Absecon Light House



Absecon Light House

Absecon Light House at around 1900. Click image for full book from OpenLibrary.org
Heston, Alfred. 1900. Heston's Hand Book. Atlantic City: A. M. Heston.

For many years Dr. Jonathan Pitney (the same guy who convinced everyone that Absecon Island was a viable resort location) tried to get a lighthouse built on the island. The island and its lack of illumination was the cause of numerous shipwrecks throughout the years. Eventually, after enough campaigning and written pleas to Congressmen, Pitney’s lighthouse received $35,000 in funding and on January 1857 the lighthouse beamed for the very first time. Standing 167 feet tall and with lights visible 20 miles out into sea, the lighthouse was open, free of charge to excursionists and became an amusement itself. According to an 1884 shopping guide to Atlantic City (which can be viewed online here at the Library of Congress website), the lighthouse was open for visitors 9am to 12m. Today, the lighthouse still stands and continues to be visited by Atlantic City tourists.


A postcard circa 1900 featuring the Absecon Lighthouse and inscription. Courtesy of New York Public Library.

Absecon Light House circa 1913

Another postcard of the light house from around 1913. From Wikimedia Commons.


The light house today. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Full Steam Ahead!



Camden and Atlantic Railroad

Map of the Camden and Atlantic Railroad from the Rutger’s historical map collection (http://mapmaker.rutgers.edu/MAPS.html)

….In March 1852 a railroad charter was granted by the New Jersey legislature, and on July 1, 1854, the first train full of passengers arrived in Atlantic City. However, it wasn’t until May 1, 1855 that the city was officially incorporated–guests had begun arriving in Atlantic City before the city had officially existed! According to reports from the Trenton State Gazette, nine cars of about 600 men made the first journey. Arriving on the Atlantic shore at about noon, “a large number proceeded to indulge in a ‘dip’ in the old Ocean. After this party o the “celebration” had been gone through with, the party returned to the yet unfinished U.S. Hotel.”

According to notable economist and passenger, Henry C. Carey, the “successful completion and triumphant opening of the Camden and Atlantic Railroad” was “witnessed with highest satisfaction.” He predicted the railroad to bring great economic growth to not Absecon and Camden, but Philadelphia as well.

Picture 6

1895 Advertisement for the United States Hotel

The Birth of Atlantic City


, , , ,

To the inquiry, ‘Whence came Atlantic city?’ we reply: It is a refuge thrown up by the continent building sea. Fashion took a caprice and shook it out of a fold of her flounce. A railroad laid a wager to find the shortest distance from Penn’s treaty elm to the Atlantic Ocean; it dashed into the water an a city emerged from its train as a consequence of the maneuver.

— Heston Handbook, 1895

Before the boardwalk, before the shore was riddled with hotels, amusements and beach bathers, before rickety railcars carried sweltering city-dwellers to the refuge of the ocean, Atlantic City was nothing more than a destitute strip of land. Sand dunes and scraggy grasses cluttered the isolated coastline which lay undisturbed by none except the occasional wanderer. The first man on record to make this primitive island a permanent home is Jeremiah Leeds. In 1793, Jeremiah built a cabin on the island—making him the first resident of what would become Atlantic City—and slowly acquired control of the unoccupied island. Only seven more cabins were erected on the island in between the years 1793 and 1852. Below is a map of New Jersey created in 1845. The transparent yellow dot shows Absecon Beach. The string bean shaped island near the text will soon become Atlantic City.

Jonathan Pitney

“Absegami: Annals of Eyren Haven and Atlantic City, 1609 to 1904 … – Alfred Miller Heston – Google Books.” Accessed December 7, 2012. Google Books.

(Jeremiah Leeds died in 1838. His grave is located in Northfield, NJ, a town about 8 miles away from Atlantic City on the mainland. The grave still exists today.)

 In 1820, Dr. Jonathan Pitney became a resident of Absecon Village located on the mainland across from the island. Pitney, a well-connected and important citizen, realized the island’s potential, and in 1852 he encouraged a group of Philadelphia capitalists to scout out the island with him, convinced that the tiny island could be transformed into a great watering place if only transportation were available…


Atlantic City, New Jersey



At least in the beginning, the majority of History Hodge Podge postings will pertain to Atlantic City. Over the last two years, I’ve amassed a great deal of information about the city, and so that it doesn’t go to waste, here is a historic virtual tour. To get started, below is a map of Atlantic City as it looked at the turn of the twentieth century.

Atlantic City, New Jersey. Map. Newark, New Jersey: Landis & Alsop, c1900. Panoramic Maps. Lib. of Congress. 25 Nov. 2012.<http://www.loc.gov/item/76693066&gt;.