Take it from someone who grew up spending summers in Ventnor there are lots of fun things at the Jersey Shore!
From the time I was born, I spent my summers at the Jersey Shore. Back in those days Atlantic City and the rest of the small towns on Absecon Island were family oriented. They were quiet sleepy towns that came alive in the summer. The only reason we went were those beautiful beaches, the cool ocean, and the boardwalk. There were only a handful of restaurants. Mostly casual delis or diner style establishments. Times have surely changed. But Steve and I haven’t. We still love to spend the day at the beach soaking up those delicious rays of sunshine! It was August and hot so the cool ocean called to us over and over.
The biggest influence being the casino industry. Sadly, Atlantic City is no longer so family friendly. Ventnor, Margate, and Longport, those other small towns, have blossomed into more upscale places for families to live and play. If they can afford it that is. Real Estate and taxes have gone through the roof. And new, enormous homes are replacing some of the older ones that couldn’t be salvaged. A perfect example is this gorgeous mansion right on the boardwalk facing the ocean in Margate. This one is so big that it goes from one street all the way to the next! It’s for sale and could be yours for a mere $2.1 million.
One of the fun things at the Jersey shore is checking out new hotels. At a time when so many of the older casino hotels have closed, a new one has come to life. Several years ago a new hotel was built on the boardwalk down towards the inlet. It was called Revel but little reveling was done there because it opened and then closed soon after. It remained vacant for several years until it reopened in 2018. It was a real treat to tour the lobby with lots of cool things on display including musician Slash’s motorcycle and Atlantic City’s first slot machine from Resorts International.
We were in Atlantic City for the summer the year that Resorts opened. In fact, we had a friend who was a high roller and had a front row center table for 12 reserved for every headliner that appeared there. We were lucky to be included and saw fabulous entertainers! Sometimes we even went on the beach during the wee hours after a show to watch meteor showers.
Another fun thing at the Jersey shore is a visit to Lucy the Elephant. Lucy began her life as Elephant Bazaar in Margate in 1881. The structure, which was built for somewhere between $25,000 and $38,000, was modeled after Jumbo the Elephant from Barnum and Bailey’s Greatest Show on Earth. It stands 65-feet tall, 60-feet in length, and 18-feet in width and weighs about 90 tons. Lucy was built with nearly 1 million pieces of wood and required 200 kegs of nails, and 4 tons of bolts and iron bars. There are 12,000 square feet of tin that covers the exterior and 22 windows are placed throughout the structure. Lucy was built to promote real estate sales and attract tourists. Today, Lucy is the oldest surviving roadside tourist attraction in America.
In 1887 Anton Gertzen of Philadelphia bought Elephant Bazaar and it remained in the family until 1970. It was his daughter Sophia who dubbed it Lucy the Elephant in 1902 and the name has stuck ever since. Through the first half of the 20th century, Lucy served as a restaurant, business office, cottage, and tavern. The building was depicted on many souvenir postcards, often referred to as “The Elephant Hotel of Atlantic City.” It turns out the actual hotel was in a nearby building, not inside the elephant.