Ocean City took its first big step toward its future as a resort when five men pooled their resources and built the 200-room Atlantic Hotel in the early 1920s. The Baltimore, Chesapeake, and Atlantic railway came along soon thereafter, connecting the town with the outside world and helping that investment start to pay off.
A fascinating thing happened as this transition to tourism took hold. Slowly but surely, the town that had been born as a place for burly-man types came under the control of a bevy of strong, entrepreneurial-minded women. By 1926 there were 32 hotels in Ocean City—and 30 of them were run by women.
Local historians have a great name for this surprise turn of events: “The Petticoat Regime.” One of its leaders was Ella Phillips Dennis (at left), who delivered the most famous Petticoat Regime quote of them all: “Ocean City is 70 percent run by women, built by women, and the men are all henpecked.”