The History of Ocean City
Ocean City and Worcester County are the only part of the state of Maryland to touch the sea. The area was settled shortly after the American Revolution by Eastern Shore Virginians.
According to legend, Ocean City began its path towards becoming a resort in 1869 when Isaac Coffin built the first cottage on the beach to have paying guests. Before Isaac Coffin, the area was merely referred to as “The Ladies Resort to the Ocean”.
In those days, people traveled to Ocean City by stage coach and ferry. It wasn’t long before other boarding houses were built on this ten mile strip of sand. The new attraction soon brought prominent businessmen from the Eastern Shore, Baltimore and Philadelphia, but these businessmen were not on vacation. They were looking for an opportunity. They decided to develop and 250 lots were cut into the barrier island. There were 4,000 original shares and each sold for $25 each. It was a good investment.
The first luxury hotel was opened July 4, 1875. The Atlantic Hotel featured billiards and dancing, and boasted over 400 rooms. A railroad to Berlin was completed in 1878, and the line went all the way to the sand in 1881.
In 1933, a severe storm formed what is now the Inlet. Engineers decided this inlet would make for easy acces to fishing in the Atlantic Ocean, and they decided to make the south end inlet of Ocean City permanent.
Due to surf and wind, the island is gradually moving westward, and if nature has its way, in hundreds of years, Ocean City will no longer be an island but will instead be connected to the mainland. Millions of dollars have been poured into the sand to prevent the slow erosion of the shoreline.
In 1952, post-war America rapidly completed the Chesepeake Bay Bridge, and suddenly Ocean City was readily available to everyone along the Baltimore-Washington corridor. In 1964 the Bay Bridge Tunnel was completed, and a path for potential southern visitors was made.
Throughout the 70’s, Ocean City flourished with more than 10,000 condominiums built. Within just a few years, condo row and its spectacular high-rise ocean view had been created. Ocean City now has all the makings of a modern resort in the north end of town, while the south end still boasts an old town aura.
Ocean City has changed a great deal in the 130 years since Isaac Coffin opened his first cottage. It has extended from a few cottages between 1st and 9th street to hundreds of high rise condominiums reaching all the way to 145th Street. The Boardwalk has grown from a few wooden boards that were laid in the sand each morning and picked up each night to a concrete-based, wooden-topped permanent fixture that features a variety of shops, eateries, and other attractions. It seems the one thing that hasn’t changed is the main attraction of Ocean City. The fresh, clean smell of the salt air, the unparalleled feel of sand between your toes, and the mesmerizing view of the ocean.