In what East Coast town did the world’s first boardwalk open in 1870?
Answer: Atlantic City
Among the East Coast’s most famous attractions, Atlantic City, New Jersey, was incorporated in May 1854. Although it was remote, developers linked the town to Philadelphia via the Camden and Atlantic Railroad, which was completed not too long after the city’s formation. With transportation readily available and plenty of beachfront property, Atlantic City quickly became a destination for Philadelphia’s real estate developers and summertime vacationers.
The first instance of Atlantic City’s boardwalk – now the world’s oldest and longest wooden walkway – was built in 1870. Approximately a mile in length, wooden planks were laid on the beach, far enough away from businesses to give Victorian visitors up-close views of the ocean without having to tread in the sand. The walk was designed in sections so that it could be taken down in the winter and re-installed in the summer.
Prior to the boardwalk being a permanent six-mile fixture, it had been rebuilt several times, mostly due damage from storms and hurricanes, particularly prior to 1900s. After four such occurrences, in 1896, engineers developed the walk using concrete and steel reinforcements. During the 20th century, portions of the boardwalk had to be restored due to the Great Atlantic hurricane of 1944 and Hurricane Sandy in 2013.