Ritz Carlton Hotel Plaque

ritz carlton hotel

Marker is located outside the entrance to the Ritz Condominiums building at the Boardwalk and Belmont Avenue

Marker text:
The Ritz Condominiums

Former Ritz Carlton Hotel opened during the "Roaring Twenties" on June 24, 1921 as one of Atlantic City's Grand Hotels.

Designed by the architectural firm of Warren and Wetmore at a cost of $6 million.

During WW2 the Ritz Carlton served the US Armed Forces as an integral part of "Camp Boardwalk"

Presidential guests included Calvin Coolidge, Warren G. Harding, and Herbert Hoover. Other famous guests included Al Capone, Enoch "Nucky" Johnson, Lucky Luciano, Lawrence Tibbet, Sophie Tucker, and NY Mayor Jimmy Walker.

The Ritz Carlton Hotel converted to the Ritz Condominium in November 1982.

Additional information:
The Ritz Condominium building is one of the oldest hotel structures on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. It is most famous perhaps for being the home of political boss Enoch "Nucky" Johnson. More information about the Ritz during Nucky's time can be found here.


Morris Guards Armory Building


The Morris Guards Armory Building is located on New York Avenue between Atlantic and Pacific Avenues

Text of plaque affixed to building:
Morris Guards of Atlantic City, N.J.

This building is dedicated to the members of the Morris Guards who served the City, State and Nation for one hundred years.

Colonel Daniel E. Morris - Founder

Member: The Centennial Legion of Historic Military Commands

1887 - 1987

Additional information:
The Morris Guards was an independent military club based in Atlantic City. It boasted the designation of being the oldest military command in the State of New Jersey, and the third oldest in the nation. Although the plaque outside of their Armory building states that Daniel Morris was the founder of the Guards, this is somewhat erroneous. Morris, Atlantic City's top civil engineer at the time, deeded a lot on south New York Avenue to the Morris Guards after learning that they had named themselves in his honor. He designed the original A-frame building at the site which served as their headquarters, as well as the more ornate Armory Building that replaced it in 1901. The actual founder of the Morris Guards was Edwin Smith, who was a member of Philadelphia's State Fencibles Infantry and wanted to see a similar organization come to Atlantic City. The Guards were organized March 2, 1887, with 72 members in attendance at the first meeting. The main purpose of the Morris Guards was to train members so they would be ready in times of war, with weekly drills and exercises held in the Armory Building. The organization also served to provide social and physical activities for residents during the winter months in Atlantic City, when in the early days there wasn't much to do. The Morris Guards participated in several local parades to commemorate city memorials and milestones, and for many years served as official escorts to Miss America contestants. They also boasted many social clubs within their organization, such as a quartet and a basketball team. When the Spanish-American War broke out in 1898, the 106 members of the Morris Guards volunteered as a unit, and were federalized as Company F, Fourth Regiment of the National Guard of New Jersey. They added 14 National Guardsmen to the Company to fill out their ranks. In future wars, new rules prevented entire groups from volunteering together, but members of the Morris Guards individually served in both World Wars, as well as the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The Guards also ran a civilian military training program during World War II, which trained about 600 men prior to their enlistment in the military. In later years, however, new social options meant a decline in membership for the Morris Guards, and the age of the older members made the upkeep of the Armory Building difficult. It was sold in 1983, but the plaque was placed on it in 1987, in celebration of the Morris Guards' 100th Anniversary, to ensure that their history would not be forgotten.

For more information, see articles from:
Atlantic City Press, July 12, 1987, February 25, 1993 and April 21, 1998
Real Estate Connection, February 2, 2007


Historic Gardner's Basin


Marker is located in Gardner's Basin by the Back Bay Ale House

Marker text:
Historic Gardner's Basin

Established July 9, 1976

The original membership who charted the course and had the vision and confidence to preserve the tradition of the sea in the restoration of Historic Gardner's Basin in Atlantic City, New Jersey:

[list of names follows]

Additional information:
In addition to its history as a center for entertainment, Atlantic City also possesses a rich maritime culture. The area of the city known as Gardner's Basin was for years the site of a shipbuilding industry on the island. A unique type of craft known as the "Jersey whaleboat" was constructed there. The location of Atlantic City's Coast Guard base, Gardner's Basin was also the site of many exciting rum-running chases during the Prohibition years. Further back, some tales even existed of pirates using the area as a hideout in the 1700s, long before residents came to live on Absecon Island. Gardner's Basin got its name when it first appeared on Atlantic City maps in 1895, after the marshy area surrounding it was filled in to create more potential real estate. It was named for John H. Gardner, a former mayor of the city. Following this, Gardner's Basin became the setting off point for many fishing excursions for tourists.

In the 1970s, seeing the changing state of the city around them, a group formed with the intent to preserve Atlantic City's lesser-known fishing village history. Out of this was born what was christened "Historic Gardner's Basin," an attraction featuring docked ships to explore, a sculpture garden, and many of the city's older houses, which were moved to the Basin and restored. Thus, Gardner's Basin today is home to some of the oldest structures in Atlantic City. Gardner's Basin also featured a small ocean life center, which evolved into the present-day Atlantic City Aquarium. Today, Gardner's Basin and the urban renewal of the Inlet section serve as a testament to the fact that Atlantic City entertainment and history extend past the Boardwalk.

The area near this plaque also features a mounted bell dedicated to those lost at sea. The memorial specifically names lost shipmates L. Edison Mathis, George Bessmer, Nicholas J. Hober, Frederick Fisher and Michael Ewing.


The plaques affixed to the Lost Shipmates Bell.

For more information, see:
McMahon, William: "Historic Gardner's Basin"


The Diving Bell


Steel Pier's fondly-remembered Diving Bell attraction now sits outside the entrance to the Atlantic City Aquarium at Historic Gardner's Basin.

Marker text:
The famous Steel Pier Diving Bell emerges with a thrust to the surface. Spectators watching could hear the excited passengers through speakers. The ride took place near the Ocean end of the pier.

Additional information:
While most famous for its Diving Horse act, Steel Pier was also known by many generations of vacationers and locals for another "diving" attraction - the Diving Bell. Originally opened in 1928, the Bell was designed by Edward Martine, a California-based welder who had similar bells in place on the west coast. For a mere 25 cents - or, in the ride's later days, $1.00 - riders would plunge into the ocean waters off Steel Pier to observe the depths below, before being thrust upwards again when the ride's mechanisms were released and the Bell rose to the surface on its natural buoyancy. Many riders recall the ascent as the best feature of the attraction, as the views of the ocean depths usually only featured algae growing on nearby pilings. However, Barton Beck, Jr., a former operator of the ride, attested in an Atlantic City Press interview that the journey was still interesting, as "it was sort of eerie." He also noted that "Sometimes you could see sea bass, mullet, dog sharks... every now and then a flounder would be disturbed..."

The Diving Bell ride lasted five minutes. The Bell also contained a microphone which fed to speakers on the pier's deck, so riders could send "messages from the deep" to their friends above. The ride was refurbished twice - once when the Bell was damaged in the Hurricane of 1944 and repaired, and again following the destructive March 1962 storm, when a runaway barge struck Steel Pier and sliced out a 400-foot section of it. The original Diving Bell was lost at sea and has never been found, but another Martine-designed Bell which had previously operated on Catalina Island in California was shipped to Atlantic City to replace it.

The Diving Bell stopped operating in 1978, and was removed from Steel Pier in 1986. It was sent to a scrapyard, but luckily was saved from destruction when a demolition firm donated it to Gardner's Basin in 1989. Today, the Bell welcomes visitors to the Atlantic City Aquarium, where another kind of underwater observation takes place. Two of the Bell's windows have been engraved, in the memory of Thomas L. Glenn and of Barney Marion, who worked as a Steel Pier electrician from 1949-1975.


Dedications on the windows of the Diving Bell

For more information, see articles from:
Atlantic City Press, February 2, 1989, February 16, 1986 and June 17, 1962


Our Lady Star of the Sea Church Fire Memorial


Marker is located at the northeast corner of California and Atlantic Avenues.

Marker text:
This memorial is dedicated the first day of December, 1996 to the posthumous memory of the first two Atlantic City firefighters to die heroically in active service.

Placed on the occasion of Our Lady Star of the Sea's observance of the 100th anniversary of the St. Monica's Church fire on this site
the second day of December, 1896.

Former Assistant Chief William H. Doherty
Good Will H&L

Thomas L. Blakney
Chelsea ACFD

"...No greater love..." John 15:13

Additional information:
The fire in St. Monica's Church began in a chimney on December 2, 1896 during mass. Father Petri, smelling smoke, sent a messenger to the fire station across the street. Firefighters from Chelsea Fire Company No. 6 and the Good Will Hook & Ladder Company responded, but due to the below-freezing temperatures and strong winds, the fire proved extremely difficult to fight. Everyone was ordered out of the building as collapse became imminent, but two firefighters, William H. Doherty and Thomas L. Blakney (also known as Thomas Lenny), never made it out. They were the first two volunteers to die in the line of duty in Atlantic City. In the aftermath of the church's destruction, Our Lady Star of the Sea church was constructed.

For more information, see:
Kemp, Franklin: "Firefighting By The Seashore"