10 things about Myrtle Beach you may not have known

Published: Sep. 23, 2016 at 2:55 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2016 at 7:23 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Whether you're a tourist visiting for the first time, or a native born and raised on the Grand Strand, here are 10 things you may not have known about the City of Myrtle Beach and its rich history.

View the slideshow here.

  1. Myrtle Beach is (technically) an island. The completion of the Intracoastal Waterway in 1936 effectively made Myrtle Beach a coastal man-made island, according to Catherine Heniford Lewis, author of the 1998 book Horry County, South Carolina.
  2. Summer visitors named Myrtle Beach with a contest in 1900. After a railroad was built from Conway to the coast and the first streets were laid there, the area was originally called New Town. In 1900, a “little contest” was held among the summer visitors, and Mrs. Addie Burroughs came up with Myrtle Beach, honoring the native shrub that grows abundantly along the coast, Lewis writes.
  3. Alabama, the country music band with 27 number-one hits and seven multi-platinum albums, got its start in Myrtle Beach. The band played for tips as the house band at The Bowery, and got its name from the sign used as the backdrop at the bar’s stage, according to the City of Myrtle Beach’s website.
  4. Shane Carruth, the director of the award-winning independent film Primer, was born in Myrtle Beach, according to IMDB. He’s set to direct The Modern Ocean, a film about international shipping, with a cast including Anne Hathaway, Keanu Reeves and Daniel Radcliffe, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
  5. In the 1790s, then-President George Washington may have stayed at a hotel in what would become Myrtle Beach. Washington toured the coast in 1791 while he was president and was an overnight guest at a tavern that may have been operated by William Gause, thought to be the Grand Strand’s first innkeeper, according to a Greetings from Myrtle Beach: A History, 1900-1980 by Barbara Stokes, and posted to the City of Myrtle Beach's website.
  6. 10th Avenue North was named Mr. Joe White Avenue in 2002, after “Mr. Joe,” a highly-regarded Myrtle Beach citizen who worked at Woody’s Barbershop and the Ocean Forest Hotel. He started a shoe-shining career at age 7, and once shined 290 pairs of shoes in one day, according to the City of Myrtle Beach.
  7. The world’s largest living cat resides in Myrtle Beach. Hercules, an adult male liger, lives at the Myrtle Beach Safari, and measures 131 inches long, 49 inches tall, and weighs 922 pounds, according to the Guinness World Records website. See more world records set in North and South Carolina here.
  8. Thong swimsuits have been banned in Myrtle Beach since 1993. An indecent exposure law, also known as the “thong ordinance” made it illegal to “expose to the view of others the human male or female genitals, pubic area, pubic hair, buttocks, anus, vulva or any portion of the female breast at or below the areola thereof.” Read more about this law here.
  9. The Myrtle Beach Air Force Base operated in the area that is now Market Common from 1956 to 1993. Before that, it was the Myrtle Beach Army Air Field from 1940 to 1947, where fighter squadrons trained in World War II. Warbird Park contains what’s left of Myrtle Beach’s “Air Force”: several old fighter aircraft, including an A-10 “Warthog”, an F-100 supersonic Jet, and an A-7. Learn more here.
  10. Myrtle Beach’s first inhabitants were the Waccamaw and Winyah Indians, who named the region “Chiroca,” meaning, “the land.” Kings Highway began as an Indian trial, which later became the route from the northern states to Charleston and Savannah, according to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce's website.

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