Lucy, The Margate Elephant
9200 Atlantic Ave. · Margate, NJ
Fixed on the horizon, Lucy's eyes gaze out over the rippling sea. She is unaware of the thousands who flock to Atlantic City, visible just up the coast, wishing only that she could turn far enough to face the busy roadway behind her. To greet passersby with a wave of her trunk. To spray their vehicles with a friendly wash of sea water.
Unfortunately, her trunk, like the rest of her massive figure, is immovable. And so with the setting sun behind her, she stands. And stares.
Lucy's creator, James Vincent de Paul Lafferty Jr., sought to create an attraction as big as his name was long. He wanted to draw potential landowners to his stretch of undeveloped seaside property. And there, he conceived Lucy. She stands six stories tall and weighs in at 90 tons, and she endures today as the world's largest elephant. Lafferty had reportedly commissioned two even larger pachyderms, but Lucy's is the only structure to remain.
Since 1881, she has brought people to the town of Margate, then known as South Atlantic City, long before the lucrative casinos drew in tourists' dollars. She has loyally served as a scenic attraction, a private home and a tavern. Today, Lucy permits visitors to tour her inner anatomy, which doubles as an autobiographical museum. (Then, doesn't everyone's?) She is happy to let them view the ocean through her eyes. After all, they're windows.
Lucy wasn't open for tours at the time of my visit; she was undergoing a massive restoration. But, someday I will return. I trust she will be there waiting for me.
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