For many years, the Claridge Hotel was considered the “baby” of the Boardwalk, being the last grand hotel built in the resort. The $4.5 million building opened in 1930, at a height of almost 400 feet, earning it the nickname of “Skyscraper by the Sea.” It remained the tallest building in Atlantic City until well into the 1980s. The Claridge has always been connected to Atlantic City history. It was built on the site of an earlier hotel, the impressive Victorian mansion known as Disston’s Cottage, and, even earlier, land owned by Jeremiah Leeds, the first settler of what later became Atlantic City. Celebrities frequented the Claridge from its very beginning, including big names of the time Mary Pickford, Dorothy Lamour, and Dinah Shore. Later notable visits included Princess Grace and Marilyn Monroe. In 1941, Mayor Taggart broke ground on a $250,000 convention annex. During World War II, the Claridge was one of many Atlantic City hotels occupied by military forces. The United Nations Relief & Rehabilitation Administration World Conference was held there in 1943. In the 1970s, several of Atlantic City’s grand hotels were demolished to make way for new casino complexes. The Claridge was one of the few to be spared this fate, by instead being transformed into Del Webb’s Claridge Hotel and Hi-Ho Casino in 1981. Despite being a giant in the pre-casino era, however, the Claridge was dwarfed by the gambling centers surrounding it, struggling to compete with limited gaming space. In 2002, the Claridge was purchased by neighboring Bally’s, becoming part of their sprawling complex for twelve years. In February 2014, the Claridge was sold to TJM Properties, who renovated the building to again operate as only a hotel. The new Claridge, which reopened in May 2014, emphasizes its connection to Atlantic City’s past, and to the popular Prohibition era. H049.647.94Cla128 
 claridge  A postcard showing the Claridge Hotel in Brighton Park, with electric-lighted fountain, circa 1950s.
From the Atlantic City Heritage Collections, H049.647.94Cla128.
 

The Claridge Hotel in December 2014.

 

For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:

Local History Subject Files – Hotels
Local History Subject Files – Claridge Hotel Casino

 

 

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