Book Talk: The Rise of Tourism on Martha's Vineyard

With author Thomas Dresser.

The popularity of the Methodist Camp Meeting Association and the Oak Bluffs Land & Wharf Company expanded dramatically by 1900. The two communities merged to form the town of Cottage City (1880), renamed Oak Bluffs (1907).

The Sea View hotel welcomed tourists to the Vineyard. The Tivoli featured dancing to local tunes such as Tivoli Girl and the Oak Bluffs Galope. A Toboggan Slide intrigued the populace. An Observation Tower loomed over Ocean Park; bathhouses lined the beach below. The Flying Horses, the oldest continuously operated carousel in the country, remain the only vestige of that halcyon era. (And it is not open this year, due to the coronavirus.)

Ice cream parlors, bowling alleys, and curio shops flourished along Circuit Avenue, satiating crowds of tourists who savored the sights and sounds. The Martha’s Vineyard Railroad transported tourists between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown’s South Beach. Carriages carried tourists through pristine villages up-Island and out to the variegated clay cliffs of Gay Head. President Ulysses Grant visited the Vineyard. 

Tuesday, August 4 at 4:00pm to 5:00pm

Virtual Event
Event Type

Books & Poetry, Online



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