SOUTH CAROLINA HISTORY (Myrtle Beach)

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ALIEARIA’S HOMETOWN: COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA

I GREW UP HERE AND MYRTLE BEACH HAS ALWAYS BEEN MY FAVE PLACE TO SPEND THE SUMMERS WITH MY FAMILY, FRIENDS AND MY OWN BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN.

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CLICK TO BEGIN

rom its earliest days as a sleepy logging village and the construction of its first hotel to the closing of the Pavilion and the revitalization of Broadway at the Beach, our area has experienced great change during the past 100+ years.

When the Burroughs and Collins Company of Conway helped build the first railroad line to a village called New Town near the turn of the 20th century, there’s no way anyone could have imagined the area — later named Myrtle Beach — would grow into one of the premier vacation destinations in the U.S. Exceeding even the wildest expectations for this once humble resort town, Myrtle Beach has expanded outward in every direction addin thousands of high-rise hotels, golf courses, eateries and attractions.

Since having developed a reputation as a place for families throughout the “golden era” of wholesome fun in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, the Grand Strand has spent the past several decades carefully walking the line between the traditions our area is known for and a desire to draw more visitors with bigger, better and newer attractions.

In an effort to pay homage to both the old and new of Myrtle Beach things to do, we’ve created this timeline looking back at the history of the area’s development and tourism. What’s below is by no means an exhaustive exploration of our history, but rather a snapshot collection — compiled from a variety of sources — of some of the key events, openings and closings that have impacted our beloved beach.

Introduction

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he first recorded history of the Myrtle Beach area begins with Native Americans, who were the first inhabitants of the area now known as Myrtle Beach. These tribes lived in the region for thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans and called it “Chicora” meaning “the land”.

1521

About 600 Spanish settlers led by Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon arrived at what is now Hobcaw Barony (just south of Myrtle Beach near Georgetown) with intentions of creating the first permanent settlement in North America. After a few months, the settlement failed and the remaining 150 settlers returned to Hispaniola.

Hobcaw Barony • Source: The Belle W. Baruch Foundation

1600

It is estimated that about 900 Native Americans lived in the area. River-dwelling tribes such as the Waccamaw and Winyah inhabited the coast from North Carolina’s Lake Waccamaw to Winyah Bay near Georgetown, S.C. A strong concentration of these tribes lived in the area now known as Dog Bluff, an area of Horry County near Aynor that serves as the tribal grounds for The Waccamaw Indian People of Conway today.

Waccamaw Indians • Source: Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge

1670

The first permanent settlement in the Carolinas is founded by English settlers in Charles Towne (now Charleston, S.C.). By 1716, an English/Native American trading post en route to Charles Towne was established at Hobcaw Barony.

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hough it now belongs to hundreds and thousands of different private landowners, businesses and corporations, much of the Grand Strand once belonged to a single person ( ).

In the early 1700s, a landowner named Robert Francis Withers Allston receives a 66,000-acre King’s grant for much of modern Myrtle Beach. Robert and his wife operated a plantation overlooking the tidal creek now known as Withers Swash before he became a state representative and the 67th governor of South Carolina.

1716-1718

With rice and indigo cultivation thriving at plantations across the area and large-scale shipments being traded and delivered by boat, the seas soon became full of pirates. The most famous of these was Edward Teach (a.k.a. Blackbeard) and his 40-gun ship The Queen Anne’s Revenge, which pillaged numerous vessels during “The Golden Age of Piracy” up until Teach’s capture in 1718.

Edward “Blackbeard” Teach • Source: Wikipedia

1721

The port city of Georgetown, the southernmost point of the Grand Strand, is founded. It is South Carolina’s third-oldest city.

1740

William Gause, one of the area’s earliest innkeepers opens a tavern for travelers along the old King’s Highway in the Windy Hill area in modern North Myrtle Beach. On his Southern tour in 1791, President George Washington visited the Carolina Coast ( ), spending time at William Gause’s inn and also stopping to spend the night at Brookgreen Plantation with owner Dr. Henry Collins Flagg and his wife, Rachael Moore Allston.

Gause Manor • Source: Brick Landing Plantation

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uring the 1800s, agriculture began to thrive throughout the Grand Strand, with the southern portions — then known as the Georgetown District —becoming prominent rice growing areas. It’s in the later part of the century that the first Eurpoean settlers arrive in the Myrtle Beach area, looking to extend an already-successful system of rice plantations.

1822

A strong hurricane hits the area — then known as Long Bay — and sweeps the house of Robert Francis Withers Allston into the ocean, drowning 18 people inside.

1840

By 1840, the Georgetown District produces nearly half of the total United States’ rice crop ( ) and the City of Georgetown becomes the largest rice-exporting port in the world.

1881

Burroughs & Collins Company of Conway —predecessor of modern day Burroughs & Chapin Co. — purchases land that would become Myrtle Beach from the Withers family. The area’s first post office, Withers post office, opens seven years later in 1888.

Franklin R. Burroughs & the F.G. Burroughs Steamboat • Source: Burroughs & Chapin Company Inc.

1899

The Burroughs & Collins Company receives a charter to build the Conway Seashore Railroad from the South Carolina General Assembly. The line is completed around the turn of the century connecting Conway to the beach.

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t the turn of the 20th century, the first trains began running from Conway to New Town on the new Conway & Seashore Railroad. This allowed Burroughs & Collins Co. to transport timber to and from the area near the beach and begin moving away from dealing in timber byproducts — such as turpentine — which was waning in value.

The line, which helped establish our area as a viable place for industry, was later called the Conway Coast and Western Railroad (1904) and became part of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad in 1911.

1901

The Seaside Inn, the area’s first hotel, is built. At that time, oceanfront lots sold for $25 ( ), and buyers received an extra lot if they built a house valued at $500 or more. The hotel is later demolished in the late 1920s.

The Seaside Inn • Published by W.K. Hamilton, Conway, S.C.

1907

The Horry Herald sponsors a contest to officially name the New Town area. Mrs. F.E. Burroughs wins the contest with the name “Myrtle Beach,” which she chose for the many wax myrtle trees growing wild along the shore.

1908

The first Myrtle Beach Pavilion is built. It is a one-story wooden structure that was constructed as part of the Seaside Inn property. This structure would later burn to the ground and be replaced by a larger version.

A 100-year history of the Myrtle Beach pavilion. • Source: YouTube user Cathooker2

1912

The Burroughs & Collins Company’s beach development efforts are rolled into a new entity called the Myrtle Beach Farms Company.

Even as others such as John T. Woodside and Myrtle Beach Estates began to grab up much of the property around the area, Myrtle Beach Farms retained key portions of downtown — about 1,300 acres — including the Pavilion area and surrounding beach between Third Avenue North and Ninth Avenue North.

1914

The first road for automobiles, a sand road which runs through the area now known as Socastee, is built between Conway and Myrtle Beach. Later this year, the Town of Aynor in western Horry County is incorporated for the first time.

The first oceanfront road in Myrtle Beach, now known as Ocean Boulevard.

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s the “Roaring 20s” became a prosperous time for much of the United States, the first signs of what was to come began popping up around the Grand Strand.

As landmarks such as piers, hotels and golf courses came to be, the framework for a thriving resort town was laid during this decade.

1923

After the first structure was lost in a fire, the Myrtle Beach Pavilion is rebuilt in 1923. The two-story wooden structure is larger than the original and sits oceanfront between what is now 8th and 9th Avenues North downtown. It would be gradually improved over the years and was expanded in 1938 before being hit with another fire in 1944.

The second Myrtle Beach Pavilion as pictured in 1938.

1926

Ocean Drive Pavilion opens in North Myrtle Beach. In Myrtle Beach, the first iteration of 14th Avenue Pier in Myrtle Beach is built. Since its original incarnation the structure —which now is a popular restaurant and fishing spot — has been destroyed and reconstructed twice, including most recently after Hurricane Hugo in 1989.

1927

The “Granddaddy” of Myrtle Beach golf courses, Pine Lakes Country Club opens as Ocean Forest Golf Course & Country Club. The club originally was home to a 27-hole course, but it was changed to an 18-hole layout in 1946.

Also in 1927, the Pleasant Inn is built along Broadway Street in Myrtle Beach.

Pine Lakes Country Club swimming pool • Source: Brandon Plyler Sales Co.

1928

Chapin’s Department Store opens in downtown Myrtle Beach. Around this time the first Myrtle Beach High School is dedicated and a grass landing strip near the current Mr. Joe White Avenue & Seaboard Street begins to function as the area’s first airport.

Chapins Department Store, as pictured in the 1960s. • Source: Brandon Plyler Sales Co.

1929

Myrtle Beach’s first road, which still exists today along Highway 15 and Broadway Street, is paved with rock and asphalt.

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rowth in tourism and population continued at a steady pace throughout the 1930s, with many changes coming to the Myrtle Beach area late in the decade — including its official incorporation.

The downtown area also continued to develop with the addition of amusement park rides near the Pavilion area and a paved, concrete walkway replacing the former wooden boardwalk.

1930

One of Myrtle Beach’s first resorts, the Ocean Forest Hotel opens for business. The 10-story hotel cost nearly $1 million to build. The area’s first miniature golf course opens at the corner of U.S. 17 (Kings Highway) and 9th Avenue North.

The Ocean Forest Hotel • Source: Brandon Plyler Sales Co.

1931

Construction begins on Atalaya, an elaborate home built in the Spanish style of Moorish architecture by Archer and Anna Huntington. The castle, completed in 1933, is still open to the public inside Huntington Beach State Park.

Visitors enter modern day Atalaya at Huntington Beach State Park

1932

The Myrtle Beach Colored School is built. It is the first facility in the area dedicated to educating African-American residents.

A look at the history of the Myrtle Beach colored school. • Source: YouTube user Adam Emrick.

1935

The Myrtle Beach News newspaper begins printing. The paper would later merge with the Myrtle Beach Sun to become The Sun News, which remains the area’s only daily newspaper today and is now owned by the McClatchy Tribune company.

1936

As building begins to boom at the beach, area transportation gets a boost with construction completed on the Intracoastal Waterway and the opening of the Myrtle Beach Train Depot.

In addition, Second Avenue Pier is built and Myrtle Beach’s First Theatre, Ben’s Broadway Theater, opens.

The original Second Avenue Pier is shown in the 1950s (inset), and today’s Second Avenue Pier.

1937

One of the cornerstones of the downtown landscape for decades to come, Peaches Corner restaurant opens.

Around the same time, the Gloria Theatre (later called the Fox Theatre) opens on 9th Avenue North.

The original Peaches Corner (inset), named after the Peach family, and today’s Peaches Corner. • Source: Peaches Corner.

1938

Myrtle Beach is officially incorporated as a town ( ) with Dr. W.L. Harrelson serving as the first mayor. Though no one would have expected an eventual explosion of high-rise hotels and family-friendly attractions, signs of growth were already strong.

The same year, The Original Pawleys Island Rope Hammock Shop in Pawleys Island and Washington Park Racetrack open in Myrtle Beach.

The Original Pawleys Island Rope Hammock Shop

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n the 1940s, Myrtle Beach’s development as a recreational paradise took a back seat, as the tragic realities of World War II dominated much of the decade for people around the globe.

As the government began to use the new Myrtle Beach Airport is a training grounds, airplane crews, hangars and landing strips became the focus.

But despite the preoccupation with war, important developments took place locally during this period including the addition the area’s first highways, U.S. 501 and Kings Highway, as well as a new downtown pavilion.

1940

Kings Highway, an old trading trail used since the days of the Native Americans, is paved giving the area its first major highway.

Other additions include the first-ever Myrtle Beach Bike Week event held in the Murrells Inlet area and the Rainbow Court Hotel, which opens in Myrtle Beach.

1942

Myrtle Beach General Bombing and Gunnery Range — later known as Myrtle Beach Army Air Field and Myrtle Beach Air Force Base —is established as a training base for World War II. After the war ends it continues to be used as a front-line USAF base throughout the Vietnam War, Cold War and Persian Gulf War.

The entrance to the Myrtle Beach Air Force Base. • Source: Brandon Plyler Sales Co.

1944

The Bowery, a no-frills honky tonk bar opens in downtown Myrtle Beach. The bar has played home to many musical acts over the decades including future country music Hall of Famers Alabama from 1973 to 1980 ( ).

The “8th Wonder of the World”, The Bowery. • Source: Brandon Plyler Sales Co.

1946

The Chesterfield Inn opens in downtown Myrtle Beach. The once-popular oceanfront hotel was listed on the national Register of Historic Places in 1996, but was later removed and demolished to make way for Shark Attack Mini Golf and Hammerhead Bar & Grill.

The Chesterfield Inn in downtown Myrtle Beach. • Source: Sciway.net

1947

Horse racing is outlawed at Washington Park Racetrack, which once resided at the corner of Oak Street and 21st Avenue North (near the current Myrtle Beach Convention Center). The track featured a 5,200-seat grandstand and a one-and-a-half-mile, wooden-railed course that hosted horse, harness and later NASCAR racing.

Washington Park Race Track

1948

Several staples of the local landscape take shape as Gay Dolphin Gift Cove, Dunes Golf & Beach Club and Chapin Memorial Library open in Myrtle Beach.

The same year, Ye Olde Tavern in downtown Myrtle Beach is bought by Johnny Burroughs and renamed as the Ocean Front Grill. The bar, one of the area’s oldest is now known as Oceanfront Bar & Grill and has been by the same family for nearly 70 years.

The Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park opens after a traveling carnival in town for Conway’s Tobacco Festival signed an agreement with Myrtle Beach Farms to make its permanent home across the street from the old Myrtle Beach Pavilion. In 1949, The Myrtle Beach Pavilion building, which had been burnt down and been rebuilt several times, is reinforced with concrete built to withstand winds up to 150 mph.

Gay Dolphin Gift Cove

1949

The nickname “The Grand Strand” ( ) is coined by writer Claude Dunnagan as a title for a newspaper column.

Also, Springs Industries, owners of a local mill opens an oceanfront resort for its employees called Springmaid Beach Resort — the resort opens to the public in 1953.

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ntering the 1950s, the year-round population of Myrtle Beach had doubled over the past decade and with this growth in population came the expansion the of area’s infrasturcture.

Throughout the decade, as the country’s wealth and love of leisure expanded, rapid growth continued in the area with the addition of many tourism-based businesses including hotels, campgrounds, golf courses and restaurants. The most noticeable sign of this growth came late in the 1950s, when Myrtle Beach officially became a city.

1951

Two of the area’s longest-running events begin. The Sun Fun Festival is founded as a way to celebrate the beginning of the tourist season, while the first Canadian-American Days Festival is held to honor our many visitors from the Great White North.

1952-58

Miss South Carolina Pageant is held in Myrtle Beach with famous local author Mickey Spillane on the judges panel. Several of the winners in these contests went onto further success ( ) including Mary Griffin (1952), a 1st-runner up in Miss USA 1953 representing Myrtle Beach, Miriam Stevenson (1953), who won Miss Universe 1954 and Marian McKnight (1956), who was Miss America the same year.

Miss South Carolina winners (from top left): Joyce Perry (1951), Mary Griffin (1952), Miss Universe winner Miriam Stevenson (1953), Polly Suber (1954), Martha Chestnut (1955), Miss America winner Marian McKnight (1956), Cecilia Colvert (1957) and Gene Wilson (1958). • Source: Miss-SC.org

1953

Popular downtown eatery Mammy’s Kitchen opens for business in Myrtle Beach, while Surfside Pier is built in nearby Surfside Beach.

Mammy’s Kitchen • Source: MammysKitchen.com

1954

Hurricane Hazel ravages The Grand Strand, destroying many local businesses and wiping out several landmarks, including piers and portions of the boardwalk. In all, the storm killed 95 people in the U.S. and caused $420 million in total damages.

The same year, Sports Illustrated magazine created ( ) by a group of Time Magazine employees on retreat at Pine Lakes Country Club in Myrtle Beach.

The aftermath of Hurricane Hazel • Source: Wikipedia

1955

The Pad Shag Club in North Myrtle Beach opens. This popular hangout was a hotbed for teens and local nightlife, thriving during the golden age of “The Shag” (South Carolina’s official state dance). It was said that townspeople insisted that latticework be added over the lower portion of the building to prevent anyone from inadvertently seeing the risque moves happening inside.

The Pad & Fat Harold’s shag clubs • Source: KeepShaggin.com

1957

In a big year for Myrtle Beach, the town becomes officially designated as a city, with population growing to more than 5,000 residents.

The city is also featured on the cover of Saturday Evening Post — the first of two appearances — providing national exposure for the area as a vacation destination.

In North Myrtle Beach, the current Ocean Drive Pavilion structure is built.

North Myrtle Beach’s OD Pavilion in the late 1950s.

1958

Rambi Raceway dirt track opens. The raceway was later paved and renamed Myrtle Beach Speedway.

The Rivoli Theater opens on Chester Street in downtown Myrtle Beach on June 19, 1958. The first movie shown here was “This Happy Feeling” starring Debbie Reynolds.

Also, Ocean View Hospital opens in Myrtle Beach.

Tom Lupo, of Green Sea, S.C., the 1964 track champion races at Rambi Raceway. • Source: Tom Lupo Collection (SouthEastRaceplace.com)

1959

The Diplomat Family Motel opens on Ocean Boulevard. Though the three-story oceanfront motel pales in comparison to the beach’s more modern high-rises, it was recently renovated and remains in operation to this day.

The same year, construction begins on Surf Golf & Beach Club in North Myrtle Beach, which opens for play in 1960.

An old postcard featuring scenes from Surf Golf & Beach Club.

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s much of the rest of the U.S. was torn over civil rights and desegregation, Myrtle Beach was somewhat removed from this intense struggle. Though racial tensions were surely present throughout the decade, the area remained a family summer vacation spot — a place to get away from the worries of the world.

With many popular attractions already in place and the tourism business booming, the 1960s represented a “Golden Era” of sorts for the Grand Strand. Spring break saw crowds of teens flocking to town, while the first of June through Labor Day marked the true tourism season.

During the decade, the expansion of the Myrtle Beach golf industry was also a prominent development with the invention of the golf package, the creation of Myrtle Beach Golf Holiday in 1967, Myrtle Beach Farms selling off much of its farm land to make more-profitable golf courses, and the first of the area’s contemporary miniature golf courses being built. As the golf industry grew, so did tourism, beginning to stretch into spring and fall golf seasons, now known as “shoulder” seasons.

1961

Myrtle Beach Sun publisher Mark Garner purchases the Myrtle Beach News, merging the two publications into The Sun News. The publication remains the area’s only daily newspaper and is currently owned by the McClatchy-Tribune company.

A front page from The Sun News in 1992.

1964

Pirateland Adventure Park opens on the south end of Myrtle Beach. The park’s rides included one of the country’s first log flumes, a chair lift, a paddlewheel boat ride, a steam train ride and more. After being inspired by the lines of campers waiting to enter Myrtle Beach State Park, the adjoining Pirateland Campground opens in July 1966 with 75 water and electric sites and rates as low as $3 per night.

Crowds gather at the pirate ship at Pirateland Adventure Park (See more photos here).

1966

The area’s amusement options expand with the opening of Family Kingdom Amusement Park and Fort Caroline. Located in the Forestbrook area, Fort Caroline was as a wild west-themed park ( ), complete with a chair lift entrance, a large wooden fortress, shows featuring “attacking Indians” and a live music Pavilion which hosted acts such as The Shilos and Deep Purple. It operated throughout the 1950s and 60s.

Fort Caroline • Source: Myrtle Beach Remembered

1968

The single-screen Camelot Theatre opens on North Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach. The popular movie spot grew to two screens in the 1970s and three in the 1980s before being acquired and run by Carmike Cinemas until its closing in 1990.

The Camelot Theater • Source: CinemaTreasures.org

1969

One of the area’s longest-running radio stations 101.7 WKZQ-FM goes on-air. At the time the station operated out of the back room of AM rock station WGTR (now WRNN-AM 1400). Over the years WKZQ has had many formats, including Oldies, Classic Rock and Top 40, but is currently known as 96.1 WKZQ-FM “New Rock”. Also in 1969, The Garden City Pavilion Arcade opens in Garden City Beach.

Click to Listen to some vintage WKZQ audio from the 1980s • Source: YouTube user Kahuna Ric.

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s national tourism slumped under the effects of gas shortages and a crippling recession, the Myrtle Beach area still continued to grow throughout the 1970s.

Laying the foundation for the modern oceanfront landscape, the area’s first high-rise hotel — The Yachtsman — was built in 1971 as part of a boom that saw $75 million spent on new construction between 1970-75.

During this time land values skyrocketed, Myrtle Beach’s population tripled and many new golf courses, attractions and shops were built.

1970

The Astro Needle Amusement Park opens in downtown Myrtle Beach. This narrow park’s main attraction was a 200-foot-tall gyro tower ride ( ) with a rotating gondolda that provided amazing beach views. The park also featured the Space Monster dark ride, the Moonwalk, carnival rides and a large bumper car arena.

Also, The Ocean Forest Hotel, one of Myrtle Beach’s first resorts, closes in 1970 and is later demolished in 1974.

Astro Needle Amusement Park • Source: Myrtle Beach Remembered

1972

PirateLand Adventure Park closes, and is replaced in 1975 by Magic Harbour, a British-themed amusement park ( ). Memorable features of Magic Harbour included a distinctive lighthouse entryway, a chair lift, a Ferris wheel, antique cars and the Corkscrew, a looping roller coaster that would later be moved to the Pavilion.

Also in 1972, Myrtle Beach National Golf Course opens.

Magic Harbour Amusement Park • Source: Photo by Jim Doane

1975

Myrtle Square Mall opens for business in the heart of Myrtle Beach. In addition to being the area’s first mall, it was notable for its size (more than 440,000 square feet) and being home to the “World’s Largest Clock” at its center. Popular stores include Belk, Collins Department Store, Playhouse Toys, Coker’s and the Magic Cavern arcade.

Marvin’s Food & Games, an oceanfront restaurant and bar opens along the boardwalk in Myrtle Beach. The restaurant was open for 37 years until owner Marvin McHone retired in 2011, and it later was renovated to become Moe Moon’s.

Myrtle Square Mall • Source: Wikipedia.org

1976

The original Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum is built in downtown Myrtle Beach.

Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet hosts the inaugural Atalaya Arts & Crafts Festival.

1977

The Waccamaw Pottery company is founded. Offering home furnishings, housewares, bedding, cookware, china, and furniture, the company expanded throughout the South and Midwest in the 1980s and 90s and eventually sparked the construction of the Waccamaw Factory Shoppes in Myrtle Beach — the third-largest outlet mall in the U.S.

Water Boggan water park opens on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach. Among the first places in Myrtle Beach to offer waterslides, the park featured slides made of concrete and riders had to sit on padded mats to ride.

In nightlife news, Mother Fletcher’s nightclub opens in downtown Myrtle Beach, while The Back Alley Lounge, a former bowling alley in North Myrtle Beach, closes.

Waccmaw Pottery & Waccamaw Factory Shoppes in Myrtle Beach

1979

One of the area’s longest-running festivals, an annual community event called The Aynor Harvest Hoe-Down Festival, is held for the first time in September.

Also in 1979, the Sand Dunes Resort opens in Myrtle Beach.

The parade is a popular part of the modern-day Aynor Harvest Hoe Down Festival.

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ontinuing the building boom of the previous decade, the 1980s saw steady growth for the Myrtle Beach area, with many more oceanfront hotels beginning to shape the skyline we know today.

Attractions, golf courses and shops sprouted up like wildfire and it marked the beginning of two of the modern-day staples of the Myrtle Beach tourism draw — family-friendly variety shows and expansive shopping/entertainment complexes. While the shows took shape in 1980 with the opening of the first Calvin Gilmore Theater in Surfside Beach, the shopping landscape recieved an overhaul later in the decade when Barefoot Landing opened for business in 1988.

As a testament to the growth that had happened throughout the 80s, Myrtle Beach was recognized by American Demographics Magazine as the sixth fastest-growing metropolitan area in the U.S. in 1989.

1980

The first Atlantic Beach Bikefest is held in Atlantic Beach ( ), a small town surrounded by North Myrtle Beach. The event, held over Memorial Day weekend, has grown into the largest African-American bike rally in the United States.

Two staples of the local nightlife scene, 2001 Night Club & Entertainment Complex and Ocean Annie’s Beach Bar at Sands Beach Club Resort, open in the Restaurant Row area.

Inlet Square Mall opens in Murrells Inlet and two oceanfront hotels, Holiday Sands at South Beach Resort and Landmark Resort open in Myrtle Beach.

Rides Presents: Atlantic Beach Bikefest • Source: Harley-Davidson

1981

Openings include Studebaker’s dance club on Kings Highway, Downwind Sails Watersports in Myrtle Beach and Captain Benjamin’s Calabash Seafood in the Restaurant Row area.

Three popular events, the Little River Blue Crab Festival, Dickens Christmas Show holiday craft bazaar and the “Round The Fourth” Festival — now Conway Riverfest — are held for the first time.

Dancers compete in the National Shag Dance Championships at Studebakers dance club.

1982

Rock Burger Restaurant & Bar opens. This local hangout was known as one of the area’s only after-hours clubs for many years.

The Castle Dracula haunted house on Ocean Boulevard closes.

Several places have carried the Rock Burger moniker over the years, including a short-lived restaurant in 2014.

1983

Openings include Sands Ocean Club in Myrtle Beach and Oyster Bay Golf Links, just north of the border in Sunset Beach, N.C.

The Annual Craftsmen’s Classic Art & Craft Festival held for the first time and Magic Harbour Amusement Park closes.

The Craftsmen’s Classic Art & Craft Festival show takes place in late summer each year at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

1984

Pier 14 Restaurant & Lounge opens for business as a nightclub and a late night hangout, later becoming a restaurant under new ownership in 1986.

Other restaurant openings include Nibil’s Oceanfront Dining at Surfside Pier and Bodo’s German Restaurant in Myrtle Beach.

The National Shag Dance Championships are held for first time in Myrtle Beach and The Afterdeck Nightclub opens on Feb. 29, 1984.

This lonely fisherman has sat atop Pier 14 for many years.

1985

Myrtle Waves water park celebrates its inaugural season. Over the past 30 years, the park has grown from just a few slides to a 20-acre waterpark with popular slides such as the Arooba Tooba, Night Flight and Rockin’ Ray.

In addition, the Palace Resort and Aqua Beach Inn open in Myrtle Beach.

Clockwise From left: Original Myrtle Waves mascot Sunny the seal, Snake Mountain, Thunder Rapids, Lazee River and wave pool aerial. • Source: Myrtle Waves

1986

The Carolina Opry, the area’s longest running theater show ( ), opens in Surfside Beach. The show would later move to its current home, the Calvin Gilmore Theatre in Myrtle Beach in 1992.

The Ocean Forest Plaza and Beach Colony Resort hotels open in the “Cabana District” area of Myrtle Beach, while Embassy Suites Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Hotel and Resort opens at Kingston Plantation.

The Heritage Club golf course opens in Pawleys Island.

The original Carolina Opry building on U.S. 17 in Surfside Beach. • Source: The Carolina Opry

1987

A trio of hotels, Myrtle Beach Resort and The Breakers Resort and Bay Watch Resort open in Myrtle Beach.

Myrtle Beach Blue Jays Single-A Baseball Team plays its inaugural season.

Main Street North Myrtle Beach sees changes with the addition of Judy’s House of Oldies, a record store and gift shop, and the closure of The Pad, a long-running shag dance club.

In Conway, the Rivertown Music & Arts Festival held for the first time.

Breakers Resort on Ocean Boulevard in Myrtle Beach

1988

Barefoot Landing shopping and entertainment complex and Myrtle Beach Tours, a popular rental company for spring breakers, both open in North Myrtle Beach.

In Myrtle Beach, additions include Angelo’s Steak & Pasta and resorts including Atlantica Resort and Patricia Grand.

An aerial view of Barefoot Landing

1989

Hurricane Hugo hits the Grand Strand. The category 4 storm killed 27 people in South Carolina, left nearly 100,000 homeless, and resulted in $10 billion in damage overall, making it the most damaging hurricane ever recorded at the time.

One of the area’s most popular restaurants River City Cafe opens its first location in Myrtle Beach.

The first North Myrtle Beach St. Patrick’s Day Parade is held and Calvin Gilmore, owner of The Carolina Opry, opens a second show called The Dixie Jubilee also in North Myrtle Beach.

River City Cafe quickly made its mark on Myrtle Beach with huge, juicy burgers, and a casual atmosphere featuring license plates on the walls and peanut shells on the floors. • Source: River City Cafe

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he oceanfront landscape really came into shape in the 1990s, with construction crews working full-time to build many high-rise hotels, resorts, motels and condo complexes near the beach.

The addition of many live entertainment theaters would have dominated the attractions news of the decade if not for an ambitious $250 million project from Burroughs & Chapin Co. ( ), an entertainment complex that would come to be known as Broadway at the Beach. Though some considered it a gamble to try and draw visitors away from the beach, the complex soon became a hub of entertainment and tourism in the area, being named “Top Tourist Attraction” in South Carolina at the Governor’s Conference on Travel and Tourism.

Though growth and modernization continued to change the look of the Myrtle Beach area, there were efforts during this era to keep the “family-friendly” image of Myrtle Beach, including the infamous 1993 “thong ordinance” which threatened fines or jail time for swimwear that exposed any portion of the buttocks.

Early History Early History

The first settlers of ‘The Land’ The first settlers of ‘The Land’

18th Century 18th Century

Land grant helps area take Land grant helps area take shape shape

19th Century 19th Century

Rice plantations and railroad Rice plantations and railroad expansion expansion

Early 20th Early 20th Century Century

Railroads and roads pave the Railroads and roads pave the way way

The 1920s The 1920s

Pavilions, Piers, Pine Lakes & Pavilions, Piers, Pine Lakes & more more

The 1930s The 1930s

Myrtle Beach makes it official Myrtle Beach makes it official

The 1940s The 1940s

Local landmarks begin to pop Local landmarks begin to pop upup

The 1950s The 1950s

Myrtle Beach becomes a city Myrtle Beach becomes a city

1960s 1960s

The ‘Golden Era’ of Beach Fun The ‘Golden Era’ of Beach Fun

The 1970s The 1970s

Malls, amusements add to Malls, amusements add to tourism draw tourism draw

The 1980s The 1980s

Myrtle Beach’s popularity, Myrtle Beach’s popularity, skyline rise skyline rise

The 1990s The 1990s

Baseball, Broadway, Blues & a Baseball, Broadway, Blues & a theater boom theater boom

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Aliearia

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