Stay Eat Events Weather Beaches

Seaside Promenade History: Beginnings of an Oregon Coast Icon, Part I

Published 01/04/2018 at 4:45 AM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Seaside Promenade History: Beginnings of an Oregon Coast Icon, Part I

(Seaside, Oregon) – Does the Seaside Promenade begin at the northern end of town, at 12th Ave? Or does it start in the southern end, at Avenue U? (Above: the old wooden walkway at Seaside).

All that's a matter of perspective, of course. One thing is for sure: the Promenade at Seaside actually began in the 1920s. Or did it? Before that, the Oregon coast icon was a wooden boardwalk. Even earlier still, the seed of the Promenade was planted all the way back when Lewis and Clark visited here.

In some ways it's a Dr. Who-like timey-wimey sort of thing. That latter story will show up in Part II of this exploration of the Seaside Promenade's history. Here is Part I:

Indeed, what is often simply called The Prom is not only a prime attraction on the north Oregon coast but a literal walk through time with its architectural finds along its pleasantly scenic length.

The Seaside Promenade had its concrete beginnings – if you'll excuse the pun – in something made of wood. Tourism in this town goes back to about the 1890's, when trains were really the only mode of transport out here. There were no hotels at first. In fact, the majority of travel lodgings up and down the entire Oregon coastline were tents for the first few decades – really until the '40s. In Seaside, this was also true.


Hotel Moore and the Pacific Pier, around 1904. Note the length of the beach.

A little ahead of its time, the town got what appears to be its first hotel around 1900, called the Moore Hotel. Side note: this later became the grand Seasider Inn and the Hotel Seaside in later decades, then was torn down in the '80s to make way for the Shilo Inn Suites Hotel.

In 1904, they built a pier stretching from the Moore Hotel straight out into the sea, called the Pacific Pier. In 1908 came the precursor to The Prom: a walkway of wooden planks and railing known as the boardwalk. This construct stretched 8,010 feet down the length of the shoreline.

The wooden walkway and pier took off quickly, and a host of touristy businesses sprang up along its length and down Broadway.

The Pacific Pier, however, didn't fare so well. Having some structure jut out into the Pacific Ocean from any place on the Oregon coast is not a good idea. The pier was battered badly every winter by the storms this region is known for. It did not last long. By 1914 the people of Seaside had simply given up on its upkeep after each stormy season and let it disintegrate into the raging tides.

The pier gets roughed up by heavy seas, circa 1908.

By 1914, a precursor to the famed Turnaround was created, loosely called a “roundabout.” That year also saw the creation of a building called the Turn Around Building, part of which housed the Seaside Natatorium. This was an indoor hot salt water bath with quite a few luxuries and distractions for the time, including live music. These natatoriums were all the rage along the Oregon coast back then. Newport and Cannon Beach had one at the time. A burgeoning resort on Tillamook Bay called Bayocean had one as well.

Latest Coastal Lodging News Alerts
In Seaside:
Includes exclusive listings; check for specials now
In Cannon Beach:
Deals beginning now or soon
In Manzanita, Wheeler, Rockaway Beach:
Check each listing for specials
In Pacific City, Oceanside:
Deals begin soon
In Lincoln City:
Deals on rooms beginning now
In Depoe Bay, Gleneden Beach:
Specials start in September
In Newport:
Specials and deals beginning
In Waldport
New amenities offered; specials
In Yachats, Florence
Specials; lodgings not listed anywhere else

That bygone playground is a ghost of a ghost town: Bayocean failed before the start of the '20s and all remnants of it have been gone since the '70s.

Back in the days of Seaside's wooden walkway, the surf was not much more than 100 feet away. Look at old photographs of Seaside and you'll see it was a sloped beach – more like Gleneden Beach today. There wasn't nearly as much sand, and it only stretched a ways before ending in a rocky section that dipped off into the ocean.

These days, there is about 800 feet of flat sand, interrupted by the occasional foredune. That change happened quite abruptly.

The Seaside Promenade in its current state and its history are both tied to these changes. It was construction of the jetties at the mouth of the Columbia River that altered things so drastically. The south jetty began construction in 1895, and the northern jetty almost 20 years later. When both were finished around 1917, they greatly changed the movement of sand in the region, causing 2,000 feet of extra beach to be created in what is now Fort Stevens State Park, and more than 1,000 feet of sand to build up around Seaside and Gearhart.


Seaside's beach length in modern times: approximately 800 feet of sand to the tideline.

Weird North Oregon Coast Fact: Seaside would look just like Gearhart – all covered in massive dunes and beachgrass – if it weren't for purposeful intervention. Seaside, unlike Gearhart, tames its beach with giant construction equipment. The city of Seaside scours out a few tons of sand every year, preventing sand from blocking the access steps and keeping its surfline safer by allow a myriad of eyes on it from the oceanfront hotels.

All of that sandy expanse you now see built up quickly after the beginning of the jetties, apparently by the mid-20s.

Lodging in Astoria/Seaside - Where to eat - Seaside Maps and Virtual Tours Part Two of this historical exploration of Seaside is here.

Oregon Coast Lodging

 

More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....

 

Oregon Coast event or adventure you can't miss

 



Coastal Spotlight


LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

Thanksgiving Travel: Big Waves on Oregon Coast, Lower Gas Prices, High Traffic
Some stormy waves on the Oregon coast, lots of rain, a drop in gas prices and some half a million other Oregonians on the road
All About the Moon Jelly on Oregon Coast: Surreal, Translucent
They are known by the name Aurelia aurita, and they are boneless and brainless. Weather, science, kids
Three Charming, Atmospheric N. Oregon Coast Buildings You Have to See
You're walking all over history in the north Oregon coast region of Astoria and Warrenton, Rockaway Beach
Good Chance of Seeing 15 Meteors per Hour on Oregon Coast This Weekend
Portland, the southern Oregon coast and the Washington coast also have great chances
All of Western Oregon Under Air Alerts - Including Coast
The most serious is an air quality advisory due to smoke from California wildfires. Weather
Fishing Restrictions on Most of Oregon Coast's Upper Half
For all rivers and bays along the coastline from the Necanicum River (at Seaside) south to Florence
Blue Pacific Vacation Rentals, Lincoln City - Depoe Bay
Special: Only $160/Night, see offer code
Lincoln City Holidays: Central Oregon Coast Events for November, December
the central Oregon coast town lights up with the spirit of the season. Lincoln City events

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on BeachConnection.net
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright BeachConnection.net Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted

Oregon Coast Lodging
Rentals
Specials

Dining

Events Calendar

Oregon Coast Weather

Travel News

Search for Oregon Coast Subjects, Articles

Virtual Tours, Maps
Deep Details