National Geographic : 1933 May
VOL. LXIII, No. 5 WASHINGTON MAY, 1933 JWllll( I COPYRIGHT, 1933, BY NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICSOCIETY, WASHINGTON, D. C. INTERNATIONALCOPYRIGHTSECURED NEW JERSEY NOW! BY E. JOHN LONG AUTHOR OF "OXFORD, MOTHER OF ANGLO-SAXON LEARNING," AND "MONTSERRAT, SPAIN'S MOUNTAIN SHRINE," IN THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE SUPPOSE, a few years ago, a dictator had called his engineers and archi tects together and said: "Build me a city on a sand bar seven miles at sea, remote from other cities. On my sand bar man can raise no food; there is no fresh water, nor any stone, steel, cement, or lumber. But here I want wide boulevards, skyscraper hotels, thousands of homes and shops, with food and drink for 60,000 residents. I want the beaches around this city to be clean and healthful, so find a way to dispose of waste. "Further, I want you to construct this city so flexibly that I may move in my army of 400,000 overnight, and be able to shelter, feed, and amuse them all over week-ends. Then your trains and buses must whisk them away between sunset and dawn. Such invasions will occur several times a year." What would the engineers and archi tects have said ? That such a miracle tran scended human power! Yet Atlantic City to-day is that miracle. All the great treks of history-the Per sians under Xerxes, the Huns under At tila, the Moslems under Mohammed II, the "Golden Horde" of Tatars, the Nor man invasion, and the Crusades-shrink to thin ranks when measured against At lantic City's 12,000,000 annual visitors. All the population of a nation like Ar gentina or Canada, or almost twice the population of the Australian Continent, pilgrimaging in a few months to a strip of sand ten miles long and a half to three quarters of a mile wide ! Less than one hundred years ago At lantic City was a nameless cluster of fish ermen's huts on Absecon Island. Then came rails from Philadelphia, and the first excursion train, July I, 1854. Its 500 passengers taxed the pioneer resort. But what would its early innkeepers say now if they could see Atlantic City receiv ing 500 visitors every minute during 12 hours of a July Fourth or Labor Day week-end! WHERE PEDESTRIAN IS KING The famed Boardwalk begins at the Inlet and parallels the ocean shore for seven miles through Atlantic City, and the adjoining municipalities of Ventnor and Margate City. Not all of Atlantic City's 12,000,000 annual visitors swim, sail, fish, or take part in the other amusements the resort affords, but all of them walk, or ride in a rolling chair, along this incom parable Boardwalk. Morning, noon, and night the tap, tap, tapping of thousands of heels and toes re sounds on planks where the pedestrian is king and where walking is no lost art. Rich man, poor man, artist, lawyer, mer chant, actress, the Colonel's lady, and Judy O'Grady pass in review, to see and to be seen (see illustration, page 522). No one knows just when this greatest of promenades began. Loose boards were laid on the sand around Civil War time. Tiny shops and bathhouses bordered the landward side. The planks were taken up at the end of the season and stored a safe distance from the reach of winter waves.