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Atlantic Beach, nicknamed "The Black Pearl," was established about 1934 as an oceanfront community for blacks denied access by other area beaches by segregation. Many became year-round residents, but most spent their vacations here.
From the 1930s to the 1970s "The Black Pearl" was the most popular beach resort on the East Coast for blacks from Virginia to Florida. Its hotels, nightclubs, restaurants, shops and pavilion were packed every May to September.
George Tyson was the first to develop this area, from 1934 to 1943. In 1943 the Atlantic Beach Co. - J.W. Seabrook, R.K. Gordon, and P.C. Kelly III - bought the tracts and continued to develop them.
As other area beaches began desegregation in the 1970s, the beach saw fewer visitors. The town of Atlantic Beach, chartered in 1966 with Emery Gore and Millard Rucker as its first two mayors, is one of a few black-owned and governed oceanfront communities in the United States.