The famed Steel Pier is one of the few family attractions in the city, but its success may be catching on.
ATLANTIC CITY — It’s been nearly a year since Gov. Chris Christie stood on the Atlantic City Boardwalk last July and issued a challenge to the city, the state, the Legislature — you name it. Christie said that by July 2011 he wanted to see a Boardwalk filled with families and family attractions.
If only government worked that way.
It took nearly a year to figure out how to define the boundaries and implement state authority over Christie’s proposed Tourism District, which includes the Boardwalk, with it ultimately coming under the authority of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA).
Little concrete change happened as it was all sorted out.
In the meantime, Anthony Catanoso, owner of the Steel Pier Family Amusements, one of the few family attractions on the Boardwalk, and for that matter the city, has waited patiently.
And after about 20 years of pushing for the city to once again market to families, and add family attractions, he’s still remarkably patient.
“I don’t think you can really be surprised at the pace of the Tourism District,” he says. “When the governor spoke, he didn’t really offer any specifics ... you knew it would take time to implement.”
What’s more important to Catanoso is that family attractions are back in the discussion.
“What I say to people who say that the city should be marketing to an adult market is pretty simple,” he says. “’How’s that working out for you?’ That’s what the city has been doing all along and it’s failing. And there’s only going to be more competition and more casinos coming on line. And are we talking about making the city sleazier? Is that what we want?
“If you look at what’s happened in the city since the economy went bad, only two things in the city went up. That’s The Walk and us. And I very much see The Walk as a family attraction. It’s the family attractions that have succeeded.”
In fact, Catanoso points to more attractions than one might think in the city as family oriented besides the obvious Atlantic City Aquarium at Gardner’s Basin and Absecon Lighthouse.
George Jackson opened the Steel Pier in 1898, less than 50 years after Atlantic City’s incorporation. He was followed by owner Frank P. Gravatt, a showman who realized the public’s appetite for an eclectic mix of entertainment in one location at one price, 25 cents.
The Catanoso brothers were already seasoned amusement-park veterans when they reopened Atlantic City’s Steel Pier with 14 rides in 1993, a scant 22 days after signing a five-year lease that extended to the year the famous Pier turned 100.
The ACA is developing a broad-based media campaign program with the intention of reaching as much as the Northeast as possible, from Boston down to Washington, D.C. It is expected to begin in mid-April.
Steel Pier Associates, LLC, it was announced late Wednesday, Aug. 3, has become the new and latest owner of Atlantic City's famed Steel Pier, an amusement park with a rich history, which resides on the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
Forty years ago this summer at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, the Allman Brothers Band shared a bill with another legendary performer — a four-footed one.
Archive photos (circa 1900-1910) courtesy of Library of Congress; Modern (2007) photos by Tom Briglia Long before the casinos arrived, Atlantic City's Steel Pier was the place to see the greatest ent...
As the bus rolled across southern New Jersey, Doug Potash could feel the anticipation build as he drew closer to Atlantic City. It was Friday, July 1, 1966, the start of the Independence Day weekend....
It was the middle of World War II and the radio show was called Night Trick, a network-feed broadcast on Atlantic City's WFPG (World's Famous Playground) from the Steel Pier. Announcer Ed Hurst, who ...
There was a time in Atlantic City, before the casinos and pay-per-view boxing, when the crown jewel of the city's summer attractions was the Steel Pier. Tantamount to Coney Island in New York or any number of traveling carnivals that thrived throughout the country during the past century or so, the Steel Pier was synonymous with the sort of beachfront festival atmosphere that now defines summertime fun. Although rides and carnival games could be found on almost any boardwalk in any beach state, because Atlantic City attracted so many visitors from its surrounding metropolitan areas, that summer palette of carousels and cotton candy was coupled with performances by top headliners such as Guy Lombardo, Frank Sinatra, the Three Stooges and Bob Hope. When Atlantic City Boardwalk strollers were not being entertained by Ol' Blue Eyes or Moe, Larry and Shemp, the famous (or perhaps infamous) diving horse lead a cavalcade of big-top performers whose roots went back to the old Buffalo Bill Cody traveling circus of the 19th century. Human cannonballs, high divers, trapeze artists and daredevil motorcyclists would perform either on one of the pier's many stages or right there among the patrons. After almost 80 years of operation, the...