Some visitors to Ocean City wonder why Philadelphia Avenue is much wider than Baltimore Avenue in the “old downtown” near the Route 50 Bridge. The reason for this difference is that beginning in 1903 Philadelphia Avenue was the site of railroad tracks extending from today’s North 2nd Street to what was once South 7th Street (now under water) where trains served the former commercial pound fishing camps. In the early 20th century, the finer homes were built along Baltimore Avenue because the ash, soot and noise from the railroad made Philadelphia Avenue (unpaved in those days) a less desirable place to live.
On Aug,. 23, 1933, a hurricane created the Inlet and washed out everything below South 2nd Street. It separated Assateague from Ocean City, destroyed the railroad bridge and ended train service to Ocean City forever. Because much development had occurred by that time along both sides of Philadelphia Avenue, it made sense to remove the tracks from the center of the street. This created a wide boulevard and a future blessing as automobile traffic doubled within the next two decades with the opening of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and the increase in tourism it brought.
Photo of Philadelphia Avenue circa 1925 courtesy of Helen Clark Raber