THE ATLANTIC CITY INLET: HISTORY AND THE HORIZON

The Atlantic City Inlet was recognized for its immense potential as a waterfront attraction from the get-go. The site has been popular ever since 1876, when the Camden-Atlantic Railroad developed a two story pavilion on Maine and Caspian to accommodate large fishing and hunting excursions. 

By 1935 the surrounding area fell into a point of decline and the owners were in desperate need of a new landlord to revitalize the area along the inlet that also included the Hyman’s Hotel and several other structures that were in need. The Railroad Company handpicked Captain Starn, who ran a successful sailboat tour company off of Steel Pier. 

On June 26, 1940 Captain Starn opened the Captain Starn’s Restaurant and Boating Center. At its peak the center had a capacity of 750 diners, served 2000 meals a day, and employed over 200 people in the summer months. Its attractions included everything from a line of speed boats titled “Miss Atlantic City,” sailboats, fishing charters, a live dolphin and sea lion pen, and even a sea-plane. Starn also had a boat supply shop, fish market, and packing house to process the daily haul from his fleet. Captain Starn’s nephew Clarence “Skeetz” Apel reported that their sea touring business “ran a million people up and down the beach front each year.” 

Today this magical place only exists in the memories of its patrons. Captain Starn died in 1969. His business outlived him by ten years but unfortunately went into decline. His nephew “Skeetz” ran a small office on the site throughout the 80’s that catered to a few clam boats at the end of the dock, however it eventually folded and the site was bulldozed in 1992. 

If we have learned anything from history it is that we have an amazing gift surrounding us on the waterfront that defies the perception of Atlantic City being only a casino town. On Thursday September 18th, 2014 a group of Rutgers University Graduate students from the

Blouster School of Planning and Public Policy, along with Stacey Kammerman, and Councilman Frank Gilliam, boarded the Crusin1 for a tour of the Inlet. 

Much like Captain Starn envisioning a new life for the neighborhood in the 1930’s, the group aboard the Crusin1 were optimistic in their forecast for a comeback in the area.

The group noticed several areas that were capable of high potential for waterfront development and were currently completely vacant like the lot at the end of New Jersey Avenue and behind the Golden Nugget Casino. Planning director Terenik stated that “If connected to a reconstructed Boardwalk — and to each other — the area would be as large as Inner Harbor in Baltimore.”

 “If you look at the history of Atlantic City, they were using the water from the very beginning,” Kammerman said. “That’s why people came here. ... So to be able to go back to that, it’s an asset we have that other casino towns don’t have. We’ve done it before. Why not do it again?”