Monopoly: The Story Behind the World's Best-Selling Game

Overview

It's the best-selling board game in the world, sold in 80 countries and produced in 26 languages-but how did this favorite pastime get its start?

Take a visual tour down Boardwalk and advance to the St. Charles Place through this fascinating visualization of the Monopoly game board and discover that these places really do exist in a place called Atlantic City.

Illustrated with collectible imagery and paired with informative text, Monopoly ...

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Overview

It's the best-selling board game in the world, sold in 80 countries and produced in 26 languages-but how did this favorite pastime get its start?

Take a visual tour down Boardwalk and advance to the St. Charles Place through this fascinating visualization of the Monopoly game board and discover that these places really do exist in a place called Atlantic City.

Illustrated with collectible imagery and paired with informative text, Monopoly captures the ornate and elegant hotels built along a Boardwalk lined with shops, restaurants, and giant amusement piers jutting out into the sea and brings to life the places that have captivated over 500 million people for over 65 years.

Rod Kennedy, Jr.'s books include The Brooklyn Cookbook, Lost New York in Old Postcards, Hollywood in Old Postcards, and Atlantic City: 125 Years of Ocean Madness with Lee Eisenberg and Vicki Levi. He is the founder and president of Stadia Tins Ltd., which produces decorative tins that are replicas of major league baseball stadiums. He also produced the "Star Spangled Banner" poster for the Smithsonian Institution. He lives in New York City.

Jim Waltzer is a freelance writer who has written more than 600 feature articles for regional and national magazines and several short stories in fiction journals. He is the author of Tales of South Jersey (Rutgers University Press) and resides in Philadelphia.

The Atlantic City Historical Museum strives to serve and present the culturally diverse history of Atlantic City in an informative and entertaining time line for the visiting public. The museum is home to the award-winning exhibit, Atlantic City, Playground of the Nation, which depicts the madcap history of Atlantic City through Miss America memorabilia, postcards, song sheets, costumes, artifacts, and other ephemera. It is located in the historic Garden Pier (at New Jersey Avenue and the Boardwalk) and overlooks the famous beach, Boardwalk, and majestic Atlantic Ocean. For more information, please visit them at www.acmuseum.org.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
This book weaves the history of the popular board game, Monopoly, together with the history of Atlantic City, whose streets provided the names for the color-coded properties on the game board. The game was originally created as the "Landlord's Game" a teaching tool to popularize economic theories. It caught on as a past-time, with people recreating the board on oilcloth. A group of friends added the names of their streets in Atlantic City. Charles Darrow was introduced to this version of the game, and tried to peddle it to Parker Brothers, who declined the offer. When it started selling like crazy through FAO Schwarz, Parker Brothers reconsidered. Atlantic City started through a similar push by one man, Dr. Jonathan Pitney, who touted the area as healthful. Many made fortunes building the beach town. The book is organized according to the color groupings of the properties, from the dark purples of Baltic and Mediterranean (where African-Americans stayed) to the pricey dark blues of Park Place and Broadway. Picture postcards from the heyday of Atlantic City are used as illustrations. Landmarks such as the Steel Pier are discussed, but alas, no photographs of the diving horses or "Rex the Wonder Dog" are included. The book is graphically pleasing; with the colorful Monopoly board providing bold accompaniment to the more subdued hues of the postcards. A fascinating look back in time, the book also yields strategy hints for serious players. 2004, Gibbs Smith, Ages 14 to Adult.
—Dr. Judy Rowen
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586853228
  • Publisher: Smith, Gibbs Publisher
  • Publication date: 12/7/2004
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.32 (d)

Meet the Author

Rod Kennedy, Jr.'s books include The Brooklyn Cookbook, Lost New York in Old Postcards, Hollywood in Old Postcards, and Atlantic City: 125 Years of Ocean Madness with Lee Eisenberg and Vicki Levi. He is the founder and president of Stadia Tins Ltd., which produces decorative tins that are replicas of major league baseball stadiums. He also produced the "Star Spangled Banner" poster for the Smithsonian Institution. He lives in New York City, but was most probably concieved in Atlantic City.

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Read an Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Monopoly: The Story Behind the World's Best-Selling Game combines two of my favorite things-Monopoly and Atlantic City. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of long, drawn out Monopoly games on rainy Saturday or Sunday afternoons with family and friends, and it is more than just a childhood memory. Monopoly is a game I have enjoyed playing throughout my life and it was even the basis of a relationship that started out as a Monopoly challenge in a bar one night. In fact, I love the game so much that my home would not be complete without a Monopoly set in the closet.

Like most people, I once thought that the colored properties on the classic Monopoly game board were fictional places that existed only as I imagined them, so it was one of the great discoveries and in my life to learn that they really do exist in a place called Atlantic City.

My first trip to Atlantic City was in the summer of 1973 and I was thrilled to be really taking a walk on the Boardwalk and advancing to St. Charles Place. I was captivated by the ornate and elegant hotels looking like giant sandcastles built along a Boardwalk lined with shops, restaurants, and giant amusement piers jutting out into the sea. And even though this once thriving and fashionable resort, known as the "Queen of Resorts" and "America's Playground" was in decline, I still sensed the ghosts of years gone by and was possessed. The deal was further sealed when I learned that my parents had honeymooned in Atlantic City, and that I was most probably conceived in the Shelbourne Hotel.

Several years later, I was invited by "America's Best Loved Photographer," Bud Lee and Susan Dintenfass Subtle to join them in a photo shoot of the diving horse lady on Steel Pier. It was from this experience that Susan and I conceived of the idea to do a nostalgic book about Atlantic City, which eventually was so wonderfully bought to fruition by Vicki Gold Levi and Lee Eisenberg, and called Atlantic City . . . 125 years of Ocean Madness. The book, which takes a long and loving look at Atlantic City as The Capitol of Americana, was published in 1979, has gone through many subsequent printings and is still in print today.

While Atlantic City . . . 125 Years of Ocean Madness touched briefly upon the connection between Atlantic City and Monopoly, I still had always wanted to do a book that would be a visualization of the classic Monopoly game board illustrated with Atlantic City images, that would bring to life for the very first time, the very real place upon which this game, enjoyed for generations by millions of people around the world, was based. Now, thanks to Gibbs Smith Publisher and Hasbro, I am able to do this in this volume.

-Rod Kennedy, New York City

Dark Purple

Mediterranean Avenue was largely a commercial, light-industrial stretch that featured the likes of Abbott's Dairies and Wrigley's Chewing Gum, and ended with Hackney's seafood restaurant on Absecon Inlet.

Hackney's and nearby Captain Starn's made the inlet synonymous with hearty seafood, but the area was also known for its recreational and commercial activities on the water. Starn's maintained a fleet of sailboats and motorboats that gave sightseers a tour of the island, and a fresh fish market and packing house for anglers' daily harvests.

Back on the avenue, however, there was only the drabness of pavement and wooden boarding houses. The other dark purple property, Baltic Avenue, was known for offering accommodations to African-American visitors, and many of the kitchen and housekeeping workers who staffed the hotels near and on the Boardwalk.

Accordingly, Mediterranean and Baltic are the least expensive properties on the Monopoly board, and give players a chance to buy on the cheap. Investors must consider, however, that the two properties receive fewer "stops" over the course of a game than any other property group, just as the real-life streets get less traffic than do those closer to the ocean. A statistical ranking based on cost, rents, and frequency of stops by other players places them next to last among the 10 property groups. (An opponent's trip around the board returns an average 13.6 cents on each investment dollar made by a landlord who has built a hotel on his dark purple property.) Still, the DPs show relative strength early in the game when the board is largely undeveloped.

Captions:

Hackney's-The familiar giant lobster symbolized Hackney's and its vaunted seafood cuisine, and sometimes the waitresses really dressed the part. Situated on Absecon Inlet at Maine and Mediterranean avenues, Hackney's sat at the confluence of trolleys, jitneys, and hungry seafood patrons. Founded by Harry Hackney in 1912, it fed some 800,000 diners annually in its heyday. One of them was Hackney friend and New York Governor Al Smith, who remarked that eating at the restaurant was like "fishing out the window," a phrase that stuck. Indeed, a pier in front of the restaurant offered the chance to fish for kingfish, weakfish, flounder, and other tasty species of the Atlantic. Hackney's canned its own brand of seafood products such as clam chowder right on the premises, and its "purified lobster pools" attracted spectators who watched a constant stream of ocean-pumped saltwater bathe the crustacean of their choice

Capt. Starn's-Captain Starn's was a sprawling complex that served up boat excursions and yapping sea lions along with seafood platters. The Starn's roster of sailing sloops and Miss Atlantic City speedboats ushered an estimated one million people on sightseeing tours each year. For those seeking greater thrills, a "diving seaplane" with a reversible-pitch propeller descended from the sky and hit the water with a thud. The affectionate sea lions cavorted in their outdoor pens, playing to the crowd. Starn's grew from a one-story dining room to include an adjoining dining hall, the upstairs Captain's Bridge, the outdoor Captain's Mess, the Over-the-Sea Bar (upper left), and the Yacht Bar fashioned from, naturally, a yacht.

Abbott's Milk-Abbotts Dairies was a major part of the Mediterranean Avenue commercial district. The company emphasized its product safety standards in keeping with the health-conscious seashore.

Liberty Hotel-Baltic Avenue's Liberty Hotel touted itself as "the most modern and best equipped hotel for colored people in the East," including 141 suites, an equal number of baths or showers, maids, bellmen, and telephones. The only other hotel available to "colored people" at the time was the Lincoln on Indiana Avenue. At the Liberty, three two-story houses behind the hotel served as short-term rentals for Club Harlem dancers and other entertainers; the nearby Green Parrot restaurant provided room-service meals. The main building still stands and houses senior citizens.

Weekes' Tavern-Prohibition or not, Atlantic City kept the spigot open, and as any stoolie could tell you, the evidence was strong at Weekes' Tavern at Baltic and Illinois. Weekes' began as a liquor store and transformed itself into a cocktail lounge with live entertainment including a house band. Jazz great Grover Washington and romantic balladeer Arthur Prysock both played here.

Yellow

The yellow properties move us to the suburbs. Atlantic Avenue, the longest on Absecon Island, runs the length of Atlantic City and then replaces Pacific Avenue as the last street paralleling the beach through the townships of Ventnor and Margate all the way to Longport. Trolley tracks creased Atlantic; indeed, the breadth of the street was intended to provide sufficient space between trollies and skittish horses pulling carriages. Fashionable Tudor and Colonial homes, many of them still standing, lined Atlantic in the 'burbs. In Atlantic City proper, Atlantic Avenue, which was originally a cowpath, became known for fine dining and was the main commercial strip before the beach shifted toward the ocean, creating room for Pacific Avenue.

Ventnor Avenue joins Atlantic on a parallel trail toward Longport and also showcased stately summer homes but added more commercial properties.

Marvin Gardens, bane of fastidious historians and accurate spellers (see postcards), was christened "Marven Gardens" by city planners and mapmakers because of its location (Mar + Ven = Marven), but the game of Monopoly forever altered a vowel. When enthusiast Charles Todd copied the game board for Charles Darrow, Todd passed on the misspelled name "Marvin Gardens" which Darrow branded for eternity. Not even the U.S. Post Office has been able to rectify matters.

The Yellows command high rents and purchase prices in Monopoly, as you might expect in the suburbs. They have a payoff ranking of sixth but insiders consider them to be pivotal properties in the late stages of a game.

Elephant Hotel-Many times in her checkered career, Lucy the Elephant needed to keep a stiff upper tusk. The Atlantic Avenue timber-and-metal pachyderm, Margate's most visible landmark, was one of several such eye-poppers planned by developers in 1881 to attract land investors to the area referred to as "South Atlantic City." (Lucy's cousins showed up in Cape May and Coney Island.) She stood 65 feet from to the top of her howdah, and weighed 90 tons. Visitors would climb to the top and survey the real estate below. In later incarnations, Lucy was a tavern and a hotel before a long period of vacancy and deterioration yielded to relocation and preservation as a museum not far from her original watering grounds.

Kents Restaurant-Atlantic City has always been an acclaimed purveyor of seafood, and Kents Restaurant upheld that tradition. Its three locations (two on Atlantic Avenue) were distinguished by art deco entrances and conveyor belts ferrying food to hungry customers.

Knife and Fork-Advertisements fixed the Knife & Fork's location as "where the Atlantic meets the Pacific." The restaurant still sits at the confluence of Atlantic, Pacific and Albany avenues on the southern end of Atlantic City. Built in 1910 but leveled because of faulty nails and rebuilt two years later, the Knife & Fork Inn still offers sharp decor and riveting cuisine. When the Democrats held their national political convention in Atlantic City in 1964, The New York Times gave the Knife & Fork high marks, stimulating business at the restaurant and making it one of the few Atlantic City attractions to get favorable press during convention week.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Dedication & Acknowledgments

Introduction

GO

The Game- A Brief History of MONOPOLY

The Place- A Brief History of Atlantic City

THE RAILROADS

THE PROPERTIES

THE UTILITIES

CHANCE AND COMMUNITY CHEST

FREE PARKING

PASSING GO

Bibliography & Picture Credits

Index

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