Atlantic City historian Allen “Boo” Pergament writes about the Atlantic City Boardwalk he sees when walking down the famed wooden way — Part 2.
In Part One in last week’s issue, historian Allen “Boo” Pergament’s stroll down the Atlantic City Boardwalk took us on a historic stroll from the north-end Inlet section down to Haddon Hall Hotel (the site of what would become Resorts Atlantic City). Here is Part Two of Boo’s travels ...
A favorite display was the DuPont Exhibit on the Boardwalk side of the Haddon Hall Hotel. There you would see a wonderful display of items for the future as well as a chemist perform what seemed like feats of magic with an array of chemicals.
Down the way again, you would enjoy listening to the auctioneer’s spiel at his stand in front of an auction gallery. He would offer free items such as cigarette lighters, pens, etc., to lure strollers into the store for hopeful bidding on the larger-priced jewelry items. And wasn’t it great to watch the horses and ponies waiting for their next rider or galloping along the water’s edge?
You’d then go by different Salt Water Taffy stores — Jame’s, Fralinger’s, Steel’s, Higgins’, Tripician’s, etc. It was always fun to watch someone operating the taffy-pulling machine. Passing Child’s Restaurant at South Carolina Avenue, you could always count on seeing a roast pig on a spit in their front window.
Looking across at Central Pier, you’d watch the “Sky Needle” carry passengers in its revolving cage to the top for an awesome view. Seeing hundreds of pigeons swarming around and settling down on someone’s shoulder or hand for some feed was a common sight. The scrumptious aroma of Taylor’s or Case’s Pork Roll would reach your nostrils, challenging you not to stop for one.
As you reached Park Place, it was always enjoyable to stand at the Boardwalk railing and watch the colorful array of lights flashing on the water, spewing high in the air from the fountain below. You could also catch glimpses of the beautiful and ornate lobbies of Stanley and Warner theatres with their gorgeous draperies, rugs, and marble stairways.
At Million Dollar Pier, you could watch the large electric sign with four horses on an oval track, which would operate perpetually.
It was programmed so that there never was a pattern, and therefore the outcome could never be known in advance. Many a bet was “wagered” from board-walkers watching the races. On one of the Pier’s front windows,
Camel’s cigarette-making machine had thousands of newly made cigarettes piled on top of each other and moving along to be packaged. Continuing, the magnificence of the huge block-long “World’s Largest Convention Hall” was always an imposing structure along with its impressive Colonnade on the ocean side.
At Missouri Avenue, for many years, was the carnival-looking stand of the “weight guesser.” If he didn’t guess your weight within three pounds, after you stepped on his huge scale, you received one of the many prizes displayed.
Don’t forget, all the while you’re taking this stroll you’re also viewing the glamorous architecture of the major Boardwalk hotels such as the Breakers, St. Charles, Seaside, Strand, Chalfonte-Haddon Hall, Senator (right off the Boardwalk), Mayflower, Brighton, Claridge (right off the Boardwalk), Marlborough-Blenheim, Dennis, Shelburne, Ambassador, Ritz, President and many others. Keep in mind that you also had beautifully designed and attractive comfort stations at Maryland, New York and Missouri avenues, and at Convention Hall’s Colonnade.
With all of this excitement, activity, and interesting things to see during a healthful stroll down the world-famous promenade, you would inhale the freshest, cleanest air in the world and watch the breaking waves gently crash onto the beautiful sandy beaches … and it didn’t cost anything!
What are your memories of the Atlantic City Boardwalk?
courtesy of the atlantic city free public library
A postcard depicting the Marlborough-Blenheim
The famed wooden way can boast not only a rich history but a promising future as well. Originally commissioned solely to keep beachgoers from tracking sand into oceanfront hotels and railroad cars, Atlantic City’s Boardwalk has grown into a highway of entertainment and one of the country’s most noteworthy shore-side playgrounds.
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One had only to take a “stroll” on the Atlantic City Boardwalk to have a wonderful and eventful time without spending anything! You could begin anywhere, but let’s start in the Inlet section at Capt. Starn’s.
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