The Miss America pageant was first held in Atlantic City in 1921.
Originating as a “bathing beauty revue,” the contest is now judged on competitors’ talent performances and interviews in addition to their physician appearance. Miss America travels about 20,000 miles a month, changing her location every 24 to 48 hours, touring the nation and promoting her particular platform of interest.
The origins of the Miss America Pageant lie in a 1920 event entitled The Fall Frolic. Held on September 25 in Atlantic City, NJ, the event was designed to bring business to the Boardwalk: “Three hundred and fifty gaily decorated rolling wicker chairs were pushed along the parade route. Three hundred and fifty men pushed the chairs. However, the main attractions were the young ‘maidens’ who sat in the rolling chairs, headed by a Miss Ernestine Cremona, who was dressed in a flowing white robe and represented ‘Peace.'”
The event was so successful that The Businessmen’s League planned to repeat it the following year as a beauty pageant beauty or a “bather’s revue” (to capitalize on the popularity of newspaper-based beauty contests that used photo submissions). Thus, newspapers as far west as Pittsburgh and as far south as Washington, D.C., were asked to sponsor local beauty contests. The winners would participate in the Atlantic City contest. If the local newspaper would pay for the winner’s wardrobe, the Atlantic City Businessmen’s League would pay for the contestant’s travel to compete in the Inter-City Beauty Contest.” Herb Test, a “newspaperman,” coined the term “Miss America” for the winner. (from Wikipedia)