Margate: Don't Cross This Elephant. Become an Angler on the Pier. Down Beach in the Garden District.
Updated: Sep 9
Margate City is the official name but it's just like Ventnor City, people lop off the "city" part and call it Margate.
Almost before anyone built a permanent structure in what is now Margate, there was Lucy the Elephant. As with so many other New Jersey Shore landmarks, Lucy the Elephant was built by developers seeking to attract visitors and property owners to empty, sandy lots near the Atlantic Ocean. While many such novelties were destroyed by fire, hurricane or neglect, Lucy still stands
strong today. The 6-story-tall structure, originally constructed of lumber and tin, has a long history as a boarding house, tavern, tourist camps and even speakeasy. Today, year-round, you can walk inside Lucy to experience what it was like to tour Lucy when she was built in the late 1800s.
Most people recognize Lucy from walking or driving by her home on Atlantic Avenue --- one reason she is the oldest roadside attraction in the nation. From the beach, it's a different story. Sandwiched between two hi-rises, Lucy doesn't appear to beach walkers until they are almost in front of her. And it's not the charming Lucy who is getting a drink from a bucket near her home. Rather, she is staring out to sea, ready as if to challenge anyone who threatens her domain as the Queen of Absecon Island.
(From the vantage point of the beachfront or boardwalk, this is a breezy overview of what you see, where to park and beach access, plus a bit or history and the latest happenings. See map below.)
Of three privately owned fishing piers over the water along the Jersey Shore, only the Anglers Club of Absecon Island is open for new members.
Through its almost 100 years of existence, the pier has survived storms, hurricanes and fires. But recently, it faced a man-made dilemma. The state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built dunes and extended the beach by 100 feet, limiting fishing to when the tides were high. Because the state intends to keep replenishing the beach every three-to-five years, the Club sought state help
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and raised additional funding so that last year, the pier was extended another 300 feet into the water. It may look old, but much of the pier is new.
Club membership is $350 a year plus $25 for a locker. Members are allowed to have an unlimited number of guests per day to share and enjoy the pier and clubhouse at no charge.
Marven Gardens and southern Ventnor Avenue
It may only be a semi-expensive "yellow" property on the Monopoly Board, but the real Marven Gardens has some of the highest price-per-square-foot rates in the state. The name comes from the first syllable in Margate combined the first syllable in Ventnor. Most of the homes were built in the 1920s and 1930s and were infused with money from the housing boom in the 2000s. Today the
the houses have extensive gardens that are well worth taking a detour from an ocean walk.
Note that Marven Gardens is spelled correctly, but the name shows up on the Monopoly Board as Marvin Gardens between the Water Works and the Go to Jail squares and is one of three yellow properties along with Ventnor Avenue and Atlantic Avenue.
Further south along Ventnor Avenue, the road widens and creates two parallel streets names North Ventnor Avenue and South Ventnor Avenue each of which is separate by a beautifully landscaped medial strip. These nine blocks are some of the most beautiful on the Shore, just two blocks from the ocean.
How Margate got its name
Originally known as South Atlantic City, in 1869, Margate was chartered as a municipality. The name remained the same for the rest of the century, even after the town to the north chose to take the name Ventnor for the seaside town of the same name in England. Following in the same English vein, South Atlantic City name itself Margate after another English seaside resort of the same name.
Tips for visiting Margate
What's New: Nothing new to report
Starring Role: Margate is featured in the movies Stealing Home and Atlantic City.
Access and Parking: The city is directly south of Ventnor. Ventnor Avenue is the main commercial street and thoroughfare. Town signs are small, so it's easy to drive from Ventnor to Margate to Longport without realizing it. Parking is free in most places. Starting at the Ventnor border, the east-west streets are alphabetical from Andover to Wilson streets. There are a few miscellaneous streets after Wilson Street.
Amenities: None None at the beach.
Beaches: Beach badges are required daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Full season badges are $20 for people 12 to 64 years old. People over 65 years old who purchased their badges before May 31 paid $3.50, but now they pay $20. Badges are free for people 11 years older and younger. Badges can be purchased through Viply App or at the beach.
This spring, summer and fall, follow Jersey Shore author and expert R.C. Staab as he walks the entire 139 miles of the Jersey Shore coastline from Sandy Hook to Island Beach State Park, the length of Long Beach Island from Old Barney to the Edwin Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, from Brigantine to Cape May.
Next stop: Longport at Jersey Shore Walk Mile post 82. See profiles of Ventnor, Atlantic City, Brigantine, North Brigantine and every beach and town along the Jersey Shore at www.jerseyshorewalk.com