(There were no travel bloggers in 1890. There were no blogs. No Web. But there were more and more people in America ready to do some traveling and looking for places to go. So if there was such a thing as a travel blog in the last decade of the 19th century, this is what I think it might have looked like.)
1. Atlantic City
A temperate summer climate, easy transportation access, one of a kind attractions and lodging for all classes of Americans is what gave Atlantic City the name “Queen of Resorts.” This seaside town is located on Absecon Island off the coast of southern New Jersey within easy reach of both Philadelphia and New York.
One of the reasons for Atlantic City’s popularity is the cool ocean breezes that moderate hot summer temperatures. The air temperature is usually a full 10 degrees cooler than the thermometer readings inland.
And you can enjoy those ocean breezes along Atlantic City’s famous boardwalk. Atlantic City had the first boardwalk in the United States having opened in in 1870. The current version was built last year after the previous one had been damaged by a hurricane. The new boardwalk sports rails of both sides thus reducing the risk of falling off which had proven to be a problem with visitors gazing at the beautiful ocean views and plunging off the edge. The new boardwalk is bigger (24 feet wide) and now stretches for four miles.
If the length of that walk tires you out, you can engage one of the rolling chairs and be pushed along the boards by attendants. These are the same rolling chairs that were introduced at the Philadelphia Centennial in 1876. At Tennessee Avenue and the boardwalk you’ll find Applegate’s Pier with its famous ice water fountain. And across the street Messrs. Young and McShea have opened a carousel that was created by renowned merry-go-round designer Gustav Dingel. The carousel is open every day but is particularly popular on Sunday when its organ plays hymns and riders are provided with hymnals to sing along.
For the more adventurous there is the Epicycloidal Diversion on Mississippi Avenue. This contraption features four wheels that are mounted on a revolving platform. Each of the wheels has eight 2-passenger cars. And while on the boardwalk you can enjoy a unique Atlantic City treat, salt water taffy. Legend has it that salt water taffy was accidentally invented in Atlantic City by David Bradley after his shop was flooded with ocean water.
At the north end of the city is the Absecon Lighthouse which is open for visitors from 9 a.m. to noon. The 167 foot tall lighthouse, which was first lit in 1857, is the tallest in New Jersey and its light can be seen from up to 20 miles out to sea.
The Queen of Resorts is known for its Grand Hotels and among those is the United States Hotel. The hotel is a full block in size, bordered by Pacific, Atlantic, Maryland and Delaware avenues. These luxurious lodgings were visited by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1874. New Yorkers interested in visiting can get a special package from the Pennsylvania Railroad which, for $12.75, includes the train ride from New York with lunch en route and three nights lodging at the U.S. Hotel.
Another of former president Grant’s favorites is the Brighton Hotel on Indiana Avenue. This 17-year-old lodging house is as famous for its punch as it is for its charming accommodations. While many come to Atlantic City to enjoy its grand hotels, the city offers accommodations at all levels including much more modest boarding houses.
Atlantic City can be reached by sea, rail or coach. Both the Camden and Atlantic Railroad and the Philadelphia and Atlantic City Railway offer direct service from Philadelphia.
And there is now a road connecting Absecon Island from the mainland at Pleasantville, although it will require you to pay a 30 cent toll.
While Atlantic City is fast developing a reputation as a playground for the rich and famous it is a resort that all can enjoy. Workers, racial and religious minorities and immigrants will find welcoming accommodations here and can share the same ocean, beach and boardwalk as other guests. For all classes of Americans it is an attractive destination whether for a one-day excursion or for a summer by the sea.