The rise of the world famous Steel Pier in Atlantic City
Atlantic City’s famed Steel Pier (“a vacation in itself!”) opened on June 18th, 1898. It was named the Steel Pier because of the steel girders supporting it. According to the Press of Atlantic City, it cost $350,000 to build.
A storm washed part of the pier away in 1904 and a fire damaged it in 1924, necessitating extensive renovations, ushering in something of a “golden era” for the pier. People came from all over to see the attractions which included theaters, a water circus, John Phillips Sousa concerts, children’s shows, and performers like Abbott & Costello, Frank Sinatra, Al Jolson, and W.C. Fields.
It was in the 1930s that some of the most iconic attractions started: Rex the Wonder Dog, a water-skiing dog, and possibly the most famous attraction of all, the Diving Horse. The Diving Horse, which was a horse that would dive off a platform some 60 feet high into a tank of water, was a staple on the Steel Pier until the 1970's when pressure from animal rights groups and declining interest resulted in its cancellation. Miss America was crowned on the Steel Pier in the 30's before moving to Convention Hall in 1940.
The pier has changed hands many times, with Donald Trump owning it at one time. A fire in 1982 partially destroyed the pier and it was rebuilt on a smaller scale and as more of an amusement park. The Steel Pier is still an ongoing concern primarily as a boardwalk amusement park with a 227 foot observation wheel, boardwalk food and adult beverages. It also hosts weddings and special events.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Doyle. Any opinions expressed are Bill Doyle's own.