The Atlantic City Free Public Library now manages the A.C. Historical Museum inside the newly renovated Garden Pier, and has a lot of interesting enticements in store for visitors.
Many new programs have been put in place by the ACFPL since assuming management of the museum, the next of which is entitled “The Atlantic City Experience: The Night Clubs and the Northside.” It is scheduled for 2pm Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Historical Museum, and Ralph E. Hunter Sr., the founder of the African-American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey, will be the guest speaker.
“We held our first program earlier [in October],” says Latham. “[Author/historian] Vicki Gold Levi and our Heston archivist, Heather Perez, spoke about Atlantic City in the 1920s. They’re both historical consultants for [the hit HBO series] Boardwalk Empire. We had a tremendous turnout for that discussion. We’re thrilled to have Mr. Hunter as the guest speaker for our November program. He’s a joy to watch in action. He’s such a great historian and storyteller.
“Beginning in 2013 we are going to offer the Second Saturday Speaker Series,” adds Latham. “In addition to having these discussions, which will take place in the museum’s community room, we also have some additional special events planned. I think people are really going to enjoy them.”
The Garden Pier was originally built in 1913 as the seventh of what could be labeled Atlantic City’s golden age of piers. In 1918, the marquee magician of that era (and undoubtedly one of the most famous escape artists of all time), Harry Houdini, fashioned a daring escape in front of a packed vaudeville house called the Keith Theater on the far ocean end of the 700-foot pier. The then privately owned pier also featured a landscaped courtyard, a pond, gazebos, art displays, and a typewriter as big as a house that was as much a novelty item as it was a tool to teach children about the age of mechanization.
In 1921, the first Inter-City Bathing Beauty Contest participants strutted before judges at the Keith Theatre in what would eventually evolve into the Miss America Pageant. John Philip Sousa’s marching band, Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra and singer/entertainer Rudy Vallee all performed at the Garden Pier along with an expansive variety of entertainment and the biggest names of the day.
The Pier fell on hard times in the mid-20th century. In 1944 a summer hurricane caused severe damage but left most of it standing before it fell into further disrepair. The city of Atlantic City eventually took ownership, demolished it, and rebuilt it in time for Atlantic City’s Centennial celebration of 1954. The new Garden Pier had an art deco look (as it does today) and an outdoor amphitheater where the Keith Theatre formerly stood. Economic hardships would again befall the pier and a 1981 fire gutted its Art Center, but the center was redesigned and reconstructed in 1994 and is now situated across the courtyard from the Historical Museum that the ACFPL now oversees.
The museum’s hours of operation are 10am-5pm seven days a week. It is free and open to the public, but donations are accepted and appreciated.
Each Friday acweekly.com presents a new episode in the "Atlantic City History: Conversations & Storytelling" web video series, inspired by HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" series, and featuring the conversations on six selected topics between Atlantic City historians Vicki Gold Levi, All "Boo" Pergament, Pinky Kravitz, Ralph Hunter, Jim Waltzer and Israel Posner.
For years the Atlantic City Free Public Library (ACFPL), located at One North Tennessee Ave. in A.C., has been putting together an exceptional array of free exhibits and activities to honor February as Black History Month.
As a Boardwalk native and the author of one of A.C.’s definitive history books, curiosity should have long since replaced emotion for Vicki Gold Levi...
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Plus, Stockton College's Two Fall Art Exhibitions, Garden Pier Re-Opens with a twist, and Drew Toonz.
The Atlantic City Free Public Library will now be operating the Atlantic City Historical Museum located across from Revel on the Garden Pier.
The CRDA announced progress in an effort to restore and enhance the 100-year old pier, which has been owned by the city since 1944. R.E. Pierson was awarded a contract to stabilize the Garden Pier’s substructure and remove an unusable building at the end of the pier, which will open up views to the ocean
The Wrecking Crüe
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Fight Night at Boardwalk Hall