The Early Years

In The Early 20th Century

Some of the elements of the Spring Break tradition also go way back in the customs of American college students. Traveling to the coast or to the site of a mineral spring as a restorative cure for the rigors of academic life was common among the well-to-do set of American college students since the 19th century (if not earlier).

In the early 20th century, the combination of the establishment of female collegiate alternatives to traditionally male-only universities and the invention of the car created "The Road Trip" as a mechanism among college students for the co-mingling of the sexes.

Finally, while the custom ebbed and flowed with the times, by the 20th century college was firmly enschonced next to military service as a primary opportunity for the iniation into inebriation among the 18-22 year-old generation. Thus, the major components of today's Spring Break actually have their antecedents in long-standing collegiate behaviors.

However, it took a further technological development to meld them into the cultural icon that Spring Break now represents. Therefore, Spring Break, as we know it today, did not begin until the 1960's, thanks to the invention of what life-altering technology????

The 1920s & 30s

Swim Practice in Ft Lauderdale

In 1926, the "Great Miami Hurricane" swept across Miami with a 15 foot storm surge leaving few buildings intact. the storm damage was estimated to be the storm was $100 million ($1.31 billion 2015 USD).

In the effort to rebuild the city and to attract visitors, the city of Ft. Lauderdale built the first Olympic size municipal pool (50m x 20m) in Florida in 1928.

Swimming as a "Competitive Sport" was just beginning to become popular and there were not many indoor pools in existence at that time.

As Ivy League students returned to school from their Easter vacations at their families estates in West Palm Beach and Miami word spread about the Casino Pool and the potential to get an early start on swim practice.

Looking for a way to get a jump on the competition, the swimming coach at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, brought some of his swim team down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to give it a try.

Again word spread, and by 1938 the College Coaches' Swim Forum was formed and college swim teams from around the country made an annual trip to Ft Lauderdale each spring. 1938 also saw the opening of the Elbo Room Bar in the Seabreeze Hotel which became the popular night time hangout.

By 1953, there were upwards of 15,000 students traveling to Ft. Lauderdale each spring.

> Spring Break Films

> Panama City Beach Site

Bookmark and Share