BOARDWALK OF DREAMS: ATLANTIC CITY AND THE FATE OF URBAN AMERICAN
by Bryant Simon
Atlantic City used to be known as the resort where middle-class Americans would vacation back in the first half of the twentieth century. Men and women would dress in their finest and stroll up and down the boardwalk or be pushed along in wicker rickshaws and feel like royalty. It was important to be seen.
They stayed in hotels with beautiful chandeliers and expensive furniture at affordable prices. In the evenings, the vacationers could attend performances of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Dean Martin, to name a few.
Everything changed by the end of the 1960s.
In Boardwalk of Dreams Simon, who is a professor of history at Temple University, writes about urban decay, exclusion, greed, desegregation, racism and tarnished dreams.
The narrative is meticulously researched with a wealth of details. There's some neat tidbits of trivia, such as who the boardwalk was named after; the creator of the Monopoly game where one of the properties was misspelled; why Reese Palley was called the "merchant of the rich."
Anyone with memories of Steel Pier, saltwater taffy, diving horses, the Breakers Hotel, the Apollo Theater would, thoroughly, enjoy this book.