Boardwalk of Dreams Atlantic City and the Fate of Urban America (Hardcover)
|Author: Bryant Simon|
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|During the first half of the twentieth century, Atlantic City was the nation's most popular middle class resort--the home of the famed Boardwalk, the Miss America Pageant, and the board game Monopoly. By the 1960s, it had become a symbol of urban decay and blight, compared by journalists to bombed out Dresden and war-torn Beirut. A dozen casinos and twenty five years later, Atlantic City is once again one of America's most popular tourist spots. Yet visits last an average of a mere six hours, and the highway has replaced the Boardwalk as the city's most important street. Bryant Simon does far more than tell a nostalgic tale of Atlantic City's rise near death, and reincarnation. He turns the depiction of middleclass people with leisure time and disposable income, into a discussion of the limits of this public space. During the city's heyday, African Americans were kept off the Boardwalk and away from the beaches, and the improperly dressed were kept out by ushers and the police. The making of this space was dependent on keeping undesirables out of view unless they were pushing rolling chairs on the Boardwalk or keeping the tourist industry alive. Desegregation changed this delicate racial balance in the mid-1960s, and urban renewal projects served to destroy one quarter of the city's housing and its traditional neighborhood structure. The opening of the first casino in 1978, the urban balance once again shifted, creating a space of glittering casinos and another of dilapidated houses, boarded-up businesses, and lots razed for redevelopment that never came. Tourists are deliberately kept from the reality of the city, whose residents are predominantly poor African Americans. DespiteAtlantic City's 35 million visitors annually, gambling has not saved the city.|