Seaside Offers Walks Through Oregon Coast History
By Gary Hayes
Published: 07/25/2019  Updated: 08/06/2019

Seaside's Broadway Street, Prom and Turnaround have attracted visitors to Oregon's original coastal resort town since the 1920s, but their history goes back even earlier.

Seaside is one of the Oregon Coast's most walkable towns and two of its most popular areas for walking have histories dating back to the earliest days of visitors making the trek to Oregon's beaches. Walking down Broadway Street in Seaside or taking a stroll on the oceanfront promenade is not only a classic Oregon Coast experience, but along the way you catch glimpses of the city's origins as Oregon's first beach resort town.

Eating, playing and shopping on Broadway

It's surely the Oregon Coast's most entertaining street and it leads directly to the main attraction: Seaside's beach and views of Tillamook Head that visitors have come to enjoy since the 1870s. Today, Broadway Street is bustling with activity, laughter and all of the sights, sounds and smells that tell you that you're at the beach. There are restaurants, shops and all along the way you'll be tempted by ice cream and candy, souvenirs and classic attractions ranging from bumper cars and miniature golf to an indoor carousel. Take it all in. There's nothing like it on the Oregon Coast.

The origins of Seaside's Broadway Street actually date back to the days when visitors arrived in Seaside by train. In the late 1800s, a crude shell-paved road led from the railroad stop near what is present-day Highway 101 to the beach and as the Seaside's popularity grew, so did businesses along that shell-paved road. As you walk west from Highway 101 on Broadway, you'll cross the main intersection of Broadway and Holladay where you will find some of the city's oldest buildings. The Gilbert Building was completed in 1915 and the historic Gilbert District is now filled with shops, galleries and restaurants.

Cross the bridge over the Necanicum River and you begin to enter the core of Seaside's downtown area. You'll pass the Carousel Mall and the Oregon Coast's largest "penny" arcade, now a full blown amusement center filled with modern video games and a few classics like Fascination, where players compete by rolling rubber balls down the table into a matrix of holes, trying to be the first to complete a row in the matrix and win a prize. Continuing west across Columbia Street you'll see the Times Theater, built in 1940, but closed for nearly 30 years before reopening as a brew pub and movie theater in 2018. Across the street are classic bumper cars, miniature golf and a Tilt-a-Whirl carnival ride. As you reach the oceanfront, you arrive at another Seaside landmark, the automobile turnaround at the beach, built in 1920. Imagine the first cars that rolled down Broadway and circled the Turnaround. At the center of the Turnaround is a towering bronze statue of Lewis and Clark commemorating the historic visit from the famous expedition in 1806.

From wooden boardwalk to paved promenade

Stretching out north and south from the Turnaround is the Oregon Coast's version of the classic beach boardwalk and, in fact, it actually did originate as a wooden boardwalk in 1908, connected to a wooden pier built four years earlier. With raging winter storms, the pier did not fare well and was quickly abandoned, but the construction of the Turnaround in 1920 included a concrete promenade radiating north and south replacing the wooden boardwalk.

Today, the Prom is a total of 1.5 miles nestled between oceanfront homes and hotels and beach grass-covered dunes with trails leading to the Pacific Ocean. Visitors today can walk, jog, bike or skate the Prom and imagine how it must have looked back when Seaside was the first accessible beach destination in Oregon and visitors would travel down the Columbia River to Astoria, then ride a stagecoach to Seaside. The beach has actually changed since those early days. It's gotten wider. Early pictures of Seaside's oceanfront show the ocean much closer to the shoreline, but the construction of jetties at the mouth of the Columbia River altered the flow of sand, eventually adding hundreds of feet to the beach.

Walking the Prom today, you'll find a few other nods to Seaside's historic past. South of the Turnaround at Lewis and Clark Way, you can see the believed site of the salt making camp operated by a party from Lewis and Clark's historic expedition. The site now features a replica of the rock oven built to boil seawater down to salt, which was needed to preserve and season the explorer's food.

Just north of the Turnaround, you'll find the Seaside Aquarium, housed in a building that dates to 1924 with origins as a natatorium, reflecting the days when prosperous travelers came to Seaside to enjoy the spa experience of a saltwater pool. The aquarium itself has been in operation since 1937, where visitors can still feed the seals just as they have done for over 80 years.

As you stroll the Prom, look for other fun details including the 1940s era sundial embedded in the concrete where you become the pointer. It's located just south of the Turnaround adjacent to the Worldmark by Wyndham Resort.

Learn more about this iconic Oregon Coast destination at
Seaside Offers Walks Through Oregon Coast History