The Stamp and Coin Place Blog: connecting the past and present of stamp and coin collecting, and looking to the future.

Traveling with Postcards: Atlantic City

Atlantic City Boardwalk

The Atlantic City Boardwalk opened on June 26, 1870, originally intended as a temporary structure erected for the summer season that was the first boardwalk in the United States. The Boardwalk starts at Absecon Inlet in the north and runs along the beach south-west to the city limit 4 miles away then continues 1 1⁄2 miles into Ventnor City. Casino/hotels front the boardwalk, as well as retail stores, restaurants, and amusements. Notable attractions include the Boardwalk Hall, House of Blues, and the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum.

The Boardwalk has been home to several piers over the years. The first pier, Ocean Pier, was built in 1882. It eventually fell into disrepair and was demolished. Another famous pier built during that time was Steel Pier, opened in 1898, which once billed itself as “The Showplace of the Nation”. It now operates as an amusement pier across from the Hard Rock. Captain John Lake Young opened “Young’s Million Dollar Pier” as an arcade hall in 1903, and on the seaward side “erected a marble mansion”, fronted by a formal garden, with lighting and landscaping designed by Young’s longtime friend Thomas Alva Edison. Young’s Million Dollar Pier, Atlantic City’s largest amusement pier during its time”, was transformed into a shopping mall in the 1980s, known as “Shops on Ocean One”. In 2006, the Ocean One mall was bought, renovated and re-branded as “The Pier Shops at Caesars” and in 2015, it was renamed “Playground Pier.” Garden Pier, located opposite Revel Atlantic City, once housed a movie theater, and is now home to the Atlantic City Historical Museum.

Lucy the Elephant

Lucy the Elephant is a six-story elephant-shaped example of novelty architecture, constructed of wood and tin sheeting in 1881 by James V. Lafferty in Margate City, New Jersey, approximately five miles south of Atlantic City. Originally named Elephant Bazaar, Lucy was built to promote real estate sales and attract tourists. Today, Lucy is the oldest surviving roadside tourist attraction in America.

Through the first half of the 20th century, Lucy served as a restaurant, business office, cottage, and tavern (the last closed by Prohibition). The building was depicted on many souvenir postcards, often referred to as “The Elephant Hotel of Atlantic City.” (The actual hotel was in a nearby building, not inside the elephant.)

By the 1960s, Lucy had fallen into disrepair and was scheduled for demolition. In 1969, Edwin T. Carpenter and a group of Margate citizens formed the Margate Civic Association, which later became the Save Lucy Committee under Josephine Harron and Sylvia Carpenter. They were given a 30-day deadline to move the edifice or pay for its demolition. Various fundraising events, the most successful a door-to-door canvass by volunteers, raised money.

On July 20,1970 Lucy was moved about 100 yards to the west-southwest to a city owned lot and completely refurbished. The move took about seven hours. The building’s original wooden frame was buttressed new steel, and the deteriorated howdah was replaced with a replica. A plug of green glass set into the howdah platform refracts light into Lucy’s interior.

Knife and Fork Inn

The Knife and Fork Inn is a restaurant located at the confluence of Atlantic and Pacific Avenues in Atlantic City, NJ which was first opened in 1912 as a private club by “the Commodore” Louis Kuehnle and then in 1927 “on the eve of prohibition” became an exclusive dining room catering to the municipalities’ upper echelons founded by the New York City hotelier Milton Latz.

Among the celebrities and power brokers who wined and dined there during its original run were entertainers such as Rosemary Clooney, Vic Damone and Bob Hope, as well as the casino mogul Steve Wynn and two former Governors of New Jersey, James Florio and Christine Todd Whitman. However it would be one specific mover and shaker later to be fictionalized in the HBO megahit series Boardwalk Empire, the Atlantic City power boss and racketeer, Enoch Nucky Johnson who would hold forth in an era in which then when portrayed would bring the Kife and Fork Inn newfound fame.

Although Babette’s Supper Club was not around in the earliest days of Prohibition as depicted in the aforementioned series, the Knife & Fork would have been the closest establishment to mirror the scenes which take place in Babette’s on the show at that time and indeed it was chosen to portray the other legendary long gone establishment in the series. In a later season of Boardwalk Empire, the Knife & Fork itself was mentioned and a facsimile was recreated for a major scene in the show.

Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel

The Marlborough-Blenheim Hotel was a historic resort hotel property in Atlantic City, NJ, built in 1902-1906, and sadly, demolished in October 1978.

In 1900, Josiah White III bought a parcel of land between Ohio Avenue and Park Place on the Boardwalk, and built the Queen Anne style Marlborough House. The hotel was financially successful and, in 1905, he chose to expand. White hired Philadelphia architect Will Price of Price and McLanahan to design a new, separate tower to be called the Blenheim. “Blenheim” refers to Blenheim Palace in England, the ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill, a grandson of the Duke of Marlborough.
In 1977 Reese Palley and local attorney and businessman Martin Blatt bought the Marlborough-Blenheim and planned to preserve the Blenheim half of the hotel, along with adjacent Dennis Hotel for his Park Place Casino. Palley was successful in getting the Blenheim part of the hotel placed on the National Register of Historic Buildings, while planning to raze the Marlborough to make way for a new modern hotel. Ten days later, he stepped aside when Bally Manufacturing purchased a controlling interest in the project. After Bally took control, they announced plans to raze the Marlborough-Blenheim and the adjacent Dennis Hotel, despite protests, to make way for the new “Bally’s Park Place Casino and Hotel”. However, in an effort to offset costs and get the casino opened as fast as they could they chose to keep the Dennis Hotel, which would serve as the temporary hotel for Bally’s until a new tower was built.

Bally demolished the wood-framed Marlborough with the conventional wrecking ball. For the Blenheim the company hired Controlled Demolition, Inc. (CDI) and Winzinger Incorporated of Hainesport New Jersey, which had taken down the Traymore Hotel, to implode the structure. A preservation group which had sought historic status for the building won a stay of execution for the Blenheim’s rotunda portion on the Boardwalk. It was separated from the rest of the hotel, which was imploded in the fall of 1978. Several months later its historic status was denied, the stay was lifted, and CDI finished the demolition January 4, 1979. It is not known if they sold the name Marlborough-Blenheim as well.


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