How Time Has Changed The Ocean City Boardwalk

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While the hotels in Ocean City MD might be one of the things the oft-traveled resort town is most well-known for, they aren’t the only feature that captivates the interest of the yearly scores of vacationers that come here. Ocean City is also widely known for its rich history, represented in part by historic buildings like the old Life-Saving Station Museum, and probably best exemplified by the Ocean City Boardwalk.

The Boardwalk has been a fixture in Ocean City for as long as most people can remember, and throughout its many years, time has brought about significant change. Though stories of its founding and actual age vary (different accounts place it at 115 and 125 years old, respectively), one fact that isn’t obscure is the metamorphosis this local landmark has undergone since it was created.

History Of The Boardwalk

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So, when was the Boardwalk created? There are different stories, but one popular tale goes that the idea for the Boardwalk goes back to 1902, when hotel owners collaborated to create a convenient walkway for their guests to traverse Atlantic Avenue. At this time, it was more of a “promenade” than anything else. People would take to the walkway dressed in their most impressive finery, showing off to others in the vicinity (a trend that has certainly died off over the ages).

In the years that followed, they residents of Ocean City built a more permanent structure, as opposed to the movable promenade that marked the Boardwalk’s early years. This meant the Boardwalk now ran out to 15th Street, at least until a powerful storm leveled the area in 1962. After that storm, the Boardwalk was reconstructed, leading to the creation of the hotel and attraction-lined stretch visitors have come to know and love today.

How has that stretch of road changed since the early 1900s? We’ve already touched on the “promenade” days, but that’s not the only way the Boardwalk of old differed from its early 20th Century incarnation. You’ll note that the length of the Boardwalk has grown over the years as well. The original description put it at just a “few blocks” in length, but that changed in the 1920s, when expansion put it as far north as 15th Street. The post-storm expansion increased the length even further, and the current Boardwalk goes all the way up to 27th Street—a total of more than two miles.

The structure and construction of the Boardwalk have altered over the years as well. In its early days, it was just a collection of wood that hotel owners would stow away on their properties when the tides got too high. That morphed into the permanent wooden construction, and, post-storm, changed to incorporate concrete. The concrete years lasted for several decades, until it was slowly replaced with wood once again. There was even a time where the Boardwalk rested well-above the sand, providing a measure of shade for those wishing to escape the sun beneath its planks.

Beyond all this, though, the very fabric of Ocean City has changed, leading to the Boardwalk that visitors know and love today. Businesses have come and gone; governments, citizens, and attitudes have shifted, and the result has been something new and spectacular.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t still a few holdouts from the olden days left kicking, mind you. Popular snack stops like Fisher’s Popcorn and Thrasher’s French Fries are going on 80 and 90, respectively. One of the oldest attractions in town, Trimper’s Rides & Amusements, has been in business since 1887 (that’s about 130 years, in case you weren’t counting). The combination of old and new is part of what gives the Boardwalk its unique flavor—eyes always on the future, but with a deep connection to the past.

Now, in the present day, you’ll find that the Boardwalk is the epicenter of much of what’s hip and happening in Ocean City. In addition to the aforementioned snack shops and amusements, you’ll find excellent restaurants and bars, and abundance of street performers, beautiful resort hotels, and perfectly-positioned perches for you to sit and watch the waves. It’s also dog-friendly, so you can bring your canine companion along for all the excitement the Boardwalk holds.

Hotels At Ocean City MD’s Boardwalk

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These are where you’ll want to be if you plan on checking out everything the Boardwalk has to offer up close. Amazing resorts like the Princess Royale offer more than just a great selection of rooms for guests to lay their heads in. They’re a great place to hold events like weddings, and will often have a vibrant array of restaurants and live entertainment as well. The best among Ocean City’s many hotels will even provide spa services and other amenities for their guests, so be sure to check them out before planning your visit to the Ocean City Boardwalk.