Old Orchard Beach has been a tourist destination since 1829. Located on the inner side of Sacco Bay on the Atlantic Ocean on the Maine coastline, Old Orchard Beach (population: 8,624) is part of the Portland/South Portland/Biddleford metropolitan area. A popular summer beach destination, it contains many tourist-oriented businesses, including clam shacks, T-short shops and souvenir shops. The seven-mile-long beach is lined with many beachfront properties, condominiums, motels and bed-and-breakfasts. First settled in 1657, the town's first Public House opened in 1829. Over the years, Old Orchard has developed into a major resort. At one time, airplanes took off from the beach. The oldest hotel, The Ocean House Hotel & Motel, built in 1895 and located at 71 West Grand Avenue, is still standing and retains its original parlors. The seaside amusement park Palace Playland, which dates to 1902, is located in Old Orchard Beach. It was home to the first carousel in the United States. The current version of Palace Playland boasts a newly built Ferris wheel, a 24,000-square-foot arcade and 25 rides for adults and children. But the centerpiece is the Old Orchard Beach Pier, which at 1,825 feet was the longest steel pier in the world when construction was completed in 1898. It once hosted such acts as Frank Sinatra, Guy Lombardo, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman and Xavier Cugat. After storms, fires and blizzards destroyed parts of the pier, it was rebuilt in 1980 with the length reduced to 500 feet into the Atlantic Ocean. Today, the wooden walkway is lined with souvenir shops, carnival-style foods and a nightclub. Although the pier isn't the go-to destination it once was, Old Orchard Beach remains a popular summer vacation venue for tourists, particularly French Canadiens from Montreal and the province of Quebec. Or for Chicagoans on their way from Boston to Bar Harbor.
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