Tuesday, August 2, 2011
I Love Lucy
During our recent visit to Atlantic City, NJ, we decided to make the short drive over to Margate City to visit Lucy the Elephant. Because, let’s face it, it’s not every day that you get to see a giant, six story elephant.
Why does a six story elephant guard the Jersey Shore? Back in the 1880’s, real estate maven James V. Lafferty sought to attract tourism and sell real estate in South Atlantic City. But, how could he draw interest to the properties he was selling? By erecting an elephant shaped building, of course! A construction of this nature was something unheard of back in the 1880s, but Lafferty knew this would be a huge draw.
In 1881, Lucy was built – a 65-foot high, 90 ton elephant constructed of wood and tin sheeting. Lafferty could take prospective buyers up into the giant elephant and point out the plots of land available for purchase. Lucy did gain national headlines, and Lafferty being the savvy businessman he was, didn’t want others capitalizing on his brainchild. In 1882, Lafferty was granted a patent giving him ‘the exclusive right to make, use or sell animal-shaped buildings for seventeen years.’
Lucy has had an illustrious career over the years, including stints as a restaurant, a tavern, a house and a tourist attraction. (Imagine living INSIDE Lucy?!) After falling into disrepair, Lucy moved to its current location in the 1970's where she underwent major restorations. Today, Lucy stands proud as a National Historic Landmark in New Jersey. Tours of Lucy are also available where visitors can enter Lucy via a spiral staircase in one of the hind legs and climb up to the howdah (or seat on Lucy the Elephant's back) for a fantastic view of the shore.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the energy to take the 20 minute tour up into the great beast. Maybe next time? Until then, enjoy this video.