Atlantic City is called the Las Vegas of the East. The first casino was built in the year 1978, long after the Atlantic City came into existence.
Here are nine unique things you must see in Atlantic City before you die.
1 – Gambling in Your Bed
Yes, you read that right. You don’t even have to leave your bed to begin gambling in Atlantic City. The Borgata Casino & Spa hotel allows its guests to place bets while they’re still in their beds. This is a unique opportunity.
The Borgata Casino & Spa allows you to gamble at all times, no matter where you are. You can now place your bets while having your breakfast right on your bed. No need to dress appropriately either. This is because your dress robes are suitable attire for the occasion.
The guests can place their bets via their TV sets, and guests with a player’s card can bet up to $2,500 a day. You can only place bets on slots and four different types of video poker games for now, but it’s expected that more games will get added in the future. The upper limit placed on the daily betting amount will go up too, but until then, check in and start betting.
Just don’t expect to be able to manipulate the dice. You cannot do that from your bed and this is not an Ocean 11’s movie.
2 – World’s Largest Pipe Organ
Boardwalk Hall was originally built as a convention hall and is one of the most famous convention halls in Atlantic City. It’s also known as the Historic Atlantic City Convention Hall.
The world’s largest pipe organ is also found in Boardwalk Hall, but that’s not the only reason why it’s so famous – this unique convention hall is the original location for the Miss America Competition. The hall was declared as a National US Historic Landmark in 1987, and has a seating capacity of 10,500.
The pipe organ has more than 33,000 individual organ pipes, which makes it the largest and the loudest musical instrument in the world. It took three years to build the organ, from 1929 to 1932. The concept, design, and the organ build were completed by Midmer-Losh Organ Company. They’re located in Merrick, Long Island, New York. You can see details of all the organs and its different tones on the official website of the Boardwalk Hall.
They didn’t have a website in 1930 but they do now. Al Gore hadn’t invented the Internet yet!
3 – The Diving Horses
In 1890, William Frank Carver came up with a unique idea. The idea was to make the horses dive from a certain height into a pool of water.
The horses trained for this with the riders sitting on their backs. They jump from a 40-foot tower into a pool of water. Imagine the thrill of riding a horse and then, jumping in a pool of water 40 feet below! It sounds like a scene right out a Hollywood movie.
The pool was 12 feet in size. The act was first opened in Atlantic City in 1920 and was immediately a fantastic hit. These horses were called the Evel Knievels of their times. The act was so famous that it was also featured in a Disney movie in the year 1991, Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken. Sonora, wife of Al Floyd Carver, lost her eyesight after her horse lost balance while diving. She continued diving blind even after the accident. She was very brave.
She still had her hearing too! She heard the applause year after year as her act entertained so many people from all over the world.
4 – Lucy is Older than the Statue of Liberty
Lucy is the name of a six story high elephant building built in Margate, New Jersey. A spiral staircase allows visitors to reach the top of the building. It offers a clear 360-degree view of the surrounding area. No; you can’t see the Grand Canyon from the top, but you can see for a long way out.
It was built in 1881 and the Statue of Liberty was dedicated in 1886. The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889. Lucy was built to attract visitors and increase sales of real estate in the area. It has been named as one of the oldest road side attractions of America.
Very few people know that it was earlier named Elephant Bazaar. It was later renamed. James V. Laferty won the exclusive patent to build animal-shaped buildings in 1881 for a period of 17 years. His imagination was remarkable.
Over the years, Lucy has been used as a restaurant, office for business, a tavern, and even a cottage. Now, it’s mostly a casual tourist attraction. You can get a little exercise climbing the stairs, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Make sure you go a little slow; you don’t want to get dizzy while walking up or down it.
5 – 11,000 Pounds of Toffee Daily
Fralingers is a family owned business that went into operation in 1880 in Atlantic City. They only use traditional ingredients for producing this taffy. Joseph F. Fralinger is one of the most famous confectioneries of all times. He’s credited for being the most successful merchandiser in Salt Lake City.
It remains to this date the largest producer of candies. And they produce 33,000 pounds of toffee every day or 600 pieces every minute. That comes to over 600,000 lbs of toffee every year.
If you have some of this toffee, make sure you climb Lucy to counter these extra calories! You can climb Lucy while eating some of this toffee. Just don’t drop any toffee, as you don’t want to get anyone stuck to the ground or stairs!
The origin story of the taffy is a curious one. It’s said that the assistant used sea water instead of fresh water once to make the taffy. It was either an accident or laziness on part of the assistant, yet the taffy was instantly a huge hit. The salt water taffy remains, to this day, one of the most famous souvenirs for those who visit Atlantic City.
It’s not like there’s not enough salt water on this planet.
6 – First US Boardwalk
The first US Boardwalk was built in Atlantic City in 1870. The total cost of building this boardwalk was only $5,000. No commercial activity was allowed within 30 feet of the boardwalk. That has changed now. Now it’s lined with businesses all over the place.
The purpose of building this boardwalk was simple and effective. It was to keep sand from piling up on the lobbies of the hotels. The boardwalk was removed at the end of the peak season every year which made it a tedious task. The boardwalk became famous and popular, and later became a permanent attraction.
At the time of its grand opening the Boardwalk stood one foot over and above the sand. It was one mile long and only eight feet wide in area. After many updates the Boardwalk is now over four miles long. It hosts several coffee shops, restaurants, and more. That’s a lot of wood.
At one time, the Boardwalk was over seven miles long. This was before it got destroyed in the Great Atlantic Hurricane in 1944.
7 – Miss America
Atlantic City is, and will always be, the first home of the Miss America competition. It has its humble beginnings in the city of Atlantic City. It was later moved to Las Vegas for a period of seven years before returning to Atlantic City once again.
The first ever Miss America contest started on September 7th, 1921. It was a two day event. Participants came from all the states of America as well as different cities of the country.
It was called the Atlantic City Pageant. Margaret Gorman was the first ever Miss America who won a three foot tall Golden Mermaid for a trophy. Due to reasons undisclosed, she wasn’t called Miss America for an entire year. She participated again the following year and lost. Then she was called Miss America.
After the Miss America event left Atlantic City, another event was introduced. It’s conducted by and for the LGBT community. It’s known as the Miss’s America Pageant, is now held annually at the Boardwalk Convention Hall.
It has its origins in a fundraiser in the year 1994, but became a regular annual event after that. Drag Queens are seen walking down the aisle like beauty pageants in Miss America. But this isn’t as popular as the normal Miss American pageant.
In the early 1960s, the Miss America event became the highest rated program on television. This was much to the chagrin of wives and girlfriends everywhere.
It’s not as popular now as it used to be. But it exemplifies the freedom of America. And why this country still attracts so many people from all over the world. Many countries in the world would never have an event like this. And many countries all over the world have their own pageants as well.
8 – The First Casino
It’s easy to think of casinos and players when you imagine Atlantic City, or when you hear the name for the first time. The name is synonymous with the image of a casino land. Yet, the first casino was built in 1978. It was called Resorts International, now known as Resorts Atlantic City. A referendum passed in 1976 to approve casino gambling. It wanted to compete with Las Vegas.
Atlantic City was a tourist resort for travelers looking for exotic resorts. And then came the gaming boom of the early 70s and the 80s. This transformed the image of Atlantic City completely. It’s now known for being a tourist attraction for gamblers.
It has 12 casinos and has been ranked second in revenue in 2011 and every year since. Las Vegas is the gambling mecca of America, and has been for years. Atlantic City came second only to Las Vegas and took $2.6 billion from gamblers in 2016. This is the first revenue boost from this city in a decade. But this should continue as the economy improves under a pro-growth president.
Several boxing fights like those of Mike Tyson were organized in Atlantic City. This has only contributed to its popularity. Many people miss those big fight nights.
Atlantic City has not been managed that well; high taxes is one reason. This is why Vegas is the top gambling site in America. Atlantic City is in New Jersey and this state is known for corruption.
Regardless, Atlantic City is still an amazing place and there’s a lot to do.
9 – Absecon Lighthouse
Situated on the north coast of Atlantic City, the Absecon Lighthouse has 228 steps. More exercise after eating that toffee and other treats they sell in this iconic city. This makes it the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey. It stands 171 (52m) high. It’s also the third tallest lighthouse in the US. Unfortunately, it was closed in 1933; but, it’s still lit every single night to this day.
Here’s a cool fact for nerds. The lighthouse has Fresnel Lens, and yes, they’re originals. Pretty cool, huh? If you’re a historic nerd, you know what that means. For others; it’s lens that allows you to see the light from far distances.
The construction of the lighthouse began in 1854 and the first ever light was lit in it on January 15th, 1857. It’s no longer used for navigational aid purposes because we have GPS now. But it stands as a reminder of its historic significance.
You can visit the watch room and the adjoining gallery at the top for a small donation which is worth it. The keeper’s quarters were recreated in 2002 and are open for tourists to visit. Some lighthouses have been bought and are privately owned. But this one still remains open to the public and isn’t owned by any single person or family.
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