Tour Atlantic City, shuttle to Philadelphia, fly home - Atlantic Coast 2017 - CycleBlaze

May 14, 2017

Tour Atlantic City, shuttle to Philadelphia, fly home

Today I have a few hours to see Atlantic City before going home. But first, a few photos from the day before yesterday when I pedaled into Atlantic City on a cloudy afternoon.

Hilton Atlantic Club is the first casino I encountered on the Atlantic City boardwalk. It was also the first Atlantic City casino to go bankrupt, in January 2014.

The bankrupt Hilton Atlantic Club is the first casino I encounter on the Atlantic City boardwalk.
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Atlantic City makes a big deal about the fact that it has hosted every Miss America Pageant since 1921. It's a perfect fit for the sleazy vibe of Atlantic City.

This auditorium has hosted every Miss America pageant since 1921.
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Seemingly the only institution in Atlantic City that has endured.
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Caesars seems to be the most successful casino. It's also the only casino connected to a shopping mall on a pier over the ocean. The shopping mall is not attractive and it spoils the beach aesthetics. It obstructs the ocean view for a large portion of the boardwalk.

During this tour I passed several amusement parks built on piers. An amusement park is a more appropriate use for a pier than a shopping mall. Aesthetically, a boxy shopping mall is a terrible on a pier because it obstructs the view. The windowless shopping mall doesn't even take advantage of the great view from the pier.

Caesars casino on the left, Caesars shopping mall on the right.
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Only two historic brick hotels still remain. One is on the boardwalk. The other one is set back from the boardwalk by a park.

A little bit of old school Atlantic City.
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As tacky as it may be sometimes, the 5.5 mile long Atlantic City boardwalk is a revered part of American culture. It was the nation's first beach boardwalk in 1870. Beach boardwalks are distinct to the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast. Atlantic City has the king of boardwalks, but if I was on vacation on the Atlantic coast I would prefer a smaller boardwalk town such as Rehoboth Beach, Cape May, or Ocean City, NJ.

It was a pleasure to sample a portion of the Jersey shore ending in the "king" of beach towns, Atlantic City. Pedaling two days through congested (but bike friendly) beach towns was just enough to give me the beach town experience without becoming drudgery.

Atlantic City boardwalk. A slice of Americana.
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The northernmost casino on the boardwalk is the glass monstrosity called Revel, the most spectacular failure in Atlantic City. The casino market was already declining when it opened in 2012. It cost $2.4 billion to build and went bankrupt in less than 3 years.

The bankrupt Revel casino.
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Now to the pictures from today. The morning was sunny, dry, and cool. I walked the boardwalk, happy to see blue sky for my last few hours on the Atlantic coast. Walking is the only way to get around because the bike is already shipped.

The morning was chilly but mostly sunny. The east-facing boardwalk always looks best in morning sun.

Tropicana casino on the Atlantic City boardwalk.
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The boardwalk seems very wide and spacious now. But I'm sure it is jam-packed with people on a summer weekend.

Atlantic City boardwalk. The white tower is the bankrupt Trump Plaza casino.
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Bicycles are only allowed on the boardwalk from 6 AM until noon. During the off season (September 16 to May 14) bicycles are also allowed between 4 PM and 7 PM. Skateboards and roller skates are always prohibited.

Atlantic City is one of the nation's oldest beach resorts. The first tourists arrived by train starting in 1854. It steadily grew and reached its peak in the 1920's, partly because corrupt officials didn't enforce alcohol prohibition. The city steadily declined after World War 2. Voters legalized gambling in 1976 in an attempt to revive the city. Giant casinos were built in the 1980's when Atlantic City had the only legal gambling in the eastern U.S. It was successful for a while, but over time more and more nearby states allowed casinos. The death knell came when Pennsylvania legalized casinos. The Philadelphia area is Atlantic City's biggest source of gamblers.

I counted five bankrupt high-rise casinos in Atlantic City. At the south end of the strip is the bankrupt Hilton Atlantic Club casino (closed Jan. 2014). In the middle of the strip is the bankrupt Trump Plaza casino (closed Sept. 2014). At the north end of the boardwalk are three bankrupt casinos in a row: Trump Taj Mahal (closed Sept. 2016), Showboat (closed Aug. 2014), and Revel (closed Sept. 2014).

Balcony railings have been removed from the former Trump Plaza casino's east tower. Maybe to prevent rust stains.
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Ground level storefronts are all attractively boarded up at the bankrupt casinos. The only exception is Rainforest Cafe which is still open in front of the former Trump Plaza casino. On the north end of the boardwalk is a solid 1/4 mile of closed ground floor storefronts.

Dunes at Atlantic City.
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Atlantic City's street names have been used in the board game Monopoly since 1935. In the 1980's and 1990's Atlantic City "bet" it would have an indefinite monopoly on Atlantic coast gambling. It was not a smart bet.

Atlantic City boardwalk at Caesar's casino. On the left is a shopping mall on a pier that obstructs ocean views.
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Tropicana and Caesar's casinos seem to be doing well. In a few years they might be the only two casinos left in Atlantic City.

Atlantic City boardwalk.
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The city of Atlantic City will probably go bankrupt soon. Currently it raises money by selling "junk" bonds. Tax revenue is declining. Gambling was supposed to bring prosperity to the residents of Atlantic City, but they remain as impoverished as ever.

The giant video displays are just too much. Note the only remaining brick high rise building on the boardwalk.
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Today is my last chance to see the Atlantic ocean up close. Who knows when I will see it again, if ever.

Yes, there is a beach at Atlantic City. The residential high-rises are in Ventnor City.
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I encountered Ken Dyckman again just before leaving the boardwalk to ride a shuttle van to Philadelphia airport.

Ken Dyckman is pedaling from Jacksonville, Florida to Portland, Maine.
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Only later did I realize he was recording video with his helmet cam. Here's Ken's video of the Atlantic City boardwalk featuring a cameo by me starting at 1:50.

Ken pedaled from Jacksonville to Portland, Maine in less time than it took me to pedal from Jacksonville to Atlantic City.

At 12:15 PM a Rapid Rover shuttle van picked me up at my motel and drove me directly to the Philadelphia Airport. My flight departed at 3:40 PM. It was nice to have no luggage to check. I hand carried one pannier.

Quick snap of downtown Philadelphia when crossing the Delaware river. View from the shuttle to Philadelphia airport.
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This time I have only two flights to get to Eugene and only a 1 hour layover in Denver. Thanks to the quick connection and 3 hour time change I arrived in Eugene at 8:40 PM. I was home before dark.

All the flights were on time for this tour, but I had to wait another week for the bike to arrive via FedEx Ground.

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