Atlantic City Slang

Atlantic City Slang

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If you head "down the shore" in New Jersey, chances are you're not talking about going to Atlantic City. The term "Jersey Shore" is generally applied to just about any of the beach communities from Cape May to Sandy Hook – and sometimes to certain television shows. Heading to what was once the "queen of resorts" is something entirely different. The history of Atlantic City is synonymous with the origin of American beach culture, and even the local lingo has been co-opted into common American slang to such an extent that it's barely recognizable for being what it once was – Atlantic City slang.

1. Boardwalk

The term "boardwalk" was invented here in Atlantic City in 1870, when hotel and restaurant owners decided that having sand tracked all over their establishments was irritating. Legend has it that a fellow named "Boardman" invented the walkway made of wooden planks, and eventually the term became American slang for boardwalks all over the country. Not to be outdone, however, Atlantic City went a step further. Here, by an 1896 municipal ordinance, Boardwalk – with a capital B – is the official name for the walkway along the beach.

2. A.C.

No, we're not talking about air conditioning. Atlantic City is commonly abbreviated – both in print and out loud – as "A.C." New Jerseyans like to be succinct!

3. Monopoly City

As you walk around town, you'll see familiar streets signs: Baltic Avenue, Indiana Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, Park Place. You won't hear many people calling Atlantic City "Monopoly City" anymore – A.C. is shorter and easier – but A.C. and Monopoly City are interchangeable slang phrases for Atlantic City. Use the phrase "Monopoly City," and everyone will know exactly what city you're talking about.

4. Jitney

In old-time Atlantic City slang terms, a "jitney" means a nickel. Which is exactly how much it used to cost to ride the public minibus in Atlantic City in 1915. The price has gone up, but jitneys still zip up and down Pacific Avenue today. Stops are on every block and the jitneys run parallel to Boardwalk.

5. The Expressway & The Parkway

One way to show that you're not from around these parts is to use the full name of the local highways. Want to drive up the coast along the Garden State Parkway? Then say, "I'm looking for the Parkway." Likewise, heading inland means driving "the Expressway," not the Atlantic City Expressway. The Expressway and the Parkway actually intersect just west of A.C., but if you call this "the Intersection," you won't get very far. Local lingo in Atlantic City hasn't yet given a name to this interchange.

6. Ducktown

What do you call a historically Italian-American neighborhood where ducks were raised in the 1800s? Why, "Ducktown" of course! The fortunes of Ducktown parallel those of A.C. as a whole, which went into decline after World War II as the rise of the automobile and airplane opened up new destinations to vacationers. Economic success has returned in fits and starts since the first Atlantic City casinos opened in 1978. Stalwarts like the White House Sub Shop, the Ducktown Tavern and Boardwalk Hall have been there all along.

7. Chicken Bone Beach

Atlantic City slang for the section of beach between Mississippi and Missouri is "Chicken Bone Beach." The roots of this term are based on the time period when this part of the beach was segregated, and black families would have picnics here, supposedly leaving behind chicken bones. The term was racist and derogatory, but Jersey is not a place to sweep its past under the rug. Rather, the local legacy is acknowledged and included in historical accounts, and historians preserve the heritage of Chicken Bone Beach, which took a formerly offensive term and made a fantastic beach out of it.

8. Shoobies & Bennies

Weekend tourists from Philadelphia and southern Jersey were called "shoobies," after the shoe box lunches they'd show up with. "Bennies" were used to describe visitors from northern Jersey and New York, but the origin of that term is unclear. Among the theories are that train riders carried luggage with tags that were stamped "BENNY," while others suggest that the $100 bills ("Benjamin Franklins") tourists spent created the nickname.

9. Rolling Chair

Strolling along the Boardwalk, you'll find that there are no taxis or jitneys. Certainly you can't drive your car or ride a horse from place to place. Fortunately, in the 1880s, Atlantic City developed an unusual approach to this transportation dilemma. Back then and still ongoing today, the lap of luxury was to sink into what Atlantic City lingo calls a "rolling chair," to be pushed along by the Boardwalk equivalent of a taxi driver.
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