This was my first time in Atlantic City. My girlfriend and I decided to take advantage of a rare day off together and drive down. I have never been there before and I had my reservations. I knew Atlantic City wasn’t perfect. I knew it had a trashy side to it (enough of the trashy Jersey jokes by the way…), and I have heard many people say it’s not even worth going down for the gambling. We wanted to go, and I knew I would have something to photograph. And since the last beach I was at before this day was on the Pacific Ocean in Oregon two summers ago, I really needed to be at the beach. I think most would understand that.
So we went. I-76 in Philly was a parking lot, and the Atlantic City Expressway wanted exact change for some of its toll booths. Anyone remember needing exact change for a toll? I barely do. It was weird. But Atlantic City in all its glory didn’t seem so bad. It didn’t seem bad until we stepped off the boardwalk just before the sun started going down and we took a walk down Pacific Ave. Things got sketchy really quickly. I have never felt that nervous walking around a bad neighborhood.
But I did happen to observe some true contrast. Vacant lots, tons of Cash For Gold shops, a handful of strip clubs, old 1920’s styled hotels and buildings, and secluded row houses – all sitting in the backyard of oceanside mega casinos. The thing that struck me the most was the giant but empty casinos on the boardwalk. Revel is a little over two years old and it has been sitting empty. Showboat was another hulking abandoned shell with a large closed sign that directed tourists to its other properties.
I cannot believe this place is closed up. Second tallest building in the state of New Jersey. Apparently there’s a new developer who wants to build a second, matching tower and revitalize the area. We’ll see what happens I guess:
When we got back onto the boardwalk, we were met with such a serene atmosphere. It was eerie, yet comforting. Everything was in pastel blues, purples and pinks. It was so quiet and romantic. After that somewhat scary stroll through what seemed like the ghetto of Atlantic City, it was nice to feel so calm and comfortable. We were walking closer and closer to the center of all the casino and tourist madness, so the bright lights and action kept getting more intense, but the overwhelming calm was much needed.
This photo captured the feeling I had about Atlantic City. All the lights, all the showbiz, and yet you have this struggling city behind it all. But there was still beauty in all of it. The exchange between this man and the bike cop really spoke to me. I fell in love with this shot.
I am going back to revisit what I observed. Atlantic City doesn’t try to make it seem like the city is more than what it is, and it seems like it’s fully aware of the issues that surround it. And that’s why I liked it. There really is a lot more to this city than just closed up casinos and bad neighborhoods, and I’m going back to find out what exactly that is…