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:
|Easter Promenade, Atlantic City. (Bef. 1907, H049.917.4985Boa153; ACFPL 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.
Boardwalk - Centennial, 1970
Boardwalk - Trams
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.