Photo: Donald Kravitz
You have seen them on the Atlantic City Boardwalk — including this year’s new Royal fleet, launched during Revel’s “preview” phase in April (see photo at bottom of this post) — in the movies, on Boardwalk Empire and lined up against the A.C. Boardwalk railing, with the Atlantic Ocean as a backdrop, with rollers waiting for passengers.
Perhaps you’ve even taken a “chair ride” up or down — or both — the historic Atlantic City Boardwalk. (If not, haven’t you always wanted to?)
What are we talking about? Rolling chairs, Atlantic City’s unique mode of transportation dating back 125 years to June 11, 1887 and first debuted at an 1876 convention in the seaside tourist town.
Can you imagine all of the people, including entertainers and celebrities, who have taken a ride on a rolling chair? Not to mention all of those men and women who have pushed rolling chairs for a living over the past 125 years, including many East European students who work summers in Atlantic City.
A few bits of fun rolling chair facts for you: Lou Kessel, who would become Nucky Johnson’s right-hand man, as portrayed by actor Anthony Laciura as the Boardwalk Empire character Eddie Kessler on the hit HBO drama series, had a connection to Atlantic City’s rolling chairs. At the age of 24, soon after moving to Atlantic City from his native Austria, and before being hired by Nucky, Kessel built rolling chairs.
Find out how did rolling chairs play a part when the Atlantic City “Beach was Mobbed“?
Vintage rolling chairs were on display at the Atlantic City Antiques and Collectors Show held last March at the Atlantic City Convention Center.
There have also been songs written about rolling chairs, including the ditty “Why Don’t You Try (The Rolling Chair)”; here is the cover of the sheet music, courtesy of Princeton Antiques in Atlantic City:
Finally, of course, the Miss America parade on the Boardwalk just wouldn’t have been the same without rolling chairs for the world-famous Miss America Rolling Chair Parade, in which contestants were rolled along the wooden way and the whole “show us your shoes” thing got its unlikely start.
• Part one and two of local historian Allen “Boo” Pergament’s “A Stroll Down the Atlantic City Boardwalk” two-part historical article.
• Interview with Boardwalk Empire creator Terry Winter on old Atlantic City, with mention of rolling chairs.
• Local History and historical “Waltz Through Time” pages.
• Boardwalk Empire Notes page
• LIKE! Boardwalk Empire Fan Club on Facebook
TOP Picture: (L to R) Vin Lucpezio (blue shirt & bow tie), Ellen Cohen (yellow dress & hat), Lee Karlock (red & white stripes) and Stewart Norton (black & white stripes)
Below: The Royal Rolling Chair 2012 on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in front of the new Revel resort. The new chairs debuted in April as part of Revel’s preview opening and the ongoing push to boost tourism in Atlantic City: