It’s the most valuable property on the Monopoly board, the cherished high rent district, and the place I associate with summer vacation. atlantic_city_boardwalk_NJ

The oldest is also the longest and most infamous, the 4.5 mile stretch at Atlantic City, NJ, now more of a gambling getaway than a beach resort.

Incorporated as a city in 1854, Atlantic City built its boardwalk in 1870 to keep sand out of hotel lobbies and removed it at the end of each tourist season. The permanent 7 mile long structure that evolved was partially destroyed by the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944.

Up until the time of Prohibition (1920-1933), the resort could only be reached by rail. It became a haven for bootleg alcohol production and transportation, infamous as a meeting place for early mobsters from New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. Roads and highways were quickly developed that would allow automobile access.

Gambling, narcotics, prostitution were close behind. It made sense that the first legalized casinos outside of Las Vegas would show up here in the 1970’s.

Several resorts of a more family-friendly nature developed along the Atlantic shore. Wildwood, Rehoboth Beach, Cape May, and the two Ocean Cities (NJ and MD) were family favorites.

It was just not summer if we could not fry to a crisp on the beach, enjoy nightly amusements and games, rent tandem bikes in the early a.m., board the fishing or speed boats, and walk those boards.

Salt water taffy, fresh-made fudge, caramel popcorn and vinegar-soaked french fries, roasted corn on the cob, chocolate covered frozen bananas, the best pizza outside of New York City and the freshest seafood anywhere were welcome treats.

driftersFor me, it was always a sensual delight…sunrise on the beach, the spray of salt air, ocean breezes that alleviated my summer allergies, the comfort of the cool sand underneath the boardwalk.

The Drifters captured a mood in their 1964 hit, a song that always elicits a smile and a memory. Time to head to the beach.

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40 Responses to Boardwalk

  1. I’ve only been to the Jersey shore once since we arrived in America. In summer it is just far too busy for my taste. We once lost the smallest Pict for 15 loooooong minutes on an over-crowded English beach so now my 8 year old and I are too neurotic from the trauma to cope with crowds on beaches. We think we might go and explore off season though as it is lovely out there.

    • Fall, Spring are much less crowded. Many vendors are long gone, but the beach and boardwalk are lovely in all seasons. ☺ The rates are much friendlier as well.

      • We can even manage it as a long day trip so we don’t have to fret about accommodation (which can be challenging with six of us). I think we will go explore Cape May this Autumn.

      • There were 8 of us, and we always rented houses or apartments a few blocks from the beach..much more economical..full kitchens, baths, multiple bedrooms. Cape May is the most charming. Lots of Victorian homes that were restored. ☺

      • That’s what we do when we vacation for a week. It’s much less stressful and more economical to rent an actual house. But for one night we look for deals on hotel rooms.

  2. Erika Kind says:

    Never been there but sounds intriguing!

  3. Nurse Kelly says:

    Such a lovely post to read! The way you described the food and ambiance was just magical! Never been there, but visited Virginia Beach recently where there’s a long boardwalk as well. Sounds like you have incredible memories from that area 🙂

  4. George says:

    I don’t think there’s anything quite like the Jersey shore. Crowded in the summer, yes. Lots of crazies, yes. Overpriced during high season, of course, as are most places. Good food, unhealthy food, games you’ll rarely win and All kinds of people and music. But that’s what makes it special. September is my favorite time to go. Crowds are down, prices are reasonable and the weather is still nice. A.C. Is a unique place. It’s unfortunate they never used a portion of the money they generated from the casinos, as they promised, to help develop the areas off the boardwalk. Just another broken political promise.
    But it’s still fun to go and imagine what life was like so many years ago when we walked the Boardwalk as kids. Nice post.

    • Thanks, George, and you’re so right about A.C. When you step just a bit away from the much evidence of crime and poverty. Sad. And now, the casinos are hurting. I also love September, the ocean water is at the warmest ! ☺

  5. I’ve never been Van, but I want to go! ❤
    Diana xo

  6. Salt Water Taffy….drooling…

  7. Angie Mc says:

    Classic! Parallel lives! Yes, you have captured Atlantic City. Growing up in Scranton, PA, it was a favorite destination via chartered buses that have you pay for the ticket then give you gambling chips when you get off the bus so it’s “free”, oh my. I only recall going to Atlantic City once as a child but then I lived/worked in Ocean City NJ for a summer during college and would pop over their with friends. Oh, when you wrote, “the best pizza outside of New York City”, I’m pretty sure you meant “the best pizza outside of Scranton” 😉 And now I have Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” floating through my mind ~~~~~

  8. badfish says:

    Lovely post. I went to Atlantic City as a child and then later on my own as a teen (who knew everything). I saw that horse jump into the ocean from up high. Pretty cool. I loved the salt water taffy. Have you seen the TV series about it: Boardwalk Empire. It’s cool, but people get shot a lot.

  9. lbeth1950 says:

    I went to the boardwalk at Ocean City with my daughter and her family yesterday!

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  11. The summer breezes, the smells of all the different foods lingering in the air and all the maddening people make it magical there. Great post and perfect since it is the end of season.

  12. markbialczak says:

    It’s a feeling I can close my eyes and bring back, Van. Great job painting it here!

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