Atlantic City, New Jersey

Atlantic City, New Jersey
Atlantic City
—  City  —
City of Atlantic City
On the boardwalk looking south outside Caesars


"Las Vegas of the East"
Motto: Always Turned On
America's Playground (former)
Map of Atlantic City in Atlantic County
(click image to enlarge; also see: state map)
U.S. Census Map
Atlantic City is located in New Jersey
Atlantic City
Location in New Jersey
Coordinates: 39°22′39″N 74°27′04″W / 39.3775°N 74.45111°W / 39.3775; -74.45111Coordinates: 39°22′39″N 74°27′04″W / 39.3775°N 74.45111°W / 39.3775; -74.45111
Country United States
State New Jersey
County Atlantic
Incorporated May 1, 1854
 – Type Mayor-council (Faulkner Act)
 – Body Atlantic City Council
 – Mayor Lorenzo T. Langford
 – Administrator Michael Scott[1]
 – City 17.4 sq mi (53.4 km2)
 – Land 11.4 sq mi (38.9 km2)
 – Water 6.0 sq mi (15.5 km2)
Elevation[2] 0 ft (0 m)
Population (2010)[3]
 – City 39,558
 – Density 3,569.8/sq mi (1,378.3/km2)
 – Metro 266,268
Time zone EST (UTC−5)
 – Summer (DST) EDT (UTC−4)
ZIP codes 08401-08406
Area code(s) 609
FIPS code 34-02080[4][5]
GNIS feature ID 0885142[6]

Atlantic City is a city in Atlantic County, New Jersey, United States, and a nationally renowned resort city for gambling, shopping and fine dining. The city also served as the inspiration for the American version of the board game Monopoly. Atlantic City is located on Absecon Island on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city has a population of 39,558.[3] There were 274,549 people living in the Atlantic City–Hammonton metropolitan statistical area.

Atlantic City officially became a city in 1854. The new city contained portions of Egg Harbor Township and Galloway Township.[7]

The three routes into Atlantic City are the Black Horse Pike/Harding Highway (US 322/40), White Horse Pike (US 30) and the Atlantic City Expressway. Atlantic City is roughly 120 miles south of New York City by road, 62 miles southeast of Philadelphia, and borders Absecon, Brigantine, Pleasantville, Ventnor and West Atlantic City (part of Egg Harbor Township).



Early days

Seascape with Distant Lighthouse, Atlantic City, New Jersey, 1873, William Trost Richards. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

Because of its location in South Jersey, hugging the Atlantic Ocean between marshlands and islands, Atlantic City presented itself as prime real estate and a potential resort town for developers. In 1853, the first commercial hotel, The Belloe House, located at Massachusetts and Atlantic Avenue, was built.

Atlantic City, 1877

The city was incorporated in 1854, the same year in which the Camden and Atlantic Railroad train service began. Built on the edge of the bay, this served as the direct link of this remote parcel of land with Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By 1874, almost 500,000 passengers a year were coming to Atlantic City by rail.

The first boardwalk was built in 1870, along a portion of the beach to help hotel owners keep sand out of their lobbies. Because of its effectiveness and popularity the boardwalk was expanded and modified several times in the following years. The historic length of the boardwalk, before the 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricane, was about 7 miles (11 km) and it extended from Atlantic City to Longport, through Ventnor and Margate.

The first official road from the mainland to the island was completed in 1870, after 17 years of construction. The road, which ran from Pleasantville, had a toll of thirty cents. The first free road was Albany Avenue, constructed over the meadows from Pleasantville.

By 1878 because of the growing popularity of the city, one railroad line could no longer keep up with demand. Soon, the Philadelphia-Atlantic City railroad and the Reading railroad were constructed to transport tourists to Atlantic City. At this point massive hotels like The United States and Surf House, as well as smaller rooming houses, had sprung up all over town. The United States Hotel took up a full city block between Atlantic, Pacific, Delaware, and Maryland Avenues. These hotels were not only impressive in size, but featured the most updated amenities, and were considered quite luxurious for their time. On Wednesday June 16, 1880, Atlantic City was formally opened.

Boom period

Haddon Hall Hotel depicted on a postcard.

During the early part of the 20th century, Atlantic City went through a radical building boom. Many of the modest boarding houses that dotted the boardwalk were replaced with large hotels. Two of the city’s most distinctive hotels were the Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel and the Traymore Hotel.

In 1903, Josiah White III bought a parcel of land near Ohio Avenue and the boardwalk and built the Queen Anne style Marlborough House. The hotel was a hit and, in 1905–06, he chose to expand the hotel and bought another parcel of land next door to his Marlborough House. In an effort to make his new hotel a source of conversation, White hired the architectural firm of Price and McLanahan. The firm made use of reinforced concrete, a new building material invented by Jean-Louis Lambot in 1848 (Joseph Monier received the patent in 1867). The hotel’s Spanish and Moorish themes, capped off with its signature dome and chimneys, represented a step forward from other hotels that had a classically designed influence. White named the new hotel the Blenheim and merged the two hotels into the Marlborough-Blenheim. Bally's Atlantic City was later constructed at this location.

The Traymore Hotel was located at the corner of Illinois Avenue and the boardwalk. Begun in 1879 as a small boarding house, the hotel grew through a series of uncoordinated expansions. By 1914, the hotel’s owner, Daniel White, taking a hint from the Marlborough-Blenheim, commissioned the firm of Price and McLanahan to build an even bigger hotel. Sixteen stories high, the tan brick and gold-capped hotel would become one of the city’s best-known landmarks. The hotel made use of ocean-facing hotel rooms by jutting its wings farther from the main portion of the hotel along Pacific Avenue.

One by one, additional large hotels were constructed along the boardwalk, including the Brighton, Chelsea, Shelburne, Ambassador, Ritz Carlton, Mayflower, Madison House, and the Breakers. The Quaker-owned Chalfonte House, opened in 1868, and Haddon House, opened in 1869, flanked North Carolina Avenue at the beach end. Their original wood-frame structures would be enlarged, and even moved closer to the beach, over the years. The modern Chalfonte Hotel, eight stories tall, opened in 1904. The modern Haddon Hall was built in stages and was completed in 1929, at eleven stories. By this time, they were under the same ownership and merged into the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall Hotel, becoming the city's largest hotel with nearly 1,000 rooms. By 1930, the Claridge, the city's last large hotel before the casinos, opened its doors. The 400-room Claridge was built by a partnership that included renowned Philadelphia contractor John McShain. At 24 stories, it would become known as the "Skyscraper By The Sea." The city became known as the "The World's Playground.[8][9]

In 1883, the Salt water taffy was conceived in Atlantic city by David Bradley, who later produced and marketed the taffy in the Atlantic City area. While unconfirmed, a popular belief of its creation came after Bradley's shop was flooded after a major storm. His entire stock of taffy was soaked with salty Atlantic Ocean water. When a young girl came into his shop and asked if he had any taffy for sale, he is said to have offered some "salt water taffy." At the time it was a joke, because all his taffy had been soaked with salt water, but the girl was delighted, she bought the candy and proudly walked down to the beach to show her friends. Bradley's mother was in the back and heard the exchange. She loved the name and so salt water taffy was born.[10]

Prohibition era

In the 1920s, with tourism at its peak, many historians consider this decade Atlantic City's golden age. During Prohibition, much liquor was consumed and gambling regularly took place in the back rooms of nightclubs and restaurants.

It was during Prohibition, which was enacted nationally in 1919 and lasted until 1933, that racketeer and political boss Enoch L. "Nucky" Johnson rose to power. Prohibition was effectively unenforced in Atlantic City, and, as a result, the resort's popularity grew further. The city then dubbed itself as "The World's Playground". Most of Nucky Johnson’s income came from the percentage he took on every gallon of illegal liquor sold, and on gambling and prostitution operations in Atlantic City.[11]

During this time, Atlantic City was under the mayoral reign of Edward L. Bader, known for his contributions to the construction, athletics and aviation of Atlantic City.[12] Despite the opposition of many others, he purchased land that became the city's municipal airport and high school football stadium; both of which were later named Bader Field in his honor. He led the initiative, in 1923, to construct the Atlantic City High School at Albany and Atlantic Avenues.[12] Bader, in November 1923, initiated a public referendum, during the general election, at which time residents approved the construction of a Convention Center. The city passed an ordinance approving a bond issue for $1.5 million to be used for the purchase of land for Convention Hall, now known as the Boardwalk Hall, finalized September 30, 1924.[13] Bader was also a driving force behind the creation of the Miss America competition.

Decline and resurgence

The Tropicana from the boardwalk

Like many older east coast cities after World War II, Atlantic City became plagued with poverty, crime, corruption, and disinvestment in the mid-to-late 20th century. The neighborhood known as the "Inlet" became particularly impoverished. The reasons for the resort's decline were multi-layered. First of all, the automobile became more readily available to many Americans after the war. Atlantic City had initially relied upon visitors coming by train and staying for a couple of weeks. The car allowed them to come and go as they pleased, and many people would spend only a few days, rather than weeks. Also, the advent of suburbia played a huge role. With many families moving to their own private houses, luxuries such as home air conditioning and swimming pools diminished their interest in flocking to the luxury beach resorts during the hot summer. But perhaps the biggest factor in the decline in Atlantic City's popularity came from cheap, fast jet service to other premiere resorts, such as Miami Beach and the Bahamas.

Trump Taj Mahal from Pacific Avenue

The city hosted the 1964 Democratic National Convention which nominated Lyndon Johnson for President and Hubert Humphrey as Vice President. The convention and the press coverage it generated, however, cast a harsh light on Atlantic City, which by then was in the midst of a long period of economic decline. Many felt that the friendship between Johnson and the Governor of New Jersey at that time, Richard J. Hughes, led Atlantic City to host the Democratic Convention.

By the late 1960s, many of the resort's once great hotels were suffering from embarrassing vacancy rates. Most of them were either shut down, converted to cheap apartments, or converted to nursing home facilities by the end of the decade. Prior to and during the advent of legalized gaming, many of these hotels were demolished. The Breakers, the Chelsea, the Brighton, the Shelburne, the Mayflower, the Traymore, and the Marlborough-Blenheim were demolished in the 1970s and 1980s. Of the many pre-casino resorts that bordered the boardwalk, only the Claridge, the Dennis, the Ritz-Carlton, and the Haddon Hall survive to this day as parts of Bally's Atlantic City, a condo complex, and Resorts Atlantic City. The old Ambassador Hotel was gutted to become the Tropicana Casino and Resort Atlantic City, only reusing the steelwork of the original building. Smaller hotels off the boardwalk, such as the Madison also survived.

The Borgata is Atlantic City's highest grossing casino.

Legalized gambling

In an effort at revitalizing the city, New Jersey voters in 1976 approved casino gambling for Atlantic City; this came after a 1974 referendum on legalized gambling failed to pass. Immediately after the legislation passed, the owners of the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall Hotel began converting it into the Resorts International. It was the first legal casino in the eastern United States when it opened on May 26, 1978.[14] Other casinos were soon constructed along the Boardwalk and, later, in the marina district for a total of eleven today. The introduction of gambling did not, however, quickly eliminate many of the urban problems that plagued Atlantic City. Many have argued that it only served to magnify those problems, as evidenced in the stark contrast between tourism-intensive areas and the adjacent impoverished working-class neighborhoods.[15] In addition, Atlantic City has played second-fiddle to Las Vegas, as a gambling city in the United States, although in the late 1970s and 1980s, when Las Vegas was experiencing a massive drop in tourism due to crime, particularly the Mafia's role, and other economic factors, Atlantic City was favored over Las Vegas.[citation needed] The rise of Mike Tyson in boxing, having most of his fights in Atlantic City in the '80s, also helped Atlantic City burst into the national spotlight as a gambling resort.[citation needed] Numerous highrise condominiums were built for use as permanent residences or second homes.[16] By end of the decade it was the most popular tourist destination in the States.[17]

Modern day

Atlantic City at night

With the redevelopment of Las Vegas and the opening of two casinos in Connecticut in the early 1990s, Atlantic City's tourism began to slide. Determined to expand, in 1999 the Atlantic City Redevelopment Authority partnered with Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn to develop a new roadway to a barren section of the city near the Marina. Nicknamed "The Tunnel Project", Steve Wynn planned the proposed 'Mirage Atlantic City' around the idea that he would connect the $330 million, 2.5-mile (4.0 km) tunnel from the Atlantic City Expressway to his new resort. The roadway was later officially named the Atlantic City-Brigantine Connector. The highway funnels incoming traffic off the expressway into the city's marina district and Brigantine, New Jersey.

Although Wynn's plans for development in the city were scrapped in 2002, the tunnel opened in 2001. The new roadway prompted Boyd Gaming in partnership with MGM/Mirage to build Atlantic City's newest casino. The Borgata opened in July 2003, and its success brought an influx of developers to Atlantic City with plans on building grand Las Vegas style mega casinos to revitalize the aging city.[18] MGM/Mirage due to problems with regards to their dealings with Stanley Ho in Macau were later forced to divest their shares of the Borgata resort.

Due to economic conditions and the late-2000s recession, many proposed mega casinos never moved further than the initial planning stages. One of these developers Pinnacle Entertainment, who purchased the Sands Atlantic City, permanently closing it on November 11, 2006. The following year, the resort was demolished in a dramatic, Las Vegas styled implosion, the first of its kind in Atlantic City. While Pinnacle Entertainment intended to replace it with a $1.5–2 billion casino resort, the company canceled its construction plans and plans to sell the land. The biggest disappointment was when MGM Resorts International announced that it would pull out of all development for Atlantic City, effectively killing their plans for the MGM Grand Atlantic City.[19][20]

View of Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall (top left) and ocean, 2011

In 2006, Morgan Stanley purchased 20 acres directly north of the Showboat Atlantic City Hotel and Casino for a new $2 billion-plus casino resort.[21] Revel Entertainment Group was named as the project's developer for the Revel Casino. Revel was hit with many problems, with the biggest blow to the company being in April 2010 when Morgan Stanley, the owner of 90% of Revel Entertainment Group, decided to discontinue funding for continued construction and put its stake in Revel up for sale. Early in 2010 the N.J. state legislature passed a bill offering tax incentives to attract new investors and complete the job, but a poll by Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind released in March 2010 showed that three of five voters (60%) opposed the legislation, and two of three of those who opposed it "strongly" opposed it.[22] Ultimately, Governor Chris Christie offered Revel $261 million in state tax credits to assist the casino once it opens.[23] As of March 2011, Revel has completed all of the exterior work and has continued work on the interior after finally receiving the funding necessary to complete construction. It is scheduled to be opened for summer 2012.


Tourism district

In July 2010, Governor Chris Christie announced that a state takeover of the city and local government "was imminent". Comparing regulations in Atlantic City to an "antique car", Atlantic City regulatory reform is a key piece of Gov. Chris Christie's plan, unveiled on July 22, to reinvigorate an industry mired in a four-year slump in revenue and hammered by fresh competition from casinos in the surrounding states of Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and more recently, Maryland. In January 2011, Chris Christie announced the Atlantic City Tourism District, a state-run district encompassing the boardwalk casinos, the marina casinos, the Atlantic City Outlets, and Bader Field.[24][25] Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind poll surveyed N.J. voters' attitudes on the takeover. The February 16th, 2011 survey showed that 43% opposed the measure while 29% favored direct state oversight.[26] Interestingly, the poll also found that even South Jersey voters expressed opposition to the plan; 40% reported they opposed the measure and 37% reported they were in favor of it.[26]

On April 29, 2011, the boundaries for the state-run tourism district were set. The district would include heavier police presence, as well as beautification and infrastructure improvements. The CRDA would oversee all functions of the district and will make changes to attract new businesses and attractions. New construction would be ambitious and may resort to eminent domain.[27][28]

The tourism district would comprise several key areas in the city; the Marina District, Ducktown, Chelsea, South Inlet, Bader Field, and Gardner's Basin. Also included are 10 roadways that lead into the district, including several in the city's northern end, or North Beach. Gardner's Basin, which is home to the Atlantic City Aquarium, was initially left out of the tourism district, while a residential neighborhood in the Chelsea section was removed from the final boundaries due to complaints from the city. Also, the inclusion of Bader Field in the district was controversial and received much scrutiny from mayor Lorenzo Langford, who cast the lone "no" vote on the creation of the district citing its inclusion.[29]

Casino resorts

Atlantic City is considered the "Gambling Capital of the East Coast" and is second to Las Vegas in number of casinos, yearly gaming revenue, and number of rooms. The Atlantic City Skyline has been transformed by construction of new casino hotels and condominiums.

Casino Hotels

Casino Opening Date: Theme: Number of Rooms: Parent Company: District:
ACH Casino Resort December 12, 1980 Beach Resort 800 Colony Capital Downbeach
Bally's Atlantic City December 29, 1979 Modern 1,753 Caesars Entertainment Midtown
The Borgata July 2, 2003 Tuscany 2,802 Marina District Development The Marina
Caesars Atlantic City June 26, 1979 Roman Empire 1,158 Caesars Entertainment Midtown
Harrah's Atlantic City November 27, 1980 Marina Waterfront 2,588 Caesars Entertainment The Marina
Golden Nugget Atlantic City June 19, 1985 Gold Rush Era 728 Landry's Restaurants The Marina
Resorts Casino Hotel May 28, 1978 Roaring Twenties 942 DGMB Casinos Uptown
Showboat Atlantic City April 2, 1987 Mardi Gras 1,331 Caesars Entertainment Uptown
Tropicana Atlantic City November 26, 1981 Old Havana 2,129 Tropicana Entertainment Downbeach
Trump Plaza May 26, 1984 Luxury Resort 906 Trump Entertainment Resorts Midtown
Trump Taj Mahal April 2, 1990 Taj Mahal 2,248 Trump Entertainment Resorts Uptown

Gambling Halls

Casino Opening Date: Theme: Number of Rooms: Parent Company: District:
The Wild Wild West Casino July 2, 1997 American Old West N/A (shared with Bally's) Caesars Entertainment Midtown

Under Construction

Casino Opening Date: Theme: Number of Rooms: Parent Company: District:
Revel May 15, 2012 Oceanfront 1,100 Revel Entertainment Group Uptown


Casino Opening Date: Theme: Number of Rooms: Parent Company: District:
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Spring 2014 Rock & Roll 850 Hard Rock Downbeach


The Atlantic City Boardwalk was one of the first boardwalks of its type in the United States, having opened on June 26, 1870.[30]

The Atlantic City boardwalk outside the Trump Taj Mahal.

The Boardwalk starts at Absecon Inlet and runs along the beach for four miles (six kilometers) to the city limit. An additional one and one half miles (two kilometers) of the Boardwalk extend into Ventnor City. Casino/hotels front the boardwalk, as well as retail stores, restaurants, and amusements. Notable attractions include the Boardwalk Hall, House of Blues, and the Ripley's Believe It or Not! museum.

The Boardwalk has been home to several piers over the years. The first pier, Ocean Pier, was built in 1882.[31] It eventually fell into disrepair and was demolished. Another famous pier built during that time was Steel Pier, opened in 1898, which once billed itself as "The Showplace of the Nation". It now operates as an amusement pier across from the Trump Taj Mahal. The Million Dollar Pier opened as an arcade hall in 1906 and was transformed into a shopping mall in the 1980s, known as "Shops on Ocean One". In 2006, the Ocean One mall was bought, renovated and re-branded as The Pier Shops at Caesars. Garden Pier, located opposite Revel Atlantic City, once housed a movie theater, and is now home to the Atlantic City Historical Society and Arts Center. Two other piers, an amusement pier named Steeplechase Pier and a Heinz 57-owned pier named Heinz Pier were destroyed in The Great Hurricane of 1944. The last of the four piers still standing is Schiff's Central Pier, which is the only one still offering the same attractions it did when it opened - a few stores, and arcade, and a Go-Kart track.


The Quarter at Tropicana

Atlantic City has many different shopping districts and malls, many of which are located inside or adjacent to the casino resorts. Several smaller themed retail and dining areas in casino hotels include the Borgata Shops and The Shoppes at Water Club inside the Borgata, the Waterfront Shops inside of Harrah's, Spice Road inside the Trump Taj Mahal, while Resorts Casino Hotel has a small collection of stores and restaurants. Major shopping malls are also located in and around Atlantic City.

  • Atlantic City Outlets The Walk, an outdoor outlet shopping center spanning several blocks. The only outlet mall in South Jersey, The Walk first opened in 2003 and is currently undergoing an expansion.
  • The Quarter at Tropicana, an old Havana-themed indoor shopping center at the Tropicana, which contains over 40 stores, restaurants, and nightclubs.
  • Pier Shops at Caesars, an underwater-themed indoor high end shopping center located on the Million Dollar Pier which was formerly known as "Shops on Ocean One". The four-story shopping mall contains themed floors as well as a fountain show.
  • Shore Mall in nearby Egg Harbor Township is anchored by discount anchors Boscov's and Burlington Coat Factory, as well as a movie theater and several recently opened restaurants, including Golden Corral, which opened in 2010.
  • Hamilton Mall in nearby Mays Landing, anchored by Macy's, JCPenney, and Sears, contains over 140 stores and several restaurants.
  • Smithville Towne Center and Village Greene, a complex of over 60 stores and restaurants centered around a lake in historic Smithville, a section of Galloway Township. The center contains boutique stores, paddleboats, a hotel, as well as small amusement rides.


The Atlantic City Convention Center

Boardwalk Hall, formally known as the "Historic Atlantic City Convention Hall", is an arena in Atlantic City along the boardwalk. Boardwalk Hall was Atlantic City's primary convention center until the opening of the Atlantic City Convention Center in 1997. The Atlantic City Convention Center includes 500,000 sq ft (46,000 m2) of showroom space, 5 exhibit halls, 45 meeting rooms with 109,000 sq ft (10,100 m2) of space, a garage with 1,400 parking spaces, and an adjacent Sheraton hotel. Both the Boardwalk Hall and Convention Center are operated by the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority.



Atlantic City has become well-known over the years for its portrayal in the U.S. version of the popular board game, Monopoly, in which properties on the board are named after locations in and near Atlantic City. While the original incarnation of the game did not feature Atlantic City, it was in Indianapolis that Ruth Hoskins learned the game, and took it back to Atlantic City.[32] After she arrived, Hoskins made a new board with Atlantic City street names, and taught it to a group of local Quakers.[33]

Some board elements have been changed since the game's release. Illinois Avenue was renamed Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in the 1980s. St. Charles Place no longer exists, as the Showboat Casino Hotel was developed where it once ran.[34]

Marvin Gardens, the leading yellow property on the board shown, is actually a misspelling of the original location name, "Marven Gardens". The misspelling was said to be introduced by Charles Todd and passed on when his home-made Monopoly board was copied by Charles Darrow and thence to Parker Brothers. It was not until 1995 that Parker Brothers acknowledged this mistake and formally apologized to the residents of Marven Gardens for the misspelling.[35]

The "Short Line" is believed to refer to the Shore Fast Line, a streetcar line that served Atlantic City.[36] The B&O Railroad did not serve Atlantic City. A booklet included with the reprinted 1935 edition states that the four railroads that served Atlantic City in the mid 1930s were the Jersey Central, the Seashore Lines, the Reading Railroad, and the Pennsylvania Railroad.

The actual "Electric Company" and "Water Works" serving the city are respectively, Atlantic City Electric Company and the Atlantic City Municipal Utilities Authority.


Ever since Atlantic City's growth as a resort town, numerous attractions and tourist traps have originated in the city. A popular fixture in the early 20th century at the Steel Pier was horse diving, which was introduced by William "Doc" Carver.[37] The Steel Pier featured several other novelty attractions, including baby animals on display and a water circus. Advertisements for the Steel Pier in its heyday featured plaster sculptures set upon wooden bases along roads leading up to Atlantic City.[38] By the end of WW2, many animal demonstrations declined in popularity after criticisms of animal abuse and neglect.

Rolling chairs, which were introduced in the 1800s, have been a boardwalk fixture to this day. The wicker, canopied chairs-on-wheels are manually pushed the length of the boardwalk by attendants, much like a Rickshaw.[39]

The Absecon Light is a coastal lighthouse located in the north end of Atlantic City overlooking Absecon Inlet. It is the tallest lighthouse in the state of New Jersey and is the third tallest masonry lighthouse in the United States. Construction began in 1854, with the light first lit on January 15, 1857. The lighthouse was deactivated in 1933 and although the light still shines every night, it is no longer an active navigational aid.

While located two miles south of Atlantic City in Margate City, Lucy the Elephant has become almost an icon for the Atlantic City area. Lucy is a six-story elephant-shaped example of novelty architecture, constructed of wood and tin sheeting in 1882 by James V. Lafferty in an effort to sell real estate and attract tourism. Over the years, Lucy had served as a restaurant, business office, cottage, and tavern (the last closed by Prohibition). Lucy had fallen into disrepair by the 1960s and was scheduled for demolition. The structure was moved and refurbished as a result of a "Save Lucy" campaign in 1970 and received designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1976, and is currently open as a museum.


Atlantic City was the home of the Miss America competition from its founding until 2005, when it moved to Las Vegas. The Miss America competition originated on September 7, 1921, as a two-day beauty contest. The event that year was called the "Atlantic City Pageant", and the winner of the grand prize, the 3-foot Golden Mermaid trophy, was not called "Miss America" until 1922, when she re-entered the pageant. The pageant was initiated in to extend the tourist season after the Labor Day weekend[40] The pageant has been nationally televised since 1954. It peaked in the early 1960s, when it was repeatedly the highest-rated program on American television. It was seen as a symbol of the United States, with Miss America often being referred to as the female equivalent of the President. The pageant's longtime emcee, Bert Parks, hosted the event from 1955 to 1979. At the Atlantic City Convention Center, there is an interactive statue of Parks holding a crown. When a visitor puts their head inside the crown, sensors activate a recorded playback of his "There She Is..." line through speakers hidden behind nearby bushes.[41]

Since the departure of the Miss America pageant from the city, a LGBT event known as the "Miss'd America Pageant" is held annually at the Boardwalk Hall. Originally started as a fundraiser, the event features drag queens donning the runway in a similar manner to the Miss America pageant.[42]

Since 2003, Atlantic City has hosted Thunder over the Boardwalk, an annual airshow over the boardwalk. The August event, a joint venture between the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing along with several casinos, attracts over 750,000 visitors each year.

Boardwalk Empire

In 2010, Boardwalk Empire, an American television series from cable network HBO set in Atlantic City during the Prohibition era, has cast a new light on the city. Starring Steve Buscemi, the show was adapted from a chapter about historical criminal kingpin Enoch "Nucky" Johnson in Nelson Johnson's book, Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City.[43] The series is filmed in Brooklyn, New York on a set built to resemble the Atlantic City boardwalk in the 1920s.

Around the same time of the September 2010 premiere of the show, the Press of Atlantic City created “Boss of the Boardwalk,” a 45-minute documentary which premiered on August 21, 2010 on NBC TV-40 and aired six additional times in the following weeks.[44]

Since the premiere of Boardwalk Empire, interest in the Roaring Twenties-era Atlantic City has grown. In October 2010, a plan was revealed to renovate the ailing Resorts Casino Hotel into a Roaring Twenties theme. The re-branding was proposed by current owner Dennis Gomes, and was initiated in December 2010 when he took over the casino. The changes accentuate the resort's existing art deco design, as well as presenting new 20s-era uniforms for employees and music from the time period. The casino also introduced drinks and shows reminiscent of the period.[45] The actual building where he lived, The Ritz-Carlton, offer tours.[46]

In 2011, the Academy Bus Company began a trolley tour called "Nucky's Way", a tour bus service that features actors portraying Nucky as well as other characters as it loops around the city. Nucky's Way is the second trolley tour to capitalize off of Boardwalk Empire, after The Great American Trolley company started a weekly tour of Atlantic City with a Roaring Twenties theme in early June 2011.[47]

On August 1, 2011, a facade modeled after the set of Boardwalk Empire was unveiled on the boardwalk in front of an empty lot at the former site of the Trump World's Fair resort. The facade of storefronts, which consists of vinyl tacked onto three large sections of plywood, was the brainchild of longtime area radio host Pinky Kravitz, who is also a columnist for The Press of Atlantic City.[48]


Atlantic City is located at 39°21′54″N 74°26′21″W / 39.364966°N 74.439034°W / 39.364966; -74.439034.[49]

Atlantic City is located on 8.1-mile (13.0 km) long Absecon Island, along with Ventnor City, Margate City and Longport to the southwest.[50]

The city has a total area, according to the United States Census Bureau, of 17.4 square miles (45 km2), of which, 11.4 square miles (30 km2) of it is land and 6.0 square miles (16 km2) of it (34.58%) is water.


Atlantic City has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen), with some maritime moderation, especially during the summer.

Summers are typically warm and humid with a July daily average of 75.2 °F (24.0 °C). During this time, the city gets a sea breeze off the ocean that often makes daytime temperatures much cooler than inland areas, making Atlantic City a prime place for beating the summer heat. Average highs even just a few miles west of Atlantic City are in the mid to upper 80s in the summer. Near the coast, temperatures exceed 90 °F (32 °C) on only 5 days a year.[51] Winters are cool, with January averaging 35.2 °F (1.8 °C), with 12 or 13 days with highs that do not break the freezing mark.[51] Spring and autumn are erratic, although they are usually mild with low humidity.

Annual precipitation is 38 inches (965 mm) which is fairly spread throughout the year. Due to its close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean and its location in South Jersey, Atlantic City receives less snow than a good portion of the rest of New Jersey. Even at the airport, snow averages only −-20 inches (−25 cm) each winter. It is very common for rain to fall in Atlantic City while the northern and western parts of the state are receiving snow.


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1860 687
1870 1,043 51.8%
1880 5,477 425.1%
1890 13,055 138.4%
1900 27,838 113.2%
1910 46,150 65.8%
1920 50,707 9.9%
1930 66,198 30.6%
1940 64,094 −3.2%
1950 61,657 −3.8%
1960 59,544 −3.4%
1970 47,859 −19.6%
1980 40,199 −16.0%
1990 37,986 −5.5%
2000 40,517 6.7%
2010 39,558 −2.4%

As of the 2006–2008 American Community Survey 3-Year Estimates,[58] Atlantic City had 34,769 people. The racial makeup of the city was 24.0% White, 40.0% Black or African American, 10.0% Asian, 1.8% Native American, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 18.3% from other races, and 0.6% from two or more races. 24.0% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 19.2% of the population was non-Hispanic whites.

There were a total of 20,637 housing units, with 23.9% of them vacant. Atlantic City's unemployment rate was 12.8%. The city had 26.3% of all people living below the poverty line, including 35.2% of those under 18 and 22.5% of those over 65. 61.2% speak only English, while 21.3% of the population speaks Spanish.

As of the census[4] of 2000, there were 40,517 people, 15,848 households, and 8,700 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,569.8 people per square mile (1,378.3/km2). There were 20,219 housing units at an average density of 1,781.4 per square mile (687.8/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 44.16% black or African American, 26.68% White, 0.48% Native American, 10.40% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 13.76% other races, and 4.47% from two or more races. 24.95% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 19.44% of the population was non-Hispanic whites.

There were 15,848 households out of which 27.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 24.8% were married couples living together, 23.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.1% were non-families. 37.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.46 and the average family size was 3.26.

In the city the population was spread out with 25.7% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 31.0% from 25 to 44, 20.2% from 45 to 64, and 14.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 96.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $26,969, and the median income for a family was $31,997. Males had a median income of $25,471 versus $23,863 for females. The per capita income for the city was $15,402. About 19.1% of families and 23.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 29.1% of those under age 18 and 18.9% of those age 65 or over.


Local government

Atlantic City
Crime rates (2007)
Crime type Rate*
Homicide: 15.1
Forcible rape: 70.4
Robbery: 1,146.3
Aggravated assault: 930.1
Violent crime: 2,161.9
Burglary: 1,370.0
Larceny-theft: 5,422.2
Motor vehicle theft: 502.8
Arson: 40.2
Property crime: 7,335.2
* Number of reported crimes per 100,000 population.

Source: 2007 FBI UCR Data

Atlantic City is governed under the Faulkner Act (Mayor-Council) system of municipal government.[59]

The City Council is the governing body of Atlantic City. Members of Council are elected to serve for a term of four years. There are nine Council members, one from each of six wards and three serving at-large. The City Council exercises the legislative power of the municipality for the purpose of holding Council meetings to introduce ordinances and resolutions to regulate City government. In addition, Council members review budgets submitted by the Mayor; provide for an annual audit of the City’s accounts and financial transactions; organize standing committees and hold public hearings to address important issues which impact Atlantic City.[60] Former Mayor Bob Levy created the Atlantic City Ethics Board in 2007, but the Board was dissolved two years later by vote of the Atlantic City Council.

As of 2011, the Mayor is Lorenzo T. Langford. Members of the City Council are Aaron Randolph (1st Ward),[61] Marty Small (2nd Ward), Vice-President Steven L. Moore (3rd Ward), President William "Speedy" Marsh (4th Ward), Dennis Mason (5th ward), Timothy Mancuso (6th Ward), Moisse Delgado (at-large), Frank M. Gilliam, Jr. (at-large) and George Tibbitt (at-large).[62][63]

Mayoral disappearance and resignation

Following questions about false claims he had made about his military record, Mayor Bob Levy left City Hall in September 2007 in a city-owned vehicle for an unknown destination. After a 13 day absence, his lawyer revealed that Levy was in Carrier Clinic, a rehabilitation hospital.[64] Levy resigned in October 2007 and then-Council President William Marsh assumed the office of Mayor[65] and served the six-week remainder of his term.

Federal, state and county representation

Atlantic City is in the 2nd Congressional district and is part of New Jersey's 2nd state legislative district.[66] The legislative district was unchanged based on the results of the 2010 Census.[3]

New Jersey's Second Congressional District is represented by Frank LoBiondo (R, Ventnor City). New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Frank Lautenberg (D, Cliffside Park) and Bob Menendez (D, Hoboken).

2nd legislative district of the New Jersey Legislature, which is represented in the New Jersey Senate by Jim Whelan (D, Atlantic City), and in the Assembly by John F. Amodeo (R, Margate) and Vincent J. Polistina (R, Egg Harbor Township).[67] The Governor of New Jersey is Chris Christie (R, Mendham).[68] The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Kim Guadagno (R, Monmouth Beach).[69]

Atlantic County's County Executive is Dennis Levinson (Linwood), whose term of office ends on December 31, 2011.[70] The Board of Chosen Freeholders, the county's legislature, consists of nine members elected to three-year terms on a staggered basis, with three seats coming up for election each year of which four members are elected at-large and one member from each of the five districts. As of 2011, Atlantic County's Freeholders are four at-large members Alisa Cooper (Linwood, term expires December 31, 2011)[71], Vice Chairman Frank V. Giordano (Hamilton Township, 2012)[72], Joseph J. McDevitt (Ventnor City, 2013)[73] and Jim Schroeder (Northfield, 2011)[74]; and five members elected from districts District 1 (Atlantic City (part), Egg Harbor Township (part) and Pleasantville) Charles T. Garrett (Atlantic City, 2013)[75], District 2 - (Atlantic City (part), Egg Harbor Township (part), Longport, Margate, Somers Point and Ventnor), Chairman Frank D. Formica (Atlantic City, 2012)[76], District 3 (Egg Harbor Township (part), Hamilton Township (part), Linwood and Northfield) - Frank Sutton (Egg Harbor Township, 2011)[77], District 4 (Absecon, Brigantine, Galloway Township and Port Republic - Richard Dase (Galloway Township, 2013)[78] and District 5 (Buena Borough Buena Vista Township, Corbin City, Egg Harbor City, Estell Manor, Folsom, Hamilton Township (part), Hammonton, Mullica Township and Weymouth) - Vacant.[79][80]

City and State agencies

New Jersey Casino Control Commission

The New Jersey Casino Control Commission is a New Jersey state governmental agency that was founded in 1977 as the state's gaming control board, responsible for administering the Casino Control Act and its regulations to assure public trust and confidence in the credibility and integrity of the casino industry and casino operations in Atlantic City. Casinos operate under licenses granted by the Commission. The commission is headquartered in the Arcade Building at Tennessee Avenue and Boardwalk in Atlantic City.[81]

Casino Reinvestment Development Authority

The CRDA was founded in 1984 and is responsible for directing the spending of casino reinvestment funds in public and private projects to benefit Atlantic City and other areas of the state. From 1985 through April 2008, CRDA spent US$1.5 billion on projects in Atlantic City and US$300 million throughout New Jersey.[82]

Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority The Convention & Visitors Authority (ACCVA) was in charge of advertising and marketing for the city as well as promoting economic growth through convention and leisure tourism development. The ACCVA managed the Boardwalk Hall and Atlantic City Convention Center, as well as the Boardwalk Welcome Center inside Boardwalk Hall as well as a welcome center on the Atlantic City Expressway. In 2011, the ACCVA was absorbed into the CRDA as part of the state takeover that created the tourism district.[83]

Atlantic City Special Improvement District The Atlantic City Special Improvement District (SID) was a nonprofit organization created in 1992, which funded by a special assessment tax on businesses within the improvement district and carries out various activities to improve the city's business community, including street cleaning and promotional efforts. In 2011, the SID was absorbed by the CRDA, in which the former SID boundaries would be expanded to the include all areas in the newly formed tourism district. Under the new structure, established by state legislation, the CRDA assumed the staff, equipment and programs of the SID. The new SID division is accompanied by a SID committee made up of CRDA board members and an advisory council consisting of the current trustees and others.[84]


The Atlantic City School District serves students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grades. Schools in the district (with 2005–06 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics[85]) are Brighton Avenue School for preschool (72 students), eight K-8 elementary schools — Chelsea Heights School (383), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School Complex (613), New Jersey Avenue School (403), New York Avenue School (587), Richmond Avenue School (378), Sovereign Avenue School (792), Texas Avenue School (411) and Uptown School Complex (732) — Atlantic City High School for grades 9–12 (2,574), along with Venice Park School (35) and Viking Academy.[86]

Students from Brigantine, Longport, Margate City and Ventnor City attend Atlantic City High School as part of sending/receiving relationships with the respective school districts.[87]

Oceanside Charter School, which offers pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, was founded in 1999.[88]

Our Lady Star of the Sea Regional School is a Catholic elementary school, operated under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Camden.[89]

Nearby college campuses include those of Atlantic Cape Community College and Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, the latter of which offers classes and resources in the city such as the Carnegie Library Center.


Club Sport League Venue Year(s)
Atlantic City Diablos Soccer NPSL St. Augustine Prep School 2007–2008
Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies Ice Hockey ECHL Boardwalk Hall 2001–2005
Atlantic City CardSharks Indoor football NIFL Boardwalk Hall 2004
Atlantic City Surf Baseball Can-Am League Bernie Robbins Stadium 1998–2008
Atlantic City Seagulls Basketball USBL Atlantic City High School 1996–2001

On November 16, 2006, Hal Handel, CEO of Greenwood Racing, announced that the Atlantic City Race Course would increase live racing dates from four days per year, to up to 20 days per year. has been actively involved in expanding racing at the Atlantic City Race Course and created the movement to bring full time racing back to ACRC in 2005.

Media outlets

Newspapers and magazines

Radio stations

Atlantic City's radio market is ranked #139 in the nation.

WAYV 95.1 FM – Top 40
WTTH 96.1 FM – Urban AC (The Touch)
WFPG 96.9 FM – AC (Lite Rock 96.9)
WENJ 97.3 FM – ESPN Radio/Sports
WTKU 98.3 FM – Classic Hits (Kool 98.3)
WZBZ 99.3 FM – Rhythmic (Kiss FM)
WZXL 100.7 FM – Rock (The Rock Station)
WWAC 102.7 FM – Top 40 (AC 102.7)
WMGM 103.7 FM – Mainstream Rock (WMGM Rocks)
WSJO 104.9 FM – Hot AC (Sojo 104.9)
WPUR 107.3 FM – Country (Cat Country 107.3)
WWJZ 640 AM – Kids (Radio Disney)
WMID 1340 AM – Oldies
WOND 1400 AM – News/Talk
WENJ 1450 AM – ESPN Radio/Sports
WBSS 1490 AM – Sports

Television stations

The Federal Communications Commission has recently awarded a license for a full-power digital TV station at Atlantic City on VHF channel 4.


Rail and bus

New Jersey Transit train #4622 waits on Track 3 at the Atlantic City Rail Terminal
ACJA "Jitney" #29 on a casino shuttle run.
NJ Transit #2514 on the 505.

Atlantic City is connected to other cities in several ways. New Jersey Transit's Atlantic City Line runs from Philadelphia and several smaller South Jersey communities directly to the Atlantic City Rail Terminal at the Atlantic City Convention Center. Within the city, public transportation is provided by New Jersey Transit along thirteen routes, and by the Atlantic City Jitney Association (ACJA) on another four fixed-route lines and on shuttles to and from the rail terminal.

On June 20, 2006, the board of New Jersey Transit approved a three-year trial of express train service between New York Penn Station and the Atlantic City Rail Terminal. The approximate travel time is 2½ hours with a stop at Newark's Penn Station and is part of the Casinos' multi-million dollar investments in Atlantic City. Most of the funding for the new transit line is provided by Harrah's Entertainment (owners of both Harrah's Atlantic City and Caesars Atlantic City) and the Borgata. The line, known as ACES (Atlantic City Express Service), began service on February 6, 2009.[90]

The Atlantic City Bus Terminal is the home to local, intrastate and interstate bus companies including New Jersey Transit and Greyhound bus lines. The Greyhound Lucky Streak Express offers service to Atlantic City from New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C..


Access to Atlantic City by car is available via the 44 miles (71 km) Atlantic City Expressway, US 30 (commonly known as the White Horse Pike), and US 40/322 (commonly known as the Black Horse Pike). Atlantic City has an abundance of taxi cabs and a local jitney providing continuous service to and from the casinos and the rest of the city.

Airline service

Commercial airlines serve Atlantic City via Atlantic City International Airport, located 9 miles (14 km) northwest of the city in Egg Harbor Township. Many travelers also fly into Philadelphia International Airport or Newark Liberty International Airport, where there are wider selections of carriers from which to choose. The historic downtown Bader Field airport is now permanently closed and plans are in the works to redevelop the land.

The two airlines serving Atlantic City International Airport are AirTran Airways and Spirit Airlines. AirTran Airways provides direct service to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta. Spirit Airlines provides direct service to Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Both are Low-cost carriers.



The AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center City Campus

The AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center is a health system based in Atlantic City. Founded in 1898, it includes two hospitals; the Atlantic City Campus and the Mainland Campus in Pomona, New Jersey. It has Atlantic City's only cancer institute, heart institute, and neonatal intensive care unit.


South Jersey Industries provides natural gas to the city under the South Jersey Gas division. Marina Energy and its subsidiary, Energenic, a joint business venture with a long-time business partner, operate two Thermal plants in the city. The Marina Thermal Plant serves the Borgata while a second plant serves the Resorts Hotel and Casino.[91] Another Thermal plant is the Midtown Thermal Control Center on Atlantic and Ohio Avenues built by Conectiv.

Electrical power in Atlantic City as well as the surrounding area is primarily served by Atlantic City Electric, with power sources coming from the Beesley's Point Generating Station in Upper Township, as well as other locations.

The Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm, opened in 2005, is the first onshore coastal wind farm in the United States.[92] In October 2010, North American Offshore Wind Conference was held in the city and included tours of the facility and potential sites for further development.[93] In February 2011, the state passed legislation permitting the construction of windmills for electricity along pre-existing piers, such as the Steel Pier.[94][95] The first phase of the Atlantic Wind Connection, a planned electrical transmission backbone along the Jersey Shore is planned to be operational in 2013.

The development of wind power in New Jersey could lead to the construction of the first American windfarm using offshore wind power off the coast at Atlantic City as early as 2012. In May 2011, Cape May-based Fisherman's Energy gained New Jersey approval for a demonstration project to built six wind turbines 2.5 miles (4.0 km) off the coast called "Fisherman's Atlantic City Windfarm".[96] The project still needs a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit before construction can begin. Sited in state waters, less than 3 nautical miles (5.6 km) from shore, it will not require other federal approval. It will have power generation capacity of less than 25 megawatts and will cost between $250 million to $300 million. The project may come on line late 2012, making the first commercial offshore wind farms in the USA,[97][98][99] earning the city the title of "Birthplace of Offshore Wind Energy in the Americas".[96]

In popular culture

In addition to the city's recent exposure in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, Atlantic City has been featured in several other aspects of pop culture.

In film

  • A majority of the 1972 film, The King of Marvin Gardens, takes place in a snow-covered Atlantic City prior to casino gambling.
  • The 1980 movie, Atlantic City, took place in various parts of the city.
  • The 1998 film, Snake Eyes, was set at a boxing match inside an unnamed casino in Atlantic City.
  • Part of the 2010 movie, The Bounty Hunter, takes place at the Borgata and Trump Taj Mahal.
  • One of the early fights in the 2010 film, The Fighter, took place in Atlantic City.
  • One of the fights in the 2011 movie, Warrior, takes place inside Boardwalk Hall, with the post-fight press conference taking place on the boardwalk and a pre-fight talk between the two brothers taking place on the beach outside Trump Plaza

In literature

In music

Notable residents

Notable current and former residents of Atlantic City include:


Panoramic view of The Pier Shops at Caesars.


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