The cityscape of Philadelphia is famous, but by staying inside the metropolitan bubble, people often forget about the architectural wonders of Atlantic City.
Situated in New Jersey on the Atlantic coast and almost viewing distance from New York sits Atlantic City. It’s known for its boardwalks, casinos and wide beaches setback against ritzy hotels and nightclubs.
For New Yorkers and those from Philadelphia, it’s a place to explore something only normally found in the golden casinos of Las Vegas. As well as for gambling opportunities, people flock to the City for spa treatments, shopping and sold-out comedy shows. It’s a slice of Vegas and an escape from the heat of New York, only a couple of hours away.
But there’s more to this famous city than meets the eye. Atlantic City may be an escape for some but for others, it’s where architecture meets the reality of modern life.
Here’s why you’ll fall in love with the architecture of Atlantic City that fits for life…
We said that Atlantic City had a lot of boardwalks, so it would make sense that one of their most well-known buildings was named after one.
This grand building was declared a National Historic Landmark in the late 1980s and has since become known as a symbol of the area’s early prime. Today, it’s home to showcases for ice hockey, concerts and it’s the place where the Miss America pageants take place.
Looking at this vast, colosseum-like building from the outside, it’s clear that Boardwalk Hall is one of Atlantic City’s crowning monuments.
As you approach the looming figure of Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City, you certainly feel like you’re at the borders of a great ocean.
Standing at just over 170 feet, this lighthouse is the third tallest in the whole of the US and although it was deactivated well over 50 years ago, the light still shines bright every night.
The lofty podium is certainly a sight not to be missed in Atlantic City, standing not as the oldest architectural monument in the area but certainly the tallest.
Built like the colosseum in Rome, this architectural landmark reaches back into European architectural history to put its mark on the modern American landscape. If you can’t make it to Rome, this feat of structural engineering is likely to be the closest you’ll find this side of the Atlantic ocean.
And much like the ancient Romans’ colosseum, Kennedy Plaza is a place for spectacle and shows (but not quite like the gladiators, luckily!). In this building, free performances are held throughout the summer months and it stands near the Boardwalk Hall with a selection of monuments and statues situated nearby.
The Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa
Breaking into the mould of structural modernism, the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa might be a tourist destination, but to a trained eye, it’s also the feat of incredible architectural engineering.
Unlike anything you’d see in Europe, this brutalist building features cascading mirrored glass panels that bounce off the sunlight in each and every direction.
While it may not reflect the historical influences of the Boardwalk Hall or Kennedy Plaza, the Borgata has a lot to say about the modern influences of architecture and a new kind of structural artistry.
Although the name suggests it might be a green paradise, Gardner’s Basin doesn’t actually feature any extensive vegetation of any kind.
Instead, it’s an area of Atlantic City that sits away from the hustle and bustle of the main boardwalk, found across from the harbour and Coast Guard. It’s the maritime square of the state and takes its visual influences from the fishing cruises, sightseers and sea-weary travellers of the past.
Visitors can absorb the history of Atlantic City through the architecture of the area, from the fishing hut-inspired design of the aquarium to the spacious arena of the harbour.
Central Pier Arcade
Functional architecture, popular in the post-war 1950s in America, comes into play here in the Central Pier Arcade of Atlantic City. The arcade sits on the very front of the pier with nothing but the waters of the sea below, while inside the building houses everything from go-karts to fine-dining restaurants.
The Central Pier Arcade highlights just one of the elements of Atlantic City that proves it to be so interesting, as it’s so vastly different from the European-inspired monuments to culture or the Gardner’s Basin. The Central Pier Arcade offers a glance at the middle of the spectrum in history, revolving around the idea of functionality and durability.