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War Memorial Auditorium Celebrates 65th Anniversary

War Memorial History

The year was 1950 and it was called the “Golden Age.” Children played outside with each other. A home did not have a computer, cell phone, color television or even a microwave. A gallon of milk was 82 cents, and a full tank of gas was $3.51.

In 1950, the City of Fort Lauderdale’s War Memorial Auditorium (WMA) opened its doors as a multi-purpose facility owned and operated by the city, located in Holiday Park, just south of the intersection of Federal Highway and Sunrise Boulevard. It was built through a community fundraising drive to provide a permanent home to the symphony. Shortly after the auditorium opened, it was decided that it would be a living memorial to the veterans and fallen of World War II. The names of hard-fought WWII battles radiate from the seal on the lobby floor. The Korean and Vietnam Wars are also remembered, and in the mid 1970’s, the Gold Star Mothers donated a statue of a Vietnam solider which was placed in the lobby. In November 2009, the City honored our men and women who served in the armed forces with the rededication of the Korean War-era F-86 Sabre Jet.

In the early years, a War Memorial Auditorium audience member was captivated by The Florida Grand Opera and spellbound by the magic of David Copperfield. They tapped their feet to the music of Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley, The Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly. And, on a Thursday night in 1991, 34 year-old actor Mickey Rourke made his pro boxing debut to a packed house.War Memorial History

On January 14, 2015, we celebrate a new era. Today, children play with handheld electronics. Most people know what an Apple is. Gas is $3.51 a gallon, just like milk. Even though technology and inflation have changed, the historic War Memorial Auditorium remains a home for many. Audiences anticipate the Fort Lauderdale Beach International Collector Car Auction, National Physique Committee Southern States Bodybuilding Championships, Fight Time Promotions MMA, Fort Lauderdale PRIDE; which celebrates the LGBT community, and last but not least, the Orchid Show which is the 3rd largest Orchid Show in the USA.

The historic War Memorial Auditorium is an asset and continues to generate revenue for the city.  The staff is dedicated to ensure that the historic War Memorial Auditorium provide entertainment for the community and visitors for generations to come.

Auditorium staff are always interested in speaking with individuals who have historical information or memorabilia. Please contact Marketing Specialist Karen Newhart at knewhart@fortlauderdale.gov or 954-828-4352.