In New Jersey, the phrases “Always Turned On”, “DO AC”, or the simple nickname, “A.C.”, awaken the imagination with radiance from the gleaming lights, abundance of casino chips, flowing drinks, flashy shows and the sparkle of the Atlantic Ocean, echoing off the beach. Atlantic City has been privy to many nicknames and phrases since its inception in 1854. The city’s accessibility and location made it a perfect spot for leisure and vacations. Originally, Atlantic City had three routes and two railroads: Camden and Atlantic, to bring in tourists. The Atlantic City boardwalk was built in 1870, adding to the allure of the ocean and grand hotels. The original popularity of Atlantic City allowed for two nicknames that are still well-liked today, “America’s Playground” and “Monopoly City”.
While the rest of America was living in the Prohibition era, Atlantic City called the 1920s their Golden age. Head political boss and racketeer, Enoch Johnson, supported back room gambling, nightclub dancing, prostitution, and, most importantly, alcohol smuggling. He made sure that Prohibition was largely un-enforced, giving restaurants, nightclubs, speakeasies and hotels a considerable supply of liquor for guests and patrons. In addition, Atlantic City’s shoreline location allowed for rum-runners to supply the city-by-the-sea with an abundant amount of liquor. The tourist-based economy boomed. Atlantic City was fundamentally an unrestricted town, blatantly disobeying unpopular federal law. The city people dubbed its town both “America’s Playground” and “The World’s Playground”, proudly accepting their town was where people could freely revel in rebellious acts.
This nickname has appeared many times in news articles, magazines and even book titles. In November 5, 1934, Atlantic City’s Mayor Harry Bacharach proudly referred to his city as “America’s Playground”, in a Time article focusing on the city’s new railroad station.
The original board game of Monopoly was named The Landlord’s Game with its main purpose to show the logic behind real estate and renter finances. The game changed names and locations many times, before it landed in Atlantic City. Ruth Hoskins originally took the game to Atlantic City, modeling the new board after popular A.C. street names, locations and railroads. Her confidant, Charles Todd, changed the railroad names to Shore Line and Shore Fast Line, in addition to the Reading and Pennsylvania Railroads that both served Atlantic City. Even the “Electric Company” and “Water Works” are from Atlantic City’s utilities, representing Atlantic City Electric Company and the Municipal Utilities Authority.
Culture and History shine through Atlantic City’s nicknames. America’s Playground represents the thrilling world of the 1920s, adding rebel, risk, change and freedom to the Prohibition era. The Monopoly City showed Atlantic City to the world and froze in time the popular transportation and A.C. locations of the 1930s. Today, new slogans like “DO AC” and “Always Turned On” are attached to the great city-by-the-sea. However, New Jerseyans are still nostalgic to the great nicknames of the past.