Posts Tagged ‘atlantic city’

h1

In The Pink in Atlantic City

June 6, 2008

I read a column from an local Atlantic County entertainment paper by Pinky Kravitz, a local personality who is still very active at over 80 years old and is probably the area’s biggest booster there ever was.  He is the Larry Kudlow of Atlantic City in that respect. I have known him from many years of working in Atlantic City and he is a true gentleman.

In his article he quotes facts and figures that he found in a 1925 realtor pamphlet.  I had to share them with you to put in perspective the comparison of Las Vegas and Atlantic City.  Here we go:

“In that year, the permanent population of Atlantic City was approximately 65,000 people. The average population in the city at that time, including seasonal visitors, was about 100,000 people. It was estimated that the annual number of visitors to Atlantic City was 10 million.

There were about 1,000 hotels in Atlantic City in 1925, there were 13 churches of all denominations in the city………The city had six ocean piers. There were 21 movie theaters. There were 400 sailing and fishing yachts and power launches at the various docks in the city. There were two double-track steam railroads, there were two double-track steam railroads to New York.

There were six newspapers. There were three life-saving stations. There were three hospitals in Atlantic City. Within the city‘s limits, there were three golf courses. There were 100 doctors and surgeons who lived in Atlantic City and there were 12 bank and trust companies.”

 

And now….

“Today’s permanent population is down to 45,000. Today’s Atlantic City hosts 34 million visitors (mostly day trippers). There are 14 major hotels and few guesthouses and many less churches.

There are four piers left that extend out over the water now: The Pier at Caesars, Central Pier, Steel Pier and the Garden Pier. The city’s movie theaters dropped from 21 to 1.  There is only one set of rail tracks for trains to Philadelphia; currently there is no train service directly to New York, There is no daily newspaper, plant or office based in Atlantic City; there is one daily that covers the city and the region.

There is a miniature golf course on the Boardwalk, but no more golf courses in the city. The number of doctors and surgeons in the city has dramatically decreased. The number of banks and trust companies has too.

The 1925 realtor pamphlet glowingly stated: “Today we find a gorgeous city … visited by 10 million people yearly, a city [that] personifies the Spirit of America at play. Originally just one of America’s numerous watering places, its sheer superiority makes it supreme as a summer playground, while of late years it has become recognized more and more as the one great winter resort of the North.”

 and now this last paragraph

 “Atlantic City is a city in every sense of the word. It is one of the most interesting ones in America. There are miles of shops to supply every human want, with the wares of Paris and London, displayed side-by-side with the creations of America’s own artisans……. All other world-renowned resorts, piled into one cannot approach it in splendor — and none of them can rival it in interest or comfort. No treatment of Atlantic City’s institutions, however brief, is complete until its wonderful “Beauty Pageants” are brought into the picture. These pageants have become a national institution, attracting worldwide attention……

An airport, a pioneer of the world, and flying field in the south edge of the city, provide an aerial mail station and a good landing field for aircraft. Golf has an all season home here on three excellent and easily extensible courses. These links have acquired such prestige that Atlantic City may, with due modesty, claim to be one of the most important golfing centers of America.”

The irony of it is, that decribes Las Vegas today more than Atlantic City in 1925.  That promotional narrative from 1925 could easily be lifted, Las Vegas’ name inserted, and would be found in any of today’s travel guides.  The pity is that Atlantic City after 30 years and well over a trillion dollars of investment has yet to achieve, at the very least, what they once had.

The ever ebullient and positive cheerleader Pinky Kravitz, God bless his eternal optimistic soul, ends his column with this:

“With that kind of a background, you can understand why those of us who reside here love this wonderful city and its environs.”

To show such pride with the numbers and facts running against you, and the fastidious devotion is something I just can’t criticize; that we should have people here that are so loyal through so many years……

h1

A Tale of Two Cities

May 8, 2008

This past weekend I was in Cape May to attend the wedding of one of my nieces.  I grew up in South Jersey and lived “at the shore” for many years B.C. (before casinos) in Atlantic City.  The old pier that housed Cafe Ole’ that I played at on Satuday nights is long gone replaced with multi-storied condos and the old rundown houses are now spiffy high-end Bed and Breakfast palaces.  The entire bride’s wedding party and family were housed in one of these gorgeous 10 bedroom mansions, complete with an elevator and view of the ocean’s waves breaking, providing a harmonious drone in the background.  Back in the seventies things were pretty grim.  Unemployment was over 12% and there was no future for most people coming out of college or high school unless your family absorbed you into their own business.  Then along came the promise of casino gambling.  The first referendum failed but a year later, once the bill was modified exclusively for casinos just in Atlantic City, it was passed as “a unique tool of urban redevelopment.”  More on this later.

The wedding was beautiful as the town it was held and the next day we went to Ocean City’s boardwalk to enjoy the sunny day before heading back home.  Ocean City is “America’s Resort” just as The Dallas Cowboys are “America’s Team.”  No alcohol allowed, the former Methodist retreat is loaded with families with young and innocent kids with hormones just kicking in and no where to go, so walking, mingling with their peers helps vent some of that angst away.  I spent many a night here, as did many of my high school friends, some of whom I immortalized in my book “Only Moments,” as we cavorted and danced the dance of sweet youth and lived on George’s cocoanut macaroons and Taylor pork roll sandwiches.

My brother-in-law and I have had long discussions about Atlantic City and the changes the town has seen through the years.  My first year of college was in The Mayflower Hotel on the boardwalk because Stockton State College hadn’t finished building on time to open in the fall.  Now….you want to talk party school?  Imagine a 17 year-old freshman sandwiched in between a Red-Light District on the right and a randy party-time gay community on the left, and the beach and boardwalk in the front. The stories are legendary and someday I’ll tell a few.  Nonetheless, my wife’s brother told me of the lack of business and layoffs in the town that 30 years later has absolutely no excuses for being anything but first rate, but never saw that promise come to fruition due to political power brokering, the lack of great customer service, paranioid stranglehold regulations on the casinos and the lack of leadership to force a complete renovation of the city and it’s slums.  That monopoly is now over.  To assist in their woes over the years they jacked-up prices on rooms, food, and the casino tables can’t be broached with less than $20 a hand on weekends. The city itself is still dangerous (I worked there for over 15 years, trust me) and the State of New Jersey has the audacity to make you pay to park to gamble your money away.  The outlying states have now figured out how easy this money can be made and why travel to Atlantic City to gamble?  After all, then Governor Brendan Bryne declared 30 years ago that “Atlantic City would never become like Las Vegas!”  So, ahem……there’s really no reason to go there other than gambling now is there?  Shopping abounds elsewhere, as do concerts, restuarants, etc.  So who’s crying now?  That you should even be worthy of shining Las Vegas’ shoes at this point, would be a plus to be quite frank.  Money taken-in is not a measure of success-it is the mystique of this city as well as the superior attitude and operations of the State of Nevada, Clark County, and our wonderful mayor Oscar Goodman that allow Las Vegas to remain competitive and thriving. Now that being said, here is a message for my former employing corporate entities:

Las Vegas Operators, learn from this mistake!  Don’t be so stupid as to think your lunch cannot be eaten by someone else.  You are not insulated from the world.  Stop trying to take every buck out of your customers.  Stop raising prices on rooms, food, entertainment, and by the way-while were talking about entertainment-try employing musical entertainment for patrons to hear free-yes, free, like it used to be all over this city.  You’ve been warned to wake up and take care of your customers.  Remember, they don’t have to come here, they have many other vacation options now.  Focus on customer service in fact, not in words and give them a reason to be here.  Any experienced casino operator will tell you it was inexpensive food, rooms, and loose slots that brought them here.  Just because Steve Wynn built the Mirage, doesn’t mean every new place has to be bathed in gold, mosaic tile, tidal waves and gorgeous Sirens, or Austrian Crystal.  Just make them to be enjoyed and you will continue to prosper without all that overhead!

As for New Jersey- Cape May, Ocean City, Avalon, Wildwood, Strathmere, and the like up and down the coast are waiting for your enjoyment without expecting you to spend your entire nest egg in one day.  Enjoy your treasures of nature, they are priceless!  Imagine if we had beachfront property here………maybe after the big one…….just kidding!