Margate: Lucy the Elephant
Immediately south of Atlantic City, tidy Margate (pop. 8,524) fans out along the shore, its solidly suburban streets lined by grand houses. Margate utterly lacks the reckless seaside qualities of its larger neighbor but does include one classic remnant of the Jersey shore’s glory days: Lucy the Elephant (9200 Atlantic Ave., 609/823-6473, daily in summer, limited hours rest of the year, $8 for a guided tour). The six-story wood-and-tin pachyderm, a curiosity built by a Philadelphia real-estate speculator in the 1880s to draw customers to his newly laid-out community, looms over the beach. The landmark architectural folly was used around the turn of the 20th century as a tavern and now holds a small museum of local history. Visitors walk through the museum on the way up to an observation deck, which is disguised as a canopied seat on Lucy’s back.
Saved from demolition and restored by community efforts in the 1970s, Lucy is ever in need of repair, kept alive by tour monies, donations, and sales of Lucy souvenirs in the small gift shop.