Sunday, January 20, 2019
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General History
Lucy the Elephant
Margate Bridge
Marven Gardens
Parkway District
Street Names
War Memorial





                                        A History of South Atlantic City and the early days of Margate                               



By Frank J. Tiemann
Reprinted here with the permission of the author.

      In order to know the full background of Margate we must first know something about this section of New Jersey.  Many years ago all of this state was occupied by the Delaware Indians.  They were a branch of the Lenni Lenape tribe of New YorkState.  About 1614 the territory was claimed by the Dutch as a part of New Netherlands and was divided into two sections East and West New Jersey.  In 1623 an explorer named Captain Cornelius Mey, who sailed for the Dutch,  was the first white man to set foot on Abscond Island.  The Dutch called Abscond Island Eyren Haven.  The name was changed in later years to Eyre Haven meaning "Harbor of Eggs."

  Early AbseconBeach was a very desolate region in its early days.  Sand dunes, snakes, grape vines, holly, wild plums, bayberry bushes, Virginia creepers, and red cedars were present.  Indians visited but never settled here.

          In 1695 Thomas Bud, was forced to take land he didn't want at four cents per acre in order to close a deal for more valued farmland of the mainland at forty cents an acre.  Bud came from England in 1678.  He stated that the islands were only good for sea gull nests. 

          The section we know as AtlanticCounty was for many years part of GloucesterCounty, which extended from the Delaware river to the Atlantic ocean.  In 1837 AtlanticCounty was formed and at this time it was made up of woodland and farms. 

          At this time what we called AbseconIsland was comprised of three little islands.  One was CedarBeach which consisted of the upper half of Margate and on.  This was from Mansfield Ave. on up.  This part was sand, hills, and woods.  The lower island was SandHillsBeachIsland.  The other island was InsideBeachIsland.  This is the land over the Margate bridge. I spoke to Miss Alice Whittaker, age 97, who came to Margate in 1887.  She stated that she could remember when the island was cut at Mansfield Ave.                              

      The first known settler was a fisherman and farmer named Hezediadiah Samson who lived in the area during the War of 1812.  He employed a deserter from the American forces.  This deserter named William Day, lived in a cave on the InsideBeachIsland  (back bay).  This cave was near Mr. Samson's farm.  Mr. Samson would give Day a signal when danger was near so that he could escape to his cave and elude his pursuers.  At the end of the war with England Day gave up his hiding place.

          In 1840 John Bryan established residence in Margate.  He operated a salt plant in the region.  He was also in charge of the Government Life Saving Station.  He was a wrecking master when ships came ashore.  He moved to Atlantic City in 1875 and died on April 3, 1878.

          Meadows and bayberries covered most of Margate in its early years.  Catering to the fishing and hunting enthusiasts was the sole occupation of people living in Margate in 1859.  In 1884 the Camden and Atlantic Railroad turned south from Atlantic City and ran the length of the island.  The railroad ran special excursion trains from Philadelphia, PA to the elephant at Cedar Grove Ave.  The train station was at Cedar Grove Ave. and Atlantic Ave. The railroad helped to build up the area because it provided easier access, and it supported the growth of a  number of developing companies moving  into the area.  The Camden and Atlantic Land Company bought Ventnor and the upper half of Margate from Mark Reed for the sum of ,680.00 in 1853.

          In 1869 the State Legislature paved the way for the individual AbseconIsland governments of Ventnor, Margate, and Longport.  If a move made in that year by a group of Atlantic City Businessmen had been successful AbseconIsland would have been incorporated from GreatEggHarbor inlet to Absecon Inlet and Atlantic City and Margate would never have come into existence.

         The Legislature, however could not see eye-to-eye with the petitioners for a new charter in 1869 and turned down the request to extend the original boundary lines.  Although the idea of one municipality on the island has been discussed from time to time since, this 1869 effort is the closest the matter ever came to realization.  It since has been considered a hot potato by politicians.

          In 1881 James V. Lafferty of Philadelphia, PA came to Margate and started to build Lucy the Elephant.  Mr. Lafferty was a real estate entrepreneur.  He built the elephant to lure potential lot buyers from Philadelphia and Atlantic City.  He inserted an advertisement in the Philadelphia Public Ledger of July 1881: "The Novel Restaurant in the shape of an elephant is course of construction.  For further particulars apply to J.V. Lafferty, 432 Liberty St.Philadelphia." On August 20th he ran an ad which read "Public sale of choice building lots near the Elephant Hotel and Restaurant south of Atlantic City."  Visitors and potential land buyers flocked to the Elephant Hotel and this is why the Camden and Atlantic Railroad moved south on AbseconIsland.

          In May of 1884 the railroad started down to Margate.  They laid out the streets of Margate.  The first street was Vicksburg Avenue, which is now Fredericksburg Avenue.  The next street was New Orleans, then in the following order came Galveston, St. Louis, Davenport, Cairo, Detroit, Cincinnati, Garfield, Barton, Cedar Grove, and Benson, the two latter still have the same name.  The elephant used to be on Cedar Grove Avenue.  The streets from the ocean were Railroad Avenue which is now Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic Avenue which is now Ventnor Avenue, Arctic Avenue which is now Winchester Avenue, Baltic Avenue which is now Monmouth Avenue, Thoroughfare Avenue which is now Lagoon Avenue, and Marshall and Burk Avenues which are still the same.  The last three were on the map for years but were not made until around 1960.

          The first type of transportation to Margate was horse cars.  The horse or mule cars operated in the summer months only.  In the winter they would turn the mules loose in the sand hills around Cedar Grove Avenue.  The first trains came to Cedar Grove Avenue.  Special excursions brought people from Philadelphia to Margate.  The station was near the elephant at Cedar Grove Avenue.  There were three hotels around the elephant. The hotels were the Cedar Grove Hotel, the Mansion House, and the Elephant Hotel.  On August 31, 1884 the trains went to Longport.

        On August 4,1885 Margate made a big step by setting itself off from EggHarborTownship and incorporated into the city called South Atlantic City.  An election was held on August 1, 1885 for the purpose of incorporation and electing officers of a borough.  South Atlantic City became incorporated by the naming of a mayor and council of the Borough of South Atlantic City.

        The officers of South Atlantic City were Mayor James A. Rider and councilmen Jonathan P. Smith, Westley Boice, Stephen Hackney and Alone W. Bannister.

        The following is a copy of a map drawn by Albert Whittaker showing South Atlantic City in 1898.  This was taken from a book made by Mr. Albert Whittaker called "Scrapbook of Margate City" which is possessed by Miss Alice Whittaker, his sister and a resident of South Atlantic City and Margate City since 1887.  Miss Whittaker now resides at 108 South Vendome Avenue. Margate was first shown on a map of Atlantic City in 1900 by John Hall.






          I only saw Miss Whittaker for one interview for fifteen minutes on October 2nd and she told me about the map-and that she let a Ralph Levin copy the same.  That was the last time I saw Ms. Whittaker.  She is 97 years old and she stated that she did not want to talk about the old days anymore. 

          Number 1 on the map is the sod bank built by the Borough Council near where Fredericksburg Ave. is now, to hold back the tidewater from the inside thorofare.  The old sod bank is still there deep under the sand that was dredged in the spring of 1923.

          Number 2 on the map is also a sod bank that was backed up with sand carted off the beach so that it made a sand road back to the thorofare.  This sand road was called Jackson Ave. on the old Camden and Atlantic Railroad time tables.  Now the name of Jackson Ave. is Coolidge Ave.  They changed it because there was a Jackson Ave. in Atlantic City.

          Number 3 on the map shows that South Atlantic City was originally a low salt meadow with alot of high sand dunes covered with bayberries along the ocean front back as far as Pacific Ave. and Atlantic Ave. are now.

          Number 4 on the map was some more high ground, known as Pine Woods to the residents.  This was a fine growth of cedars, large pines some fifty feet high, also wild cherry and a fine growth of oak timber located where Douglass and Monmouth Avenues are now.

          Number 5 on the map was the Government House Creek which was filled in from Coolidge to Washington Avenues in 1907-1908, when a dredge worked those two years filling in all the low ground between the two said streets from the thorofare to Pacific Ave.  The ground between the present location of Winchester Ave. and Ventnor Ave. was low salt meadows with very muddy salt ponds.  Before at high tide the water would go as high as 6 feet deep.
         The meadows were not all low and muddy.  Some higher ground had good salt grass which made the best salt hay.  The residents used the salt hay for their horses.

         Number 6 on the map was the old Cedar Grove Creek.  It was filled in from Mansfield to Union Ave. at the time when the Margate Park Land Company dredged in all the low ground from the two said streets from the thorofare to Atlantic Ave. in 1907 and 1908.

         Number 7 on the map is Pacific Ave. which was a gravel road with two by eight feet hemlock curbing and the sidewalks had a thick growth of grass on them.  George Lenning's summer house was the only house on it.  The house is still there at 8707 Pacific Ave.  Mr. Lenning's daughter-in-law Mrs. John Lenning, age 87, still lives there too.

         Number 8 on the map was Atlantic Ave. now Ventnor Ave.  It was filled in, graveled, and curbed on a date later than 1898.

         Number 9 on the map is Washington Ave.  The Broadway of old South Atlantic, the only street that was filled, curbed, and graveled from the railroad back to the thorofare. In the summer months James Rider ran a one horse bus on Washington Ave.  The fare was five cents for a ride back to the thoroughfare or up to the railroad.  Atlantic Ave. was not built yet.

         In 1892 a trolly system extended southward down AbseconIsland through VentnorCity, Margate,  and Longport.  The line was double tracked.

         The riders on the trolley cars to South Atlantic City and Longport complained because of the stench created when clams washed up next to the tracks and died.  The visitors used to take the trolley's down to watch the seagulls feast on the shell fish.  The city authorities had the clams removed by the wagon loads.

          On May 3, 1909 South Atlantic City became MargateCity.  The new name was fashioned after the famous english resort of Margate, England.  At the time Josiah Norcross was mayor of MargateCity and he believed that this area would become a well known resort and residential area.  The land companies felt that more people would move into this region by using such a famous name as MargateCity

            In 1919 the region from Brunswick Ave. to Kenyon Ave. north of Ventnor Ave. was known as the Pine Woods of Savannah Avenue Woods.  There were two houses in those woods occupied by squatters.  One was occupied by a man with a wooden leg.  He was called Peg Leg.  I can remember my mother telling me about him.  She told me that the kids were afraid of him.  The other house was occupied by a man and his sick wife.  They had some chickens and a small garden from which they made their living.  His house stood around where GranvilleAve.School is located.

        Another project, Winchester Gardens had only eleven houses in 1924.  Many many developments have taken place since these early days of Margate.

             In 1929 Atlantic City politicians asked MargateCity if the city wished to become a part of Atlantic CityMargateCity politely refused.

             In 1937 the War Memorial at Mansfield and Ventnor Avenues was dedicated.  This was made possible by the subscriptions of the school children, residents and friends of MargateCity.

             On June 25, 1938 the Margate Theater opened.  It is a wetland theater and shows first run features.

Mayors of Margate are as follows:

1      1886 to 1891 James A. Rider

2      1891 to 1896 Patrick J. Gilligan

3      1897 to 1904 Charles Boggs

4      1904 to 1908 Henry F. Gertzen

5      1908 to 1909 Harry F. West

6      1909 to 1911 Albert M. Freas

7      1911 to 1915 Josiah Norcross

8      1915 to 1919 Henry Gertzen

9      1919 to 1923 Josiah Norcross

10    1923 to 1931 John W. Risley

11    1931 to 1935 Walter S. Jeffires

12    1935 to 1939 Earl E. Jeffires 

13    1939 to 1943 John Spaulding

14    1943 to 1945 Lewis P. Scott

15    1945 to 1963 Eugene Tighe

16    1963 to 1975 Martin Bloom

18    2002-2007 Vaughn Reale

19    2007 Present Michael Becker



First Fire Dep't.  was started in 1903.
First Fire House was at Washington and Ventnor Avenues.  1912.
First School 1891 at Coolidge and Atlantic Aves.
First Teacher Miss Minnie Baldwon.
First Police Dep't. 1905 Washington and Ventnor Avenues.








A History of South Atlantic City and the Early Days of


Lucy the Elephant

Postcards provided by Frank J. Tiemann
Reprinted here with his permission.

    Lucy the Elephant was built in 1881 by James V. Lafferty to promote sales of his seaside properties. Lucy was one of three elephants built by Laferty. A fire in 1896 claimed the Coney Island elephant, and Cape May demolished one in 1900. Lucy is the only surviving elephant and is now a national historic landmark. When Lucy was built she weighed 90 tons, stood 85 feet high with a canopied seat called a "howdah" on the top. Lucy is sculptured off nearly a million pieces of wood and covered with a tin skin. When she was built she amazed tourists with her size: 17 foot ears, 22 foot tusks, and a trunk that measured 26 feet long!
     In 1969, rotting away and facing demolition, the "Save Lucy Committee" formed by the Margate Civic Association. Lucy was moved in 1970 to public park land. Since 1973 enough money was raised to restore the structural integrity and exterior of the 90 ton woon-and-tin pachyderm. Fundraising continues today to protect Lucy from the damaging seashore elements. Lucy is surely one of the prides of Margate City. Enjoy the following postcards of Lucy's past!

Elephant Hotel, South Atlantic City.
This postcard was made by John M. O'Donnell 127 N. Vermont Avenue, Atlantic City

85 Feet High Elephant Hotel, South Atlantic City.

A famous old landmark- The Elephant at South Atlantic City.
This postcard was made by Chinton Company, Philadelphia, PA.

Atlantic City-The Elephant
This postcard was made by the World Post Card Company

Elephant Hotel-Atlantic City, NJ
This postcard was made by American Novelty Company, Atlantic City

Elephant Hotel, Margate City, Atlantic City
This postcard was published by Post Card Distributing, Philadelphia, PA.

The Elephant Hotel an old landmark on the beach in Atlantic City.
This postcard was published by the Starkman Cigar Company in Atlantic City.

The Elephant Hotel, Margate City, Atlantic City, NJ
This postcard was published by Tichnor Brothers Inc., Boston, MA.
50 Elephant Hotel, Margate City, An Old Landmark, Atlantic City
This postcard was made by Curt Teich & Company Chicago, IL.
For Saltzburg's Merchandise Company of Atlantic City.

Lucy today overlooking the Margate City Beaches enjoying a cool sip of water!


History of the Margate Bridge:
Linking Offshore to Onshore

Made available by Capaldi Reynolds & Associates
Reprinted here with the permission of the Margate City Historical Society

In 1929, the Margate Northfield Bridge Company was formed and purchased from the Board of Commerce and Navigation of the State of New Jersey and from the War Department of the United States a permit to build a bridge from the City of Margate to Baker's Wharf Landing in the township of Egg Harbor.  It also purchased from the Department of Inland Waterways the right to build bridges over the navigable waters and the riparian rights.
The land for the roadway was purchased from several meadow land owners and is two and one quarter miles long, extending from 50 ft. to 80 ft. from the center of the road, making a width varying from 100 ft. to 160 ft.
The company contracted with the Hill Dredging Company and F. W. Schwiers, Jr. Company to construct the four bridges and causeway in accordance with a plan and specification prepared by William H. Collisson Jr. Engineer.
The construction was financed by the issue of First Mortgage Bonds with the Seaside Trust Company as Trustee, and the sale of Preferred and Common Stock, the majority of the stock being purchased by the Hill Dredging Company.  The bridges were opened for traffic in 1932 and collected tolls in accordance with New Jersey Statutes 48:5-8.
After several months, the operation of the bridges was terminated because of financial problems of the Margate Northfield Bridge Company.
On May 30, 1939, a corporation in the name of Margate Bridge Company was formed to take over the assets of the Margate Northfield Bridge Company, and the Hill Dredging Company was issued the majority of the capital stock.
In 1962, the Hill Dredging Company, as a result of very substantial losses in out-of-state dredging contracts, went bankrupt, and George F. Kugler, Jr., Esquire became the Trustee of Hill Dredging Company.
In the course of his duties, the Trustee held an auction of the Margate Bridge Stock in the Federal Court in Camden in April, 1964.  There were several bidders.  The Capaldi Family and the Hansen Family submitted the highest bid and acquired the Margate Bridge.
  Historical Photos of the Margate Bridge

Marven Gardens:
First in Margate then to the Monopoly Board Game! Take a Tour of Marven Gardens.

By Frank Tiemann
Reprinted here with the permission of the author.

    Picturesque Marven Gardens, whose name is derived from "Mar"-gate and "Ven-tnor, is located on the line which divides Margate City and Ventnor City. It is noted for its luxurious homes; each one is unusual and distinguished in architectural design. An old English Tudor manse ajoins a colorful Spanish Colonial which, in turn, faces a French Chateau; all are encircled with winding sidewalks and driveways, adorned with gorgeous shrubbery and stately trees!
     Enjoy the following postcards that illustrate the unique beauty of Marven Gardens.

This postcard was made by Tichnor Quality Views in the 1920's. Looking North from East Drive and Ventnor Avenues.

This postcard was published by H.S. Sampliner of Atlantic City in the 1940's. Looking North from West Drive and Ventnor Avenues.

This postcard was published by Sithens Postcards of Atlantic City in the 1920's. Looking North from West Drive and Circle Drive.

This postcard was published by Jersey Supply Company of Atlantic City in the 1930's. Looking North from West Drive and Circle Drive.

This postcard was published by Tichnor Brothers of Boston in the 1930's. Looking North from West Drive and Circle Drive.
This postcard was published by H.S. Sampliner of Atlantic City in the 1940's. Looking North from West Drive and Circle Drive.

This postcard was published by E.C. Kropp Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the 1930's. Looking North from West Drive and Circle Drive.

This postcard was published by Tichnor Brothers of Boston in the 1930's. Looking East from West Drive and Circle Drive on the Ventnor Avenue Side.

This postcard was published by Tichnor Brothers of Boston in the 1930's. Looking North on West part of Circle Drive.

This postcard was published by Tichnor Brothers of Boston in the 1930's. Looking North on East Drive.


The Parkway District:
Take a tour of the beautiful parkway of yester year!

By Frank J. Tiemann
Reprinted here with the permission of the author.

     The boundaries of the Margate Parkway District are Mansfield Avenue on the east, Wilson Avenue on the west and the rear property lines behind the fouse facing the Ventnor Avenue. The Parkway is actually a very wide section of Ventnor Avenue with landscaped medians that include trees, flower gardens, and fountains. The houses on either side of the Parkway are large and all are oriented toward it.
     All buildings within the Parkway are residences except for a church. The houses are large and examples of English Tutor, Spanish Colonial, Dutch Colonial and other styles typical of the period houses. The Parkway was a fairyland of lights during the annual outdoor Christmas lighting festival.

This postcard was made by Tichnor Quality Views in the 1930's. Looking west from Mansfield and Ventnor Avenues.

This postcard was made by C.T. Art-Colortone of Chicago in the 1940's. Looking west from Mansfield and Ventnor Avenues.

This postcard was made by Tichor Quality Views in the 1930's. Looking west from Mansfield and Ventnor Avenues.

This postcard was made by E.G.Kropp, Company of Milwaukee Wisconsin in the 1930's. Looking south-west from Mansfield and Ventnor Avenues.

 This postcard was published by H.S. Sampliner of Atlantic City in the 1940's. Looking south-west from Mansfield and Ventnor Avenues.

 This postcard was published by Mayrose Company of Linden, New Jersey in the 1930's. Looking north-east from Vendome and Ventnor Avenues.

This postcard was published by Tichnor Brothers of Boston in the late 1940's. Looking north-east from Vendome and Ventnor Avenues.

This postcard was published by Atlantic Card Company of Atlantic City in the 1950's. Looking north-east from Pembroke and Ventnor Avenues.

This postcard was published by Jack Freeman of Longport, New Jersey in the late 1950's. Looking south-west from Pembroke and Ventnor Avenues.

This postcard was published by H.S. Crocker Company of New York in the 1960's. Looking south-west from Mansfield and Ventnor Avenues.

This postcard was published by David P. Willis and Company of New Jersey in the late 1970's. Looking north-east from Vendome and Ventnor Avenues.



Former and Newly Dedicated Street Names in Margate City
History of Margate City Street Names
Reprinted here with the permission of the Margate City Historical Society
    The following street names were taken from the Atlas of Atlantic City, Ventnor City, Margate City, Longport and Brigantine in 1938 by the Franklin Survey Company of Philadelphia, PA. The original street names were recorded in 1908 and changed in 1938.
 Former Street Name
 New Street Name
Fredricksburg Avenue
Fredricksburg Avenue 
Hamilton Avenue
Andover Avenue 
Wilmington Avenue
Argyle Avenue 
Oberlin Avenue
Barclay Avenue 
Charlseston Avenue
Brunswick Avenue 
Dartmouth Avenue
Clarendon Avneue 
Savannah Avenue
Clermont Avenue
Lehigh Avenue
Delevan Avenue 
Mobile Avenue
Douglas Avenue 
Girard Square
Essex Avenue 
Exeter Avenue
Exeter Avenue 
Franklin Avenue
Franklin Avenue 
Vicksburg Avenue
Frontenac Avenue 
Strand Avenue
New Orleans Avenue
Granville Avenue 
Haverford Avenue
Haverford Avenue 
Galveston Avenue
Huntington Avenue 
Hanover Avenue
Hanover Avenue 
St. Louis Avenue 
Iroquois Avenue 
Jasper Avenue
Jasper Avenue 
Davenport Avenue
Jerome Avenue 
Knight Avenue
Knight Avenue 
Kenyon Avenue
Kenyon Avenue 
Lancaster Avenue
Lancaster Avenue 
Jefferson Avenue
Jefferson Avenue 
Madison Avenue
Madison Avenue 
Monroe Avenue
Monroe Avenue 
Jackson Avenue
Coolidge Avenue 
Surf Avenue
No longer there 
Railroad Avenue
Atlantic Avenue 
Atlantic Avenue
Ventnor Avenue 
Arctic Avenue
Winchester Avenue 
Thoroughfare Avenue
Amherst Avenue 
     Cincinnati Avenue was south of Atlantic Avenue; in between South Nassau Avenue and South Osborne Avenues. Mansfield through Adams avenues are all the same names. The reason for this, is that most of this area, Mansfield to Vendome and Ocean to Bay, was called Margate Park. This park was undeveloped and had no street names except on paper. Cedar Grove to Adams was developed.


A Beautiful Tribute:
Margate City War Memorial

Research gathered by Bob Patterson
The Margate War Memorial located at Mansfield Avenue and the Parkway


     Have you ever attended a Memorial Day parade followed by ceremonies at the Margate War Memorial located at Mansfield avenue and the Parkway? It is a beautiful site and we have our forefathers to thank for such a fitting memorial.
     The Margate War Memorial met at City Haill in April of 1937 to devise ways and means of attaining a "Lasting Memorial" for soldiers who left Margate to serve in the warr.
     A tentative sketch of the proposed monument was displayed at the meeting and was agreed to by all as a fitting remembrance of those who left Margate to fight for democracy.
     Margate City designated the circle at the Ventnor Parkway and Mansfield Avenue as the proposed memorial site. The memorial would be made of granite or some stone of lasting quality and of beautiful design. The architect was R. Bayne Williams, the local buiilding inspector. It was decided to have the structure complete by the Fourth of July of that year and to hold the dedication services on the afternoon of that day.
     The members of the Committee agreed to a popular subscription campaign with a goal of ,000.00. Contributions to the memorial-regardless of the amount contributed, were to be given a certificate and their names would be placed on a scroll which would be sealed into the monument to rest there for time immemorial.
     The Committee subsequently designed a coupon which would be placed in the Margate Beacon informing readers on how they might contribute to the memorial. The Committee also planned a house-to-house drive to raise funds. In the beginning of May, the Committee had raised 0.00 and by the end of May another 0.00 was raised. The groundbreaking began!
     The headlines in the July issue of the Margate Beacon read "War Memorial Committee Plans Elaborate Program at Monument Unveiling July 25." The article indicated that the Memorial was being erected to honor the soldiers who left Margate during the late war, including Theodore J. Haring who was killed in action. The inscription reads as follows:

"Peacefully They Rest In Glory Everlasting"
Erected as an everlasting
Tribute by
The citizens of Margate City
Theodore J. Haring, killed in action
Harry McClain, wounded
Ollie Hackney
Howard Norcross
William Sullivan
Joseph Sullivan
"That this Nation under God,
Shall have a new Birth of Freedom
And that Government of the
People; by the People: For the People:
Shall Not Perish
From the Earth."
Earl E. Jeffries, Mayor
John Spaulding, Com. Public Works
E.Bertram Wright, Com. Revenue & Finance
R. Bayne Williams, Architect