EM 1110-2-1100 (Part I)
30 Apr 02
protect a finite beach section, while jetties keep sand out of the navigation channel between the jetties, define
and maintains the harbor entrance channel, and provide calm water access to the harbor facilities
(Figures I-3-5, I-3-6). For jetties built along uninhabited coastal areas in the 19th and early 20th centuries, the
buildup of sand on the up-drift beach and the loss of sand on the downdrift beach was considered a minor
consequence compared to the major benefits of ocean navigation trade (Figure I-3-7). In nearly every
instance, these harbor structures interrupted the alongshore movement of sand and starved nearby downdrift
beaches (USACE 1971), but it was not until the shore was developed in the later 20th century that this
interruption of sand transport was regarded as a problem.
d. Early 20th century beach development and the Engineering Advisory Board on Coastal Erosion. As
urbanization and congestion increased, the more affluent escaped to the seashore, where resorts arose to
accommodate them. Until the age of the automobile, these resorts remained small isolated coastal enclaves
tied to the hinterland by rails. The technical revolution brought electric trains, automobiles, gasoline-powered
pleasure boats, labor-saving devices for the home, and a new era of leisure to a prospering nation (USACE
1971; Morison and Commager 1962). Electricity provided convenient power to energy-poor barriers.
Changing morals allowed people to sunbathe and enjoy the hedonism of the beach experience. And with the
growing use of the automobile, beach-goers in increasing numbers followed newly-built roads to the coast.
Concern about shore erosion grew as more people acquired property and built homes and businesses,
assuming a stable shoreline.
The New Jersey shore, close to the New York and Philadelphia urban areas, was one of the first highly
developed shorelines (Figures I-3-8 and I-3-9). During the period 1915 to 1921, three hurricanes and four
tropical storms battered the Jersey shore, causing severe beach erosion. In New Jersey, millions of dollars
were spent on uncoordinated and sometimes totally inappropriate erosion control structures which often
produced results that were only minimally effective, and, in some cases, counterproductive (Hillyer 1996).
Engineers and city managers soon realized that individual property owners were incapable of dealing with
coastal erosion and that a broader approach was necessary. In 1922, because of rapidly eroding shorelines
and revenue losses to the coastal communities, the State funded and appointed an Engineering Advisory
Board on Coastal Erosion. Its only recommendation was that further research was needed (Moore and Moore
In contrast to the haphazard development of the Jersey shore, some of the early large-scale coastal projects
proved to be remarkably successful social and engineering accomplishments. America's first large
engineered beach fill was the boardwalk and recreational beach on Coney Island in 1922 - 1923 (Farley
1923). With the completion of the project, immigrants and factory workers could escape the sweatshops of
the sweltering city and enjoy a (crowded) Sunday at the beach for only a nickel subway ride (Figure I-3-10;
Stanton 1999). This was followed by the ambitious construction of the Jones Beach Parkway by Robert
Moses and the Long Island State Park Commission in 1926 - 1929, during which more than 30 million m3
of sand were pumped to create Jones Island (DeWan 1999; Kana 1999) (Figure I-3-11). In Chicago, the
entire waterfront was reshaped between 1920 and 1940 with the addition of over 14.2 square km of fill,
resulting in one of America's premier urban parks (Chrzastowski 1999). These were city- and state-sponsored
projects, with minimal input by the Federal Government.
e. American Shore and Beach Preservation Association. Delegates (85) representing 16 states met at
Asbury Park, New Jersey, in 1926, to discuss their growing coastal zone problems. After the first meeting,
two more, following shortly thereafter, led to the formation of the American Shore and Beach Preservation
Association (ASBPA). The Association brings together a cross section of engineers, public officials, State
and Federal personnel, and coastal property owners. Their aim is that "Man must come to the rescue of the
beaches." Members see themselves as leaders and teachers in a conservation movement to fight shore and
beach erosion (Patton 1934). Their influence in State and Federal governments and continued interest in
coastal zone issues is responsible for many of the laws and actions to protect the U. S. shores and beaches.
History of Coastal Engineering