Steel Pier originally opened in 1898 and takes its name from the iron pilings driven into the ocean ground, which are topped by steel girders. The original pier jutted out 1,621 feet from the Boardwalk and cost $350.000 to build.
Billed as "the Showplace of the Nation", it quickly became known for showcasing the world's top entertainers. From the 1920s through the 1950s, everyone who was anyone played Steel Pier. Annie Oakley headlined the opening festivities on June 18, 1898. W.C. Fields was a member of the minstrel group that appeared during the Pier's inaugural season, but headline appearances quickly followed for him and many others. Guy Lombardo, Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey, Mae West, Charlie Chaplin, The Three Stooges, Bob Hope, Amos 'n Andy, Frank Sinatra - all entertained on Steel Pier. Many Big Bands launched their careers with a stint on Steel Pier. The Diving Horse was also a mainstay on Steel Pier for many years.
|Steel Pier with airplane flying over. (1930, H009.624.158Ste061; ACFPL Heston Collection)|
After a 1982 fire, the Steel Pier was revived as an amusements-only attraction in 1993. For many years, it was one of the few family friendly spots in town. The Pier itself is currently owned by Trump Entertainment Resorts, Inc. and includes amusements and attractions for all ages. For hours, ticket information, and information on rides and attractions, see the Steel Pier website.
Jim Futrell. Amusement Parks of New Jersey. Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 2004.
Steve Leibowitz. Steel Pier, Atlantic City: Showplace of the Nation. West Creek, NJ: Down the Shore Pub., 2009.
Vicki Gold Levi. Atlantic City, 125 Years of Ocean Madness. New York: C.N. Potter, distributed by Crown Publishers, 1979.
Jim Waltzer and Tom Wilk. Tales of South Jersey: Profiles and Personalities. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001.
Piers – Steel Pier
Piers – Steel Pier Programs
ACFPL Collection of Atlantic City Photographs, Steel Pier Ford Motor Co. Exhibit Photographs, 1940
ACFPL Film Collection
Please see the Heston Collection Indexes at the Reference Desk to locate photographs and postcards on this subject.