|Part of my collection of non-casino-related Atlantic City brochures|
Atlantic City is not a place I go often, and I seem to have a talent for not going to casinos. Yesterday, as I attended a writing workshop there, I recalled other times I visited this city without gambling or glitzy shows on my mind.
|Boardwalk Hall (formerly known as Convention Hall)|
|Boardwalk Hall Detail|
A few years back I received a writing assignment from a magazine. They wanted an article about Atlantic City activities and destinations that did not involve gambling and nightlife. That was easy for me: I covered the new outlet shopping center called The Walk, fancy boutique shopping on shopping mall piers, and boardwalk strolling on the famous four-mile Boardwalk. I reminded readers that you don't even have to walk the boards, you can hire a three-wheeled rolling chair usually pushed by an ambitious young person anxious to make some dollars. Atlantic City's beach is still there, of course, even though it is overshadowed by some very tall, well lit, modern buildings.
Have you heard of the White House Sub Shop?
This world-famous restaurant is just down the street from yesterday's writing conference. Its walls are covered by autographed 8x10 photographs of famous people who have dined there. We sat under Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and a cluster of former Miss Americas. The steak sandwiches are remarkable, partly because of the ultra-fresh rolls, baked daily at a bakery across the street. This piece of authentic Atlantic City is a cool place to go for lunch, and lines around the block of hungry diners are legendary.
Then there's the Absecon Lighthouse, a grassy oasis in the city just a few blocks from the casino culture. Absecon is the name of the island on which the city sits, and also the inlet just to the north. The lighthouse is New Jersey's tallest with 228 steps. It was built in 1857 and contained a first-order Fresnel lens, the most powerful of the time. We visited Absecon Lighthouse on a tour of New Jersey's eleven lighthouses for an article I have been working on for years. (It's a slow-burn inspiration.)
|St. Michael's Catholic Church (left) and Dante Hall (right)|
Contemporary AC is more than just casinos and nightlife just as the Prohibition-Era Atlantic City of my favorite show Boardwalk Empire had more to offer than gangsters and Speakeasies! My next Atlantic City excursion will probably be to visit a destination visited for over a hundred years by gangsters, flappers, real estate moguls and ordinary folks: Lucy the Elephant in nearby Margate, built in 1881!