Monopoly and Atlantic City, 75 Tough Years Later


This year, Monopoly celebrates its 75th anniversary. According to Hasbro, it is the world's most popular board game, with more than 200 million sets sold since 1935.

Monopoly, which hasn't changed significantly in the last 75 years, is set in an abstract version of Atlantic City. Its details are quaint by today's standards: $2 rents, $60 properties, $200 railroads.

Once an upscale retreat, Atlantic City began to decline after World War II, when cheap air travel and convenient interstate highways made it easier for travelers to visit more exotic resorts. A 1976 decision to legalize casino gambling gave Atlantic City a second life as a vacation spot, but much of the town has become urban prairie, pocked by desolate vacant lots.

While the city has changed, the game has not. The Monopoly board is like a time capsule of 1930's Atlantic City, reflecting the values and neighborhoods of the time. But if the game were designed today, would it look the same?