The Alaska Stand was founded by Benjamin Givarz in 1933 on the Boardwalk at Wicomico Street. Not only did Mr. Givarz overcome economic problems associated with the Great Depression but also lost a prime week of the tourist season that year to the hurricane that created Ocean City’s Inlet. The Alaska Stand survived both to become a local icon.
The Alaska Stand took its name from a homemade concoction called a “Frozen Alaska” where a slab of ice cream on a stick was dipped into warm chocolate. Other popular items included hot dogs, hamburgers and a variety of fresh fruit juices.
A second location opened on 9th Street in 1968 and the Wicomico Street stand changed ownership in the mid-90s and is now known as The Atlantic Stand. The Alaska Stand remains a Boardwalk tradition at 9th Street — still in the Givarz family for over 82 years.
Photo courtesy Bob Givarz
Ocean City’s motel industry developed in the mid-1950s following the openings of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and the desire of young families for lodging that was casual, inexpensive and that offered easy on-site parking. Within a decade, the vacant land between 15th and 33rd streets became known as “Motel Row.” Motel Row grew from a few initial motels — the … Continue reading
There have been some unique advertising devices that have called attention to Ocean City’s attractions over the years. Some of today’s most popular include Ripley’s shark in the pier building on Wicomico Street, the big pirate at Jolly Roger Amusement Park and the Batmobile parking beside Ocean Gallery on 2nd Street. One of the most famous landmarks was the giant … Continue reading
Eugenia’s Guest House was located on the Boardwalk between 5th and 6th streets and included a gift shop as well as rooms and apartments. When the building was damaged in the March Storm of 1962, owner Eugenia Palmisano took out a renovation loan using both the cottage and a 50-foot boat as collateral. She sold the building in 1966 and … Continue reading
Norman Webb, better known as Boardwalk Elvis, is an Ocean City icon. One of the town’s most popular and recognizable personalities, Webb began walking on the Boardwalk in the mid-1960s with a huge boom box on his shoulder, which he later changed to a cassette player. He began dressing like Elvis Presley in the 1970s and became so popular that … Continue reading
The Paddock was one of Ocean City’s most popular nightclubs for 60 years. Built by Gabby Mancini, Sr. on the corner of 18th Street and Philadelphia Avenue in 1953, it featured live entertainment. The Saturday afternoon jam sessions were legendary and drew crowds to what in that era was considered “way up the beach.” The original building was partially destroyed … Continue reading
Local kids used to earn spending money for the pinball arcades and Boardwalk rides by selling seashells on the Boardwalk. Conch shells were the best sellers and were found on Assateague before the Verrazano Bridge made public access to the island easy in 1962. Comic books, handmade jewelry and “shark strings,” which were woven string ankle bracelets that claimed to … Continue reading
In 1878, the U.S. Life Saving Service opened a small station on Caroline Street in the tiny village of Ocean City. There was no Boardwalk or Inlet in those days and fewer than 50 year-round residents in the whole town. In 1891, the station was replaced with a larger 2 ½-story building that is now located at the Inlet where … Continue reading
Dr. Francis J. Townsend, Sr. was Ocean City’s first physician, serving the town’s medical needs from 1900 until his death in 1945. In an era when babies were born at home and the nearest hospital was 30 miles away, Dr. Townsend would ride his bicycle up and down the Boardwalk to call on his patients. It is reported that he … Continue reading
This week marks the 85th Anniversary of the 1930 opening of Ocean City’s famous Commander Hotel. Built by Minnie Brittingham Lynch, her son John and his wife Ruth, the Commander was the northernmost Boardwalk hotel for over two decades. The original building (pictured in 1934) contained 62 rooms and boasted the first elevator in Ocean City. A second wing was … Continue reading