Memorial Day weekend and what better historical New Jersey fact than the first boardwalk!
New Jersey officially recognizes 1664 as the year the state was founded when land owned by the Duke of York was given to Sir George Carteret and John Lord Berkeley. That transaction record proclaimed that “said Tract of Land is hereafter to be called by the name or names of New Cesarea or New Jersey.” That makes this year New Jersey’s 350th Anniversary! To celebrate this major milestone, we’ve undertaken a project we’re calling 35 New Jersey Firsts where we highlight 35 things that first came to life in New Jersey.
The first boardwalk in the world was built in 1870 at Atlantic City and opened on June 26, 1870. The Boardwalk starts at Absecon Inlet in the north and runs along the beach south-west to the city limit 4 miles away then continues 1.5 miles into Ventnor City.
It was first constructed 16 years after Atlantic City was incorporated and its development brought wealthy visitors to the newly constructed resort with ocean views. Costing five thousand dollars and built 10 feet wide in sections of 12 feet, no stores or commerce of any kind was permitted within thirty feet of the walk, and at the end of each summer season for many years, the Boardwalk was actually taken apart and stored for the winter months.
Visitors could walk out of their hotel and onto the beach but were put off by the sand. Developers did not anticipate how much of an issue the sand would be, enlisting the help of a railroad conductor and a hotel owner to create a walk way over the sand. Alex Boardman and Jacob Keim presented the idea of an eight foot wide wooden foot walk that would lead from the beach to town. The boardwalk was constructed from wooden planks arranged in rectangular patterns known as herringbone patterns. The planks lay on a substructure of concrete and steel. The boardwalk has been replaced a number of times, in 1884, 1889 and 1944 due to hurricane damage.
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