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Boardwalk of DreamsAtlantic City and the Fate of Urban America$
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Bryant Simon

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195167535

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195167535.001.0001

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Staging Utopia on the Boardwalk

Staging Utopia on the Boardwalk

(p.19) 1 Staging Utopia on the Boardwalk
Boardwalk of Dreams

Bryant Simon (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The Boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey, reigned as a middle-class “American Utopia”, giving middle-class visitors a safe and comfortable place where they could show off by imitating the rich. The showing off didn't end with the visitors. Atlantic City's set designers — architects, interior decorators, store owners, and amusement pier operators — constructed an over-the-top, fantastic backdrop for the Boardwalk. Business and political leaders also made an impact: through gentle urging, legal sanction, and official force, they tried to get everyone in the right place, saying the right things, so that middle-class visitors could pretend to be whom they wanted to be while in town. The ability of Atlantic City's tourist merchants to recreate middle-class dreams of democratic ascent alongside racial and class exclusion caused tens of millions of Americans to flock to the Jersey resort in the middle of the 20th century.

Keywords:   Boardwalk, middle class, resort, tourism

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