I retired in 2009 after 31 years as a journeyman wireman in IBEW Local 351 (formerly 211) in Atlantic City, New Jersey. I was employed by various contractors and helped construct many of the casinos, the new 575,000 sq. ft. Atlantic City Convention Center and other projects around New Jersey. I later worked electrical maintanance at Boardwalk Hall (old Convention Hall) and the AC Convention Center for SMG corporation. I became the lead electrician at the AC Convention Center where I oversaw the maintanance crew and consulted on many of the capitol projects undertaken including the upgrading of power and lighting control systems, dimming systems and the installation of what was then the US’s largest rooftop solar installation.
I was born and grew up in pre-casino Atlantic City. The Boardwalk, the Beach, The Bay, Steel Pier, Central Pier, Steeplechase Pier, Million Dollar Pier, Arcades, The Rec in Chelsea Heights, and movie houses provided tons of entertainment for kids in the ‘World’s Favorite Playground’.
Sadly, AC was in a period of decline caused by the expansion of air travel, backyard swimming pools, air-conditioning and the lack of maintanance of the hotels, motels and rooming houses. People could travel farther to vacation and families no longer needed to escape the heat of the big cities with our sea breezes. The Democratic National Convention held in AC in 1964 accelerated the decline as reporters wrote and broadcasted about the deplorable conditions of the old hotels.
In 1978, legalized gambling came to AC and started a building and population boom that was sustained for close to twenty years. Alas, the big corporations that owned the new casinos did very little to uplift other parts of the city as their goal was to keep their customers in their casinos. The rest of the city continued to deteriorate and the quality of life for residents and visitors alike continued to decline./p>
The advent of casino gambling in neighboring NY and Pennsylvania has accelerated that decline and only 8 of 12 casinos have remained open in 2016. While most of the 8 are doing better, there remains the possibility of more closings, especially if casinos are allowed to be opened in Northern New Jersey.
However, in 2016 there is hope for improvement. Many non-casino projects are in the works, a new island campus for Stockton University, various large rides, The re-opening of the Showboat as a non-casino hotel and the possible re-opening of the Revel Casino.