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#56 – Lucy the Elephant

July 27, 2010

We visited Lucy the Elephant in Margate last week. This was new to me, since I never went to the Jersey shore as a kid.

Lucy is a six-story “novelty structure” built in 1881 to attract tourists to the Atlantic City area. Several copies were built (one in Coney Island, another in Cape May) but only Lucy still survives. She was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

Sophia Gertzen inherited Lucy after her husband John’s death in 1916. John had purchased Lucy from his mother, who had inherited her from her husband, Anton, who settled in Margate (then called South Atlantic City) and purchased many buildings after emigrating from Prussia. Sophia is credited with naming the elephant Lucy and turning her in the tourist attraction that still exists today.

Sophia Gertzen and Friends -- such a Sex and the City photo! I love it.

Lucy once had a nightclub in her belly, but fear of fire from rowdy guests overturning oil lamps ended that endeavor. She also served as a summer home for a family in 1902. This was the only time Lucy was a residence, and contrary to popular belief she was never a hotel.

View of the beach from Lucy's eye

Original bathtub from when a family lived in Lucy.

Lucy is an amusing and interesting Historic Landmark. I highly recommend a visit if you haven’t already seen her!

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