In the 1900s and up through the mid-1980s, most of Ocean City’s beaches were narrow and in some places nearly non-existent on high tide. There were areas (14th to 16th streets and the blocks between 21st and 25th streets) where breakers rolled almost to the Boardwalk and there was barely room to set up an umbrella.
Early attempts at beach preservation such as wooden jetties and stone groins had failed to halt erosion and every major storm was a threat to damage the Boardwalk and flood the town. The beach – Ocean City’s most important asset – was in trouble.
A massive attempt to save it began in 1986. Known as the Beach Replenishment and Hurricane Protection Project, sand was dredged from the ocean and pumped ashore. The beach was widened to 200 feet, a seawall constructed and the dunes rebuilt from 27th Street to the Delaware line. By October 1991, the project was successfully completed and the beach had been saved.
Photo showing beach erosion from 1973 courtesy of Ann Showell