fresh grass and wading (or rather wallowing) through the mud and underrubbish.”  

Having finishing his assigned survey, MacKay, after happening a tough journey through which his boat “was driven back to New River two or three times by contrary wind, turned in his report to the Surveyor General’s headquarters in St. Augustine.”  Based on his account exhibiting 888.6 miles surveyed, he was paid $3,555.  He ultimately moved again to Caledonia, New York, the place he died in 1880.


The land itself remained remoted for a number of extra many years, till the state authorities offered it as half of a grant to speculator Richard Bolles in 1908. After the draining of south Florida swamps started in earnest underneath Governor Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, the land was acquired by Henry “Bud” Lyons in 1919 as half of his 20,000-acre inexperienced bean and cattle operation. In 1961, Lyons’ widow offered the land to developer James S. Hunt for $1 million, setting the stage for Coral Springs to be included two years later.

As a case research within the development of suburban America, the surveying expedition that first reached the world of the long run Coral Springs illustrates a typical first step in improvement. It illustrates how a metropolis can rapidly go from an undeveloped pure setting to a significant suburban municipality in only some quick many years. While in a way this instance exhibits the triumph of progress, it is additionally a cautionary story in that the trail to speedy improvement got here on the price of destroying in depth areas of pristine wetlands and wildlife habitat. When confronted with the same state of affairs sooner or later, hopefully a extra balanced, deliberate final result will consequence.

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