Built in America : Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey, 1933 - Present
Atlantic City, New Jersey
In 1852, New Jersey businessmen and a Philadelphia-based railroad and land company received a railroad charter to run trains from Camden to Atlantic City. Atlantic city was incorporated two years later and the first train arrived there on July 1, 1854. The city's reputation as a prime destination for vacations and conventions developed in the subsequent decades.
The Atlantic City Boardwalk was first created as a ten-foot-wide walkway in 1870 so that "strollers would not return to hotels, trains, and businesses with sand in their shoes," (page 2). A decade later, the city built a new boardwalk. The boardwalk hosted more than 100 businesses alongside its wooden platform, by 1883, and was the heart of the area’s commercial and entertainment center:
The first pier, Howard’s Pier, constructed in 1882, had a pavilion for theater and vaudeville . . . Applegate’s Pier opened in 1884, providing music and vaudeville, a picnic area, a parking lot for baby carriages, and an ice water fountain. The Iron Pier (1886) . . . was sold to H.J. Heinz and Company [in 1898] and became the famous Heinz Pier . . . . [with] permanent displays of the company’s products, and gave away free samples. After opening in 1898, the Steel Pier entertained crowds with moving pictures, band and orchestra concerts; it hosted national conventions and commercial exhibits.
The Atlantic City Convention Hall was built between 1926 and 1929 to cement the city's reputation as a prime site for national conventions.
- Why do you think that Atlantic City flourished as a resort town?
- Who do you think traveled there during the late nineteenth century?
- How do you think that the city has changed since the introduction of gambling during the 1970s?
- What do the architectural features of the city suggest about its character and function?