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Atlantis: 1905

Atlantis: 1905

Glimpses of a lost world circa 1905. "Young's Million Dollar Pier, Atlantic City." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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"When did that thing burn?" was my first thought. It lasted a good long time. The pier had burned in 1902. (You can see some roof work going on in this picture). The rebuilt pier lasted in one form or another until the ocean end burned in 1981. The pier at Caesar's stands at the site now.

Second-String but stll First-Rate.

The Million Dollar Pier was still intact as an amusement venue as late as the middle-1950's, although it was always 'second-string' to The Steel Pier. But back in those days, that was in no sense a demeaning position to be in, in AC.

What does one do on a pier like that?

One strolls while eating Cones filled with Hygienic Ice Cream, of course.

Fate of the Pier

Yes, indeed, fire did claim the pier (kind of), but even to this day, not completely (the pier is about a third of a mile long; you are only looking at some 300 feet or so).

The Grand Ballroom, which is to the far right, was destroyed by fire in 1949; the pier itself was still sound, however, and the section was rebuilt as an amusement park; it was very well known in the 1950s. The center section where the workers are on the roof was torn down in 1969, and replaced with other amusements. The far ocean side of the pier burned in 1981. The Ocean One Mall is built on what's left of the pier and pier site at this time, though one of the casinos is eying rebuilding the pier to something close to its former state.

Pier review

Author Emil Salvini's "Tales of the Jersey Shore" blog includes a postcard that he found in 2009 depicting a March 29, 1912 fire:

Jim Waltzer, co-author of "Tales of South Jersey," wrote an article in 2006 in Atlantic City Weekly that describes Young Pier fires in 1949 and 1981.

Tar Time

As far as the guys taring the roof goes, "Only 50,000 square feet to go"

Oh, thank goodness,

the ice cream here is hygienic!!! The last time we visited the shore we got some of that unhygienic ice cream by mistake. Poor Aunt Tessie was sick for a month!

What to do on the pier? & Are those dogs?

The pier included the world's largest ballroom, named The Hippodrome, and a huge exhibit hall. It also hosted movies, conventions, and exhibits. So say they intertubes.

In the yard where the gardener is working - are there two dogs laying on the grass? Can't imagine he would allow that. I see a small statue in the closer yard so perhaps that's what they are.

I also see 3 or more people working on the far end of the roof. Probably spreading tar.

Deep Sea Net

While the best online history of the 'Million Dollar Pier' records that net fishing began in 1907, the following article calls this into question.

The Washington Post reports on the capture of a baby white whale at this location, two years prior to this photo. While Americans had mastered the technology to launch global, multi-year voyages to hunt whales, newspaper accounts from the time display a maddening nonspecificity regarding whale species.

The only true white whale is the Beluga, which inhabits the margins of the arctic ocean. It would have been a truly remarkable event to find one this far south. Today, the reported southern edge of their range is the St. Lawrence River in Canada.

Washington Post, Aug 23, 1903

At Atlantic City

A baby White Whale Captured in the Fishing Nets

Among the incidents of the week was the capture of a baby white whale, the only of its kind ever seen in this city, and the big baby has attracted thousands of people, who have watched it cavorting in the large fish tan on Young's pier.

I'll Take That Bet

According to the sources that I've found, Young's Million Dollar Pier survived until 1981 when it was demolished and replaced with a concrete pier known as "Ocean One." In 2002 it became "The Pier Shops At Caesars" but is currently in foreclosure. I don't doubt that much of what was on The Million Dollar Pier might have disappeared over the years, it was almost certainly due to demolition rather than fire.


The two dogs on the lawn caught my eye. One more curious than the other.


I'd love some salt water taffy and Hygienic Ice Cream! Love this photograph - obviously during the day during the week, the slow time when the blue collar workers come out to maintain the grounds. Notice the men on the roof and the gardener in the yard.

One Look Tells Me

I bet that Young's Million Dollar Pier was destroyed by fire.
Just a guess.

Fire magnet

Tell me that huge mass of wood construction never caught fire and burned to the ground/water.


Down here we have fishing piers. What does one do on one like that?

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