The Atlantic City Boardwalk
No tour of Atlantic City is complete without a walk
on the world-famous Atlantic City Boardwalk.
The world’s most famous Boardwalk was built in 1870,and there is
still nothing like it in the world.
Lined with shops, restaurants and food stands, casinos and more, it’s a people-watcher’s delight
A Stroll on the Wooden Way is Steeped in History
The Atlantic City Boardwalk. It is the famed promenade known for the roaring sea and dozens of confection shops and amusements.
Surprisingly, the most famous walkway on the East Coast was not built to be anything more than a solution to keeping the sand out of the ritzy
beachfront hotels and the Camden and Atlantic’s railroad passenger cars.
A fed-up railroad conductor and hotel owner first petitioned to the city
council in 1870, asking that a mile-long footwalk be established.
The first of
the famed boards was dedicated on June 16, 1870.
No commerce of any kind was allowed within thirty feet of the walk, and at the end of each
summer season for many years, the Boardwalk was actually taken apart and stored for the winter months.
Ten years later, vacationers had splintered
the Boardwalk. The go-ahead was given at this time as well for commerce to
get closer than thirty feet, ten to be exact.
By 1883, this ordinance was “tossed to sea” and almost one hundred stores, stalls and stands had
A storm in 1884 was the cause for a third boardwalk to be built, twenty-feet wide,
two miles long.
Safety was not exactly the first thing you thought of when it came to the Boardwalk.
There were no railings, and accounts told of at least somebody every day falling
off the boards, usually in the act of flirting.
An 1889 hurricane brought about a new, improved, and almost final Boardwalk.
It was all about bigger and better with this one, 24-feet wide, 10 feet high, nearly 4 miles long, and railings on both sides.
Its popularity and large crowds demanded some small improvements and expansion in 1896.
The year 1916 saw the design of the present herringbone board pattern, supportive steel pilings,
and forty-foot steel beams, making it the Boardwalk it is today. By the early 1900s,
the Boardwalk had replaced the ocean as Atlantic City’s greatest and most romantic attraction.
It had the strollers, the rolling chairs, the bathers and the lovers.
The 1920s saw the full-blown hoopla of Atlantic City from the Boardwalk.
Stunts, shows, the greatest big band music of the era,
the original Miss America pageant and parades were all part of the mix, all at its feet.
Women and men in the latest fashions, who wanted to be seen,
knew the Boardwalk was the place to be.
In 1929, just months before the stock market and U.S. economy crashed,
the New York Times toasted the Boardwalk as, “A magnificent proof of America’s newly found wealth and leisure.
As 1942 rumors began flying that German U-boats were on the watch along the coast,
Boardwalk lamps were shaded for protection.
The 1950s and 1960s gave the Boardwalk some real star power, and then some.
Some famous feet to
tread upon the boards included Marilyn Monroe, Jimmy Durante, Ed Sullivan, Joe DiMaggio, Frank Sinatra, Milton Berle, Dean Martin and Bing Crosby.
The Beatles ate the city’s world famous subs on it.
Jayne Mansfield filmed scenes
from The Burglar on it.
The late 1970s saw the groundbreaking decision
to bring casino gaming to the fading beach resort.
The Boardwalk stood as proud as ever when Resorts International first opened its doors on
Memorial Day Weekend, 1978.
With the legalization of gambling,
hotels, stores and piers along the Boardwalk started to make like deeds in a Monopoly game and changed hands rapidly.
The boards stood by as
out-of-town bigwigs came, saw and invested.
Over a century
after its emergence and evolution, the Boardwalk still
stands as a historic American symbol of good times and rich culture.
Some may still believe that
Atlantic City’s future rides on the roll of a dice.
They just might want to take a stroll on that timeless Boardwalk to realize this city is going nowhere but
up. Place your bets!