When the Hotel Brighton opened in the new seaside resort of Brighton Beach in 1878, this three-story, 174-room Victorian-style hotel became an upper middle class paradise.
An elegant pavilion led guests to the sandy beach and rolling surf. The hotel’s restaurants and banquet halls served an incredible array of seafood and shellfish. The Brighton Beach Music Hall hosted famous performers and bands.
Amid all of this seaside fun and frolic, there was one problem.
The hotel was built a little too close to the ocean. Ten years later, the Atlantic Ocean was practically lapping at the Brighton’s fanciful piazzas.
“The sea has steadily encroached upon the land at Brighton Beach for years . . . Old Neptune has gobbled up a nice bit of real estate with a 500-foot sea frontage and a depth of 500 feet, to which the hotel people hold a title deed,” quipped the Evening World in April 1888.
The plan the hotel adopted was to put it on wheels—the wheels of 112 rail cars, that is.
On April 3, after months of preparation, the big move began. “The first step taken was to drive piles under the entire front of the hotel,” stated one architectural publication.
“As already mentioned, the waves had torn away the sand, so that the building literally hung half way over the water.”
It took 10 days for six locomotives to slowly drag the hotel about 600 feet inland.
In June, the hotel opened for the season. “The contrast between the hotel on its present site and the building resting upon piles with the ocean flowing beneath it, as it did last summer, is decidedly striking,” commented the Evening World on June 27.