Saturday, June 21, 2014

Lucy, the Margate Elephant

Let's say hypothetically that I won a property in Margate, NJ, in, say, a poker game. I'd start boxing-up my books right away. There are some gorgeous houses there, some with Spanish-tiled roofs, some cloaked in stucco, and almost all beautifully landscaped. The top non-beach pastimes seemed to be dog-walking and bike-riding. Nice, but it's not going to happen. I don't play poker. Nevertheless, I got to cruise through this lovely town on my way to see Lucy the Margate Elephant.

Blog-reading music:

Side-view of Lucy and the entrance to her park

Lucy used to stand where the brown building is now.
I had my heart set on visiting someplace I'd never seen before on this first weekend of summer, and I'm running out of ideas for extreme southern New Jersey. When a writing workshop brought me to Atlantic City, I remembered the giant elephant I've been wanting to visit. Lucy was built in 1881 by James Lafferty, Jr., a Philadelphian who owned property in South Atlantic City, now known as Margate. He had the elephant built of wood to attract attention, which it did and still does. Lucy has been moved from her original location about 300 feet away to make room for a condo building, and after that a group got together to Save Lucy. She was restored and entered as a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

Head on: Lucy's trunk ends in a barrel
You may have already heard of Lucy, but did you know that she had two sisters? The smaller one was built in what was then South Cape May, NJ, (and is now under water) around the same time as Lucy. This one was called the Light of Asia and succumbed to rough weather conditions around the turn of the twentieth century. The other elephant was built in Coney Island, NY, and called Elephantine Colossus. It was intended solely for amusement and burned down in 1896.

Let's go over Lucy's head...(the spots are raindrops)
This means Lucy is the only elephant you can tour. Go up the narrow circular stairway in one of her legs all the way up to the howdah on her back. This is where you can take in a nice view of the Margate beach and surrounding neighborhood. Then climb down the spiral staircase to the middle floor to see some exhibits about Lucy, and some rather nice art featuring Lucy (for sale), and look through Lucy's eyes to see what she sees.

Through the eye of Lucy
Our tour guide pointed out that this part of the elephant was built to look like a boat...and it does, with her eyes as portholes at the bow.

Inside Lucy's abdomen looks like the inside of a boat
Then head back down the spiral staircase in the other elephant leg to the ground and over to the gift shop for elephant gifts of all kinds, souvenir smashed pennies, and postcards.
Because I know you are wondering what the back looks like.


Viki Stockette said...

Who knew? Thanks for all the pics and info!

Barbara Backus said...

I'd heard of Lucy but never knew, until now, what an interesting elephant she is. Thanks for this, Margaret.