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 wife Elizabeth after their marriage ended. She managed Dale’s Esso from 1943 to 1953 and pumped gas, checked oil and washed windshields in an era when that type of work was rarely attempted by a woman.
When Mrs. Dale’s health began to fail, she leased the station to Burton Birch. He successfully ran it for another 30 years until the building was demolished and the land developed to become an entry park.
Today a fountain containing a white marlin sculpture occupies the former site of Dale’s Esso.
Photo courtesy Sue Byrd
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
Rolling chairs were a familiar sight in Ocean City in 1920s and 1930s and were an early version of today’s Boardwalk tram. Many college students helped pay their tuition by pushing tourists up and down the Boardwalk in those wicker chairs on wheels. Rolling chairs originated in Atlantic City, N.J. and quickly made their way south. Dr. Francis Townsend, Sr. … Continue reading
Spiro Agnew, the 39th vice president of the United States under Richard Nixon, was a frequent visitor to Ocean City for over three decades. He maintained a second home in the resort for many years. In the year following his forced resignation from office, Agnew could be seen playing tennis on the local courts or dining with friends in Ocean … Continue reading
Ocean City looked much different in this aerial photo taken in 1946 between 14th and 15th streets. The large building in the center was the original Commander Hotel before its second wing was added and the vacant space to its left is today the site of the Beach Plaza Hotel and its adjoining parking lot. The building to the left … Continue reading
Fashions in the 1890’s and early 1900’s were far more formal than what can be seen in Ocean City today. In that era, people dressed up to stroll on the Boardwalk. Men wore hats and suits — or at least a coat and tie — and women wore long skirts, fancy hats and long sleeved blouses. Many of the ladies … Continue reading
The Seaview was constructed in the World War I era on the Boardwalk between 3rd and 4th streets. More of a boarding house than a full service hotel, the Seaview offered both rooms and apartments to summer guests. The frame three-story building was built on pilings and survived many storms including the famous March Storm of 1962. The Seaview was … Continue reading
A railroad once played an important role in the development of Ocean City. The railroad era began in 1876 and lasted for 57 years. It was the primary form of transportation as well as the major supply line for the resort before the automobile bridge opened in 1919. During that period everything of substance was shipped into Ocean City by … Continue reading
The Kaye Hotel was built by Marie Kaye Kinnamon on the corner of 6th Street and the Boardwalk in 1927. Following her death and the subsequent sale of the property, the name was changed to The Hotel Normandy prior to the 1945 season — most likely to honor the D-Day landings in Normandy the previous summer. The Normandy catered to … Continue reading
James B. Caine (1922-2006) was one of Ocean City’s legendary figures and the man most responsible for the development of the northern part of town. He dredged and filled the marshlands along the bayside in the late 1960s and built lagoons and bulkheads which today give the uptown area much of its character. In the words of former Mayor Roland … Continue reading