Date: 2002-2006
Collection Number: H005

Extent: 1.0 cubic feet (46 interviews)

Repository: Alfred M. Heston Collection, Atlantic City Free Public Library, 1 North Tennessee Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ 08401, (609) 345-2269.

Preferred Citation: Narrator Name, Dr. James Karmel Atlantic City Project Oral History Interviews, Alfred M. Heston Collection, Atlantic City Free Public Library.

Dr. James Karmel is a professional historian and author of Gambling on the American Dream: Atlantic City and the Casino Era, which is based on the oral history interviews he conducted from 2002-06 for this project. He is an Associate Professor of History at Harford Community College in Bel Air, Maryland. Dr. Karmel has written or presented four other papers on Atlantic City and the casino era.

This project was conducted with funding from the New Jersey Historical Commission and Harford Community College.


Scope and Content:
The narrators for this project were chosen by Dr. Karmel. His goal was to document the impact of casinos on the lives of residents in the Atlantic City region. Narrators include government officials (both local and state), immigrants, casino employees, local business owners, and longtime residents of the area. Notably, this is the first project of its kind to document the immigrant experience in Atlantic City.

Karmel developed a list of questions for each interview and asked narrators questions about their childhood, education, work experience, and the role and impact of casinos in Atlantic City. He interviewed narrators at union halls, the Spanish Community Center, Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, the Asian Food Market, and other locations.

Audio recordings of some of the interviews are available as digital files in MP2 format.

System of Arrangement:
The interviews are arranged alphabetically by the narrator’s last name. A complete list of the interviewees is included below, with brief biographical information and interview content. Some interviews have full transcripts, while others are more like notes taken during the interviews. Audio recordings are available for some of the interviews; these are noted in the list below also. Audio files do not exist for every interview.  Transcript and audio are missing for 1 of the interviews.

There are seven interviews by narrators that are restricted. These will be closed to research for 75 years for privacy reasons and are not included in the list below.


Subject Access Points:
Atlantic City (N.J.) – History – 21st century
Casino Gambling – New Jersey – Atlantic City – History
Immigrants – New Jersey – Atlantic City
Oral History – New Jersey – Atlantic City

Atlantic City Fire Department
Atlantic City Housing Authority
Bally’s Park Place
Casino Control Comisión
Trump Taj Mahal

Alcantara, Jose David
Heneghan, Daniel
Hollingsworth, Pierre
McCullough, James “Sonny”
Perskie, Steven
Ricci, Dennis
Sodha, Jay
Tjoumakaris, Paul
Whelan, Jim

Gambling on the American Dream: Atlantic City and the Casino Era

Related Materials:
The Alfred M. Heston Collection houses other oral history collections related to Atlantic City and its residents. These collections are:

Local History Biography Files include information, such as newspaper clippings and photographs, about some of the interviewees and the people to whom they refer in the interviews. Local History Subject Files include information about the subjects to which they refer in the interviews. Also check the Library Catalog for other biographies of Atlantic City residents and people with connections to Atlantic City.

Processing Note: The collection is processed. Finding aid written by Heather Halpin Pérez, archivist, December 2009.

Copyright Notice: The Atlantic City Free Public Library shares the copy and reproduction rights for most of the oral history interviews with Dr. Karmel. Please consult with ACFPL Heston Collection staff before copying or duplicating any materials from this collection.


Narrators are listed alphabetically. A brief biographical description and description of interview content is also included, along with the date of the interview and the availability of audio (and length of the interview), transcript, or photographs.

  1. Restricted.
  2. Alcantara, José David. Born in Honduras. Atlantic City resident since 1969. Lawyer. (1 March 2005; audio, 1:08:34; transcript; photograph)
  3. Restricted.
  4. Centeno, Asunción José. Born in Nicaragua. Atlantic City resident since 1988. Works for Tropicana. (17 June 2003; audio, 12:24; transcript)
  5. Cohen, Al. (12 August 2002, no audio, no transcript)
  6. DeBasilio, Carmen. Born in Dominican Republic. Housekeeper at Ceasers since 2000. Has a child still living in Dominican Republic. (17 June 2003; audio, 8:57; transcript; photograph)
  7. Devlin, Barbara. From New Jersey. Representative for Local 54 union. (21 June 2002; no audio; transcript)
  8. Restricted.
  9. Gandhi, Rashmika M. Born in India (Gujarat). 39 years old. Came to Atlantic City in 2002. Has Bachelor of Science degree. Cashier at Bally’s. (4 November 2002; no audio; transcript)
  10. Gitto, Thomas. Born in Atlantic City. Poker manager at Taj Mahal. (16 June 2005; audio, 58:55; transcript; photograph)
  11. Gómez, Isaias. Born in Colombia. Lives in Pleasantville. Owns a shipping business since 1998. (10 Aug 2005; audio, 1:22:50; transcript; photograph)
  12. Guzman, Luis. Born in Puerto Rico. Works for the City of Atlantic City. (13 June 2005; audio, 36:30; transcript)
  13. Hall, Edna. Born and raised in Atlantic City. (20 April 2005; audio, 1:12:37; transcript; photograph)
  14. Heneghan, Daniel. Born in New Jersey. Public information officer for the Casino Control Commission. (4 March and 31 March 2005; audio, 2:18:57 and 1:06:48; transcript)
  15. Hollingsworth, Pierre. Born and raised in Atlantic City. City firefighter from 1956. Discusses segregation in Atlantic City and his involvement with NAACP and civil rights. Also the campaign for casino gambling and his work as City Commissioner. (30 April 2005; audio, 1:10:19; transcript; photograph) *Note: Mr. Hollingsworth was also included in Dorothy J. Beatty "Black History of Atlantic City" Oral History Project (H057).
  16. Jahan, Selina. Born in Bangladesh. Laid off in 2004 and out of work. (28 June 2005; audio, 35:16; transcript; photographs)
  17. Lopez, Marta. Born in Puerto Rico. Works for Spanish Community Center. Speaks about Latino immigrants’ experiences in Atlantic City. (16 May 2003; audio, 33:33; transcript; photograph)
  18. López, Richard. Born in Puerto Rico. Works for City of Atlantic City. (17 May 2005; audio, 1:17:10; transcript; photograph)
  19. Loung, Liem. Born in Vietnam. Works at Taj Mahal. (1 August 2005; audio, 19:36; transcript; photograph)
  20. Manik, Mohammed. Born in Bangladesh. Cook at Bally’s. (21 June 2005; audio, 23:23; transcript; photograph)
  21. McCullough, James "Sonny." Mayor of Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. Part of legalization of gambling committee. Also discusses Pinelands, taxes, and controversy. (26 May 2005; audio, 47:14; transcript; photograph)
  22. Momperousse, Hilda Mayra. Born in Dominican Republic. Works at Nueva Imagen Hair Salon. (21 June 2005; audio, 29:28; transcript; photographs)
  23. Momperousse, Orfelina. Born in Dominican Republic. Worked at Showboat until 1996. Retired. (24 August 2005; audio, 21:49; transcript; photographs)
  24. Ngo, Lien. Born in North Vietnam. Housekeeper at casino. (1 August 2005; audio, 31:18; transcript; photograph)
  25. Ngo, Thu. (interviewed with Peter Pham). Born in North Vietnam. Spent 10 years in North Vietnamese jail. About 60 years old. Busperson. (1 August 2005, audio, 54:23; transcript; photograph)
  26. Restricted.
  27. Restricted.
  28. Osorno, Aura Sprague. Born in Nicaragua. Works for casinos. Arrived in US illegally, but now is a US citizen. Speaks about the career ladder in the casinos.  (1 July 2003; audio, 50:22; transcript; photograph)
  29. Patel, Chittu. Born in India (Gujarat). 63 years old. Works at casino. (4 November 2002, no audio; transcript)
  30. Restricted.
  31. Restricted.
  32. Patel, Pankaj. Born in India (Gujarat). Came to the US in 1996. Worked at Trump Plaza, Bally’s Wild West, Caesar’s. Works at Tropicana in restaurant as busperson and greeter. (17 June 2003; audio, 27:58; no transcript; photograph)
  33. Patterson, Russelle. Born in New York City. Moved to Atlantic City in 1973. (19 June 2002; no audio; transcript) *Note: Ms. Patterson was also interviewed for the “30 Years, 30 Voices” Atlantic City Free Public Library Oral History Project, 2008 (H064).
  34. Perez, Felix. Born in Dominican Republic. 29 years old. Promoted into Cook position. (1 July 2003; audio, 10:18; transcript)
  35. Perskie, Steven. From New Jersey. Judge. Key figure in campaign for gambling legalization. (14 May 2005; audio, 1:44:02; transcript; photograph)
  36. Pham, Peter. (interviewed with Thu Ngo). Born in North Vietnam. 60 years old. Busperson. (1 August 2005; audio, 54:23, CD2; transcript; photograph)
  37. Prado, Luz. Born in Colombia. 26 years old. Went to school to learn to deal blackjack. (18 May 2005; audio, 21:43; transcript; photograph)
  38. Ricci, Dennis. From Atlantic City. Works for Atlantic City Housing Authority. Discusses casino legalization aftermath. (14 April and 25 April 2005; 34:21 and 51:36; transcript)
  39. Ruffolo, Robert. From Atlantic City. Owns Princeton Antiques and Books. Atlantic City historian. (March 2005; audio, 1:20:06; transcript)
  40. Sodha, Jay. Born in Uganda. Came to the United States in 1975 and to Atlantic City in 1997. Works at Tropicana.  (1 July 2003; audio, 34:01; transcript; photograph)
  41. Stuart, Nanette. From Egg Harbor Township. 41 years old. Veteran educator. (6 June 2005; audio, 1:00:55; transcript)
  42. Tjoumakaris, Paul. Born in Greece. Came to Philadelphia in 1958 when 12 years old. Vice President of Slots at Borgata. (18 June 2005; audio, 1:42:05; transcript; photograph)
  43. Tran, Cathanina. Born in Vietnam in 1972 and fled. Substitute teacher. Husband is a professor. (7 June 2005; audio, 1:03:20; transcript; photograph)
  44. Velazco, Rosa. Born in Cuba. Came to US in 1980. Works at Caesar’s. (17 June 2003; audio, 37:49; transcript; photograph)
  45. Wills, Libbie. Neighborhood activist and long-time resident of Atlantic City. (11 April 2005; audio, 37:39; transcript)
  46. Whelan, James. Born in Philadelphia, spent summers in Atlantic City. Former mayor of Atlantic City (1990-2001). Discusses political party affiliations, swimming, casino impact on Atlantic City. (6 Apr 2006, audio, 1:38:56, CD3; digital and paper transcript)

Published 15 December 2009.

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.
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 - 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  H088.CityofAC Leeds 1854 - May 26, 1856
Richard Hacket   May 26, 1856 - June 23, 1856
John G.W. Avery  H088.CityofAC Avery June 1856 - 1857
Dr. Lewis Reed  H088.CityofAC Reed 1858 - 1861
Chalkley S. Leeds  H088.CityofAC Leeds 1862
Jacob Middleton  H088.CityofAC Middleton 1863 - 1864
Robert T. Evard  H088.CityofAC Evard 1865
David W. Belisle  H088.CityofAC Belisle 1866 - 1867
Lemuel C. Eldridge   1868 (three months)
John J. Gardner gardener 1868 - 1872
Charles Souder  H088.CityofAC Souder 1873
John J. Gardner H088.CityofAC Gardner 1874 - 1875
Willard Wright  H088.CityofAC Wright 1876 - 1877
John L. Bryant  H088.CityofAC Bryant 1878
Willard Wright  H088.CityofAC Wright 1879
Harry L. Slape  H088.CityofAC Slape 1880
Willard Wright  H088.CityofAC Wright 1881
Charles Maxwell  H088.CityofAC Maxwell 1882 - 1885
Thomas C. Garrett  H088.CityofAC Garrett 1886
Samuel D. Hoffman  H088.CityofAC Hoffman 1887 - 1891
Willard Wright  H088.CityofAC Wright 1892 - 1893
Franklin P. Stoy  H088.CityofAC Stoy 1894 - 1897
Joseph Thompson  H088.CityofAC Thompson 1898 - 1899
Franklin P. Stoy  H088.CityofAC Stoy March 20, 1900 - July 22, 1911
George Carmany  H088.CityofAC Carmany 1911 (six months)
Harry Bacharach bacharach mayor  - May 1912
William Riddle  H088.CityofAC Riddle 1912 - 1916
Harry Bacharach H088.CityofAC Bacharach002 1916 - 1920
Edward L. Bader H088.CityofAC Bader 1920 - January 29, 1927
Anthony M. Ruffu, Jr.  H088.CityofAC Ruffu 1927 - June 1930
Joseph Paxson (acting mayor)   1930 (three weeks)
Harry Bacharach H088.CityofAC Bacharach001 July 10, 1930 - July 18, 1935
Charles D. White  H088.CityofAC White July 1935 - 1940
Thomas D. Taggart, Jr.  H088.CityofAC Taggart May 1940 - 1944
Joseph Altman  H088.CityofAC Altman 1944 - January 10, 1967
John A. O'Donnell (acting mayor)   January 10, 1967 - January 17, 1967
Richard S. Jackson  H088.CityofAC Jackson January 17, 1967 - November 10, 1969
William T. Somers  H088.CityofAC Somers November 12, 1969 - May 1972
Joseph Bradway, Jr.  H088.CityofAC Bradway May 16, 1972 - March 1976
Joseph Lazarow lazarow mayor May 1976 - July 1, 1982
Michael J. Matthews  H088.CityofAC Matthews July 1, 1982 - March 14, 1984
James L. Usry  H088.CityofAC Usry March 14, 1984 - July 2, 1990
James Whelan  H088.CityofAC Whelan July 2, 1990 - December 31, 2001
Lorenzo Langford H088.CityofAC Langford001 December 31, 2001 - January 1, 2006
Robert Levy  H088.CityofAC Levy January 1, 2006 - October 10, 2007
William Marsh (acting mayor)  H088.CityofAC Marsh October 10, 2007 - November 21, 2007
Scott K. Evans evans mayor November 21, 2007 - November 13, 2008
Lorenzo Langford H088.CityofAC Langford002 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.

Jitney with driver posing. (1950, H009.388.4Jit1011; ACFPL 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:

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:

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)


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, 1913-1938
Sonora Webster Carver, 1923-1942
Shae Chandler
Josephine Knox DeAngelis, 1935-1942 
Patty Dolan
Margaret (or Marjorie) Downs, 1933-1934 
Arnette Webster French, 1928, 1931-1935
Olive Gelnaw
Barbara E. Gose, 1967
Grace, 1936
Florence Virginia Thompson Griffith
Marion S. Hackney
Lynne Jordan, 1960s
Marie, 1929, 1931
Terrie McDevitt, 1976-1978
Ann Miles, 1960s
Elsa Rahr

Some of the diving horses were:

Duchess of Lightning (or Lightning)
John the Baptist
Lorga (or Lorgah)
Powderface (or Powder Face)
Pure as Snow (or Snow)
Red Lips
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