With so much bad news about Atlantic City, New Jersey … with the criminal child abuse charges against Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small and Public Schools Superintendent La’Quetta Small … it’s time to take a look at some of Atlantic City’s shining, positive moments.

I’ve written thousands of articles over the past 32 years. This may be my absolute favorite ever to have written. There is so much great history that is about to unfold here.

Our list promises to be profound … yet, incomplete.

We will start at the beginning.

In 1783, Jeremiah Leeds established the first permanent settlement on Absecon Island.

The idea of Atlantic City was established in March, 1854.

Atlantic City was formally incorporated on May 1, 1854.

On July 1, 1854, Chalkey S. Leeds was elected the first Mayor of Atlantic City with a whopping 18 votes.

On June 26, 1870, the first boardwalk in American history was opened in Atlantic City.

In March 15, 1915, the first Jitney line service was established in Atlantic City.

On June 18, 1898, The World Famous Steel Pier opened. The biggest names and acts in show business appeared. You weren’t considered to have made it as a Big Band or star entertainer until you played Steel Pier.

The Original Steel Pier was a true marvel. For a nominal entrance fee, you could stay all day and watch multiple first-run movies, the water circus, top entertainment acts, and so much more.

Steel Pier got its name from the iron pilings driven into the ocean ground, which were topped by steel girders.

Steel Pier was billed as “The Showplace of the Nation", and it was.

Steel Pier - Circa 1898 - Don P. Hurley - Steel Pier Collection.
Steel Pier - Circa 1898 - Don P. Hurley - Steel Pier Collection.
Don Hurley photo.
Don Hurley photo.

Steel Pier was Atlantic City's longest, coming in at 1,621 feet, and later would be extended to 2,000 feet.

Steel Pier was built in 1898 at a cost of $200,000. It was the first pier to use steel beams on iron pilings.

It has stood for more than 120 years,

In 1910, Bader Field, also known as Atlantic City Municipal Airport opened. It was named after former Atlantic City Mayor Edward Bader.

This was the first time that the term airport was used in American history.

Bader Field was the home for air carnivals,and, a hot spot for aviation pioneers such as The Wright Brothers.

Bader Field was also the departure location for  explorer Walter Wellman's failed attempt to fly across the Atlantic in an airship named America.

On September 7, 1921, the first Miss America Margaret Gorman was crowned.

On May 31, 1929, Atlantic City Convention Hall was dedicated. It featured Thomas Edison’s reinforced concrete, which for the first time in American history allowed for unobstructed views … because no large concrete pillars were required.

Following the stock market crash of 1929, Charles B. Darrow, who was an unemployed salesman and inventor … who lived in Philadelphia is desired with creating the famous game of Monopoly.

Darrow was struggling to support his family in the years following the great stock market crash.

Darrow remembered his summers spent in Atlantic City and based the game on Atlantic City and the  immediate neighboring downbeach communities.

This iconic game has been a big hit for nearly 100 years.

September 14, 1944, a powerful hurricane destroyed half of the Atlantic City Boardwalk. It was rebuilt better than ever.

March 5-9, 1962, a very powerful northeast storm resulted in massive damage to Atlantic City and the downbeach areas.

The Atlantic City Boardwalk was destroyed, yet again… And, it was rebuilt once more.

The Margate City Boardwalk was destroyed and never rebuilt.

November 2, 1976, New Jersey voters approved casino gambling for Atlantic City only.

May 26, 1978,  Resorts International Hotel and Casino opened, becoming the first legal hotel casino in Atlantic City history.

March 13, 1984, James L. Usry was elected as the first African-American Mayor in Atlantic City history.

Usry won election 130 years after the City of Atlantic City was formally incorporated.

Numerous great Atlantic City hotel casino accomplishments have take place over the past more than 45 years.

On May 1, 1997, the new Atlantic City Convention Center opened at a cost of $ 268 million dollars.

Atlantic City Convention Center - Photo: Google Maps
Atlantic City Convention Center - Photo: Google Maps

Without then New Jersey Senator Bill Gormley, the Atlantic City Convention Center never would have happened.

Gormley delivered the massive funding for the Atlantic City and Wildwood Convention Centers. Gormley also delivered a mega, multimillion dollar remodel of Atlantic City’s Historic Boardwalk Hall.

Gormley was a Trenton potentate. A legislative legend. He approved scores of state judges. He fiercely protected Atlantic City from unwanted encroachment for decades.

Gormley will be the last Atlantic County political boss. Never again will one person ever consolidate such political power ever again.

Most everything mentioned before now is hard to argue with.

This one is subjective, but, in my view the greatest concert ever held in Atlantic City was on September 28, 2002, when Sir Paul McCartney rocked historic Boardwalk Hall.

Without a doubt, it is the greatest concert of my lifetime.

It's hard to believe that that it was almost 22 years ago.

Harry Hurley photo.
Harry Hurley photo.

It was only the second time that McCartney had ever played in Atlantic City.

The first time was on Sunday, August 30, 1964, when The Beatles launched the “British Invasion” in America.

Harry Hurley photo.
Harry Hurley photo.

McCartney's 2002 Atlantic City performance was sheer masterclass. He sang for more than 2 hours.

He didn't take a break and never even took a sip of water.

I've never witnessed anything like it before or since.

Beyond the concert itself, which was truly epic ... I had the opportunity to spend about 40 minutes with Sir Paul, in his dressing room until the moment he walked out on to the stage to perform.

A big, grateful thank you to former Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford.

Mayor Langford was allowed to bring exactly one person with him to present "The Key To Atlantic City" to McCartney and he picked me.

It is my hope that you've enjoyed this walk down memory lane. For so many of us, Atlantic City holds such a special place in our hearts forever.

SOURCES: Interviews with George Hamid, Jr., Ed Hurst, Don Hurley and Wikipedia for a few specific dates,

Steel Pier

Gallery Credit: Harry Hurley

Do You Remember Adventure Village in EHT?

Gallery Credit: Harry Hurley


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