This upcoming Monday, is, THE BIG ONE. Before the sun begins to peak it’s rays above the horizon, before the rooster crows or the hound howls, and most likely, even before your first cup of coffee, anglers will have set out from Harbour Island, Ocean City on an adventure. An adventure for treasure. For these adventurers, like it has been for many years, the treasure they seek lies beneath the sea. But it is not gold or relics of old, it’s the creatures that live within it. The White Marlin. Known to be a rare and solitary species, it has been coveted by watermen since the Atlantic was the Atlantic. In the ol’ days this beautiful creature was known as Skilligalee (say that word out loud and you’ll want one too). People have always sought after this sailfish, for it’s meat, for the story, the adventure, and now they will come to Ocean City, MD for the riches that it could bring. Last year’s lone Skilligalee brought it’s capturer over $1,400,000.
OCMD is historically a fishing town. Back then, men would simply drag boats to the water’s edge and navigate through the surf. Imagine these salty fellas yelling ‘SKILLIGALEE!’ over pounding wind and rain. In 1933 a hurricane tore a hole in the land creating a passable inlet, thus bettering life and fishing chances in Ocean City, MD.
Here in Ocean City, MD there’s quite a bit of living history. You can enjoy many of the same things today, that people enjoyed 50 and even 100 years ago. Trimper’s Carousel, Fisher’s Popcorn and swimming in the Atlantic Ocean are just a few that come to mind. One that might not come to mind on first thought, but is very much a part of Ocean City’s history, is the town’s skatepark. THE OCEAN BOWL. The Ocean Bowl’s roots run deep down on 3rd street, so deep, that it is, in fact, the oldest Municipal Skatepark in the world!
Back in the 70’s, skateboarding was becoming increasingly popular. Being a surf town and considering the close relationship that surfing and skating share, skateboarding caught on quick here. Naturally, surfers would look to skateboarding when the winds blew the surf out. With the rise in popularity, and to the dismay of many of the public, city officials banned skateboarding in Ocean City. Many skateboarding supporters, led by legendary concerned mom Haystack Marlowe, attended the next council meeting pleading their case for a legal place to skate. Thus the idea of the Ocean Bowl was born and, with many thanks to the originators, in 1976 the park opened.
In retrospect, Ocean City, MD and the Delmarva coast was spared from the wrath of Hurricane Sandy. Especially when compared to the destruction and hardships it caused to New Jersey and New York. The ‘Frankenstorm’ that was Hurricane Sandy did destroy much of the iconic Ocean City fishing pier. However the pier will be rebuilt back to its former self in preparation of the 2013 summer.
An icon doesn’t just become one overnight. There has been a fishing pier, in Ocean City on that exact site for over 100 years. The first one being built in 1907. Over the years the pier has been home to a skating rink, bowling alley, theater, dancing pavilion, pool room and ballroom. Now it is home to some of the best Mid-Atlantic fishing along with spectacular views of Ocean City and Assateague Island. It is great news to hear that the OC Fishing Pier will be rebuilt for the summer 2013 season!
If you have not seen the historically documented movie Seabiscuit, or do not know the significance between Ocean City and the horse races then you do not understand how important Glen Riddle is to the surrounding area. Do not worry for there is still hope! As I sat down with Rob McDonald I was not expecting to get a history lesson on how famous Glen Riddle is.
McDonald has been the head pro at Glen Riddle for four years. In his prior years in the profession he has worked at courses in Miami and Baltimore. While speaking with him he explains why he believes the course cannot be compared to the other ones within the area.
“This is a unique property, and in my opinion the best one. I think the history to the place is excellent; the horse racing history is great.”
Tucked away next to the bus station on the corner of South Division and Baltimore Ave, Henry’s Hotel was built in 1895 in a time when Ocean City was deeply segregated.
It’s astounding to think there was a time when music legends like Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Count Basie and Louis Armstrong came to Ocean City, performed in major hotel ballrooms yet were not permitted to sleep in the same hotels where they performed. Instead they stayed at Henry's Hotel.
"I remember coming here as a little boy. There's a lot that's symbolic about the old hotel surviving all through segregation up to now when so much has changed."
Ocean City has come a long way in the past 117 years since this hotel was built and today you see people of all colors enjoying the boardwalk and beach. As long as this cultural landmark stands it’s a reminder of how far we’ve come as a town and as a nation.
Find out more about the history (and possible future) of Henry’s Hotel or some of the other African-American landmarks in the Ocean City area.