By Tim Kelly
If a picture is worth a thousand words, Mike Impagliazzo is probably sitting on millions.
Impagliazzo, 60, is an Ocean City resident and creator of the website OCNJimages.com.
The site is a treasure trove of current and historical images of America’s Greatest Family Resort.
Recently, an OCNJDaily reporter was searching for images of the 1962 March Storm for an article. A Google search revealed numerous photographs, but most seemed to originate from the same place: Impagliazzo’s site.
“That is surprising and nice to hear,” Impagliazzo said during a recent interview. “I have been collecting the images for a long time. I thought of the website as a platform for organizing and storing them and allowing other people to enjoy them. I never thought they might be used for research. It’s really just my hobby.”
“Just a hobby” for Impagliazzo turned out to be much more. His website opened up views of Ocean City rarely seen to the average person.
Impagliazzo’s vision for the website was originally inspired by his late father, also named Michael.
“Dad was an amateur photographer and he had a lot of great pictures of Ocean City.” They took many forms: negatives, prints, Polaroids, even slides. Most were taken with a 35 mm film camera, he said.
“I love my Dad dearly and miss him. He was really the inspiration for all of this,” Impagliazzo said.
Mike spoke of a time when he was serving in the Navy and came home for a visit. “Dad wanted to get a picture of me in my uniform, and of course I said alright. He told me to come to the beach before sunrise.”
Impagliazzo said he was used to getting up early being in the military, but he never expected such a request.
“Dad wanted to get a picture of me in my uniform, on the beach at sunrise. And he got a wonderful picture.”
Wonderful pictures are stock in trade of OCNJimages.com. Categories include the 9th St. Bridge including the old one, the new one and the demolition of the former and construction of the latter. The Sindia, storms, boardwalk, Music Pier are other examples of categories. Just about anything you can think of concerning Ocean City has a pictorial home on Mike’s site.
At present, there are thousands of images in 845 files and 43 albums. Recently the site said it had been visited 53,420 times. Not bad for a hobby.
Currently, he is in the process of re-designing the website, updating its look and adding numerous newly acquired images. An information technology specialist for Gleeson’s Home Entertainment and Automation in Ocean City, Impagliazzo says he is “self taught” on website design. But the driving force in making the site go is his passion for Ocean City.
“Ocean City is an incredible place,” he says. “For me it is my home, my roots, my comfort level.” Mike’s love for the town eventually manifested itself in his image collection.
He drew further inspiration for the site from going into the now-closed Senior Studio on Asbury Avenue.
“I would walk past that place as a kid and look inside, and eventually I went inside,” he said.
What he found was an incredible collection of historic images and a passionate caretaker of the archive, in the late Al Senior.
At that time there was also the Fred Miller studio, Granger Studio (and others) he said. Senior’s studio was the last of the group and now that one is gone too, leaving Impagliazzo’s “hobby” as a primary source for historic images of Ocean City.
He welcomes the community to get involved and to contribute their own images of Ocean City for inclusion in the archive. He will provide credit to anyone who does so, he said.
“There are probably a lot of people around town and vacationers who have some great old pictures they would like to share but they never knew where to do so.”
He said interested persons should visit the webpage and drop him an e-mail.
“I never really considered people would use the site (for educational purposes and research),” he said.
They do just that, but the site is also great for pure entertainment.
What better way to spend a cold early spring day than to peruse hundreds of images featuring beach, boardwalk, warm weather and happy faces?
We can’t think of very many at all.