OCEAN CITY (OC), MARYLAND

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OCEAN CITY (OC), MARYLAND

The sun and surf of Ocean City, Maryland, have been attracting visitors since Algonquian tribes first came to our beaches to fish and sun themselves. Europeans first arrived in 1524 when Giovanni da Verrazano surveyed the east coast of North America. By the 17th century, British colonists had moved north from Virginia and settled in the area.

Due to Ocean City’s isolation as a barrier island, the town remained a sleepy fishing village until 1875, when the Atlantic Hotel began welcoming visitors. The following year, the railroad bridged Sinepuxent Bay, and a resort was born.

In 1878, heroes took up residence. The U.S. Life-Saving Service, an ancestor of today’s Coast Guard, established a station here. Their mission: to venture out in stormy seas and rescue shipwreck victims. The second station, built in 1891, is now the Ocean City Life-Savings Station Museum, enshrining Ocean City’s history and saluting the brave men who worked here.

In 1900, the first boardwalk was constructed. Trimper’s Amusements opened shortly after. Unlike today, however, the boardwalk wasn’t a year-round fixture. The boards were actually taken up in the winter, and stored until the following spring!   The 20th century brought a dramatic separation and some vital connections. In August of 1933, a powerful storm ripped open a new channel from the bay to the ocean. Engineers made the inlet permanent, and with its new harbor, Ocean City became one of the east coast’s premier sport fishing destinations–the White Marlin Capital of the World.

And what railroads did for Ocean City vacations in the 19th century, bridges accelerated in the 20th. In 1952, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge offered quick, direct access from Baltimore and Washington.    In 1964, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel opened a direct connection to the Virginia Tidewater region. In a few short years, Ocean City, Maryland, established itself as the favorite resort for visitors from all over the eastern seaboard.

Today, Ocean City stretches along 10 miles of beautiful beach from the Inlet to the Delaware state line. Our classic wooden boardwalk offers nearly 3 miles of food, games and shopping. The Roland E. Powell Convention Center is a highly popular site for meetings of all sizes. And with more than 9,500 hotel rooms and 21,000 condominiums, there are accommodations for every need and taste.

Whether you’re looking for a fun family weekend at the beach, 17 outstanding golf courses, world-famous sport fishing or a weekend getaway, Ocean City delivers everything you desire ASAP. See for yourself and try out one or all of the ten must-dos while you are visiting Ocean City, MD.  Every time I have gone up to Ocean City, one of the things I love to do is go parasailing (each time going higher than the time before.

Ocean_City_MD_Boardwalk_August_2009_1

1) Hit the boardwalk.  At just under three miles, the Ocean City Boardwalk is a perfect family bike ride, an invigorating walk or run, or a relaxing tram ride. At night, the boardwalk comes to life with rides, arcades, performers and so much more; 2) Indulge in our culinary delights.  Ocean City restaurants serve up fresh seafood, boardwalk fries, Maryland crab cakes, hot, fresh pizza, juicy Delmarva fried chicken, sweet saltwater taffy and some of the finest dining in the Mid-Atlantic; 3) Catch the sun’s ups and downs.  Sunsets are spectacular on the bay as the sun sinks down along the western side of the island. And a glorious sunrise on the Ocean City beach is worth getting up early for; 4) Go back in time.  Explore Ocean City’s Colorful history at the Life-Saving Station Museum, or take a walking tour of our historic downtown area; 5) Check out Assateague’s wild ponies.  The famous ponies are just nine miles from Ocean City, along with nature trails, deer, foxes and thousands of birds; 6) Do some serious shopping.  Hit our outlets, the boardwalk, Gold Coast Mall, boutiques or do some antiquing in nearby Snow Hill and Berlin; 7) Enjoy our nights of free family fun. In the summer there is a free family event every day of the week. Some of the events include: (a) Sundaes in the Park with free concert, fireworks and ice cream for a small fee at Northside Park; (b) Concerts on the Beach every Wednesday evening; (c) Free Movies Under the Stars Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; (d) Family Beach Olympics on Tuesday evenings; (e) Sunset Park Party Nights every Thursday; (f) Laser Light Shows on Sundays; and (g) Fireworks on Mondays and Tuesdays;  8) Explore the beauty of Northside Park. This 58-acre complex is Ocean City’s largest and most popular park facility. Play your favorite sport on our softball, baseball or soccer fields. Or pack a lunch, grab your family and enjoy some quality time at one of our lovely picnic sites. Northside Park is also home to playgrounds, a gazebo and walking paths; 9) Fore! Ocean City is home to some of the most scenic and challenging golf courses in the Mid-Atlantic region. Or if miniature golf is more your speed, you will find a number of fun courses in town; and 10) Plan your return trip to Ocean City ASAP. There’s so much to do, you’ll never fit it all into one visit. So scope out what you’d like to try on your next Ocean City vacation, and make your reservations now!

Ocean City, Maryland’s Boardwalk dates back to 1902 and is recognized as one of the best Boardwalk’s in the country. Featuring shops, eateries, amusements, night life and lodging, Ocean City’s Boardwalk blends history and culture with modern convenience and fun.

HOW LONG has the Ocean City Boardwalk been around? The Boardwalk, officially known as Atlantic Avenue, dates back to 1902, when several oceanfront hotel owners got together and constructed a wooden walkway for the convenience of their guests. At high tide, it was rolled up and stored on hotel porches. Around 1910, a permanent promenade was built. It ran about five blocks and was expanded to 15th Street in the 1920’s. After being leveled by a storm in March of 1962, it was rebuilt to its present 2.5 mile length, ending at 27th Street.

INLET INDIAN     Peter Toth sculpted this representation of the Assateague Indian and presented it to the people of Maryland as a gift in 1976. It is carved of 100-year old oak. The Assateague were a sub-tribe of the Nanticokes. Toth has donated a totem to each of the fifty states.

atlanticcitysteelpier19101PIER BUILDING     Erected around 1926, the current pier building stands in the same location as the first pavilion, which was finished in July 1907. Facing the entrance to the city pier, the pavilions have been a focal point for entertainment and commercial activity since the early twentieth century. The extant two-story, nine-bay by five-bay frame building is enhanced by tapered pilasters that define the corners of the structure as well as the principal elevation. Ocean City’s neoclassical pier building is the only example of entertainment-related seaside architecture in Maryland. The building’s second floor was originally a ballroom.

The 1907 pavilion had a long arched roof with large, round-arched windows lighting the first and second floors. It contained a dancing pavilion, skating rink, bowling alleys, pool room and refreshment booths.

OCEAN CITY LIFE-SAVING STATION MUSEUM     The early history of the lifesaving service in Ocean City dates from 1878, when the first station was built on the periphery of the resort community between North Division and Caroline streets. The station was erected with its gable-front doors facing the ocean.  In 1890-91 a large, two-story frame station was built in front of the earlier structure. The first station was left freestanding and was used to house a lifesaving boat. Later, the old station was connected by a hyphen and converted for use as a service wing. The station was enlarged again in 1912-13, with a story-and-a-half wing. In 1977 the station was moved from Caroline Street to the inlet and converted to a city museum. It is the only extant station of its type in Maryland. The present color scheme, with white walls, green trim, and a red roof, dates from the years when the building was operated by the Coast Guard.  The frame station is sheathed with a combination of board-and-batten and German siding. Distinctive original features include the king-post truss stick decoration within the eaves and the rooftop observation tower on the south end of the station. The interior retains much of its beaded board walls and ceilings.

UNITED STATES COAST GUARD TOWER     Erected in 1934-35 to aid the coast guard in their lifesaving services as well as a sentinel for German U-boats during WW II. It is the oldest observation tower still standing on Maryland’s seashore. It is a five-story, braced metal structure. The platform cabin is not open to the public.

Historic Hotels of Note:   atlantic_hotel_old_1910(1)  ATLANTIC HOTEL     The Atlantic Hotel has long been a fixture in Ocean City. It was one of the first hotels to offer accommodations to the public. The current, three-story, H-shaped frame hotel is an early twentieth century replacement of the Victorian hotel that burned in December, 1925. The boardwalk elevation of the hotel is dominated by a single-story brick commercial front erected during the last thirty years. Despite the disfigurement of the east front, the Atlantic Hotel is one of the most prominent old hotel structures left in OC. Subtle period details such as broad hip roofs, corner pilasters, exterior brick chimneys, and six-over-six sash windows contribute to the early twentieth character of the buildin.

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(2)  LANKFORD HOTEL     The Lankford Hotel is one of the best-preserved of the old hotels to remain in Ocean City. The colossal Tuscan-columned beach-front facade has remained intact. The third floor porch, sheltered by an extension of the hip roof, provides an elevated and protected location from which to enjoy the ocean view.   Construction of the three-and-a-half story Lankford Hotel is dated to 1923-24. Mary B. Quillen built and operated the hotel. In honor of an inheritance from her aunt Amelia Coffin Lankford, Mary Quillen named the hotel for her. Ownership has remained in the family; (3)  BEACH PLAZA HOTEL     Built in 1954 by Ethel Griffin Kelley and her son Harry Kelley, a former mayor of Ocean City. Richard Nixon and his family spent many vacations here. Bryce and Shirley Phillips have owned and operated the hotel since 1970; (4) COMMANDER HOTEL     The current Commander Hotel was built in 1998 on the site of the original Commander, built in 1929-30 by Minnie Lynch. For many years this hotel was the northernmost hotel in the city, and marked the end of the boardwalk. It
remains in the Lynch family; (5) HARRISON HALL HOTEL     The Harrison Hall was built by G. Hale and Lois C. Harrison in 195l. It was the last of the large resort hotels to be built. It remains in the Harrison family; (6) Santa Maria MOTEL     The Santa Maria is Ocean 1565684_15_zCity’s first Motor Hotel. In 1956 WiIllye Jones Ludlam financed the construction of this three-story, poured concrete hotel and restaurant with a personal loan as no bank would accept the risk of a mortgage on this radical hospitality concept. The location was also considered too far north to be successful. The old hotels were focused inward, with common rooms for dining, registration, and socializing. The new hotels catered to those arriving by automobile and were focused on the exterior; no common spaces inside and individual balconies on the outside. The low-slung appearance of the motel, with its flat roof and clean stuccoed exterior with minimal architectural decoration, points to the Art Moderne movement in twentieth century architecture. The property is still owned and operated by Mrs. Ludlam’s descendants; and (7)   THE SEASCAPE     The Seascape was built in 1954. It was the first motel built in Ocean City. The swimming pool was originally built on the ocean-front. During the storm of March 1962 the ocean waves pushed the pool through what was then the Ocean Room Restaurant and deposited it on the west side of the building (where it remains).

TRIMPER’S CAROUSEL     One of the oldest fixtures on the boardwalk is the carousel at Trimper’s Amusements, in continuous operation since its 1912 installation. It is the country’s oldest continuously operating carousel. Featuring two tiers of elaborately carved and painted animals, this Herschel-Spellman carousel dates from 1902. A multi-sided screen of painted panels and lights disguises the center pivot and power source. The entire carousel is sheltered under an octagonal metal post structure distinguished by a row of paired twelve-pane clerestory windows.  This carousel is amazing and it is definitely worth riding on, no matter what your age.

Kathy Kiefer

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