You think you know Atlantic City? Think again. For example, did you know that the granite jetties breaking the surf were imported from New York City? When they built Manhattan’s subway system, excavated rocks were deposited here to protect the beach.
1. During Prohibition, Atlantic City speakeasies promoted themselves to thirsty travellers by hanging signs advertising “ice cream” from brands such as Yuengling and Budweiser.
2. From the marina at Historic Gardner’s Basin, you can see two shingle-roofed homes with massive boat ports opening out onto the inlet. These used to shelter rum runners during Prohibition.
3. Long before he became a Hollywood silent film star, legendary Latin lover Rudolph Valentino worked as a taxi dancer at Garden Pier, now home to the Atlantic City Historical Museum.
4. AC is well-known for its Miss America Pageant. But since 1991, it’s also hosted the annual Miss’d America Pageant, a competition for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community that raises money for local charities.
5. Notable performers at the Steel Pier amusement park have ranged from high-diving horses to Frank Sinatra, who used to sing five shows a day. Current attractions include helicopter rides, vintage roller coasters and arcade games. The hand-painted frescos on the merry-go-round feature scenes of the city.
6. If you’re into building sand castles, AC’s beach is tops. It’s hosted competitive sand sculptors from around the world.
7. The Atlantic County Utilities Authority is one of the country’s most forward-thinking, sustainable energy companies. Tour its wind farm, solar project and wastewater treatment facility or visit its Environmental Park, where you’ll see employee-grown gardens, a poetry and nature trail, compost and recycling facilities and learn how ACUA converts landfill gas into electricity.
8. Fascinated by tales of buried treasure? The Atlantic City Fishing & Dive Center offers scuba excursions to more than 100 shipwreck sites. You can even charter a nighttime dive.
9. Just beyond the Boardwalk is the 150+-year-old Absecon Lighthouse. The tallest lighthouse in New Jersey, it’s the third-tallest in the United States.
10. AC city caters to foodies with several award-winning restaurants. Gordon Ramsay, Wolfgang Puck and Bobby Flay are the obvious celebrity chefs in residence, but outside the casinos you’ll find historic restaurants, such as the Knife & Fork Inn, and budget eateries with national reputations for excellence.
11. Crave Vietnamese food? According to The New York Times, Atlantic City offers some of America’s most authentic. Recommended spots include Little Saigon, Noodle Village, Pho Sydney, Pho Cali and Com Tam Ninh Kieu.
12. Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote the song “Every Little Thing” in their Atlantic City hotel room after a 1964 concert at Convention Hall (now Boardwalk Hall). While in town, John, Paul, George and Ringo couldn’t resist grabbing a 6-ft. submarine sandwich from the White House Sub Shop, which has the photo mural to prove it.
13. James’ Salt Water taffy brags it is “cut to fit the mouth.” We’re not quite sure what taffy used to look like, but we thought you should know that you can avoid awkward moments by eating these thoughtfully-sized candies.
14. Boardwalk Hall is best known as a massive concert venue. But inside you’ll find historic ballrooms and an antique Midmer-Losh organ that holds Guinness World Records for “largest pipe organ ever constructed,” “largest musical instrument ever constructed” and “loudest musical instrument ever constructed.”
15. When the Atlantic City Boardwalk made its debut in 1870, it was intended to be a temporary measure to keep sand off of hotel carpets. It wasn’t until 20 years later that it became a permanent fixture.
16. If you’re too lazy to stroll, jog or bike the Boardwalk, you can hire a rolling chair to run you up and down the strip. They charge by the block.
17. If AC street names sound familiar, it’s probably because you’ve played the board game Monopoly, which is based on Atlantic City real estate. Ever wonder why Monopoly’s hotels are so oddly shaped? You won’t after visiting the historic Irish Pub and Hotel; it’s profile inspired the the game piece.
18. Those old-fashioned looking buildings on the facade of Bally’s Atlantic City really date back to the Victorian Era. When the casino expanded, it preserved the historic facades by incorporating them into the design.
19. The city is developing a walkable arts district adjacent to the Boardwalk. Its crown jewel is the Noyes Arts Garage Stockton University, where you’ll find local working artist galleries and shops, special exhibits, a cafe and special events.
20. On the way from the Boardwalk to the Art Garage, you might stumble upon one of AC’s outdoor art parks. These gardens are curated by a rotating roster of local and internationally known artists.
For more information visit www.doatlanticcitynj.com