History
Electronic Resources
Published Resources
Multimedia Resources
Archival and Special Collections
Early Miss America Contestants
Miss America Pageant Winners

History

As early as 1902, Atlantic City merchants promoted a Floral Parade of bathing beauties. In 1921, as a device for extending the summer season beyond Labor Day, some Atlantic City businessmen organized a small-scale beauty contest. Seven cities in the Northeast each sent a "beauty maid" to represent them in the contest during the first week of September. The first winner was sixteen year-old Margaret Gorman, representing Washington, D.C., who was awarded a Golden Mermaid statue and the title "Miss America". The first contestants, clad in bathing suits, were judged solely on their appearance. From this two-day event evolved the Miss America Pageant we know today.

The Miss America Organization was incorporated and the contest officially became the Miss America Pageant in 1940. By 1945, judging criteria had expanded to include talent and poise and the winners received scholarships. During the next ten years, city representation was phased out, and representation at the national pageant is currently by state. The pageant was televised for the first time in 1954. Over the years, the Miss America Pageant has undergone many changes and adaptations, its development reflecting changes in American life. It has become a model for similar competitions around the world and is one of Atlantic City's many contributions to entertainment history.

The Miss America Pageant moved to Las Vegas, Nevada in January 2006 and was held there until January 2013. The pageant returned to Atlantic City in September 2013, when Miss America 2014 was crowned.

h009.1921missamericapageantlibraryfloat2_web

As part of the first Inner City Beauty Pageant in 1921, the Atlantic City Free Public Library participated in the parade with a float designed to look like the Library building's entrance. (H001.1921MissAmericaPageantLibraryFloat2; ACFPL Heston Collection)
Learn more about the 1921 pageant on The Atlantic City Experience website

Electronic Resources

Published Resources at the Atlantic City Free Public Library

Bivans, Ann-Marie. Miss America: In Pursuit of the Crown . New York: MasterMedia Limited, 1991.
History of the pageant, its contestants and the process involved in the competition and selection of Miss America.

Deford, Frank. There She Is: the Life and Times of Miss America . New York: Viking, 1971.
Fifty-year history examines the local, state and national levels of the pageant.

Dworkin, Susan. Miss America 1945: Bess Meyerson's own story . New York: Newmarket Press, 1987.
A look at the pre-feminist nineteen-forties and how they influenced Ms. Myerson and her generation.

Goldman, William. Hype & Glory . New York: Villard Books, 1990.
An irreverent and humorous account of the author's experiences as a judge at both the Cannes Film Festival and the Miss America Pageant in 1988.

Gray, Daphne. Yes, You Can, Heather!: the Story of Heather Whitestone, Miss America 1995. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1995.
Mother's account of her hearing-impaired daughter's dream to become Miss America.

Martin, Nancie S. Miss America Through the Looking Glass : the Story Behind the Scenes. New York: Messner Books, 1985.
Written mainly for young adults, this history of the pageant outlines the contestants' involvement and the ways in which the pageant changed their lives.

The Miss America Organization. Official Yearbook of the Miss America Pageant.
Annual pageant program featuring photographs and biographical sketches of contestants. (The Library's Atlantic City Heritage Collection has incomplete but extensive holdings of yearbooks dating from 1922 through the present.)

Osborne, Angela Saulino. Miss America, the Dream Lives On . Dallas, TX: Taylor Publishing, 1995.
Commemorative book issued on the 75th anniversary of the pageant.

Preston, Jennifer. Queen Bess: An Unauthorized Biography of Bess Myerson. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1990.

Riverol, A. R.  Live From Atlantic City: the History of the Miss America Pageant Before, After and In Spite of Television. Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1992.
Historical study by a scholar and media critic presents opposing perspectives on the significance of the pageant. Extensive bibliography.

Watson, Ellwood. There She Is, Miss America: the Politics of Sex, Beauty and Race in America's Most Famous Pageant . Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Multimedia Resources

PBS Home Video. Miss America. DVD Format approx. 96 min long, c2002.

Crowning Segments and highlight reels, 1944 - 1992. (Heston Collection; *multimedia collections require a special appointment for access)

Archival and Special Collections

The Atlantic City Heritage Collection contains many resources related to the Miss America Pageant, including photographs, videos and film, books, and clippings files. Some of the resources are:

  • Vibrina Coronado Miss America Research Collection (H065)
  • Samuel Formicola Miss America Collection, 1957-1968 (H047)
  • Miss America Organization, Pageant Contestant Photographs (1967-present)
  • Miss America Organization, Pageant Winners Photographs (1927-1929, 1955-1995)
  • Miss America Collection (H029) - memorabilia, videos, photographs, programs
  • Atlantic City Free Public Library Collection of Atlantic City Photographs (H009) - photographs of parades, City officials with pageant participants

Early Miss America Contestants (1921-1944)

h009.394.5fir329web

The Heston Collection staff has compiled a list of pageant contestants from the early years. The list is not complete. Please contact us if you have additional information to help complete the list.

Early Miss America Contestants (PDF)

Atlantic City was home to the first Miss America Pageant in 1921 which included representatives from 7 cities and Atlantic City. Sixteen year-old Margaret Gorman from Washington, DC (at far left in white hat) won the first competition. (H009.394.5fir329; ACFPL Heston Collection)

Miss America Pageant Winners

For more information on  individual pageant winners, see the Miss America Organization webpage.

YearMiss AmericaFrom
1921 Margaret Gorman Washington, D.C.
1922 Mary Campbell Columbus, Ohio
1923 Mary Campbell Columbus, Ohio
1924 Ruth Malcolmson Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1925 Fay Lanpier Oakland, California
1926 Norma Smallwood Tulsa, Oklahoma
1927 Lois Delaner Joliet, Illinois
1933 Marion Bergeron West Haven, Connecticut
1935 Henrietta Leaver Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
1936 Rose Coyle Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1937 Bette Cooper Bertrand Island, New Jersey
1938 Marilyn Meseke Marion, Ohio
1939 Patricia Donnelly Detroit, Michigan
1940 Frances Marie Burke Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1941 Rosemary LePlanche Los Angeles, California
1942 Jo-Carroll Dennison Tyler, Texas
1943 Jean Bartel Los Angeles, California
1944 Venus Ramey Washington, D.C.
1945 Bess Myerson New York, New York
1946 Marilyn Bufferd Los Angeles, California
1947 Barbara Walker Memphis, Tennessee
1948 BeBe Shopp Hopkins, Minnesota
1949 Jacque Mercer Litchfield, Arizona
1951 Yolande Betbeze Mobile, Alabama
1952 Coleen Kay Hutchins Salt Lake City, Utah
1953 Neva Jane Langley Macon, Georgia
1954 Evelyn Margaret Ay Ephrata, Pennsylvania
1955 Lee Meriwether San Francisco, California
1956 Sharon Ritchie Denver, Colorado
1957 Marian McKnight Manning, South Carolina
1958 Marilyn Van Derbur Denver, Colorado
1959 Mary Ann Mobley Brandon, Mississippi
1960 Lynda Mee Mead Natchez, Mississippi
1961 Nancy Fleming Montague, Michigan
1962 Maria Fletcher Asheville, North Carolina
1963 Jacquelyn Mayer Sandusky, Ohio
1964 Donna Axum El Dorado, Arkansas
1965 Vonda Kay Van Dyke Phoenix, Arizona
1966 Deborah Irene Bryant Overland Park, Kansas
1967 Jane Anne Jayree Laverne, Oklahoma
1968 Debra Dene Barnes Moran, Kansas
1969 Judith Anne Ford Belvidere, Illinois
1970 Pamela Anne Eldred Birmingham, Michigan
1971 Phyllis Ann George Denton, Texas
1972 Laurie Lee Schaefer Columbus, Ohio
1973 Terry Anne Meeuwson De Pere, Wisconsin
1974 Rebecca Ann King Denver, Colorado
1975 Shirley Cothran Fort Worth, Texas
1976 Tawny Elaine Godin Yonkers, New York
1977 Dorothy Kathleen Benham Edina, Minnesota
1978 Susan Perkins Columbus, Ohio
1979 Kylene Barker Galax, Virginia
1980 Cheryl Prewitt Ackerman, Mississippi
1981 Susan Powell Elk City, Oklahoma
1982 Elizabeth Ward Russellville, Arkansas
1983 Debra Maffett Anaheim, California
1984 Vanessa Williams Millwood, New York (resigned)
1984 Suzette Charles Mays Landing, New Jersey
1985 Sharlene Wells Salt Lake City, Utah
1986 Susan Akin Meridian, Mississippi
1987 Kellye Cash Memphis, Tennessee
1988 Kaye Lani Rae Rafko Monroe, Michigan
1989 Gretchen Carlson Anoka, Minnesota
1990 Debbye Turner Mexico, Missouri
1991 Marjorie Judith Vincent Oak Park, Illinois
1992 Carolyn Suzanne Sapp Kona, Hawaii
1993 Leanza Cornett Jacksonville, Florida
1994 Kimberly Clarice Aiken Columbia, South Carolina
1995 Heather Whitestone Birmingham, Alabama
1996 Shawntel Smith Muldrow, Oklahoma
1997 Tara Dawn Holland Overland Park, Kansas
1998 Katherine Shindle Evanston, Illinois
1999 Nicole Johnson Roanoke, Virginia
2000 Heather French Maysville, Kentucky
2001 Angela Perez Baraquio Honolulu, Hawaii
2002 Katie Harman Gresham, Oregon
2003 Erika Harold Urbana, Illinois
2004 Ericka Dunlap Orlando, Florida
2005 Deidre Downs Birmingham, Alabama
2006 Jennifer Berry Tulsa, Oklahoma
2007 Lauren Nelson Lawton, Oklahoma
2008 Kirsten Haglund Farmington Hills, Michigan
2009 Katie Stam Seymour, Indiana
2010 Caressa Cameron Fredericksburg, Virginia
2011 Teresa Scanlan
Gerig, Nebraska
2012 Laura Kaeppeler Kenosha, Wisconsin
2013 Mallory Hytes Hagan Brooklyn, New York
2014 Nina Davuluri Syracuse, New York

Give me a short history of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

When did casino gambling start in Atlantic City?

casino skyline The issue of casino gambling first appeared on a ballot for New Jersey voters on November 5, 1974. This initial referendum was defeated in 19 of New Jersey's 21 counties, with about 60% of votes cast against it. A revised referendum, limiting gambling exclusively to the city limits of Atlantic City, was placed on the ballot November 2, 1976. The second referendum was approved by a slim margin, with approximately 1.5 million voters in favor of it and 1.14 million opposed. Atlantic City's first casino, Resorts International, opened on May 26, 1978.

Read more about the History of Casino Gambling in Atlantic City

Where and when was the first boardwalk constructed?

boadrwalk1 The first boardwalk built in the United States was in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1870. A petition was presented to City Council on April 25, 1870 for the construction of a footwalk on the beach, and $5,000 in funds was allocated for construction. The footwalk opened to the public on June 26, 1870 and was eight feet wide, one mile long, and stood approximately one foot above the sand. Twenty-five years later Boardwalk was made an official street name in Atlantic City. (As an official street name, Boardwalk is always capitalized when referring to the street in Atlantic City.)

The deck of the Atlantic City Boardwalk is made of specially-treated yellow Southern pine with Douglas fir joists. As of 2001, the City Engineer uses Bethabara, a Brazilian wood, to replace damaged planks in the Boardwalk. The herringbone pattern dates from 1916. The Boardwalk’s supports are concrete-encased steel beams. The railings are galvanized aluminum.

Boardwalk from Steel Pier looking East. (1900, H009.Boardwalk004; ACFPL Heston Collection)
The current length of the Atlantic City Boardwalk is a little more than 4 miles. At the widest point, it is 60 feet wide, and it stands 12 feet above sea level. The combined length of the current Atlantic City and Ventnor Boardwalks is approximately 5.75 miles. The historic length of the Boardwalk, before the 1944 hurricane, was about 7 miles and it extended from Atlantic City, through Ventnor and Margate into Longport.

Over the years, the Boardwalk has been reconstructed to provide better access and stability:

  • The 2nd Boardwalk constructed in Atlantic City was opened about June, 1, 1880.
  • The 3rd Boardwalk opened about June 1, 1884.
  • The 4th Boardwalk was dedicated May 10, 1890.
  • The 5th Boardwalk was dedicated July 8, 1896.
H049.917.4985Eas153
Easter Promenade, Atlantic City. (Bef. 1907, H049.917.4985Boa153; ACFPL Heston Collection)

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Frank Butler. Book of the Boardwalk. Atlantic City, NJ: Haines and Co., 1952.

W. Earle Hawkins. Atlantic City Boardwalk, Relighted. Cleveland, Ohio: Westinghouse Electric Corporation, 1954.

Vicki Gold Levi. Atlantic City, 125 Years of Ocean Madness. New York: C.N. Potter, distributed by Crown Publishing, 1979.

Jim Lilliefors. America's Boardwalks: from Coney Island to California. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2006.

William S. Purdie, P.P. "Design Review: the Atlantic City Boardwalk, a photoessay of the Boardwalk." Atlantic County, NJ: Atlantic County Department of Regional Planning and Development, 1987.

James C. Rogers. A Walk By the Sea: the story of the wonderful Atlantic City Boardwalk. [?]: [?], 1926.

Emil R. Salvini. Boardwalk Memories: tales of the Jersey Shore. Guilford, Conn.: Insider's Guide, 2006.

Subject File:
Boardwalk
Boardwalk - Centennial, 1970
Boardwalk - Trams

Archival Collections:
ACFPL Collection of Atlantic City Photographs, Boardwalk 90th Anniversary Photo Collection

ACFPL Film Collection

Please see the Heston Collection Indexes at the Reference Desk to locate other photographs and postcards on this subject.

What is salt water taffy?

taffy A popular, sticky Boardwalk treat, the term "salt water taffy" originated on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in the 1880s.

The first to sell a taffy confection of any sort on the Boardwalk, so far as can be discovered, were Ritchie Brothers and Windle W. Hollis, both of whom sold taffy about 1880. Popular legend says that another candy seller, David Bradley, who operated a candy stand at St. James Place and the Boardwalk, had an accident one night in August 1883. A storm splashed seawater over his candy stock. The story continues that a young lady purchased some taffy the next day, and Bradley remarked that it was "Salt Water Taffy". The name stuck, and because Bradley did not copyright or trademark the product, other candy-makers used it to advertise their own taffy.

The first mention of a Salt Water Taffy business in the Atlantic City City Directory was in 1889 under the name "Hollis, Windle W., Original Salt Water Taffy". Today, there are numerous sellers of the colorful treat on the Boardwalk and beyond.

Would you like to make your own salt water taffy? Try this recipe at Exploratorium.

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Frank Butler. Book of the Boardwalk. Atlantic City, NJ: Haines and Co., 1952.

Arthur H. Gager III. The History of Salt Water Taffy and the Life of Joseph F. Fralinger. N.p.: 2 ed., 1983.

Bryant Simon. Boardwalk of Dreams. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Subject Files:
Salt Water Taffy

Archival Collections:
Please see the Heston Collection Indexes at the Reference Desk to locate photographs and postcards on this subject.

I'd like a list of the Mayors of Atlantic City.

Mayors of Atlantic City

Name   Year(s) as Mayor
Chalkley S. Leeds   1854 - 1856
Richard Hacket   1856 (one month)
John G.W. Avery   1856 - 1857
Lewis Reed   1858 - 1861
Chalkley S. Leeds   1862
Jacob Middleton   1863 - 1864
Robert T. Evard   1865
David W. Belisle   1866 - 1867
Lemuel C. Eldridge   1868 (three months)
John J. Gardner gardener 1868 - 1872
Charles Souder   1873
John J. Gardner gardener 1874 - 1875
Willard Wright   1876 - 1877
John L. Bryant   1878
Willard Wright   1879
Harry L. Slape   1880
Willard Wright   1881
Charles Maxwell   1882 - 1885
Thomas C. Garrett   1886
Samuel D. Hoffman   1887 - 1891
Willard Wright   1892 - 1893
Franklin P. Stoy   1894 - 1897
Joseph Thompson   1898 - 1899
Franklin P. Stoy   1900 - 1911
George Carmany   1911 (six months)
Harry Bacharach bacharach mayor  - May 1912 (six months)
William Riddle   1912 - 1916
Harry Bacharach bacharach mayor 1916 - 1920
Edward L. Bader bader mayor 1920 - January 29, 1927
Anthony M. Ruffu, Jr.   1927 - 1930
Joseph Paxson (acting mayor)   1930 (three weeks)
Harry Bacharach bacharach mayor July 10, 1930 - July 18, 1935
Charles D. White   July 1935 - 1940
Thomas D. Taggart, Jr.   May 1940 - 1944
Joseph Altman   1944 - January 10, 1967
John A. O'Donnell (acting mayor)   January 10, 1967 -
Richard S. Jackson   May 19, 1967 - November 10, 1969
William T. Somers   November 12, 1969 - May 1972
Joseph Bradway, Jr.   May 16, 1972 - 1976
Joseph Lazarow lazarow mayor May 1976 - July 2, 1982
Michael J. Matthews   July 2, 1982 - March 14, 1984
James L. Usry   March 14, 1984 - July 2, 1990
James Whelan   July 2, 1990 - December 31, 2001
Lorenzo Langford langford mayor December 31, 2001 - January 1, 2006
Robert Levy   January 1, 2006 - October 10, 2007
William Marsh (acting mayor)   October 10, 2007 - November 21, 2007
Scott K. Evans evans mayor November 21, 2007 - November 13, 2008
Lorenzo Langford langford mayor November 13, 2008 - January 1, 2014
Donald A. Guardian   January 1, 2014 - present
From 1854 to 1886, the mayor’s term of office was one year. From 1886 to 1912, the mayor’s term of office was two years. In 1912, the term of office became four years.

In November 2000, Atlantic City voters approved a referendum changing the date and form of municipal elections. Previously held in May, the date for elections was moved to November, and political party affiliation was included on the ballot. The first election following the referendum was held in November 2001, and the new mayoral term began on January 1, 2002.

The city’s first African-American mayor was James L. Usry. Atlantic City has never had an elected female mayor.

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Detroit Bureau of Governmental Research. The Government of the City of Atlantic City, New Jersey: a report prepared for the Atlantic City Survey Commission. Detroit, Mich.: The Bureau, 1930. [photocopy]
Butler, Frank. Book of the Boardwalk. Atlantic City, NJ: Haines and Co., 1952.
English, A.L. History of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Philadelphia, Pa.: Dickson and Gilling: 1884.
Heston, Alfred M. History of Atlantic City Hall and Jail. [Atlantic City, NJ]: Alfred M. Heston, 1901.
Paulsson, Martin W. Politics and Progressivism in Atlantic City: a brief hour of reform. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms, 1992. [photocopy]
University of Pennsylvania, Government Study Group, Department of Political Science. A New Government for Atlantic City: a strong mayor strong council plan. [Philadelphia, Pa.]:University of Pennsylvania, 1979.

Subject File:
Mayors of Atlantic City
Atlantic City - City Hall Officials
Additionally, there are biography files for most of the mayors, by last name.

Archival Collections:
Mayor Thomas Taggart Papers
Please see the Heston Collection Indexes at the Reference Desk to locate photographs and postcards on this subject.

How did the Miss America Pageant start?

As early as 1902, Atlantic City merchants promoted a Floral Parade of bathing beauties. In the early parade, the decorated rolling chairs were judged, rather than the ladies riding in them.

In 1921, as a device for extending the summer season beyond Labor Day, some Atlantic City businessmen organized a small-scale beauty contest. Seven cities in the Northeast each sent a "beauty maid" to represent them in the contest during the first week of September. The first winner was sixteen year-old Margaret Gorman, representing Washington, D.C., who was awarded a Golden Mermaid statue and the title "Miss America". The first contestants, clad in bathing suits, were judged solely on their appearance. From this two-day event evolved the Miss America Pageant.

Research the Miss America Pageant and its history in Atlantic City

How did Chicken Bone Beach get its name?

chickenboneThe sandy stretch from Missouri Avenue to Ohio Avenue was a dedicated area where African Americans could enjoy the Atlantic City Beach from 1900 until the early 1950s. This segregated beach came to be known as Chicken Bone Beach, as families and visitors arrived for a day at the beach with chicken dinners packed in picnic baskets.

African American visitors to Chicken Bone Beach included Sammy Davis, Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, the Club Harlem showgirls, Jackie Robinson, Lena Horne, and Sugar Ray Robinson. Musicians would hold impromptu concerts on the stretch, while children and adults splashed in the ocean and played on the sand. The Atlantic City Beach Patrol employed an all-black patrol that guarded Chicken Bone Beach at Missouri. The first black beach patrol captain was William Rube Albouy.

The City of Atlantic City designated Chicken Bone Beach as a local historic site on August 6, 1997. Currently, a historical foundation exists to promote family programs and activities at Missouri Avenue, including a summer jazz concert series.

Chicken Bone Beach Historical Foundation

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Charles E. Funnell By the Beautiful Sea: the rise and high times of that great resort Atlantic City. New York: Knopf, 1975.

Levi, Vicki Gold. Atlantic City, 125 Years of Ocean Madness. New York: C.N. Potter, 1979.

Subject Files:

Chicken Bone Beach
Black History in Atlantic City

Archival Collections:

"30 Years, 30 Voices" Oral History Project, 2008: Interview with Henrietta Shelton
Chicken Bone Beach Collection
Audrey Hart Photograph Collection
Please see the Heston Collection Indexes at the Reference Desk to locate some of the photographs and postcards on this subject.

What is a jitney?

jitney1997 The word "jitney" is a slang word for nickel, which is what it cost in 1915 for a ride in one of Atlantic City's earliest buses.  Even though the price has increased over the years, the name stuck and today you can still hop on a jitney to travel around Atlantic City.

The first jitneys in Atlantic City date to March 1915 and looked very similar to regular cars. They were large, black Ford model-T touring cars which used a rope-and-pulley system to open the back doors. Over the years, there have been more than eight different designs and at least four different colors for the Atlantic City jitneys. The current version, introduced in 1997, is a thirteen-passenger light-blue mini-bus by Champion Motor Coach. In 1982, a retired 1963 jitney was donated to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History.

An Atlantic City jitney, ca. 1997. (Photograph
courtesy of the Atlantic City Jitney Association website.
)


The Atlantic City Jitney Association, established in 1915, claims to be the longest-running unsubsidized transit company in the United States. Each jitney is individually owned and operated, and drivers keep the fares. The Association awards the franchises and regulates the appearance of the buses and drivers; the Association also issues fines for violations and holds its own traffic court.By Atlantic City ordinance, the number of jitney franchises is limited to 190. City ordinance also regulates the price per trip and controls the jitney routes. Most of the jitneys routes run along Pacific Avenue. A jitney shuttle also runs from the Atlantic City Train Station to the various Casinos. For jitney routes and prices, please visit the Atlantic City Jitney Association website.

jitney1955
Jitney with driver posing. (1950, H009.388.4Jit1011; ACFPL Heston Collection)

RELATED RESOURCES IN THE HESTON COLLECTION

City of Atlantic City. City Ordinances, 1915-1917, 1920, 2008, and other years.

A.M. Heston, compiler. Clippings: trolley and jitney wars of Atlantic City 1888-1889, 1915-1916.

"Jitneys of Atlantic City." Motor Coach Today, vol. 4, no. 2 (April –June 1997).

"The Vogue of the Jitney." The Detective, vol. XXI, part 11 (June 1915).

Subject Files:
Jitneys
Transportation

Archival Collections:
Please see the Heston Collection Indexes at the Reference Desk to locate photographs and postcards on this subject.

What is the connection between the game Monopoly and Atlantic City?

oldmonopoloy Charles B. Darrow, an unemployed salesman and inventor living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania struggling to support his family in the years following the great stock market crash of 1929, is credited with inventing Monopoly as we know it. Darrow remembered his summers spent in Atlantic City, New Jersey and spent his spare time drawing the streets of Atlantic City on his kitchen tablecloth, with found pieces of material, paints, and wood contributed by local merchants. A game was already forming in his mind as he built little hotels, houses and other tokens to go along with his painted streets.

Soon friends and family gathered nightly to sit round the kitchen table to buy, rent and sell real estate, all part of a game involving spending vast sums of play money. It quickly became a favorite activity among those with little real cash of their own. The friends soon wanted copies of the game to play at home (especially the winners.) The accommodating inventor began selling copies of his board game for four dollars each. He then made up a few sets and offered them to department stores in Philadelphia.

Photograph of Monopoly Board ca. 1935. (H009.Monopoly002; ACFPL Heston Collection)
Orders for the game increased to the point where Darrow decided to try to sell the game to a game manufacturer rather than going into full-scale manufacturing. He wrote to Parker Brothers to see if the company would be interested in producing and marketing the game on a national basis. The company turned down Darrow’s offer, explaining that his game contained "fifty-two fundamental errors", including that the game took too long to play, the rules were too complicated and there was no clear goal for the winner.

Darrow continued to manufacture the game; he hired a friend in the printing business to produce five thousand copies. He filled orders from department stores including F. A. O. Schwarz. One of his customers was a friend of Sally Barton, the wife of Parker Brothers' president, George Parker. The friend told Mrs. Barton about how much fun Monopoly was, and the friend also suggested that Mrs. Barton tell her husband. Mr. Barton listened to his wife and bought a copy of the game. He arranged to discuss business with Darrow in Parker Brothers' New York office and offered to buy the game and give Charles Darrow royalties on all sets sold. Darrow accepted in 1935 and permitted Parker Brothers to develop a shorter variation on the game, included as an option to the rules.

The royalties from Monopoly made Charles Darrow a millionaire, the first game inventor to make that much money. In 1970, a few years after Darrow's death, Atlantic City erected a commemorative plaque in his honor. It stands on the Boardwalk, near the corner of Park Place.

monopoly tribute
Charles B. Darrow Boardwalk plaque at Boardwalk and Park Place. (Undated, H009.Monopoly001; ACFPL Heston Collection)
 

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Maxine Brady. The Monopoly Book: strategy and tactics of the world’s most popular game. New York: D. McKay Co., 1974.

Rod Kennedy, Jr. and Jim Waltzer. Monopoly, the story behind the world’s best-selling game. Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith, 2004.

Philip Orbanes. The Monopoly Companion. Boston, Mass.: Bob Adams, Inc., 1988.

Noel Gunther and Richard Hutton. Beyond Boardwalk and Park Place: the unauthorized guide to making Monopoly fun again. New York: Bantam Books, 1986.

Subject Files:
Monopoly

Archival Collections:
ACFPL Game Collection

ACFPL Collection of Atlantic City Photographs – Uncataloged Photographs by subject

What is the origin of the rolling chairs on the Boardwalk?

rollingchair At the Philadelphia Convention in 1876 rolling chairs were first introduced for recreational use. These early chairs, which accommodated only one person, closely resembled wheelchairs (or invalid chairs) of that time. The chairs arrived in Atlantic City by 1884, when Philadelphia merchant Harry D. Shill started offering them for rent. In 1887, William Hayday, who owned a hardware store near the Boardwalk, started renting similar wheelchairs to vacationers in Atlantic City and provided attendants to push the chairs.

When the first Boardwalk was laid out in 1870, vehicles of any kind were prohibited. The construction of the third Boardwalk in 1884 was more accessible to vehicles, and wheelchairs were allowed for the use of handicapped persons. Some individuals pretended to need the chairs. City authorities made no objection to this, and the practice grew. The City began licensing rolling chairs in 1891, charging a $10 fee for each chair.
Early Rolling Chair. (H009.388.341Rol; ACFPL Heston Collection)

RELATED RESOURCES IN THE HESTON COLLECTION

Frank Butler. Book of the Boardwalk. Haines and Co.: Atlantic City, NJ, 1952.
A.E. Seidel.  100 Years of Boardwalk Rolling Chairs.  N.p.: Atlantic City, NJ, 1984.
Bryant Simon. Boardwalk of Dreams. Oxford University Press: New York, 2004.

Subject Files:
Rolling Chairs
Rolling Chairs News Excerpts (388.341 Rol)

Archival Collections:
Please see the Heston Collection indexes at the Reference Desk to locate postcards and photographs on this subject.

When did Steel Pier open?

old steelpier Steel Pier originally opened in 1898 and takes its name from the iron pilings driven into the ocean ground, which are topped by steel girders. The original pier jutted out 1,621 feet from the Boardwalk and cost $350.000 to build.

Billed as "the Showplace of the Nation", it quickly became known for showcasing the world's top entertainers. From the 1920s through the 1950s, everyone who was anyone played Steel Pier. Annie Oakley headlined the opening festivities on June 18, 1898. W.C. Fields was a member of the minstrel group that appeared during the Pier's inaugural season, but headline appearances quickly followed for him and many others. Guy Lombardo, Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey, Mae West, Charlie Chaplin, The Three Stooges, Bob Hope, Amos 'n Andy, Frank Sinatra - all entertained on Steel Pier. Many Big Bands launched their careers with a stint on Steel Pier. The Diving Horse was also a mainstay on Steel Pier for many years.

Steel Pier with airplane flying over. (1930, H009.624.158Ste061; ACFPL Heston Collection)
After a 1982 fire, the Steel Pier was revived as an amusements-only attraction in 1993. For many years, it was one of the few family friendly spots in town. The Pier itself is currently owned by Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc. and includes amusements and attractions for all ages. For hours, ticket information, and information on rides and attractions, see the Steel Pier website.

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Jim Futrell. Amusement Parks of New Jersey. Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 2004.

Steve Leibowitz. Steel Pier, Atlantic City: Showplace of the Nation. West Creek, NJ: Down the Shore Pub., 2009.

Vicki Gold Levi. Atlantic City, 125 Years of Ocean Madness. New York: C.N. Potter, distributed by Crown Publishers, 1979.

Jim Waltzer and Tom Wilk. Tales of South Jersey: Profiles and Personalities. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001.

Subject Files:
Diving Horse
Piers – Steel Pier
Piers – Steel Pier Programs

Archival Collections:
ACFPL Collection of Atlantic City Photographs, Steel Pier Ford Motor Co. Exhibit Photographs, 1940

ACFPL Film Collection

Please see the Heston Collection Indexes at the Reference Desk to locate photographs and postcards on this subject.

What is the history of the diving horse?

diving horse 2 One of the most famous acts on the Boardwalk - and one of the iconic symbols of old Atlantic City - was the Diving Horse act that was introduced to Steel Pier in the late 1920s and continued until 1978. A revised version of the act was briefly resurrected for a few months in 1993.

According to Atlantic City historian Allen "Boo" Pergament, William F. "Doc" Carver, a former show partner of "Buffalo Bill" Cody invented the diving horse act in 1881 after a wooden bridge gave way under him, and he and his horse fell into the Platte River in Nebraska. He turned this episode into an act and performed it at county fairs. Frank P. Gravatt, an Atlantic City hotel builder, brought the act to Steel Pier in 1928.

Sisters Sonora Webster Carver and Arnette Webster French were among the first diving horse riders. In August 1931, Sonora Webster Carver was blinded in a diving accident when the horse landed badly. She continued to dive, though. Her story was depicted in the 1991 Walt Disney movie, Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken.

Diving Horse in Mid-Flight. (1930, H009.624.158Div582; ACFPL Heston Collection)
Below is an incomplete list of the Atlantic City diving horse riders and the years they dove:

Lorena (or Leonora) Carver, Doc Carver’s daughter and the first rider, dove from 1913-1938
Sonora Webster Carver, Doc Carver’s daughter-in-law, dove from 1923-1942
Shae Chandler
Josephine K. De Angelis, friend of Sonora and Arnette Webster, dove from 1935-1942 
Patty Dolan
Margaret (or Marjorie) Downs, a substitute rider from 1933-1934 
Elsa
Arnette Webster French, Sonora Carver’s sister, dove from 1928, 1931-1935
Olive Gelnaw
Barbara E. Gose, 1967
Grace, 1936
Florence Virginia Griffith (nee Thompson)
Marion S. Hackney
Lynne Jordan, rider in the 1960s
Marie, 1929, 1931
Marty
Terrie McDevitt, the last of the diving horse riders, from 1976-1978
Ann Miles, substitute rider in the 1960s
Elsa Rahr

Some of the diving horses were:

Apollo
Dimah
Duchess of Lightning (or Lightning)
Emir
Gamal
Gordonel
John the Baptist
Judas
Junior
Klatawah
Lorga (or Lorgah)
Powderface (or Powder Face)
Pure as Snow (or Snow)
Red Lips
Shiloh
Silver King

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Sonora Carver. A Girl and Five Brave Horses. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1961.

Linda Oatman High. The Girl on the High-diving Horse. New York: Philomel Books, 2003.

Vicki Gold Levi. Atlantic City, 125 Years of Ocean Madness. New York: C.N. Potter, distributed by Crown Publishers, 1979.

Jim Waltzer and Tom Wilk. Tales of South Jersey: Profiles and Personalities. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001.

Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken. Walt Disney, 1991. (video and DVD)

Subject Files:
Carver, Lorena
Diving Horse
Downs, Margaret H.
Piers – Steel Pier Programs

Archival Collections:
Please see the Heston Collection Indexes at the Reference Desk to locate photographs and postcards on this subject.

When did the first picture postcards appear in the United States?

old postcard Some older sources incorrectly report that picture postcards first appeared in Atlantic City. The first picture postcards in the United States appeared at the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition. These were sold in a vending machine in sets of 10.

Carl Voelker, Sr., publisher of a local newspaper, introduced the first Atlantic City picture postcards in 1893 or 1896. His wife brought the idea home to Atlantic City after a visit to Germany. The Voelkers printed cards with scenes of Atlantic City in color. Many early Atlantic City postcards were printed in Germany.
Young's Hotel and Pier. (1911, H049.647.94You570; ACFPL Heston Collection)

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Lida Hall. Atlantic City Remembered: thirty-two postcards made from antique postcards. Atlantic City, NJ: Chelsea Press, 1979.

James D. Ristine. Atlantic City. Arcadia Publishing, 2008.

Archival Collections:

ACFPL Collection of Atlantic City Postcards

Anthony J. Kutschera Postcard Collection

Where is the All Wars Memorial Building?

In the 1920s, Atlantic City erected two buildings in memory of the area’s war veterans.

allwars1 The All Wars Memorial Building at 814 Pacific Avenue opened on April 24, 1924. It was used as headquarters for the City’s white veterans’ groups. The building boasted a 600-seat auditorium and a dining room that seated 280. This building was purchased and demolished by the Trump organization in the 1990s.
All Wars Memorial Building at Night
(Pacific Ave.)
. (1935, H009.725.94All309; ACFPL Heston Collection)
The other building, known variously as the Westside or Northside All Wars Memorial Building or the Old Soldiers’ Home, is located at 1510 Adriatic Avenue. It was dedicated on August 15, 1925 and served as a center for the resort’s black veterans. The building originally included dormitories, which were later converted in two 1,500-seat auditoriums and meeting rooms.

Rheims Post 564 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars began campaigning in 1920 for a building for veterans. Wounded veterans were often sent to the seashore to recover, but there was not a home for black veterans. In February 1921, the City commissioners authorized the construction of “a building to be dedicated to public use as a permanent memorial commemorative of the services of the soldiers and sailors of the colored race of the City of Atlantic City, who have served in any war in which the United States has participated” (City of Atlantic City Public Ordinance No. 6, 1921). Various individuals and corporations donated more than $45,500 for the construction of the Old Soldiers’ Home.

The Old Soldier’s Home served as the center for the City’s Northside residents and members of that area’s Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and the United Spanish War Veterans for many years.

As of 1998, the building was not listed on the National Historic Register. In 2005, the City of Atlantic City decided to renovate the Old Soldiers’ Home, expending $11.2 million for the project. The renovation includes two additions, making the structure 29,100 square feet. The renovated building includes three ballrooms, improved kitchens, tennis courts, and a memorial to the resort’s soldiers. The project was completed in 2008 and the building was reopened for public use. allwars2
All Wars Memorial Building Renovations, from the corner of  New York and Drexel Avenues.
(2008, H009.AllWars2008.corner of NY and Drexel)
[Gary Baker, for the City of Atlantic City]

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

City of Atlantic City, Public Ordinances, 1919-1924.

Subject Files:
Parks/Memorials/Monuments – War Memorials – All Wars Memorial Building

Archival Collection:
All Wars Memorial Buliding [Pacific Avenue building] Guest Book, 1924-1933. [Part of H041, Col. John Jacob Astor Camp #28 Records.]

Please see the Heston Collection Indexes at the Reference Desk to locate photographs and postcards on this subject.

Where was the term “airport” first used?

airport Bader Field and Planes. (1969, H009.387.7Bad410; ACFPL Heston Collection)

The name "airport" was coined in Atlantic City to designate its airfield, Edward L. Bader Field, which was accessible from both air and water. No actual record exists for who is responsible for the name, but two stories exist. Henry Woodhouse, one of the owners of the field is said to have come up with the name when it opened on May 10, 1919. A second story tells of a newspaperman, William B. Dill, editor of The Press of Atlantic City, first using the term. What is known is that immediately following the 1910 Atlantic City Aero Show, in which the airplanes took off from the beach, famous air-traveler Augustus Post wrote an article entitled "Atlantic City, the New Air Port".

On September 30, 2006, Bader Field closed. At that time, it was the oldest operational municipal airport in the country. There are no definite plans for the property at this time.

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Frank Butler. Book of the Boardwalk. Atlantic City, NJ: Haines and Co., 1952.

Col. Lester E. Hopper. Civil Air Patrol Oral History Program: Interview of Ms. Mairlou Crescenzo Eggenweiler. El Paso, Texas, 1984.

Atlantic City Airports: clippings, 1941-1970. Atlantic City, NJ: Atlantic City Free Public Library, 1994.

Subject Files:

Aviation - Airports and Airlines – Bader Field
Aviation History
Aviation History - Aero Show Meet 1910
History of Atlantic City – Firsts

Archival Collections:
ACFPL Collection of Atlantic City Photographs, Aero Show Meet, 1910

ACFPL Collection of Atlantic City Photographs, Civil Air Patrol

Please see the Heston Collection Indexes at the Reference Desk to locate other photographs and postcards on this subject.

Who is Sarah Spencer Washington?

sarah spencer "Madame Washington" as she was widely known, was a millionaire black businesswoman and founded the Apex News & Hair Company. She was born June 6, 1889 in Beckley, Virginia and died March 23, 1953 in Atlantic City. In 1913 she started a hairdressing business in Atlantic City, and later expanded the business, teaching students and developing beauty products. In 1920, noting the lack of beauty products for African Americans, she founded the Apex News & Hair Company. Apex maintained a lab and school in Atlantic City, as well as an office in New York City. Eventually her beauty colleges were located in twelve states and there were 35,000 agents all over the world. After Washington’s death, her daughter, Joan Cross Washington, led the company until it was sold.

Madame Washington has been called one of the most important business executives in the black community. She was honored at the 1939 New York World's Fair as one of the "Most Distinguished Businesswomen". She founded a nursing home - Apex Rest - for the elderly in Atlantic City, and after encountering discrimination at the local golf course, she established her own for people of all races to enjoy a round of golf. She initiated an Easter Parade for African Americans in Atlantic City when they were denied entry to the annual event on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. She was also an active member of the Atlantic City Board of Trade.

Sarah Spencer Washington, proprietor of Apex News & Hair Co. (1940s, H038.Apex001; ACFPL Heston Collection)


Related Resources in the Heston Collection





Atlantic City Board of Trade. Board of Trade: Annual Directory. Atlantic City, NJ: The Board, various years.

Richlyn F. Goddard. Three Months to Hurry and Nine Months to Worry: resort life for African Americans in Atlantic City, NJ 1850-1940. Ph.D. dissertation. Washington, DC: Howard University, 2001.

Subject Files:
Black Businesses
Sara Spencer Washington



Archival Collections:
Apex Country Club Photograph Collection

Sarah Spencer Washington Exhibit Materials

Who was Nucky Johnson?

nucky Enoch L. "Nucky" Johnson was an Atlantic City political boss and racketeer who unofficially ran the Republican political machine that controlled Atlantic City and Atlantic County from the 1910s - 1930s. Born in 1883 in Smithville, New Jersey, "Nucky" (a nickname derived from his first name) was allegedly involved in promoting bootlegging during Prohibition, illegal gambling activities and prostitution. Johnson's trademark was a fresh red carnation in his lapel, and he frequently wore a full-length raccoon coat in the winter.

Johnson graduated from Atlantic City High School in 1900. In 1905, he was appointed undersheriff (his father was sheriff), and in 1908, he was elected sheriff when his father's term expired. He became secretary of the powerful Atlantic County Republican Executive Committee in 1909. In 1911, local political boss Louis Kuehnle was convicted on corruption charges and imprisoned; Johnson allegedly succeeded him as boss. Officially, Johnson held various jobs, including Atlantic County Treasurer (1914), County Tax Collector, publisher of a weekly newspaper, bank director, president of a building and loan company, director of a Philadelphia brewery, and salesman for an oil company (after 1945).

In May 1939, after an extensive federal investigation, Nucky Johnson was indicted for income tax evasion in the sum of $125,000. He was convicted in July 1941 and sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. He entered Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary on August 11, 1941, was paroled on August 15, 1945, and took a pauper's oath to avoid paying the fine. Johnson died on December 9, 1968 at the Atlantic County Convalescent Home in Northfield, New Jersey.

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Grace Anselmo D'Amato. Chance of a Lifetime: Nucky Johnson, Skinny D'Amato and How Atlantic City Became the Naughty Queen of Resorts. Harvey Cedars, NJ: Down the Shore Publishing, 2001.

Nelson Johnson. Boardwalk Empire: the birth, high times, and corruption of Atlantic City. Medford, NJ: Plexus, 2002.

William McMahon. So Young, So Gay! Atlantic City, NJ: Press Publishing, 1970.

John Stoneburg. The Boardwalk Empire: the Nucky Johnson story. [S.l.: n.p.], [1968].

US Department of Justice and US Department of Treasury. The Case of Enoch L. Johnson: a complete report of the Atlantic City investigation conducted jointly by the Treasury Department and the Department of Justice. [United States: n.p.], [1942].

Chick Yeager. The Republican Boss Era of Atlantic City, 1900-1971. [S.l.: n.p.], 1981.

Subject Files:
Enoch "Nucky" Johnson
Nelson Johnson
Organized Crime

Archival Collections:
ACFPL Collection of Atlantic City Photographs

ACFPL Living History Project (interviews that mention Nucky Johnson include #2 Leon Binder, #23 Frank Hires, # 27 Leslie Kammerman, #33 James Latz, #52 Eddie Solitaire, and Anonymous Interview #5 "Chester").

Atlantic City Board of Trade advertising pamphlets