World's Favorite Playground - Atlantic City, NJ Skyline Circa 1930-1970
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Wild Sharks
N 39° 27.050 W 074° 34.358
18S E 536770 N 4366895
Quick Description: A panoramic mural of the Atlantic City, NJ skyline circa 1930-1970. Following WW II, Atlantic City was often referred to as America's most beautiful skyline.
Location: New Jersey, United States
Date Posted: 4/14/2006 12:37:45 PM
Waymark Code: WMAE2
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member TVN
Views: 27

Long Description:
Originally created in the 1850s as a genteel retreat for Philadelphia's upper crust, the seaside resort soon developed a madcap personality of its own, becoming one of America's most fabled cities -- a distinction it has never lost. In 1870, the first section of the Atlantic City Boardwalk opened along the New Jersey beach. With beautiful beaches, fresh air, luxurious hotels, fine restaurants, alluring shops and connecting railroads lines from New York and Philadelphia, Atlantic City soon became the "World's Favorite Playground" and Atlantic City became "the" place to go. Through the late 1950's, Atlantic City, with its boardwalk, beaches and grand hotels was one of the world's leading tourist attractions.

Atlantic City's luxury hotels were legendary from the start. One of the first built -- the 600-room United States Hotel -- was the country's largest and the place where Ulysses S. Grant vacationed during his second term as President. By the turn of the century, the boardwalk was four miles long and lined with glittering hotel resorts catering to the east coast's nouveau riche industrialist set.

Up until World War II, the city's skyline remained an internationally famous symbol of glamour and architectural excess on a par with European palaces. The Traymore, Dennis, Claridge, Ritz-Carlton, Marlborough-Blenheim, President, Ambassador and other world-class hotels stretched along the ocean front like a string of fantasy confections.

Amusement piers -- some of them a half-mile long -- were built out into the ocean, providing large, circus-like arenas for vaudeville acts, minstrel shows, and performers like escape artist Harry Houdini. But the most famous boardwalk act of all time ran on Steel Pier for 49 years: the high-diving horse. Several times a day, a horse and its scantily-clad female rider would leap from a 60-foot tower into a pool of water. Amazingly, one of the riders -- Sonora Carver -- was blind. Her story was celebrated in the 1991 movie, "Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken."

After the war, the public seemed to stop its love affair with The World's Favorite Playground. Possibly because of the publics access to national air travel, the shift of the population westward, the general deterioration of the city, or a shift in the public’s taste for more sophisticated entertainment, Atlantic City lost much of its shine; and most of its tourists.

Well-heeled travelers were now vacationing in Miami or Bermuda instead of at the Jersey Shore. Las Vegas had become the new entertainment capital of the country and Atlantic City was a decaying shadow of its former self. Tourism numbers for Atlantic City were in a steady state of decline. In 1960, efforts to bolster Atlantic City tourism kicked into high gear.

One part of the local plan was to enhance the flow of air travel into the Atlantic City area. With new large jets unable to land at Atlantic City's municipal airport because of limited runway length, a deal was struck to permit passenger aircraft to land at the Naval Aviation Facilities Experimental Center (NAFEC), 20 miles to the west of Atlantic City. A modern passenger terminal was constructed and a panoramic mural of the Atlantic City skyline was envisioned by local businessman Raymond O'Keefe as a part of the development plans for the exterior wall of the terminal to greet tourists.

To ensure the mural would weather the elements and require little or no maintenance for centuries, a decision was made to make the mural out of ceramic tile. In 1962, a mural of the Atlantic City skyline was installed on the front of the passenger terminal. Measuring nearly 15 feet high by 40 feet wide and presenting over 7500 individually painted pieces of ceramic tile, the mural showcased what had often been called the world's most beautiful skyline.

As viewed from the Atlantic Ocean, the boardwalk, grand hotels and buildings of Atlantic City portrayed on the mural from left to right include: The Ambassador, The Ritz-Carlton, Convention Hall (convention center and home of Miss America Pageant), Hotel Shelburne, Hotel Dennis, The Marlborough, The Blenheim, The Claridge, The Brighton, The Traymore, The Chalfonte, Haddon Hall and Absecon Lighthouse.

Of the original grand hotels and structures portrayed on the mural, only five remain today. The rest were demolished to make way for the new glass and concrete casinos that were just cheaper to construct than renovating the older grand facilities. The Ritz-Carlton now offers high-end condominiums. The Convention Hall was expanded, is now the Atlantic City Convention Center and until 2005, was the only home of the annual Miss America Pageant. The Claridge was renovated and is now a casino hotel. Haddon Hall was renovated, renamed Resort's International and became Atlantic City's first modern era gambling casino. The Absecon Lighthouse was completely renovated following decades of decay. It is lit every night, is open for tours most days of the week and the 228 steps to the top are rewarded with a wonderful view of Atlantic City.

With the passage of the Casino Gambling Referendum in 1976, Atlantic City began an upward battle, not unlike one it had started two hundred years before, to use the glorious resources it has been given by nature, to make it once again the World's Favorite Playground.
City: Atlantic City

Location Name: Atlantic City Airport Terminal

Date: Summer 1962

Media: Ceramic Tile

Artist: Not listed

Relevant Web Site: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and description of your visit. One original photo of the mural must also be submitted. GPSr photo NOT required.
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