When’s the last time you strolled the Prom? It’s a tradition synonymous with Seaside, thanks to the 1.5- mile paved, accessible walkway that stretches the length of town from Avenue U to 12th Avenue. The historic Prom celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2021, which is cause for celebration for locals and visitors alike.
“It’s always been a part of Seaside, and I think the most important part, because so few towns have that beautiful walk along the ocean,” longtime Seaside resident and local historian Gloria Stiger Linkey says.
Marking its 100th anniversary during a turbulent time in history, know that The Prom has already stood tranquil witness to a world war, previous pandemics and the eruption of Mt. St. Helens just 85 miles to the east.
The path began as a boardwalk built in 1904 that connected to Pacific Pier, a wooden pier that jutted into the ocean. At the time, Seaside’s beach was shorter than the 800 feet of sand it is today, so the boardwalk also acted as a seawall. In those days visitors came by train, and fathers returning to work in Portland each week helped the Monday route earn the nickname “Daddy Train.”
In 1920 the boardwalk, which was in constant need of repair from ocean damage, began to be replaced with the concrete walkway that exists today. The Turnaround marks the former spot of the pier, which was destroyed for good in 1914. “For building this thing, they used horse teams to transport concrete and rock,” says Dale McDowell, Seaside’s public works director. “A majority of the work was manual labor, with men working for 15 cents an hour.”
There were no concrete plants when the Prom was being constructed, so cement had to be mixed on-site. This past year, public work crews stripped the Prom of its coatings down to its original concrete and found round rock, large air pockets and even a free-floating wooden board. It left McDowell with a series of questions. “Did their foreman say, ‘You can’t get that now, you’re just going to have to leave it’?” he says. “What did they make their cement out of? How did they crush their rock?”
Some details may be lost to time, but others remain strong in the memories of locals. From 1937 to 1947, Stiger Linkey lived in a house along the Prom. Without a television, her entertainment was her window. She sat transfixed as men walked by in suits and ties, arm in arm with women in shirtdresses and legs painted to look like nylons. Everyone wore a hat and gloves. “It was kind of a social event,” she says. “Everybody walked the Prom on a Saturday night. They’d walk downtown to the Turnaround, down Broadway, look at everything and come back.”
She remembers visiting the natatorium, an indoor saltwater pool for winter swimming, and covering up her home’s windows during World War II for fear of attack. She stood on the Prom and watched from afar as the Japanese bombarded Fort Stevens, 14 miles north near Astoria.
“In the next 100 years, I think there will be some changes [to Seaside] and there will be some parts that will always stay the same,” Stiger Linkey says.
One thing she hopes doesn’t change is the Prom. With its panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and vibrant mix of classic and newer businesses, experiencing The Prom is one of the Coast’s most enduring traditions. Today The Prom remains a great path for a morning jog, an ideal spot to post up for a sunset and the perfect place for a stroll with those you love — and looks to remain so for generations to come.
Join the Great Prom Centennial Sweepstakes in 2021!
We’re so excited for the Prom centennial that we want to give folks like you who come visit the chance to win prizes. Here’s how it works:
1. Spend the night in Seaside. Hotel, motel, home stay, camping or RV — they all work.
2. Stop by the Visitors Bureau (7 North Roosevelt) at the intersection of Highway 101 and Broadway. We’ll give you a one-of-a-kind holographic centennial sticker to place in your commemorative Prom centennial booklet.
3. That’s it! By picking up a centennial sticker, you are entered to win. And here’s the kicker: You can visit four times during the year and get up to four stickers, which means four chances to win.
All participants will receive lifelong memories. Quarterly — on Apr. 1, 2021, July 1, 2021, Oct. 1, 2021, and Jan. 1, 2022 — one grand-prize winner pulled from all entries during the preceding three months will receive:
2-night stay at The Seashore Inn (located right on the Prom)
$50 gift card to Maggie’s On The Prom
$50 gift certificate to the Seaside Carousel Mall
Free medium surrey bike rental from Prom Bike Shop (one hour)
Family pass to the Seaside Aquarium (good for up to 6 people)
2-pound bag of taffy from Rascals
Seaside souvenirs such as T-shirts and buttons from the Visitors Bureau
The Prom is a great place to experience the change of seasons — the light, the storms, the sea life — that are only revealed on repeat visits. Come in four different seasons, stop by the Visitors Bureau to get your Prom centennial sticker and you’ll be entered into each quarterly drawing.
For more, including a self-guided historic-homes walking tour, pick up a limited-edition Prom centennial booklet at the Visitors Bureau or visit SeasideProm.com.