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Where Beaches and Village Streets Practically Scream Oregon Coast History

Published 11/01/23 at 5:53 a.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Where Beaches and Village Streets Practically Scream Oregon Coast History

(Newport, Oregon) – Hitting one neighborhood in one central Oregon coast town automatically means you're walking on history. Even if the streets aren't necessarily ancient (though they've been redone to look so), the old, really old Oregon coast is all around you. (All photos Oregon Coast Beach Connection - see the links for historic comparisons)

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Some of these buildings in Newport's Nye Beach have seen a lot, and much of what they've seen has disappeared. Whether you know it or not, parts of its long life are gone but their shadows remain.

Nye Beach was a separate village from Newport when it formed in the 1880s, named after John Nye – the dude who snagged the land it now sits on way back in the 1880s. Within a decade it became a tourist destination, and not long into the 1890s it was known as “the Honeymoon Capital of the World,” a nickname that seems to have stuck around in the 1920s and maybe beyond.

Newport for a long time was merely the Bayfront area, and the two were connected by screwy roads made of mud and wood on top. See What You Can See of Nye Beach History

That little building that is now the Yaquina Art Association Gallery (above) is one of the few elder remnants of this burgeoning Oregon coast resort. There was an entire boardwalk here at what is now the Nye Beach Turnaround, and that place hosted some of the town's main attractions, including the natatorium (warm saltwater bath) and a few curio shops. See Nye Beach had a natatorium

Now, the Turnaround is a major hub of activity, boasting all that beach access and picnic tables. There are still plenty of shops here, just as on the boardwalk, though it and the natatorium are long gone.

From maybe about the '60s through the '90s the place became more and more neglected, but the plus side was homes and hotel rooms here were dirt cheap. And it was all still down by the ocean. Tourism really ticked upwards in the '90s and by the early 2000s Nye Beach had a new look: refurbished streets and arches that looked retro, giving it a historic feel.

Nye Beach still has many romantic qualities today, partly due to the charming turnaround. And the area between Jump-Off Joe and Agate Beach is usually fairly deserted, making for some great walking hand-in-hand opportunities.

This sight and access to it is now gone

Especially fascinating in this part of the Oregon coast is the story of a rock structure called Jump-Off Joe, once situated at Nye Beach, south of 11th St. The original Joe crumbled under the weight of the changing tides by the `40s, and another subsequent rock structure took on the name.

We all know the new Jump-Off Joe - at the bottom of 11th – which has been quickly crumbling as well. In fact, this longtime favorite mini-headland became so unstable they had to close it off a couple of years ago.

This landmark will soon be one that we can no longer see, having gone the way of the natatorium, the boardwalk and other features of Nye Beach. Also see: The Crazy, Hazy Tale of a Spectacular Oregon Coast Real Estate Failure

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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