The Times and Tides of Ocean City, Maryland
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The Mayors of Ocean City
1894-1918
Visit City Hall at 301 Baltimore Avenue to view "The People's Choice" Exhibit in its entirety.

Ocean City was founded in 1875 by the Atlantic Hotel Corporation with the building of the Atlantic Hotel. By 1879 key buildings were set in place: the Catholic Church, the U. S. Life-Saving Station, summer cottages and, most importantly, a railroad that serviced the town.

Numerous shipwrecks near Ocean City prompted the United States Life-Saving Service to build a station house on the edge of the village at Caroline Street in 1878.

Many of the investors of the Atlantic Hotel Corporation also owned stock in a railway company. They realized that transportation to a new resort was essential, and that Ocean City would not develop without this rail system.

Nineteen years would pass before Ocean City had a governing body. The Atlantic Hotel had declared bankruptcy, and the Sinepuxent Beach Corporation would take over the town.

The stockholders of the Sinepuxent Beach Corporation were Ocean City's first mayors. None resided in Ocean City, but all were wealthy and held important positions throughout the state.

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William S. Wilson

William S. Wilson was Ocean City's first mayor. He served from 1894-1896. He was a politician and the State's Attorney for Worcester County. Wilson was a banker, speculator, traveler and a man of social graces. He was a troubled individual who ended his own life at age 45.



The mayors who followed William S. Wilson have literally faded from the pages of history.
Their contributions, to be sure, were beneficial to the growth of early Ocean City.
George M. Upshur, 1896
James Zeno Powell, 1898
Clayton J. Purnell, 1899
John F. Waggaman, 1902
William L. Carey, 1908





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Christopher S. Ludlam

Mayor Christopher S. Ludlam was a retired Keeper of the United States Life-Saving Service. He was a national hero who had been awarded the Gold Life-Saving Medal in 1888. Ludlam introduced commercial pound fishing, the economic backbone of Ocean City, to the town in 1896. His administration saw the village ravaged by an October 1903 Hurricane that laid waste to the southern part of town. During his term local news editorials by the Women's Christian Temperance Union labeled Ocean City as a place of hell fire and damnation, where their children were corrupted as they crossed over the bridge into the town.

Ludlam served as mayor from 1903-1908.
To read more about Christopher Ludlam


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William B. S. Powell presided as mayor from 1912-1916. He was a Keeper at both the Green Run and North Beach Life-Saving Stations located on Assateague Island.
Powell was the first President of the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company in 1905. He worked very hard to persuade those in power at Annapolis to make Ocean City the summer capital of the State of Maryland, but to no avail.


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Mayor John B. Jones was a Keeper of the Ocean City Life-Saving Station and an owner of the Belmont Hotel. The first car bridge was constructed from the mainland into the resort during his administration. He was mayor from 1916-1918.

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