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Myrtle Beach in pictures, past and present
By Gwen Fowler   - 10/21/2007

The Sun News

Susan McMillan offers a visual history of Myrtle Beach in "Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand" (Arcadia Publishing, $19.99).

Part of Arcadia Publishing's Then & Now series, the book presents about 90 pages of photographs of Myrtle Beach's past. Each vintage image is accompanied by a contemporary one showing how the site looks today.

One page shows Washington Park Race Track, a horse race course on Oak Street, along with a photo of Wachovia Bank today. Part of the clay track is still visible behind the bank, McMillan writes.

A 1948 photograph shows First Presbyterian Church at 1300 N. Kings Highway without the wings on each side that were later added.

The city's main post office once was the site of Myrtle Beach Grade School built in 1928. The original school burned in 1946 and was replaced with a new school, which was demolished in the early 1970s for construction of the post office.

Several photos show the Ocean Forest Hotel as it looked when completed in 1929. It provided luxurious accommodations for visitors and a classy spot for locals to party, until it fell into disrepair in the late 1960s and was imploded in 1974. A contemporary photo shows the Ocean Forest Villas now on the site.

And of course, photos of The Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park are contrasted with recent images of a vacant lot. Cruising the area was a summer ritual for generations, McMillan writes.

"Guys and gals piled into vehicles with windows open and radios blaring to draw attention. Flirtatious glances, conversations, names, phone numbers and even passengers were exchanged as the energy-charged vehicle parade passed the pavilion repeatedly whenever the park was open, particularly at night," she writes.

Despite the title, the last third of the book goes outside Myrtle Beach with photographs from as far north as Little River and as far south as Georgetown.

McMillan, a Conway author who has previously written three pictorial history books about the Grand Strand, said she was inspired by the rapid development of the area - especially the demolition of the Pavilion Amusement Park - to document how the area once looked.

Her books include "Myrtle Beach and Conway in Vintage Postcards" (2001) and "Georgetown and the Waccamaw Neck in Vintage Postcards" (2003) and "Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand" (2004), a book of photographs and postcards in the Images of America series. She also is co-author of "McClellanville and the St. James, Santee Parish" (2006).

A set of 15 postcards that appear in the book are available for $7.99.





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