Beachside Nostalgia

The timeless appeal of a summer day at Old Orchard Beach

For as long as Maine has been a state, out-of-state visitors have been frequenting Old Orchard Beach (OOB) for its seven-mile sandy shorefront and evolving entertainment. The first inn was built in 1820—the same year Maine achieved statehood— to serve carriage travelers. Railway services from Boston and Montreal arrived in the mid-1800s, cementing OOB as a tourist destination. The Pier, built in 1898, originally featured a casino and a ballroom at the end of its roughly 1,800-foot-long stretch, which became shortened with each new iteration. The current 500-foot version, with its souvenir shops, restaurants, and bars, was built in 1980 after a blizzard destroyed the previous structure. Through all of these changes, Old Orchard Beach has retained a retro charm. Generations of families return each year, drawn by OOB’s expansive beach, seaside amusement park, and, of course, Original Pier French Fries. Photographer Matt Cosby documented OOB last summer on a roll of Kodak Portra 400 film with an old Leica M6 35mm camera. Film has a dream-like quality, Cosby says, and from the look of his images, he could have visited a few decades ago. “I’ve always loved people watching at OOB. With its old-school pizza parlors, arcades, and boardwalk, it has such a timeless feel to it,” Cosby says. “I was hoping to capture the spirit of a classic American summer.”

A Cadillac Eldorado parked at the Starlite Motor Inn.
The Pier at Old Orchard Beach has a variety of vendors, including a caricature artist.

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