Boardwalk

Steel Pier

boardwalk is an elevated footpath, walkway, or causeway built with wooden planks that enables pedestrians to cross wet, fragile, or marshy land. They are also in effect a low type of bridge. Such timber trackways have existed since at least Neolithic times (12,000 years ago).

An early example is the ‘Sweet Track’ that Neolithic people built in the Somerset levels, England, around 6,000 years ago. This track consisted mainly of planks of oak laid end-to-end, supported by crossed pegs of ash, oak, and lime, driven into the underlying peat (partially decayed vegetation).

The Wittmoor bog trackway is the name given to each of two prehistoric plank roads, or boardwalks, trackway No. I being discovered in 1898 and trackway No. II in 1904 in the Wittmoor bog in northern Hamburg, Germany. The trackways date to the 4th and 7th century; both linked the eastern and western shores of the formerly inaccessible, swampy bog. A part of the older trackway No. II dating to the period of the Roman Empire is on display at the permanent exhibition of the Archaeological Museum Hamburg in Harburg, Germany.

A ‘duckboard’ is a type of boardwalk placed over muddy and wet ground. During World War I, duckboards were used to line the bottom of trenches on the Western Front because these were regularly flooded, and mud and water would lie in the trenches for months on end. The boards helped to keep the soldiers’ feet dry and prevent the development of trench foot, caused by prolonged standing in waterlogged conditions. They also allowed for troops’ easier movement through the trench systems.

Combat troops on nearly all sides routinely wore hobnail-style trench boots that often slipped on the new duck boards when they were wet, and required extra caution. Falling or slipping off the duckboards could often be dangerous, even fatal. Unfortunate soldiers were left struggling to rise under the weight of their equipment in the intractable and sometimes deep water or mud. If this happened at ground level during a tactical advance, the rising soldier could be left a defenseless target for enemy fire as well as hinder forward progress. He could also simply go unnoticed in the ensuing melee, and easily drown under his heavy equipment.

Many waterfront commercial boardwalks in the United States have become so successful as tourist attractions that the simple wooden pathways have been replaced by esplanades made of concrete, brick, or other construction, sometimes with a wooden facade on the surface and sometimes not. One of the earliest such boardwalks was designed in New Jersey and opened June 26, 1870, in Atlantic City.

The Atlantic City Boardwalk starts at Absecon Inlet in the north and runs along the beach south-west to the city limit 4 miles away then continues 1.5 miles into Ventnor City. Casino/hotels front the boardwalk, as well as retail stores, restaurants, and amusements. Notable attractions include the Boardwalk Hall, House of Blues, and the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum. The Boardwalk has been home to several piers over the years. The first pier, Ocean Pier, was built in 1882.

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