Much like the rise of the motel in the 1950s, the growth of condominiums in the 1970s changed the look and lifestyle of Ocean City.
The first high-rise condo — the High Point South — was built by John Whaley in 1970 and within three years a stretch of beach in North Ocean City had become known as the “Gold Coast.” Over a mile of tall buildings towered over the beach and more restaurants, bars and shops sprang up to meet this new generation of property owners.
By 1973, high interest rates, overbuilding and the gas crisis combined to burst the bubble and the glory days quickly ended. Banks failed, developers went broke and sales dropped dramatically. The real estate market would eventually recover but there has never been another building frenzy like the Gold Coast condo boom of the early ‘70s.
Photo by Bill Fuhrer
The Ocean City Beach Patrol posed at Caroline Street in 1947 with their new torpedo-style life buoys. The Beach Patrol had returned to full force in 1946 following World War II and Bob Craig, center front, was appointed captain. He would continue in that position until 1987, a record of service unlikely to ever be broken. The buildings in the … Continue reading
Ocean City in 1915 was a small village with about 600 residents. Most of the men worked as commercial fishermen or on the railroad while the women managed the hotels and boarding houses. The tourist season ran from mid-June to Labor Day and there was no off-season. The hotels closed after Labor Day and the tourists went home — most … Continue reading
Many young Ocean City boys got their start in business selling newspapers in the years before CNN, Fox News and the Internet brought instant reporting to anyone with a television or smart phone. The cry of newsboys hawking their paper is a favorite memory of that long-age era. Baltimore papers, such as The Sun and the News-American, and Washington papers, … Continue reading
The Commander Hotel was built by the Lynch family in 1930. Located at 14th Street, it was the northernmost hotel on the Boardwalk until Harrison Hall was built in 1951. In the years before the Convention Hall, the Commander hosted many small conventions. The Commander was considered one of Ocean City’s most elite hotels and was famous for its dining … Continue reading
Phillips Crab House began as a small seafood carryout on the corner of Philadelphia Avenue and 21st Street in 1956 and quickly expanded to become one of Ocean City’s most popular restaurants. There was no more prestigious summer job for a girl in the 1960s and early 1970s than to be a waitress at Phillips. The prospective servers were handpicked … Continue reading
The original Morbid Manor was the ultimate “haunted house” with live actors portraying ghosts, goblins and ghouls of all shapes and sizes. It even featured a plane crash on the third floor of the spooky building located on the Fishing Pier at Wicomico Street and the beach. The screams of frightened visitors could be heard on the Boardwalk and across … Continue reading
The Midnight Football League was a popular activity for Ocean City’s summer workers in the late 1960s and the early 1970s. Young men from local establishments, such as Phillips Crab House, Frontier Town, the Ocean City Police Department and The Embers, played a rough and tumble brand of touch football for glory, beer and bragging rights. Held on Holland Island … Continue reading
For nearly 40 years, Dale’s Esso Center was the first thing people saw when entering Ocean City. The gas station at the foot of the Route 50 Bridge was one of just a handful of local businesses to stay open year-round in the 1940s and 1950s. William Dale started the business in 1941 but it was taken over by his … Continue reading
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge has done more to boost tourism than any oth-er factor in Ocean City’s history. Opened on July 30, 1952, the Bay Bridge replaced the antiquated ferry system across the Chesapeake Bay and provided quick and easy access from the Western Shore for those visiting Ocean City. The town’s summer population doubled followed the opening of the … Continue reading