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Atlantic City

It is a legendary city for having fun. Located in New Jersey, this resort city is known for its amazing boardwalk, the beach that runs along it and, of course, its casinos. Home to 40,000 people, the city has had a deep impact on the culture of the United States. Not only is it where the Miss America Pageant is held, but it was also the inspiration for Monopoly.

The first hotel opened in Atlantic City back in 1853, called the Belloe Hotel and located on Massachusetts and Atlantic. The following year, the city was officially incorporated. The first boardwalk appeared in 1870 along the beach so that owners could keep sand out of their lobbies. After the peak season each year, the boardwalk was removed. As its popularity grew, the size of the boardwalk and its length grew. Prior to the 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricane, the boardwalk extended seven miles in length. By 1874, 500,000 people were coming to the city by rail each year.

In 1878, the city was becoming an incredibly popular destination and a new railroad was needed to bring tourists in. The United States Hotel was one of the most popular destinations in the city. The largest hotel in the country at the time, it covered 14 acres and had 600 rooms. In 1883, salt water taffy was born when David Bradley's taffy shop was flooded by a storm, soaking his taffy with salt water. He sold it to a girl as salt water taffy and she showed it to her friends, helping to spawn the iconic treat in Atlantic City.

By the turn of the century, the city was booming and hotels were popping up across the city, including the Chalfonte-Haddon Hall Hotel, which had 1,000 rooms.

The real golden age for Atlantic City though came during Prohibition. The law was not enforced in Atlantic City and alcohol was smuggled in on a regular basis. The popularity of Atlantic City soared to its highest level by this point.

After the Second World War though, the city went into decline as corruption, crime and poverty skyrocketed. By the late 1960s, the great hotels were in horrible decline with most rooms empty. To combat this, gambling was legalized in the city in 1976, which completely changed the city and brought about a resurgence in its popularity. Today, it is called The Gambling Capital of the East Coast. In 2011, the casinos in the city employed 33,000 people, and brought in 28.5 million people. All of this generated $3.3 billion in gambling revenue and $278 million in taxes. The Borgata, opened in 2003, is the largest casino in the city with 2,767 rooms. Three other hotels have over 2,000 rooms as well.

As for the boardwalk, it was the first boardwalk in the United States and includes several attractions including Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Museum. In 2012, part of the boardwalk was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

There are many shopping districts within Atlantic City and several themed and dining areas at the various casinos.

One popular attraction is the Absecon Light, a lighthouse that is the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey and the third tallest masonry lighthouse found within the United States. The building of the lighthouse started in 1854 and the lighthouse was officially opened on Jan. 15, 1857. In 1933, the lighthouse was deactivated but the light still shines each night, although not as a navigational aid. There is also Lucy the Elephant, a six-storey elephant shaped structure that was made in 1882 as a way of attracting tourism. Over the years, it has served as a restaurant, office, cottage and tavern. In the 1960s, Lucy fell into decline and was nearly destroyed but it was saved by a Save Lucy campaign in 1970 and is now a National Historical Landmark. Today, it serves as a museum.

Today, Atlantic City is a popular place for tourists to come to from around the world. Considered the Las Vegas of the East Coast, the moderate weather is a big draw for many people who don't want the extreme heat of Las Vegas.

The city, which began with a population of 600 in the 1860s, now boasts 40,000 people. While this is well down from its height of 66,000 in 1930, Atlantic City has clearly proven to be a city that can survive and thrive over time. Today, millions visit it every single year for the attractions, the boardwalk, the beach, and of course, the casinos.

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