(Horry County; 2000 pop. 351). A historically black beach community, Atlantic Beach is located fifteen miles north of Myrtle Beach. Atlantic Beach was chartered as a municipality in 1966, and most of its property remains in the hands of African Americans and is known as the “Black Pearl of the Grand Strand.”
Atlantic Beach flourished during the 1940s and 1950s as one of the few places on the East Coast where black families could enjoy beach vacations during the era of segregation. The land was largely uninhabited until the early 1930s, when the developer George Tyson purchased two tracts of land to be developed as a beach community for African Americans. In the 1940s Tyson sold the property to the Atlantic Beach Company, a group of ten to twelve black educators, doctors, lawyers, and morticians, mostly from the Carolinas. Atlantic Beach Company divided the town into more than one hundred lots for sale, which African Americans purchased to build nightclubs, restaurants, private homes, hotels, restaurants, and other businesses, many of which no longer exist. Hurricane Hazel in 1954 destroyed many oceanfront homes and hotels, most of which were not rebuilt due to lack of insurance. Integration in the 1960s also hastened the town’s decline, as black families by then had more choices for enjoying the Atlantic Ocean. In 1980 the Carolina Knight Riders hosted one of the first motorcycle rallies for blacks and based it in Atlantic Beach. The event continued to be a major attraction for the area into the twenty-first century.
McLean, Chandra. “A Vision of the Future.” Myrtle Beach Sun News, August 6, 2000, pp. C1, C4.
Moredock, Will. Banana Republic: A Year in the Heart of Myrtle Beach. Charleston, S.C.: Frontline, 2004.