The End Is The Beginning Once More

For the first time in decades, the sun arose this morning on a heap of rubble where once stood a welcoming vacation destination. The Howard Johnson’s in Fort Lauderdale is gone, and its towering presence is now a mound of memories for those who had once visited here.

What amazing and interesting things happened through the years? What joys and sorrows were known to visitors and staff? What emotions were revealed to us through smiles and laughter or betrayed by tears?

For those who visited Fort Lauderdale through the decades, there is no longer a structure to remind them of their own memories; there is no familiar landscape. The memory is now part of history, a history reduced to these last images. They are the digital remnants of an era now passed, but they are a reminder that all things change.

Soon, a new tower of memories will rise on this shore. New faces will inhabit the walls that shall grow and form before our eyes. Perhaps we shall come to know some of these people, to share their dreams, and to be a part of that new history to come.

The Last Days Of The Old “HoJo’s”

Below are copies of post cards that guests once sent home to friends and family, and after that you will see  photographs taken during the the final days of the old Howard Johnson’s existence on Fort Lauderdale’s beach. Following the photographs, a short video of the day of demolition, followed by additional pictures taken the morning afterward.

The intersection of Vistamar and A1A is now primed for a new condominium tower, to be called Paramount. How poignant is it that this vacation destination should become as ephemeral as the visits of those who once attended her? Perhaps, with the rise of a high-price condo tower, a new permanence shall come to these shores.

The 1960’s: Howard Johnson’s At Its Peak

Howard Johnsons in Fort Lauderdale, circa 1960's

A postcard of Fort Lauderdale beach in the 1960’s, with the Howard Johnson’s figuring prominently as a backgdrop. Even further back, just right of the center, the old Holiday Inn, which was refurbished in 2010 to become ‘B’ Ocean.

Howard Johnsons Fort Lauderdale in the 1960's

An aerial view of the Howard Johnson’s, taken in 1968, shows the beach resort at its peak.

 

February 2014: The Final Days

Howard Johnson's restaurant demolished

The old HoJo’s restaurant is, itself, gobbled up by a backhoe as demolition proceeds, unabated. I last ate in this restaurant in 2003 with a friend. It was all but abandoned, even then. Photo taken February 10, 2014.

Demolition of the Howard Johnson's in Fort Lauderdale

Portions of the stone façade are stripped from the concrete walls, and the load-bearing structure is removed to make it easier to demolish the tower. Photo taken February 10, 2014.

Last days of Howard Johnson's in Fort Lauderdale

The once-welcoming tower is now an empty shell. Soon, the vacation hotel shall, itself, vacate this land to make way for new residences. Photo taken February 10, 2014.

 

Demolition Day: February 19, 2014

 

The Morning Afterward: February 20, 2014

Debris of the old Howard Johnson's

The sun rises on what used to be a bustling beach resort, now only debris that must be cleared to make way for Paramount, the new condominium on Fort Lauderdale beach.

Howard Johnson's demolished on Fort Lauderdale beach

An ironic caption: Old signs direct drivers to lock their cars while on the parking lot, which no longer exists.

last remnants of old Howard Johnson's in Fort Lauderdale

Lights out! An old lamp post is among the few remnants still standing following the demolition of the old Howard Johnson’s on Fort Lauderdale beach.

 

Before And After: The Last Days Of Howard Johnson’s

Last days of Howard Johnson's

Howard Johnson’s, long closed, as seen on February 10, 2014, only nine days before it was demolished.

Howard Johnson's no longer stands in Fort Lauderdale

The morning afterward: The scene looking toward the beach awaits a new tower that will replace the old, and another era will begin.

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About the Author

Danny Pryor is a media, website and content developer based in Fort Lauderdale. He produces websites, video and other digital media through his company, Rodan Media, and is the executive director of the travel website, TurpikeInfo.com, which he co-owns with his business partners. Danny began website development in 2000, while working with Scoop Magazine, in Fort Lauderdale. His media and broadcasting career dates to 1988, when he began working in news radio, in Las Vegas. He has two awards from the Florida Associated Press, for Best Individual Achievement and for Best Spot News, for his radio news coverage of events in Miami, during 1992.



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