The Legend of Atlantic City's Boardwalk by:David Kaleky
The Atlantic City Boardwalk has a wide and varied history. The areas first population went there because it offered good food in a comfortable and friendly atmosphere. This sounds a great deal like the area today, but it took place before the 1600's. The visitors were the Lenni-Lenapes Indians. They traveled a trail that led from the mainland to "summer" on Absecon Island, the home of Atlantic City. Today the trail would be where Florida Ave is located. It was at least five miles over the marsh but it led them to the bay waters and abundant wildlife the island offered.
Even though Thomas Budd was the first owner of the land, he wasn't the first to build a permanent structure on it. Budd received the land as a settlement. Then, while the mainland property had the high value if forty cents an acre, due to the potential of farming, the seashore beachfront was valued at a mere four cents an acre since it was relatively useless for anything. This took place in the 1670's but there were no permanent buildings on the island until Jeremiah Leads built his log cabin in 1785. The family continued to live on the island and at his death in 1837, his second wife Millicent built a boarding house and secured a license to operate a tavern. She called her establishment "Aunt Millie's Boarding House".
It took several years until outside entrepreneurs saw the potential for the island. Dr. Jonathon Pitney, a well-to-do physician, was the first. He joined forces with Richard Osborne, an engineer, to build a railroad and turn the island into a health resort. Their vision was realized when the first train from Camden roared into Atlantic City in 1854, after a 2 hour trip from Camden.
The two laid out the city with Osborne naming it and Pitney naming the streets. He named the streets running parallel to the ocean for great bodies of water and the streets perpendicular to the ocean for states. The easier access to the island offered the city dwellers the same comfort the Lenni-Lenapes Indians sought, a cool refuge from the heat inland.
The city grew rapidly but hotel owners were dismayed when they had to continuously clean their lobbies of the sand brought in by the feet of the beach visitors. In an effort to solve the problem, the first boardwalk appeared in 1870. The addition of this simple wooden platform to shake loose the sand from the visitors' feet soon became the location for vendors of all types.
The city remained popular until increased access to transportation after WWII encouraged travelers to visit other less pricey locations. It also took a blow in September of 1944 when a hurricane wiped out much of the boardwalk. By the 1976, the city was in trouble. In an effort to rebuild, the New Jersey voters approved a referendum to allow gambling and the first casino opened by Resorts International appeared in Atlantic City in 1978.
The casinos became the lifeblood of the city, offering adult entertainment with a beautiful oceanfront view. Visitors could access the many different sites while leisurely enjoying the fresh air mist of the ocean. The four miles of Boardwalk provides the visitor with access to not only other casinos and entertainment, it also is the home of saltwater taffy, the first postcards and rolling chairs. Atlantic City has much to offer its visitors. The beauty of the ocean with its relaxed atmosphere only highlights the excitement of the nightlife in the city.
About the author
David Kaleky owns and operates the leading Atlantic City portal http://www.atlanticcity.com which has protected user-reviews about Atlantic City Hotels and Shows - http://www.atlanticcity.com/rate/.htm