Lucy the Elephant, Margate City, New Jersey (Photo Credit: Flickr - sporst)
Lucy the Elephant, Margate City, New Jersey | Photo Credit: Flickr - sporst

Located in Margate City, New Jersey, stands a one-of-a-kind architectural wonder that has been an integral part of this coastal town since its earliest days. Lucy the Elephant, as she is affectionately known, is far more than just a colossal pachyderm – she is a symbol of Margate City’s rich history, a beacon for curious visitors, and a testament to the power of community preservation.

Lucy’s story began in 1881 when she was conceived as a spectacular attraction aimed at luring potential real estate buyers to Margate City, which was then known as South Atlantic City. Arriving visitors, often via the newly constructed railroad that conveniently stopped right beside Lucy, would gaze in awe at this towering elephant.

Throughout the decades, Lucy served as both spectacle and tourist magnet, drawing people from far and wide. However, the relentless marine elements and years of deferred maintenance began to take their toll on this magnificent structure.

By 1969, Lucy was in a state of near dereliction, and the property on which she stood had been sold to developers. The threat of demolition loomed large, casting a shadow over her future. That’s when an incredible volunteer effort, known as The Save Lucy Committee, rose to the occasion.

In an extraordinary display of dedication, the committee successfully raised funds to relocate Lucy the Elephant to a city-owned property just a few blocks away. Simultaneously, they embarked on the challenging task of restoring her to her former glory. By 1974, the exterior and superstructure of this beloved elephant had been lovingly refurbished, and Lucy reopened her doors to the public after a twelve-year hiatus.

The Save Lucy Committee went even further, operating a small gift shop within a historic one-room train station, dating back to 1881, which had also been moved alongside Lucy from her original location. The proceeds from the gift shop and tour ticket sales played a crucial role in sustaining the ongoing restoration efforts.

In 1976, the dedicated individuals of the Save Lucy Committee, under the leadership of co-founder and President Josephine L. Harron, embarked on another remarkable journey. They lobbied the federal government for Lucy’s designation as a National Historic Landmark, an honor of great significance. During the nation’s Bicentennial celebrations, the United States National Park Service bestowed this prestigious recognition upon Lucy the Elephant. On that momentous day, she joined the ranks of iconic American landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, Hoover Dam, and Mt. Rushmore, cementing her place in the American nation’s history.

Today, Lucy the Elephant continues to stand tall, welcoming visitors from near and far. Her story is a testament to the enduring spirit of preservation, community, and the power of a united effort to save a beloved piece of history.

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