Date: 1977-1978
Collection Number: H040

Extent: 2.0 cubic feet (68 interviews)

Repository: Alfred M. Heston Collection, Atlantic City Free Public Library, 1 North Tennessee Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ 08401, (609) 345-2269.

Preferred Citation: Interviewee's Name, Atlantic City Free Public Library Living History Project, Alfred M. Heston Collection, Atlantic City Free Public Library.

The Atlantic City Free Public Library (ACFPL) conducted oral history interviews in 1978, at the advent of casino gambling in Atlantic City. The interviews were conducted with grant funding from the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA), a program of the United States Department of Labor.

The 68 interviewees represented Atlantic City’s culturally and economically diverse citizens - small business owners, lifetime residents, city government officials, transients, school teachers, and local celebrities. The interviewees were chosen based on their experiences in Atlantic City, as well as their backgrounds and careers. Interviews focused on the history of the city, the interviewees’ relationship to the city, and their thoughts on the future of the city.

ACFPL employee Cynthia Ringe was the project supervisor and conducted most of the interviews, with project assistants Marie Cooney and Sandra Miller. Dian Spitler, ACFPL Reference Librarian, summed up the purpose of the Living History Project: "[The Oral History Project serves] to capture the color and the atmosphere and the flavor of the times...[T]he way it felt to be alive at a time when the city was the Queen of Resorts...[W]e are going to shift our focus and start capturing now – ...the people like me, like you, who are watching the city go through its other transformation into, we hope again, the Queen of Resorts, and the city will be known all over the world again, with good connotations."


Scope and Content:
Each interviewee was selected for his or her unique background and experiences. Interviews address topics such as:

  • earliest memories of Atlantic City
  • important events in Atlantic City (Miss America Pageant, fires, storms, World War II)
  • places and businesses in Atlantic City (Steel Pier, Traymore, Marlborough-Blenheim, Dennis, Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy, 500 Club, 1 Atlantic Ocean, White House Sub Shop, Gormley Funeral Home, Fischer Flowers, Atlantic City schools)
  • prominent people in Atlantic City (Nucky Johnson, Dean Martin, Jerry Lee Lewis, Hap Farley, other frequent celebrities and performers and local politicians)
  • predictions for the future of Atlantic City in the casino era

Each interview was recorded on standard audiotapes and transcribed to paper by local transcriptionists. Interviews are approximately 60-90 minutes in length. Some notable interviews include:

  • Chris Columbo, renowned musician at the Club Harlem: "In my early days in Atlantic City it was just a whole lot of fun, because we had a city that you didn’t have to have a key to the front door. No one ever locked their doors."
  • Franklin W. Kemp, Atlantic City Fire Department Chief and author: "[T]oday, in 1978, there’s nothing remaining in [the St. Charles Place] area. It’s all been torn down by Urban Renewal."
  • Frank Havens, photographer for the City of Atlantic City: "With the advent of gambling ...we’re going to have to find many more ways to entertain the people who come here when they are not gambling, or when they have their families with them..."
  • Joseph Hackney, local resident, born in 1898: "I don’t hesitate to say that the future of Atlantic City is so good that these people that talk about 'They can't do this' and 'They won't be able to do that' are talking through their hats...[W]ith what we have, the best city in the country, we won't have any trouble."

System of Arrangement:
The interviews are arranged alphabetically by the interviewee's last name. Seven anonymous interviews are at the end of the 61 other interviews. A complete list of the interviewees is included, with brief biographical information and interview content. Notes and subject terms were added by the ACFPL project staff in 1978.

Because the audio recordings are fragile, only the paper transcripts may be consulted in the Heston Room, unless special advance arrangements are made with Heston Room staff to listen to the audio recordings. Please contact Heston Room staff for more information.


Subject Access Points:
Atlantic City (N.J.) – History
Crime – Atlantic City – New Jersey
Diving Horse
Oral History – New Jersey – Atlantic City
Salt Water Taffy – History
Tourism – History – New Jersey – Atlantic City

Atlantic City Beach Patrol
Atlantic City Free Public Library
Atlantic City Post Office
Fischer Flowers – New Jersey – Atlantic City
Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy – New Jersey – Atlantic City
Gormley Funeral Home – New Jersey – Atlantic City
Knife and Fork Inn – New Jersey – Atlantic City
Kornblau’s Restaurant – New Jersey – Atlantic City
White House Sub Shop – New Jersey – Atlantic City

Casey, William F.
Colombo, Chris
Davis, Ed
Hackney, Joseph
Havens, Frank
Wise, Leo

Related Materials:
The Alfred M. Heston Collection houses other oral history collections related to Atlantic City and its residents. These collections include:

Local History Biography Files include information, such as newspaper clippings and photographs, about some of the interviewees and the people to whom they refer in the interviews. Local History Subject Files include information about the subjects to which they refer in the interviews. Also check the Library Catalog for other biographies of Atlantic City residents and people with connections to Atlantic City.

Processing Note: The collection is processed. Finding aid written by Heather Halpin, archivist, February 2007. Revised June 2008.

Copyright Notice: The Atlantic City Free Public Library owns the copy and reproduction rights for the Living History Project. The Library may not own the rights for interviews 43, 51 and 53. Please consult with ACFPL Heston Collection staff before copying or duplicating any materials from this collection.


  1. Basile, Anthony. Co-owner of White House Sub Shop. Born in Atlantic City in 1926. Father came to Atlantic City about 1903. History of submarine sandwich. Famous visitors to sub shop.
  2. Binder, Leon. Resident of Atlantic City for fifty years. Owner of grocery store. Memories of former days, Nucky Johnson, celebrities, etc.
  3. Borzellino, Joseph. Eighty-five year old resident of Atlantic City. Former barber, with many memories of early Atlantic City. Transcription not completed and tape is unavailable.
  4. Casey, William F., Maj. Resident of Atlantic City since 1918. City Commissioner from 1934 to 1968. Very active in town. Stories of early Atlantic City, churches, various mayors, landmarks, etc.
  5. Columbo, Chris. Resident of Atlantic City since age nine. Top musician of town for many years. Drummer at Club Harlem. Memories of famous musicians who appeared here. Also talks about prejudice in the old days and now. Discusses the future of Atlantic City.
  6. Crim, Barbara. Principal clerk, ACFPL. Resident of Atlantic City since 1920. Memories of N.J. Avenue School, ACHS, Inlet Neighborhood, Great Depression. Side 1 transcribed only. Side 2 has no volume.
  7. Cunningham, Eleanor. Formerly with ACFPL. Resident of Atlantic City nearly fifty years. Memories of Thornton Wilder, early days of Library, etc.
  8. Davis, Ed. Radio announcer for WFPG. Many memories of Steel Pier, Steeplechase Pier, etc. Celebrities on the Piers, and on the radio, night clubs, much of the entertainment world.
  9. Dichter, Herman. Russian immigrant in 1906; moved to Atlantic City in 1922. Meat salesman, cigar store owner, then small hotel owner. Father of Shirley Gordon and Ruth Raphel. Origin of Gordon’s Children Shop and Gordon’s Alley.
  10. Fischer, Charles. Owner of Fischer Flowers. Born in Atlantic City 1898, father born 1867 in Atlantic City. 5 generations of Fischer’s in Atlantic City. Raising and selling flowers means of livelihood since 1876. History of same.
  11. Fixler, Abe. Bar owner. Resident of Atlantic City since 1949. Milk business and bar business.
  12. Fox, Mildred. Hotel owner. Resident of Atlantic City for 45 years. Now employed at Sheraton Seaside Hotel as hotel executive. Worked for many years for Senior Citizens and has many stories about that. Also stories of the war years in the hotel business. 2nd side: Ada Taylor Sackett, Hotel Skills Contest.
  13. Gaines, Norman. (SEE ALSO: Weekes, Primrose) Employee of Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy. Born 1901. Origin of name "salt water taffy." History of Macaroons.
  14. Ginnetti, Frances. Came to Atlantic City in 1929. Rex Restaurant. Bio Guest House. Built A.C's first motel, John’s Motel. Gives good reasons for decline of Atlantic City.
  15. Gormley, Helen M. Owner of Gormley Funeral Home, and her father was before her. She is 67 years old, born and raised in Atlantic City. Stories of accidents, embalming, Gypsy funerals, her marriage to Tom Stafford, a landscape engineer, during the war, etc.
  16. Greenburg, Milton. President, Atlantic City Jitneyman’s Association. Memories of early jitneys, celebrities, future of Atlantic City as per jitney business, etc.
  17. Gundaker, George. Born and raised in Atlantic City. Presently employed at Rock and Shell Shop on Boardwalk. Many memories of Ducktown, the Inlet, clammers, fishing boars, many landmarks.
  18. Hackney, Joseph. Born in Atlantic City in 1898. Great sportsman and has many stories of sports, championships, etc., mainly swimming and diving. Worked on Steel Pier diving for thirty years. Memories of Miss America Pageant parades, etc. Tried to cross country on bike. Worked in lumberyards in Mid-west. Thoughts of a very great future for Atlantic City.
  19. Hamm, Arneita. Born 1901 in Atlantic City. Third grade teacher for 48 years. Memories of her early childhood, Asbury Methodist Church and its early ministers, her early school classes.
  20. Harris, Frances. Born and raised in Atlantic City. Waitress for many years in and around Atlantic City. Some recollections of celebrities.
  21. Havens, Frank. Photographer for the City of Atlantic City for the past 40 years. School day memories. Stories of rum runners in Atlantic City as seen first-hand by him. Dance contests and marathons during the Depression days. Most interesting stories of the Piers in Atlantic City, and their various entertainment. Excellent ideas for the Piers of the future, as gambling becomes more prevalent, the entertainment, etc. History of Atlantic City Convention Hall, all of its rooms, the organ, the height, space, etc. How he first began in the photography business. 
  22. Hinton, Ruth S. Atlantic City native – born here in 1902. Black school teacher. Gives good history of Christ Memorial M.E. Zion Church, the two YWCAs, the two YMCAs, the "Philosophian Club," and her teaching experiences. Also names many of her grade and high school teachers.
  23. Hires, Frank. Born in Atlantic City in 1907, and raised here and in Pleasantville. Former Atlantic City Press Editor. Memories of his father’s and grandfather’s day on a farm, political figures that he knew well (Nucky Johnson, Hap Farley, Mayor Stoley, and many more). Early days of Atlantic City, fires, storm of 1944, some funny newspaper stories.
  24. Hoffman, Reuben. Born here in 1904 and raised here. Stories of early school days and first jobs. His father and grandfather were in the hardware business, as he is today. Memories of the 1944 hurricane; hardware prices of today, as compared to yesteryear, etc.
  25. Hume, Marvin. Came to Atlantic City as a youngster, from Collingswood, NJ. Has been on the Boardwalk 21 years with Rock and Shell shop. Memories of storms, customers, etc.
  26. Johnson, May Ackerman. President, Board of Trustees, Atlantic City Free Public Library. Former member of Atlantic City Hotel Association. Former hotel owner. Resident of A.C. for over fifty years. Memories of hotel business, through World War II, etc.
  27. Kammerman, Leslie. Lifetime resident of Atlantic City. Many memories of early Atlantic City, the Inlet, where he was born and raised; characters he has known, the storm of 1944 and others. Also politicians, such as Nucky Johnson, Mayor Altman, Hap Farley, and others. Memories of the twenties when the well-to-do inhabited the Inlet – fishing trips on their yachts, etc. also his views on the future of Atlantic City, as far as the “Plains," the Inlet, etc.
  28. Kato, George. Japanese owner of Nikko Shop on the Boardwalk. Many stories of early Atlantic City, his father’s coming here from Japan, the hurricane of 1944, the Piers, World War II and the investigation of the Japanese.
  29. Kauffman, Herman. Born here in 1914, and grew up here in the fish business, first with his father and now on his own. Many stories about the early days of fishing, fishing boards, the New Haul on Million Dollar Pier, etc.
  30. Kemp, Franklin W. Resident of Atlantic City since the twenties. Senior Deputy Chief of Atlantic City Fire Department, author of the book, Fire-fighting By the Seashore. Recollections of the early horse and wagons in the Fire Department, the Volunteer Fire Fighters, great fires in Atlantic City, etc.
  31. Kilcher, Walter. Born here in 1919, he is now owner of the Copenhagen Pastry Shop. Gives the history of his baking business. Tells of his childhood.
  32. Kornblau, Joe. Owner of Kornblau’s Restaurant. (He came over here in 1947, a 4 times refugee.) He gives the restaurant’s history (his uncle founded it in 1924). Talks about the decline and deterioration of Boardwalk and Atlantic City.
  33. Latz, James. Owner of Knife and Fork Inn, born and raised here. Memories of early childhood, childhood pranks, horseback riding on the beach, canoeing around the island. Prices in the early days and problems with rationing during the war, Nucky Johnson, celebrities who visited the Knife and Fork, etc.
  34. Leonard, Theodore. Former boxer, bantam weight champ 1925 to 1932. Settled in Atlantic City in 1918. His mother owned a hotel-boarding home. Interesting stories about that. Memories of fighters here, celebrities; also politicians that he knew.
  35. Levan, Russell. Resident of Atlantic City since early childhood, in 1925. Has held many different jobs – stagehand on Steel Pier, policeman, merchant, beach chair concessionaire, etc. Now has bike rental business. Many memories of early Atlantic City, celebrities, Piers, black entertainers, etc.
  36. McCabe, Joseph, Jr. Expert on theater. Many stories about Broadway tryouts in Atlantic City, celebrities. Tells a story of the disappearance of Judge Crater. Memories of his school days here in 1917, and his early jobs.
  37. Malag, Moe. Resident of Atlantic City for nearly sixty years. Currently an investigator for the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. Basketball official from 1932-1954. Discussion about liquor, gambling licenses, etc.
  38. Pileggi, Peter. Manager of White House Sub Shop. Tells of his childhood, neighborhood, etc. Famous patrons of sub shop.
  39. Pozgar, Frank. Owner of Frank’s X-tra Dry Bar and Restaurant. Resident of Atlantic City for thirty years. Memories of bar characters and celebrities.
  40. Prague, George. Resident of Atlantic City since 1917. Construction Operating Engineer in town. Memories of the storms, the Piers, characters in town, the old Railroad Station, etc.
  41. Primrose, Dolly. (SEE ALSO: Gaines, Weeks) Employee of Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy. Talks about "1 Atlantic Ocean," Captain Young’s (her uncle) home.
  42. Pulliam, Elizabeth. Resident of Atlantic City since age of five. School day memories, early girlhood and womanhood. She was with Girl Scouts, YWCA, and an organist with the Westminster Presbyterian Church. Discussion on War years, segregation, children of today and yesterday. Times on the beach and the Piers, etc.
  43. Ringe, Cynthia (and Spitler, Dian). Talks about this Living History Project, the proposed building of a new library. This is a radio interview taped from WFPG Information Central with Howard Berger. Dian Spitler, Reference Librarian, is also on this tape.
  44. Rogers, Willard Mason. Born in Atlantic City in 1910. Tells about his early days in Atlantic City, his childhood, high school days. Related to Mason family – gives brief genealogy (he was nephew of Dr. Willard Mason, a prominent doctor). Mentions "Six Foot Liz," "Big Boy Williams," etc.
  45. Samaha, Frank. Born in 1899 in Atlantic City. Fifty years in radio as an engineer in town. Also worked in early TV here. Went to sea many times, but doesn’t talk much about that in interview. Mostly stories concerning radio. Good history of Admiral Byrd’s first trip to South Pole. Stories of working with celebrities on radio. Easter Parade, Boardwalk shows, all the Piers. Memories of old hurricanes. Also early churches, and Miss America Pageant.
  46. Sayles, Jordan E. Waiter at Dennis Hotel for 20 years; Marlborough-Blenheim 26 years. Stories of his early days in Atlantic City since 1921. Many stories of hotel business, celebrities, politics, the youth of today and yesterday, the future of Atlantic City.
  47. Schwickerath, Frank, Jr. Jeweler on Boardwalk. Family in business since 1893. Many stories of the idle rich, hotels, auctioneers, early childhood days of fishing with his grandfather, also rum runners, politicians. A very interesting and complete picture of early Atlantic City. Also his views of gambling, past and present and in the future.
  48. Scott, John, Jr. 78 year old resident. Jitney driver for 52 years. Many memories of the past, present and future of Atlantic City.
  49. Sharbrough, David. Twenty year resident of Atlantic City. Memories of Piers, hotels, entertainers, Police Department, transportation. He worked in many hotels here in town.
  50. Silverman, Mrs. Herman. Visitor of Atlantic City 56 years. Resident for 35 years. Memories of early hotels, from a Jewish viewpoint. Kosher hotels. Also early gambling rooms and clubs, entertainers she knew. Fishing days. Discussion of what will become of Atlantic City now that gambling is here.
  51. Singer, Sarah. (transcribed from radio interview with Al Berger) Civic leader, former Head of Atlantic City Board of Education, Trustee of Atlantic City Free Public Library. Lots of local history, people, landmarks, etc.
  52. Solitaire, Eddie. Member of Atlantic City Beach Patrol for 45 years, starting in 1929. History of same. Also history of lifeboats, lifeguard stands, swimming rescues, shark scares, jellyfish. Tells about "Pegleg Ireland," "Six Foot Liz," "Big Iz Dowdy." Father was Dapper Dan Mitch Solitaire (assistant to Mayor Bader and Nucky Johnson), also a rum runner. Grandfather was Samuel Solitaire.
  53. Spitler, Dian. (SEE: Ringe, Cynthia) Radio tape from WFPG Information Central. Talks about this Living History Project and the proposed building of a new library. Dian was the Reference Librarian of the Atlantic City Free Public Library.
  54. Stein, Hettie. 85-year resident of Atlantic City. Small hotel business. Memories of Steel Pier in early days, schooldays, etc.
  55. Thomas, William J., Jr. Employee of Atlantic City Post Office since World War II. Memories of North Side entertainment, celebrities on the Piers, school days, etc.
  56. Tolin, Charles. Born in Atlantic City April 1, 1910. Memories of the town and how it was when he was growing up and going to school here. He mentions many of his classmates, and where they are today. Stories about scrap business, which he is in, as was his grandfather and father before him. Story about his son overseas with the CIA, and how he left this country disgusted with the Establishment. Speaks of how the hotels will be wrecked, many beautiful things destroyed, as was the Traymore.
  57. Van Kirk, E. Rae. Born in Atlantic City in 1894, worked for Atlantic City Press and the Dorland Agency. Very good early memories: Boardwalk fire 1902, 1906 train wreck, 1918 flu epidemic, history of Press and its owners, Milk and Ice Fund Bouts, trolleys, sand artists, etc.
  58. Weekes, Calvin. (SEE ALSO: Gaines, Primrose) Employee of Fralinger’s Salt Water Taffy. Atlantic City native. Tells about the making of macaroons: the ingredients and the procedure.
  59. White, Marian. Waitress for many years at Haddon Hall. Tells of her experiences there: dormitory life, eccentric patrons, celebrities, marvelous kitchen, etc.
  60. Wise, Leo. Resident of Atlantic City since 1911. Former baseball star here in town. Many memories of early Atlantic City.
  61. Wolfe, Gerda. Immigrant from Germany in 1952. Nurse at Shore Memorial Hospital, Atlantic City Medical Center. Memories of past nursing experiences, doctors, nursing compared to Germany, future of Atlantic City, etc.

Anonymous Interviews

  1. Bill. Head of Major Crimes in Atlantic City. Born in 1930 and raised here. Stories of crime, grizzly murders, school days, gangs, etc.
  2. Camden. "Camden" is the nickname of an Atlantic City cab driver. Tells the history of Atlantic City cabs; also his experience in the WPA during depression. Tells of some unusual cab patrons.
  3. Chester. Born and raised in Atlantic City. Stories of early childhood, school days, and his working days as a bartender and manager. Stories of 500 Club, politicians (Nucky Johnson, Two-Gun Taggart, Hap Farley, etc.). How Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis got together. Information on gambling and prostitution in early days.
  4. Ed. Lifetime resident of Atlantic City – eighty years. Recollections of early Atlantic City, transportation, politics, landmarks, etc.
  5. Johnny. Born in Vineland, New Jersey, now resident of Atlantic City. Former roofer, now unemployed alcoholic. Discussion about the town in general, and the future of Atlantic City.
  6. Margaret. Tells about her prominent family (they came to Atlantic City in 1911). Tells also of eccentric characters: Bill Sunday (evangelist), prohibition, Grey Ladies of England General Hospital, Red Cross, Leeds family.
  7. Mrs. X. Black school teacher. Taught kindergarten for thirty years in Atlantic City. Father was a physician. Stories of early days in Atlantic City, school, etc. Origin of Fay-Mor-Wee home. 2nd side not transcribed.

Published 28 June 2008.

Give me a short history of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

When did casino gambling start in Atlantic City?

casino skyline The issue of casino gambling first appeared on a ballot for New Jersey voters on November 5, 1974. This initial referendum was defeated in 19 of New Jersey's 21 counties, with about 60% of votes cast against it. A revised referendum, limiting gambling exclusively to the city limits of Atlantic City, was placed on the ballot November 2, 1976. The second referendum was approved by a slim margin, with approximately 1.5 million voters in favor of it and 1.14 million opposed. Atlantic City's first casino, Resorts International, opened on May 26, 1978.

Read more about the History of Casino Gambling in Atlantic City

Where and when was the first boardwalk constructed?

boadrwalk1 The first boardwalk built in the United States was in Atlantic City, New Jersey in 1870. A petition was presented to City Council on April 25, 1870 for the construction of a footwalk on the beach, and $5,000 in funds was allocated for construction. The footwalk opened to the public on June 26, 1870 and was eight feet wide, one mile long, and stood approximately one foot above the sand. Twenty-five years later Boardwalk was made an official street name in Atlantic City. (As an official street name, Boardwalk is always capitalized when referring to the street in Atlantic City.)

The deck of the Atlantic City Boardwalk is made of specially-treated yellow Southern pine with Douglas fir joists. As of 2001, the City Engineer uses Bethabara, a Brazilian wood, to replace damaged planks in the Boardwalk. The herringbone pattern dates from 1916. The Boardwalk’s supports are concrete-encased steel beams. The railings are galvanized aluminum.

Boardwalk from Steel Pier looking East. (1900, H009.Boardwalk004; ACFPL Heston Collection)
The current length of the Atlantic City Boardwalk is a little more than 4 miles. At the widest point, it is 60 feet wide, and it stands 12 feet above sea level. The combined length of the current Atlantic City and Ventnor Boardwalks is approximately 5.75 miles. The historic length of the Boardwalk, before the 1944 hurricane, was about 7 miles and it extended from Atlantic City, through Ventnor and Margate into Longport.

Over the years, the Boardwalk has been reconstructed to provide better access and stability:

  • The 2nd Boardwalk constructed in Atlantic City was opened about June, 1, 1880.
  • The 3rd Boardwalk opened about June 1, 1884.
  • The 4th Boardwalk was dedicated May 10, 1890.
  • The 5th Boardwalk was dedicated July 8, 1896.
Easter Promenade, Atlantic City. (Bef. 1907, H049.917.4985Boa153; ACFPL Heston Collection)

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Frank Butler. Book of the Boardwalk. Atlantic City, NJ: Haines and Co., 1952.

W. Earle Hawkins. Atlantic City Boardwalk, Relighted. Cleveland, Ohio: Westinghouse Electric Corporation, 1954.

Vicki Gold Levi. Atlantic City, 125 Years of Ocean Madness. New York: C.N. Potter, distributed by Crown Publishing, 1979.

Jim Lilliefors. America's Boardwalks: from Coney Island to California. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2006.

William S. Purdie, P.P. "Design Review: the Atlantic City Boardwalk, a photoessay of the Boardwalk." Atlantic County, NJ: Atlantic County Department of Regional Planning and Development, 1987.

James C. Rogers. A Walk By the Sea: the story of the wonderful Atlantic City Boardwalk. [?]: [?], 1926.

Emil R. Salvini. Boardwalk Memories: tales of the Jersey Shore. Guilford, Conn.: Insider's Guide, 2006.

Subject File:
Boardwalk - Centennial, 1970
Boardwalk - Trams

Archival Collections:
ACFPL Collection of Atlantic City Photographs, Boardwalk 90th Anniversary Photo Collection

ACFPL Film Collection

Please see the Heston Collection Indexes at the Reference Desk to locate other photographs and postcards on this subject.

What is salt water taffy?

taffy A popular, sticky Boardwalk treat, the term "salt water taffy" originated on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in the 1880s.

The first to sell a taffy confection of any sort on the Boardwalk, so far as can be discovered, were Ritchie Brothers and Windle W. Hollis, both of whom sold taffy about 1880. Popular legend says that another candy seller, David Bradley, who operated a candy stand at St. James Place and the Boardwalk, had an accident one night in August 1883. A storm splashed seawater over his candy stock. The story continues that a young lady purchased some taffy the next day, and Bradley remarked that it was "Salt Water Taffy". The name stuck, and because Bradley did not copyright or trademark the product, other candy-makers used it to advertise their own taffy.

The first mention of a Salt Water Taffy business in the Atlantic City City Directory was in 1889 under the name "Hollis, Windle W., Original Salt Water Taffy". Today, there are numerous sellers of the colorful treat on the Boardwalk and beyond.

Would you like to make your own salt water taffy? Try this recipe at Exploratorium.

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Frank Butler. Book of the Boardwalk. Atlantic City, NJ: Haines and Co., 1952.

Arthur H. Gager III. The History of Salt Water Taffy and the Life of Joseph F. Fralinger. N.p.: 2 ed., 1983.

Bryant Simon. Boardwalk of Dreams. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Subject Files:
Salt Water Taffy

Archival Collections:
Please see the Heston Collection Indexes at the Reference Desk to locate photographs and postcards on this subject.

I'd like a list of the Mayors of Atlantic City.

Mayors of Atlantic City

Name   Year(s) as Mayor
Chalkley S. Leeds  H088.CityofAC Leeds 1854 - May 26, 1856
Richard Hacket   May 26, 1856 - June 23, 1856
John G.W. Avery  H088.CityofAC Avery June 1856 - 1857
Dr. Lewis Reed  H088.CityofAC Reed 1858 - 1861
Chalkley S. Leeds  H088.CityofAC Leeds 1862
Jacob Middleton  H088.CityofAC Middleton 1863 - 1864
Robert T. Evard  H088.CityofAC Evard 1865
David W. Belisle  H088.CityofAC Belisle 1866 - 1867
Lemuel C. Eldridge   1868 (three months)
John J. Gardner gardener 1868 - 1872
Charles Souder  H088.CityofAC Souder 1873
John J. Gardner H088.CityofAC Gardner 1874 - 1875
Willard Wright  H088.CityofAC Wright 1876 - 1877
John L. Bryant  H088.CityofAC Bryant 1878
Willard Wright  H088.CityofAC Wright 1879
Harry L. Slape  H088.CityofAC Slape 1880
Willard Wright  H088.CityofAC Wright 1881
Charles Maxwell  H088.CityofAC Maxwell 1882 - 1885
Thomas C. Garrett  H088.CityofAC Garrett 1886
Samuel D. Hoffman  H088.CityofAC Hoffman 1887 - 1891
Willard Wright  H088.CityofAC Wright 1892 - 1893
Franklin P. Stoy  H088.CityofAC Stoy 1894 - 1897
Joseph Thompson  H088.CityofAC Thompson 1898 - 1899
Franklin P. Stoy  H088.CityofAC Stoy March 20, 1900 - July 22, 1911
George Carmany  H088.CityofAC Carmany 1911 (six months)
Harry Bacharach bacharach mayor  - May 1912
William Riddle  H088.CityofAC Riddle 1912 - 1916
Harry Bacharach H088.CityofAC Bacharach002 1916 - 1920
Edward L. Bader H088.CityofAC Bader 1920 - January 29, 1927
Anthony M. Ruffu, Jr.  H088.CityofAC Ruffu 1927 - June 1930
Joseph Paxson (acting mayor)   1930 (three weeks)
Harry Bacharach H088.CityofAC Bacharach001 July 10, 1930 - July 18, 1935
Charles D. White  H088.CityofAC White July 1935 - 1940
Thomas D. Taggart, Jr.  H088.CityofAC Taggart May 1940 - 1944
Joseph Altman  H088.CityofAC Altman 1944 - January 10, 1967
John A. O'Donnell (acting mayor)   January 10, 1967 - January 17, 1967
Richard S. Jackson  H088.CityofAC Jackson January 17, 1967 - November 10, 1969
William T. Somers  H088.CityofAC Somers November 12, 1969 - May 1972
Joseph Bradway, Jr.  H088.CityofAC Bradway May 16, 1972 - March 1976
Joseph Lazarow lazarow mayor May 1976 - July 1, 1982
Michael J. Matthews  H088.CityofAC Matthews July 1, 1982 - March 14, 1984
James L. Usry  H088.CityofAC Usry March 14, 1984 - July 2, 1990
James Whelan  H088.CityofAC Whelan July 2, 1990 - December 31, 2001
Lorenzo Langford H088.CityofAC Langford001 December 31, 2001 - January 1, 2006
Robert Levy  H088.CityofAC Levy January 1, 2006 - October 10, 2007
William Marsh (acting mayor)  H088.CityofAC Marsh October 10, 2007 - November 21, 2007
Scott K. Evans evans mayor November 21, 2007 - November 13, 2008
Lorenzo Langford H088.CityofAC Langford002 November 13, 2008 - January 1, 2014
Donald A. Guardian  ACMayorDonGuardian2016website January 1, 2014 - December 31, 2017
Frank M. Gilliam Jr.  frankgilliam January 1, 2018 - October 3, 2019
Marty Small Sr.  martysmall October 4, 2019 - present
From 1854 to 1886, the mayor’s term of office was one year. From 1886 to 1912, the mayor’s term of office was two years. In 1912, the term of office became four years.

In November 2000, Atlantic City voters approved a referendum changing the date and form of municipal elections. Previously held in May, the date for elections was moved to November, and political party affiliation was included on the ballot. The first election following the referendum was held in November 2001, and the new mayoral term began on January 1, 2002.

The city’s first African-American mayor was James L. Usry. Atlantic City has never had an elected female mayor.

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Detroit Bureau of Governmental Research. The Government of the City of Atlantic City, New Jersey: a report prepared for the Atlantic City Survey Commission. Detroit, Mich.: The Bureau, 1930. [photocopy]
Butler, Frank. Book of the Boardwalk. Atlantic City, NJ: Haines and Co., 1952.
English, A.L. History of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Philadelphia, Pa.: Dickson and Gilling: 1884.
Heston, Alfred M. History of Atlantic City Hall and Jail. [Atlantic City, NJ]: Alfred M. Heston, 1901.
Paulsson, Martin W. Politics and Progressivism in Atlantic City: a brief hour of reform. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms, 1992. [photocopy]
University of Pennsylvania, Government Study Group, Department of Political Science. A New Government for Atlantic City: a strong mayor strong council plan. [Philadelphia, Pa.]:University of Pennsylvania, 1979.

Subject File:
Mayors of Atlantic City
Atlantic City - City Hall Officials
Additionally, there are biography files for most of the mayors, by last name.

Archival Collections:
Mayor Thomas Taggart Papers
Please see the Heston Collection Indexes at the Reference Desk to locate photographs and postcards on this subject.

How did the Miss America Pageant start?

As early as 1902, Atlantic City merchants promoted a Floral Parade of bathing beauties. In the early parade, the decorated rolling chairs were judged, rather than the ladies riding in them.

In 1921, as a device for extending the summer season beyond Labor Day, some Atlantic City businessmen organized a small-scale beauty contest. Seven cities in the Northeast each sent a "beauty maid" to represent them in the contest during the first week of September. The first winner was sixteen year-old Margaret Gorman, representing Washington, D.C., who was awarded a Golden Mermaid statue and the title "Miss America". The first contestants, clad in bathing suits, were judged solely on their appearance. From this two-day event evolved the Miss America Pageant.

Research the Miss America Pageant and its history in Atlantic City

How did Chicken Bone Beach get its name?

chickenboneThe sandy stretch from Missouri Avenue to Ohio Avenue was a dedicated area where African Americans could enjoy the Atlantic City Beach from 1900 until the early 1950s. This segregated beach came to be known as Chicken Bone Beach, as families and visitors arrived for a day at the beach with chicken dinners packed in picnic baskets.

African American visitors to Chicken Bone Beach included Sammy Davis, Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, the Club Harlem showgirls, Jackie Robinson, Lena Horne, and Sugar Ray Robinson. Musicians would hold impromptu concerts on the stretch, while children and adults splashed in the ocean and played on the sand. The Atlantic City Beach Patrol employed an all-black patrol that guarded Chicken Bone Beach at Missouri. The first black beach patrol captain was William Rube Albouy.

The City of Atlantic City designated Chicken Bone Beach as a local historic site on August 6, 1997. Currently, a historical foundation exists to promote family programs and activities at Missouri Avenue, including a summer jazz concert series.

Chicken Bone Beach Historical Foundation

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Charles E. Funnell By the Beautiful Sea: the rise and high times of that great resort Atlantic City. New York: Knopf, 1975.

Levi, Vicki Gold. Atlantic City, 125 Years of Ocean Madness. New York: C.N. Potter, 1979.

Subject Files:

Chicken Bone Beach
Black History in Atlantic City

Archival Collections:

"30 Years, 30 Voices" Oral History Project, 2008: Interview with Henrietta Shelton
Chicken Bone Beach Collection
Audrey Hart Photograph Collection
Please see the Heston Collection Indexes at the Reference Desk to locate some of the photographs and postcards on this subject.

What is a jitney?

jitney1997 The word "jitney" is a slang word for nickel, which is what it cost in 1915 for a ride in one of Atlantic City's earliest buses.  Even though the price has increased over the years, the name stuck and today you can still hop on a jitney to travel around Atlantic City.

The first jitneys in Atlantic City date to March 1915 and looked very similar to regular cars. They were large, black Ford model-T touring cars which used a rope-and-pulley system to open the back doors. Over the years, there have been more than eight different designs and at least four different colors for the Atlantic City jitneys. The current version, introduced in 1997, is a thirteen-passenger light-blue mini-bus by Champion Motor Coach. In 1982, a retired 1963 jitney was donated to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History.

An Atlantic City jitney, ca. 1997. (Photograph
courtesy of the Atlantic City Jitney Association website.

The Atlantic City Jitney Association, established in 1915, claims to be the longest-running unsubsidized transit company in the United States. Each jitney is individually owned and operated, and drivers keep the fares. The Association awards the franchises and regulates the appearance of the buses and drivers; the Association also issues fines for violations and holds its own traffic court.By Atlantic City ordinance, the number of jitney franchises is limited to 190. City ordinance also regulates the price per trip and controls the jitney routes. Most of the jitneys routes run along Pacific Avenue. A jitney shuttle also runs from the Atlantic City Train Station to the various Casinos. For jitney routes and prices, please visit the Atlantic City Jitney Association website.

Jitney with driver posing. (1950, H009.388.4Jit1011; ACFPL Heston Collection)


City of Atlantic City. City Ordinances, 1915-1917, 1920, 2008, and other years.

A.M. Heston, compiler. Clippings: trolley and jitney wars of Atlantic City 1888-1889, 1915-1916.

"Jitneys of Atlantic City." Motor Coach Today, vol. 4, no. 2 (April –June 1997).

"The Vogue of the Jitney." The Detective, vol. XXI, part 11 (June 1915).

Subject Files:

Archival Collections:
Please see the Heston Collection Indexes at the Reference Desk to locate photographs and postcards on this subject.

What is the connection between the game Monopoly and Atlantic City?

oldmonopoloy Charles B. Darrow, an unemployed salesman and inventor living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania struggling to support his family in the years following the great stock market crash of 1929, is credited with inventing Monopoly as we know it. Darrow remembered his summers spent in Atlantic City, New Jersey and spent his spare time drawing the streets of Atlantic City on his kitchen tablecloth, with found pieces of material, paints, and wood contributed by local merchants. A game was already forming in his mind as he built little hotels, houses and other tokens to go along with his painted streets.

Soon friends and family gathered nightly to sit round the kitchen table to buy, rent and sell real estate, all part of a game involving spending vast sums of play money. It quickly became a favorite activity among those with little real cash of their own. The friends soon wanted copies of the game to play at home (especially the winners.) The accommodating inventor began selling copies of his board game for four dollars each. He then made up a few sets and offered them to department stores in Philadelphia.

Photograph of Monopoly Board ca. 1935. (H009.Monopoly002; ACFPL Heston Collection)
Orders for the game increased to the point where Darrow decided to try to sell the game to a game manufacturer rather than going into full-scale manufacturing. He wrote to Parker Brothers to see if the company would be interested in producing and marketing the game on a national basis. The company turned down Darrow’s offer, explaining that his game contained "fifty-two fundamental errors", including that the game took too long to play, the rules were too complicated and there was no clear goal for the winner.

Darrow continued to manufacture the game; he hired a friend in the printing business to produce five thousand copies. He filled orders from department stores including F. A. O. Schwarz. One of his customers was a friend of Sally Barton, the wife of Parker Brothers' president, George Parker. The friend told Mrs. Barton about how much fun Monopoly was, and the friend also suggested that Mrs. Barton tell her husband. Mr. Barton listened to his wife and bought a copy of the game. He arranged to discuss business with Darrow in Parker Brothers' New York office and offered to buy the game and give Charles Darrow royalties on all sets sold. Darrow accepted in 1935 and permitted Parker Brothers to develop a shorter variation on the game, included as an option to the rules.

The royalties from Monopoly made Charles Darrow a millionaire, the first game inventor to make that much money. In 1970, a few years after Darrow's death, Atlantic City erected a commemorative plaque in his honor. It stands on the Boardwalk, near the corner of Park Place.

monopoly tribute
Charles B. Darrow Boardwalk plaque at Boardwalk and Park Place. (Undated, H009.Monopoly001; ACFPL Heston Collection)

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Maxine Brady. The Monopoly Book: strategy and tactics of the world’s most popular game. New York: D. McKay Co., 1974.

Rod Kennedy, Jr. and Jim Waltzer. Monopoly, the story behind the world’s best-selling game. Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith, 2004.

Philip Orbanes. The Monopoly Companion. Boston, Mass.: Bob Adams, Inc., 1988.

Noel Gunther and Richard Hutton. Beyond Boardwalk and Park Place: the unauthorized guide to making Monopoly fun again. New York: Bantam Books, 1986.

Subject Files:

Archival Collections:
ACFPL Game Collection

ACFPL Collection of Atlantic City Photographs – Uncataloged Photographs by subject

What is the origin of the rolling chairs on the Boardwalk?

rollingchair At the Philadelphia Convention in 1876 rolling chairs were first introduced for recreational use. These early chairs, which accommodated only one person, closely resembled wheelchairs (or invalid chairs) of that time. The chairs arrived in Atlantic City by 1884, when Philadelphia merchant Harry D. Shill started offering them for rent. In 1887, William Hayday, who owned a hardware store near the Boardwalk, started renting similar wheelchairs to vacationers in Atlantic City and provided attendants to push the chairs.

When the first Boardwalk was laid out in 1870, vehicles of any kind were prohibited. The construction of the third Boardwalk in 1884 was more accessible to vehicles, and wheelchairs were allowed for the use of handicapped persons. Some individuals pretended to need the chairs. City authorities made no objection to this, and the practice grew. The City began licensing rolling chairs in 1891, charging a $10 fee for each chair.
Early Rolling Chair. (H009.388.341Rol; ACFPL Heston Collection)


Frank Butler. Book of the Boardwalk. Haines and Co.: Atlantic City, NJ, 1952.
A.E. Seidel.  100 Years of Boardwalk Rolling Chairs.  N.p.: Atlantic City, NJ, 1984.
Bryant Simon. Boardwalk of Dreams. Oxford University Press: New York, 2004.

Subject Files:
Rolling Chairs
Rolling Chairs News Excerpts (388.341 Rol)

Archival Collections:
Please see the Heston Collection indexes at the Reference Desk to locate postcards and photographs on this subject.

When did Steel Pier open?

old steelpier 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.

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

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.

Subject Files:
Diving Horse
Piers – Steel Pier
Piers – Steel Pier Programs

Archival Collections:
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.

What is the history of the diving horse?

diving horse 2 One of the most famous acts on the Boardwalk - and one of the iconic symbols of old Atlantic City - was the Diving Horse act that was introduced to Steel Pier in the late 1920s and continued until 1978. A revised version of the act was briefly resurrected for a few months in 1993.

According to Atlantic City historian Allen "Boo" Pergament, William F. "Doc" Carver, a former show partner of "Buffalo Bill" Cody invented the diving horse act in 1881 after a wooden bridge gave way under him, and he and his horse fell into the Platte River in Nebraska. He turned this episode into an act and performed it at county fairs. Frank P. Gravatt, an Atlantic City hotel builder, brought the act to Steel Pier in 1928.

Sisters Sonora Webster Carver and Arnette Webster French were among the first diving horse riders. In August 1931, Sonora Webster Carver was blinded in a diving accident when the horse landed badly. She continued to dive, though. Her story was depicted in the 1991 Walt Disney movie, Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken.

Diving Horse in Mid-Flight. (1930, H009.624.158Div582; ACFPL Heston Collection)
Below is an incomplete list of the Atlantic City diving horse riders and the years they dove:

Lorena (or Leonora) Carver, 1913-1938
Sonora Webster Carver, 1923-1942
Shae Chandler
Josephine Knox DeAngelis, 1935-1942 
Patty Dolan
Margaret (or Marjorie) Downs, 1933-1934 
Arnette Webster French, 1928, 1931-1935
Olive Gelnaw
Barbara E. Gose, 1967
Grace, 1936
Florence Virginia Thompson Griffith
Marion S. Hackney
Lynne Jordan, 1960s
Marie, 1929, 1931
Terrie McDevitt, 1976-1978
Ann Miles, 1960s
Elsa Rahr

Some of the diving horses were:

Duchess of Lightning (or Lightning)
John the Baptist
Lorga (or Lorgah)
Powderface (or Powder Face)
Pure as Snow (or Snow)
Red Lips
Silver King

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Sonora Carver. A Girl and Five Brave Horses. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1961.

Linda Oatman High. The Girl on the High-diving Horse. New York: Philomel Books, 2003.

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.

Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken. Walt Disney, 1991. (video and DVD)

Subject Files:
Carver, Lorena
Diving Horse
Downs, Margaret H.
Piers – Steel Pier Programs

Archival Collections:
Please see the Heston Collection Indexes at the Reference Desk to locate photographs and postcards on this subject.

When did the first picture postcards appear in the United States?

old postcard Some older sources incorrectly report that picture postcards first appeared in Atlantic City. The first picture postcards in the United States appeared at the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition. These were sold in a vending machine in sets of 10.

Carl Voelker, Sr., publisher of a local newspaper, introduced the first Atlantic City picture postcards in 1893 or 1896. His wife brought the idea home to Atlantic City after a visit to Germany. The Voelkers printed cards with scenes of Atlantic City in color. Many early Atlantic City postcards were printed in Germany.
Young's Hotel and Pier. (1911, H049.647.94You570; ACFPL Heston Collection)

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Lida Hall. Atlantic City Remembered: thirty-two postcards made from antique postcards. Atlantic City, NJ: Chelsea Press, 1979.

James D. Ristine. Atlantic City. Arcadia Publishing, 2008.

Archival Collections:

ACFPL Collection of Atlantic City Postcards

Anthony J. Kutschera Postcard Collection

Where is the All Wars Memorial Building?

In the 1920s, Atlantic City erected two buildings in memory of the area’s war veterans.

allwars1 The All Wars Memorial Building at 814 Pacific Avenue opened on April 24, 1924. It was used as headquarters for the City’s white veterans’ groups. The building boasted a 600-seat auditorium and a dining room that seated 280. This building was purchased and demolished by the Trump organization in the 1990s.
All Wars Memorial Building at Night
(Pacific Ave.)
. (1935, H009.725.94All309; ACFPL Heston Collection)
The other building, known variously as the Westside or Northside All Wars Memorial Building or the Old Soldiers’ Home, is located at 1510 Adriatic Avenue. It was dedicated on August 15, 1925 and served as a center for the resort’s black veterans. The building originally included dormitories, which were later converted in two 1,500-seat auditoriums and meeting rooms.

Rheims Post 564 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars began campaigning in 1920 for a building for veterans. Wounded veterans were often sent to the seashore to recover, but there was not a home for black veterans. In February 1921, the City commissioners authorized the construction of “a building to be dedicated to public use as a permanent memorial commemorative of the services of the soldiers and sailors of the colored race of the City of Atlantic City, who have served in any war in which the United States has participated” (City of Atlantic City Public Ordinance No. 6, 1921). Various individuals and corporations donated more than $45,500 for the construction of the Old Soldiers’ Home.

The Old Soldier’s Home served as the center for the City’s Northside residents and members of that area’s Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, and the United Spanish War Veterans for many years.

As of 1998, the building was not listed on the National Historic Register. In 2005, the City of Atlantic City decided to renovate the Old Soldiers’ Home, expending $11.2 million for the project. The renovation includes two additions, making the structure 29,100 square feet. The renovated building includes three ballrooms, improved kitchens, tennis courts, and a memorial to the resort’s soldiers. The project was completed in 2008 and the building was reopened for public use. allwars2
All Wars Memorial Building Renovations, from the corner of  New York and Drexel Avenues.
(2008, H009.AllWars2008.corner of NY and Drexel)
[Gary Baker, for the City of Atlantic City]

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

City of Atlantic City, Public Ordinances, 1919-1924.

Subject Files:
Parks/Memorials/Monuments – War Memorials – All Wars Memorial Building

Archival Collection:
All Wars Memorial Buliding [Pacific Avenue building] Guest Book, 1924-1933. [Part of H041, Col. John Jacob Astor Camp #28 Records.]

Please see the Heston Collection Indexes at the Reference Desk to locate photographs and postcards on this subject.

Why does Atlantic City claim to have the first “airport”?

airport Bader Field and Planes. (1969, H009.387.7Bad410; ACFPL Heston Collection)

The name "airport" was coined in Atlantic City to designate its airfield, Edward L. Bader Field, which was accessible from both air and water. No actual record exists for who is responsible for the name, but two stories exist. Henry Woodhouse, one of the owners of the field is said to have come up with the name when it opened on May 10, 1919. A second story tells of a newspaperman, William B. Dill, editor of The Press of Atlantic City, first using the term. What is known is that immediately following the 1910 Atlantic City Aero Show, in which the airplanes took off from the beach, famous air-traveler Augustus Post wrote an article entitled "Atlantic City, the New Air Port".

On September 30, 2006, Bader Field closed. At that time, it was the oldest operational municipal airport in the country. There are no definite plans for the property at this time.

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Frank Butler. Book of the Boardwalk. Atlantic City, NJ: Haines and Co., 1952.

Col. Lester E. Hopper. Civil Air Patrol Oral History Program: Interview of Ms. Mairlou Crescenzo Eggenweiler. El Paso, Texas, 1984.

Atlantic City Airports: clippings, 1941-1970. Atlantic City, NJ: Atlantic City Free Public Library, 1994.

Subject Files:

Aviation - Airports and Airlines – Bader Field
Aviation History
Aviation History - Aero Show Meet 1910
History of Atlantic City – Firsts

Archival Collections:
ACFPL Collection of Atlantic City Photographs, Aero Show Meet, 1910

ACFPL Collection of Atlantic City Photographs, Civil Air Patrol

Please see the Heston Collection Indexes at the Reference Desk to locate other photographs and postcards on this subject.

Who was Sarah Spencer Washington?

sarah spencer "Madame Washington" as she was widely known, was a millionaire black businesswoman and founded the Apex News & Hair Company. She was born June 6, 1889 in Beckley, Virginia and died March 23, 1953 in Atlantic City. In 1913 she started a hairdressing business in Atlantic City, and later expanded the business, teaching students and developing beauty products. In 1920, noting the lack of beauty products for African Americans, she founded the Apex News & Hair Company. Apex maintained a lab and school in Atlantic City, as well as an office in New York City. Eventually her beauty colleges were located in twelve states and there were 35,000 agents all over the world. After Washington’s death, her daughter, Joan Cross Washington, led the company until it was sold.

Madame Washington has been called one of the most important business executives in the black community. She was honored at the 1939 New York World's Fair as one of the "Most Distinguished Businesswomen". She founded a nursing home - Apex Rest - for the elderly in Atlantic City, and after encountering discrimination at the local golf course, she established her own for people of all races to enjoy a round of golf. She initiated an Easter Parade for African Americans in Atlantic City when they were denied entry to the annual event on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. She was also an active member of the Atlantic City Board of Trade.

Sarah Spencer Washington, proprietor of Apex News & Hair Co. (1940s, H038.Apex001; ACFPL Heston Collection)

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Atlantic City Board of Trade. Board of Trade: Annual Directory. Atlantic City, NJ: The Board, various years.

Richlyn F. Goddard. Three Months to Hurry and Nine Months to Worry: resort life for African Americans in Atlantic City, NJ 1850-1940.Ph.D. dissertation. Washington, DC: Howard University, 2001.

Subject Files:
Black Businesses
Sara Spencer Washington

Archival Collections:
Apex Country Club Photograph Collection

Sarah Spencer Washington Exhibit Materials

Who was Nucky Johnson?

nucky Enoch L. "Nucky" Johnson was an Atlantic City political boss and racketeer who unofficially ran the Republican political machine that controlled Atlantic City and Atlantic County from the 1910s - 1930s. Born in 1883 in Smithville, New Jersey, "Nucky" (a nickname derived from his first name) was allegedly involved in promoting bootlegging during Prohibition, illegal gambling activities and prostitution. Johnson's trademark was a fresh red carnation in his lapel, and he frequently wore a full-length raccoon coat in the winter.

Johnson graduated from Atlantic City High School in 1900. In 1905, he was appointed undersheriff (his father was sheriff), and in 1908, he was elected sheriff when his father's term expired. He became secretary of the powerful Atlantic County Republican Executive Committee in 1909. In 1911, local political boss Louis Kuehnle was convicted on corruption charges and imprisoned; Johnson allegedly succeeded him as boss. Officially, Johnson held various jobs, including Atlantic County Treasurer (1914), County Tax Collector, publisher of a weekly newspaper, bank director, president of a building and loan company, director of a Philadelphia brewery, and salesman for an oil company (after 1945).

In May 1939, after an extensive federal investigation, Nucky Johnson was indicted for income tax evasion in the sum of $125,000. He was convicted in July 1941 and sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. He entered Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary on August 11, 1941, was paroled on August 15, 1945, and took a pauper's oath to avoid paying the fine. Johnson died on December 9, 1968 at the Atlantic County Convalescent Home in Northfield, New Jersey.

Related Resources in the Heston Collection

Grace Anselmo D'Amato. Chance of a Lifetime: Nucky Johnson, Skinny D'Amato and How Atlantic City Became the Naughty Queen of Resorts. Harvey Cedars, NJ: Down the Shore Publishing, 2001.

Nelson Johnson. Boardwalk Empire: the birth, high times, and corruption of Atlantic City. Medford, NJ: Plexus, 2002.

William McMahon. So Young, So Gay! Atlantic City, NJ: Press Publishing, 1970.

John Stoneburg. The Boardwalk Empire: the Nucky Johnson story. [S.l.: n.p.], [1968].

US Department of Justice and US Department of Treasury. The Case of Enoch L. Johnson: a complete report of the Atlantic City investigation conducted jointly by the Treasury Department and the Department of Justice. [United States: n.p.], [1942].

Chick Yeager. The Republican Boss Era of Atlantic City, 1900-1971. [S.l.: n.p.], 1981.

Subject Files:
Enoch "Nucky" Johnson
Nelson Johnson
Organized Crime

Archival Collections:
ACFPL Collection of Atlantic City Photographs

ACFPL Living History Project (interviews that mention Nucky Johnson include #2 Leon Binder, #23 Frank Hires, # 27 Leslie Kammerman, #33 James Latz, #52 Eddie Solitaire, and Anonymous Interview #5 "Chester").

Atlantic City Board of Trade advertising pamphlets

Who was Alfred Heston?

When Alfred Heston died in 1937 at the age of 83, he left behind a rich legacy of enduring achievements and service to Atlantic City. His commitment to civic service was evident in his roles as cityalfred heston official, newspaper editor and publisher, historian and author, founder of the Atlantic City Hospital and trustee of the Atlantic City Free Public Library. His innovative approaches to promoting the city contributed to the continuing development of Atlantic City as a resort.

As a public official he was well known for his independence and opposition to unethical practices in city government. First elected in 1895 as City Comptroller, he served in this position for many years. In 1912, City Council ousted him from the Comptroller's office after he refused to buy stock in a city contractor's street paving company and then rejected what he believed to be a spurious payment claim from the same company. In a statement to supporters he said:

Defeated? By no means. On the contrary, I have won a great victory. Plato says that conquest of self is the greatest of all victories. By subjecting my own interests to those of the public, I have won a greater victory than that of the man who has thrust me out of office. I have refused to do the bidding of those who seemed to care little for the public but who have had an eye on the main chance.
In his subsequent run for the post of City Commissioner in 1912, he was defeated, probably because he refused to align himself with any political factions. During the election he made it clear he "had no connection with any political machine and recognized no boss other than the general public." He was elected City Treasurer in 1914 with a vote that was, at the time, the largest ever cast for a candidate for any public office in the history of Atlantic City. A legal ambiguity concerning the direct election of a city treasurer led to the Board of Commissioners rejecting the vote but then appointing Heston to the position themselves. This in turn paved the way for his ouster from office a year later after he once again found himself at odds with corrupt political interests.

Heston had a notable newspaper career in the region, beginning with The West Jersey Press in Camden where he learned the printing trade right after completing high school in Philadelphia. Within a few years he became editor of the newspaper and subsequently went on to The Salem Standard and The Bridgeton Chronicle. In 1884 he purchased The Atlantic City Review; after relinquishing his interests in that paper, he later purchased The Atlantic Journal.

In the late 1880s, Heston began writing and publishing a long-running series promoting Atlantic City. Heston's Handbook: Atlantic City Illustrated was an annual publication devoted to publicizing the City's many attractions. Heston is also credited with devising the strategy for what was ultimately a highly successful public relations gambit: the city-run Press Bureau. Through promotional events, coverage of visiting celebrities and relationships with reporters throughout the country, the Press Bureau shaped the image of the city during its heyday as a resort destination.

The history of southern New Jersey was another area in which Heston made a significant contribution. He was the editor of South Jersey, A History, 1664-1924, a five-volume work covering historical events leading to the development of each county in the region as well as biographies of prominent residents. As an author, he wrote about the history of Atlantic City and the Egg Harbor region in Absegami: Annals of Eyren Haven and Atlantic City, 1609-1904. In Jersey Waggon Jaunts he turned historical fact into an eclectic set of anecdotal tales about New Jersey history, including many on Atlantic City.

Heston considered his founding of the Atlantic City Hospital his greatest achievement. The hospital opened in 1898, and Heston served as secretary of its board of governors for the next 25 years. As one of the founders and trustees of the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Heston was responsible for establishing the collection on local history. In the Library's earliest days, he made a significant number of contributions to the collection. Later, his personal library of books and manuscripts was acquired and formed the basis for expanded development of the Atlantic City history collection. Through both his publications and collection of historical materials, he continues to this day to support the work of researchers who, in varying ways, carry on his legacy.

Key Dates in Alfred Heston's Life:

  • April 30, 1854: Born at Hestonville, Pennsylvania, to descendants of a Quaker family who were among the original settlers of Bucks County.
  • 1875: Married Abbie Mitchell, in Camden, New Jersey, with whom he had three daughters.
  • 1884: Took up residence in Atlantic City.
  • November 10, 1937: Died at Atlantic City Hospital after a brief illness; buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Pleasantville, New Jersey.

Atlantic City and County, New Jersey: the city by the sea and her people. Philadelphia: A.M. Slocum, 1899, p. xxvi.
John F. Hall. The Daily Union History of Atlantic City and County, New Jersey . Atlantic City, N.J.: The DailyUnion, 1900, p. 477.
Alfred M. Heston, ed. South Jersey, A History, 1664-1924. New York, Chicago: Lewis Historical Publishing Co., 1924, Vol. III, p. 20-23.
"Heston Funeral Plans Will Be Made Today". In The Atlantic City Press, November 11, 1937, p. A1, 4.
"Heston Rites Come Today; Honors Paid". In The Atlantic City Press, November 13, 1937, p. A1.