In a world where multitasking is a badge of honor, the art of the stroll has been all but lost. But not in Seaside. You can find families and visitors of all ages partaking in the centuries-old pastime, walking along at their own pace, stopping to peer inside a store or dipping into a shop for ice cream. The tradition persists thanks to Seaside’s famous Promenade — 1.5 scenic miles of paved, accessible walkway and seawall that stretches the length of town from Avenue U to 12th Avenue.
With its panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean and vibrant mix of classic and newer architecture, experiencing the 100-year-old Seaside Prom is one of the Coast’s most enduring traditions.
“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,” says local historian Gloria Stiger Linkey.
All year long in 2021, visitors can enjoy self-guided Prom-centric Centennial activities provided by the Seaside Visitors Bureau. In fact, each and every overnight visitor to Seaside is eligible to win one of four sweepstakes prize packages (one for each season) in the Great Prom Centennial Sweepstakes. The Prom will mark its official Centennial on Aug. 7, 2021, with a dedication ceremony and parade. While this historic anniversary comes during a pandemic, know that the Prom has already stood witness to a World War, previous pandemics and numerous natural disasters, including the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, 85 miles east.
A Hundred Years of History
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.
Timeless Traditions Continue
Today the Prom provides just as much entertainment as it did decades ago. Jeremy Strober, property manager of the family-owned Seashore Inn, which sits along the Prom, says he regularly becomes hypnotized by the flurry of activity — from Rollerbladers and hand-holding couples to street performers and master sandcastle makers. “Sometimes, I’ll catch myself looking out the window, and I’ll have to sort of slap myself to get back to work,” he says. “The greatest joy is seeing families. I remember seeing a little kid stepping in the sand for the first time. The joy and the fear and the intrigue was so powerful.”
Witnessing the Prom at night, he says, is an experience unto itself. During the summer, groups of people gather on the beach for campfires, and street lights illuminate the walkway, making for a safe late-night stroll. During a winter storm, he says, there’s nothing better than taking in the unobstructed view from the comfort of your room, watching as the waves pound the shoreline. “There’s always something to look at. The activities slow a little, but it never stops,” Strober says.
As the perfect viewpoint for the city’s annual July 4th fireworks display and the famous finish line for the epic 199-mile Hood to Coast Relay race in August, the Prom is the backdrop for so many memorable occasions. “It invites the beach to the town and the town to the beach,” Strober says. “The Prom is really for the people. So many different people enjoy it for so many different reasons.”
Whether as a great path for a morning jog, an ideal spot to post up for sunset or the perfect place for a stroll with those you love, the city of Seaside invites visitors to enjoy the Prom this Centennial year and for generations to come.