Don't let the flashing lights and fist-pumping clubs deceive you, Atlantic City is more than just the Las Vegas of the East. The city is rich with history — something that trivia buffs like me just love. As we gear up for a week spent in 'America's Playground,' here are some fun facts we learned about the coastal city.
1) You don't even have to leave your bed to gamble
Lucky for Lady Crawley, she wouldn't even have to leave her robe to gamble in Atlantic City.
It's really no secret that gambling is the main draw to Atlantic City, and one hotel is making sure you're always able to gamble. At the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, guests can place bets from the comfort of their beds via their TVs. As of Feb. 18, guests with player's cards can set up electronic accounts and risk up to $2,500 a day. Right now, slots and four kinds of video poker are the first games allowed. But just think, you don't EVER have to get dressed to place some bets. Hotel robes are totally appropriate gambling attire now!
2) Fralinger's produces 11,000 pounds of taffy...a day
(Photos Courtesy of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Bureau) Taffy is a Boardwalk staple in Atlantic City.
The chewy and delightful confection was created in Atlantic City in the 1880s and is still a boardwalk tradition today. Fralinger's, the largest and most famous producer of the candy, prides itself on being a family-owned business that still uses traditional ingredients. Today, the company produces 600 pieces of taffy a minute or 11,000 pounds a day. To put that into perspective, they make over 600,000 lbs. a year. This makes me feel slightly less guilty about consuming an entire one-pound box by myself.
3) Lucy the Elephant is older than the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty
(Photo Courtesy of Lucytheelephant.org) Lucy's eyes overlook the beach. ot a bad view I'd say.
Ok, so you may not even know who Lucy is. In case you don't, Lucy the Elephant is a six-story high elephant building located in Margate, NJ. She has a spiral staircase that allows visitors to climb up and see a 360 degree view of the area. Built in 1881, Lucy is older than both the Eiffel Tower (built in 1889) and the Statue of Liberty (dedicated in 1886). Oddly enough though, she is only the second largest elephant building. An elephant tower in Bangkok claims the first place prize. Sorry, Lucy!
4) Miss America got its start in AC
(David Becker/Getty Images North America) Mallory Hytes Hagan, Miss New York, became Miss America 2013.
After a six-year hiatus, the Miss America Competition is returning to its home in Atlantic City. The pageant, which has been held in Las Vegas since 2006, will be returning to the place where it all began back in 1921. The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and Atlantic City's convention bureau are paying a total of $7.3 million in financial aid over three years, with $2.5 million earmarked for the return of the pageant. Quite a hefty sum to get Miss America back, but AC knows she's worth it. You can catch the competition on Sept. 15 on ABC.
5) The Boardwalk Hall organ has over 33,000 pipes
(Courtesy of Boardwalkhall.com) The organ has more pipes than any other organ around.
Boardwalk Hall, previously Convention Hall, is a well-known convention hall in AC. It is not only known for being the original site of the Miss America Competition, but it known for housing the world's largest pipe organ. The organ has over 33,000 pipes and has the record for being the largest and loudest musical instrument the world has ever known. It was built between 1929 and 1932 by the Midmer-Losh Organ Company of Merrick, Long Island, N.Y. All of you music junkies can read all about the organ's different tones, pitches and other cool musical lingo we tone-deaf people don't understand here.
6) Diving horses used to be a thing
(Courtesy of Phawker.com) Yes, diving horses was a thing.
In the 1890s, William Frank "Doc" Carver came up with the idea of training horses to dive from a platform into a pool of water. Say what?! You read that right. The idea was to take well-trained horses, with their riders situated on their backs, and teach them to jump from a 40-foot tower into a 12-foot pool of water. Call these horses the Evel Knievels of their time. This daredevil act came to Atlantic City in the 1920s and became a huge success. The Diving Horse at the Steel Pier was one of the most famous and loved attractions back in the day. If any of this sounds familiar, you may have seen the Disney movie from 1991 called, "Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken," which tells the story of Sonora Webster Carver, a rider who was blinded when she hit the water with her eyes open. Needless to say, New Jersey horses are sticking to galloping theses days.
7) The first US boardwalk EVER was built in Atlantic City
(Photos Courtesy of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority) The Atlantic City Boardwalk, built in 1870, is known as the world’s first and most famous Boardwalk.
Ok, so you might have known this one, but did you know it only cost $5,000 to build in 1870? (Kudos to you if you did!) At its opening, the Atlantic City Boardwalk was eight feet wide, one mile long, and stood approximately one foot above the sand. No commerce was allowed within 30 feet of the walk. Today, the boardwalk is over four miles long and boasts a plethora of shops, restaurants and more. My how the times change!
8) The first casino opened in 1978
(William Thomas Cain/Getty Images News) The Trump Taj Mahal is just one of the 12 casinos in Atlantic City.
If you're like me, you assumed that the casinos have always been a part of the Atlantic City landscape. But then you'd be wrong. Just like me. It wasn't until 1978 that the first casino, Resorts International (now Resorts Atlantic City), opened. Prior to the gaming boom in the '70s and '80s, Atlantic City was known for being a resort spot for tourists. Today, gaming is the main attraction in Atlantic City, as the city boasts of 12 casinos. In 2011, AC has the second highes casino revenue, second only to Las Vegas, totaling $3.318 billion, according to the American Gambling Association. Not bad for an industry that has only been in the city 35 years.
9) There are 228 steps in the Absecon Lighthouse
First lit in 1857, the Absecon Lighthouse is New Jersey's tallest lighthouse with 228 steps, reaching a height of 171 feet. Although it was deactivated in 1933, the US's third tallest lighthouse, remains lit each night. Nerd alert: the lighthouse still has its original Fresnel lens! That's the cool lens in the lighthouse that allows its light to be seen from really far distances. A definite must-see for all history nerds...like moi.
10) The 2013 Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival featured an FU Sandy Beer
(Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images Europe) The FU Sandy Beer sold out of its 86 kegs.
The Flying Fish Brewing Co. out of Somerdale, NJ was one of 90 breweries at this year's AC Beer and Music Festival. But this local brewery had a special brew up its sleeve. They concocted a "tasty brew with Jersey attitude," titled Forever Unloved Sandy. But let's be real, the beer has cleverly and appropriately been nicknamed the FU Sandy Beer. The FU Sandy brew made 86 kegs and was distributed throughout Atlantic City and the rest of New Jersey (click here to see if you can still get a pint). Proceedes from the pale-ale totaled $45,000 and was split among Habitat for Humanity, Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, and Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. Now that's a cause to cheers to.Stay tuned for more Atlantic City finds!