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The History of Ocean City, Maryland
It all started when, according to legend, Isaac Coffin built in 1869 the first beach-front cottage to receive paying guests.
People came by stage coach and ferry. They came to fish off the shore, to enjoy the natural beauty of the Atlantic Ocean pounding against the long strip of sandy beach, to collect seashells, or just to sit back and watch the rolling surf.
Whether he knew it or not, Isaac Coffin's Inn began a new era.
Soon other boarding houses were built on the strip of sand. The activity attracted some prominent businessmen from the Eastern Shore, Baltimore and Philadelphia.
They came not so much to visit as to survey this attractive barrier island. A decision was made to develop it and 250 lots were cut into it. The corporation stock of 4,000 shares sold for $25 each. It was a good investment.
The Atlantic Hotel opened July 4, 1875. Besides the beach and ocean it offered dancing and billiard rooms to the visitors of its more than 400 rooms. By 1878 tourists could come by railroad from Berlin to the shores of Sinepuxent Bay. By 1881 a line was completed to the shore.
Prior to 1870, what is now Ocean City, Maryland, was known as "The Ladies Resort to the Ocean". Today it is one of the east coast's most popular resorts.
Ocean City is in Worcester County, Maryland. It is the only part of the state that fronts the sea. The county is connected to the Chesapeake Bay via the Pokomoke River.
The county was settled primarily by Eastern Shore Virginians in the latter part of the 17th Century. The first white man came under a French flag in 1524. Giovani de Verannzo, a Florentine explorer, landed in the approximate area of what is now Chincoteague Bay.
Initial plans were for the 50 acres to be called Arcadia to be developed as the city of Baltimore. It was to be a harbor port located on Indian River in what is now Delaware. Such plans never materialized.
The history of Worcester County is full of territorial changes dating back more than 400 years. Born a few years after the American Revolution, the county at one time belonged both to Delaware, and to Somerset County, Maryland.
The Ocean City Inlet was formed during a powerful storm in 1933. Engineers took advantage of nature's intervention and made the inlet at the south end of Ocean City permanent. The inlet eventually helped to establish Ocean City as one of the world's great fishing ports as it offered easy access to the fishing grounds of the Atlantic Ocean.
Wind and surf continually change the coastline piers and woodland once standing on the barrier island's bayside are now projecting from the dunes on the ocean side. As the inner shoreline increases, it moves closer to the mainland, while the outer shoreline erodes away by the pounding surf, strong tides and yearly storms.
A few years ago, Ocean City underwent a multi-million dollar beach restoration program in an attempt to slow the westward migration of its beaches. The program pumped tons of sand from offshore and deposited it onto the beach. A duneline was also re-established in front of Ocean City's building line.
Ocean City extends nearly 10 miles from the southern inlet to the Delaware line. The strip now supports hotels, motels, apartment houses and condominiums.
The southern end is filled with amusement parks, boardwalk amusements and cotton candy, still has the aura of an old seaside resort. But as you move north up the coast, the scenery changes to that of a more modern resort.
Rapid expansion of Ocean City took place during the post-war boom. In 1952, with the completion of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Ocean City became easily accessible to people in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.
In 1964, with the completion of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, a whole new pathway to the south was opened. Ocean City became the playground of one of the largest vacation areas of the east.
By the 1970s, big business flourished and gave birth to the construction of more than 10,000 condominium units, creating a spectacular sight of high-rise apartments that assured every investor of a glimpse of the ocean and pounding surf.
Today, Ocean City continues to spread westward across the bay and toward Berlin and Ocean Pines. No longer a quaint resort, it still affords hundreds of thousands of vacationers an escape from their everyday lives.
Ocean City, Maryland Beach Rules & Regulations
- No alcoholic beverages or glass containers on beach.
- No bonfires without written permit from the Fire Marshall's office.
- No dogs permitted on beach or boardwalk from May 1 to Sept. 30.
- No sleeping on beach from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
- No music loud enough to disturb other people on beach.
- Bike riding permitted on boardwalk from: 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Memorial Day-Labor Day; from Labor Day to Sept. 30 bike riding permitted from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekends.
- Skateboarding allowed only in city skateboard rinks.
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