Thursday, June 25, 2015

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 200

Boardwalk, Atlantic City, New Jersey, ca 1907

The picture on this vintage 1907 postcard is of the boardwalk at Atlantic City, New Jersey, which today is mostly lined with large hotels and casinos but was at that time primarily a resort and health spa.  Rolling chairs made of wicker, some with canopies, and similar to a Rickshaw that attendants push up and down the boardwalk were introduced in the 1800s are still popular.  Two are visible at the lower right side of the picture.  Horse drawn buggies can be seen in the background on the beach.  Beginning in 1882 the boardwalk has been home to several piers like the one at the upper right side and today there is still an amusement pier across from the Trump Taj Mahal. 

Logo of the Metropolitan New Company, Boston, Massachusetts

The Metropolitan News Company (MNC) of Boston, Massachusetts, a major postcard company from 1905 to 1916, published cards in color, black and white, sepia, hand tinted in full and half-tones.  Focusing on views of the Northeastern United States, mostly New England, the postcards were printed in Germany.  The company name and MNC logo, seen enlarged above, is found on some of the cards produced by this company and can be found at the upper left on the reverse side of the card.  This particular postcard is a used card and has suffered some crease damage as well as a broken corner but I liked it mostly because of all the people.  The clothing styles and other details in cards like this help to bring the past to life.

Dr. Jonathan Pitney came to this site on Absecon Island off the Jersey Shore on the Atlantic Ocean in 1819 to set up a medical practice after being convinced that the climate and water were ideal for a health resort.  Today he is known as the Father of Atlantic City.  It was interesting to note that the message on the reverse of the card says in part:  "Came down here yesterday with a patient. . ." 


The first boardwalk was constructed in 1870 to help hotel owners keep sand out of their lobbies.  The walk was taken up at the end of the season each year.   The Camden and Atlantic Railroad provided rail service to Atlantic City beginning in 1854, the same year the city was incorporated.  It became such a popular destination that by 1874 approximately 500,000 passengers a year were using the train to come to Atlantic City.  As the resort became more popular, more hotels were built and Pitney, together with entrepreneur Samuel Richards, encouraged the building of a second railroad line that would take visitors and patients to the beach.   That rail line was completed in 1877.  A building boom started during the early 1900s with many smaller boarding houses being replaced by large hotels.  The boardwalk was extended and today extends 5 ½ miles from Absecon Inlet to the north to Ventnor City in the southwest.  

The Prohibition years, 1919-1933, saw backroom illegal gambling, organized crime and liquor sales.  A noted racketeer and political boss of that era was Enoch L. "Nucky" Johnson who was said to have had an income of $500,000 a year during the Golden Age of Atlantic City in the 1920s.  Following World War II there was an economic downturn with an increase in poverty, crime, corruption and general decline.  Fast, cheap air service offered people access to other resorts such as Miami, Florida and the Bahamas.  In an effort to revitalize the city a referendum was passed in 1976 approving legalized casino gambling for Atlantic City.  Since then some hotels converted to casino/hotels and several more casinos have been built.  This did not immediately solve the problems but today Atlantic City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States.

The Miss America Pageant begun in 1921 started in Atlantic City.
The properties on the Parker Brothers board game “Monopoly” are named for places in and near Atlantic City.
A popular feature introduced by William “Doc” Carver in the early 20th century, horse diving was held at the Steel Pier.  The Steel Pier also had novelty attractions such as the Diving Bell, human high divers, and a water circus. 

For more information, please see:,_New_Jersey

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