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One of the fanciest hotels in Atlantic City’s heyday, the Brighton was built in 1873 at Indiana Avenue and the Boardwalk. It was the first hotel in Atlantic City to remain open during the winter, after the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition drove customers away from the seashore in the summer. The hotel soon set a standard of year-round service in Atlantic City. The Brighton was famous for its potent “Brighton Punch” concoction, which was created by the hotel’s very first bartender, William DuBois. An adjacent building known as the Brighton Casino fronted the Boardwalk, though it was more of a recreation center than a casino in the modern sense of the word. In the 1920s, a portion of the casino building became an RCA Victor Store and showroom, and later housed the Needle Craft women’s fashions shop. The casino building remains standing today as a restaurant. The Brighton Hotel was one of the last wooden hotels to remain standing in Atlantic City, and at one point was the only hotel with an outdoor swimming pool. It was torn down in 1959 and replaced with the Colony Motel. The memory of the Brighton was briefly incarnated again in the modern Brighton Casino that opened in 1980, but the name was changed to the Sands the next year.   H084.Brighton003
 H084.Brighton001  The Brighton was the premiere hotel for high-class vacationers in the early days of Atlantic City.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H084.Brighton003.
 An undated postcard from the Brighton advertises its famous drink.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H084.Brighton001.
 

For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:

Local History Subject Files – Hotels
Local History Subject Files – Sands Casino
Hotel Brochures – Heston Coll. 647.94
City Directories

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One of the oldest names in the Atlantic City Hotel business is Haddon Hall – still around today as the home of Resorts Casino. The history of this establishment dates back to 1868, when Elisha and Elizabeth Roberts opened the Chalfonte, a three-story boardinghouse, at North Carolina Avenue. The name came from Chalfont Township in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The following year, Samuel and Susanna Hunt opened Haddon Hall across the street from the Chalfonte, naming it after a manor in Derbyshire, England. The two hotels flourished in the bustling resort climate of the city, and were eventually moved 400 feet closer to the ocean in 1889, after the popularity of the Boardwalk had shifted the center of activity away from city streets. In 1890, the Leeds and Lippincott Company, one of the most prominent hoteliers in Atlantic City, purchased both the Chalfonte House and Haddon Hall, managing them together as Chalfonte-Haddon Hall. In the next century, the two hotels followed many others in the resort in phasing out their wooden boardinghouse structures in order to build larger, more impressive (and more importantly, fireproof) brick buildings. The Haddon Hall that still stands today was completed in 1929. During World War II, Atlantic City became occupied by the US Military as training grounds, soldiers’ barracks, and hospitals for the wounded. Chalfonte-Haddon Hall was renamed Thomas M. England General Hospital in 1942, and became the largest soldiers’ hospital in the United States. The hospital operated until 1946, when the hotels again reverted to their original names. Chalfonte-Haddon Hall held on in a declining Atlantic City, remaining open while several other hotels in the resort were closed and demolished. When gambling was legalized in 1976, Leeds and Lippincott sold Chalfonte-Haddon Hall to Resorts International, Inc. for $2.5 million. Haddon Hall was extensively renovated in order to reopen as a casino as soon as possible. On May 26, 1978, it became Atlantic City’s first operating casino. The Chalfonte building remained on the Boardwalk, though unused, until it was finally decided that it could not be renovated for casino purposes like its partner had been. It was demolished in 1980.   H084.Souvenir001
 H009.WW2.003  An 1882 lithograph of the original Chalfonte and Haddon hotels.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H084.Souvenir001.
 A photograph of Chalfonte-Haddon Hall during its service as England General Hospital. The Haddon Hall, on right, still stands today as Resorts Casino.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H009.WW2.003.
 For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:
Local History Subject Files - Hotels

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The Chelsea Hotel, at Pacific Avenue between Morris and Brighton Avenues, was first built in 1899. In its original form, it was a four-story frame building with 250 rooms. By 1945, it had grown to a include 12-story, 420 room tower with four additional cottages. The Chelsea housed the largest private convention facility in the city, their Westminster Hall building, and featured an 85-foot mural in their cocktail lounge which covered the history of transportation from horse and buggy to modern automobiles and rocketships. Political figures visiting Atlantic City over the years seem to have favored the Chelsea, as there are records of Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft, and Eleanor Roosevelt staying in the hotel, as well as many senators and smaller-scale politicians. As the tourism industry in Atlantic City waned, however, so did the Chelsea’s fortunes. In 1961, after a series of bankruptcies and ownership changes, it was sold to be converted into a “luxury motel.” This motel, which opened as the Deauville, retained Westminster Hall and the 12-story building, while demolishing the oldest section of the Chelsea and replacing it with a new motel structure. The Deauville soon partnered with the Sheraton company, and operated as the Sheraton-Deauville. A casino addition was planned for the complex when gambling was legalized in Atlantic City, but the plan never came to fruition. In 1985, the Deauville's main portion was demolished, along with the neighboring Algiers and Galaxie Motels, in order to create a more accessible bus parking and valet facility for the Tropicana casino, which was located next door. An auxilliary motel wing of the Deauville is still standing and in operation today, hosting a Days Inn and a Country Kitchen. A new Chelsea hotel also exists today, operating one block over from the original hotel’s site, on Chelsea Avenue.   H084.Chelsea001
 H.LHSF.Hotels.Deauville001  An undated postcard image of the Chelsea Hotel. The shorter building on the left is the original hotel building, while the neighboring tower was added a few decades later.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H084.Chelsea001.
 

 

The motel section of the Deauville, seen in an early 1980s brochure.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H.LHSF.Hotels.Deauville001.
 

 

For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:

Local History Subject Files – Hotels
Hotel Brochures – Heston Coll. 647.94
City Directories

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In 1870, this hotel at 156 S. New York Avenue became a part of Atlantic City history when eight men from the hotel industry met to discuss the problem of sand. Visitors to Atlantic City loved strolling along the beach, but their lodgers hated the damage caused to their carpets when they tracked sand into the establishments afterwards. The men signed a petition asking for a wooden walkway to be constructed along the beach which would solve the sand problem. This was the beginning of Atlantic City’s famous Boardwalk, which has since become a street in its own rite and inspired copycat structures in seaside resorts around the world. The Chester House was sold in 1908 and became known as The Netherland, and later the Lexington. It was demolished in 1967.   H084.Souvenir002
 

For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:

Local History Subject Files – Hotels
“So Young, So Gay” Heston Coll. 974.985McM

 An 1886 lithograph drawing of the Chester County House along the Boardwalk it helped create.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H084.Souvenir002.

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 For many years, the Claridge Hotel was considered the “baby” of the Boardwalk, being the last grand hotel built in the resort. The $4.5 million building opened in 1930, at a height of almost 400 feet, earning it the nickname of “Skyscraper by the Sea.” It remained the tallest building in Atlantic City until well into the 1980s. The Claridge has always been connected to Atlantic City history. It was built on the site of an earlier hotel, the impressive Victorian mansion known as Disston’s Cottage, and, even earlier, land owned by Jeremiah Leeds, the first settler of what later became Atlantic City. Celebrities frequented the Claridge from its very beginning, including big names of the time Mary Pickford, Dorothy Lamour, and Dinah Shore. Later notable visits included Princess Grace and Marilyn Monroe. In 1941, Mayor Taggart broke ground on a $250,000 convention annex. During World War II, the Claridge was one of many Atlantic City hotels occupied by military forces. The United Nations Relief & Rehabilitation Administration World Conference was held there in 1943. In the 1970s, several of Atlantic City’s grand hotels were demolished to make way for new casino complexes. The Claridge was one of the few to be spared this fate, by instead being transformed into Del Webb’s Claridge Hotel and Hi-Ho Casino in 1981. Despite being a giant in the pre-casino era, however, the Claridge was dwarfed by the gambling centers surrounding it, struggling to compete with limited gaming space. In 2002, the Claridge was purchased by neighboring Bally’s, becoming part of their sprawling complex for twelve years. In February 2014, the Claridge was sold to TJM Properties, who renovated the building to again operate as only a hotel. The new Claridge, which reopened in May 2014, emphasizes its connection to Atlantic City’s past, and to the popular Prohibition era. H049.647.94Cla128 
 claridge  A postcard showing the Claridge Hotel in Brighton Park, with electric-lighted fountain, circa 1950s.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H049.647.94Cla128.
 

The Claridge Hotel in December 2014.

 

For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:

Local History Subject Files – Hotels
Local History Subject Files – Claridge Hotel Casino

 

 

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