Atlantic City – Rolling Chairs
June 26th, 1870 was the opening of the first section of wooden boardwalk in Atlantic City. The idea for the walkway came from a railroad conductor who wanted to help keep sand out of hotels and restaurants. While the original eight feet of boardwalk was manageable by foot, the eventual five miles of walkway can be a little much for some. By 1884, rolling chairs were the only mode of transportation allowed on the boardwalk!
The rolling wicker chairs have become a part of the Atlantic City boardwalk tradition! Friendly tour guides pull the chairs while you ride in comfort. Express chairs can take you to casino destinations, and other chairs can allow you to enjoy the atmosphere of the boardwalk in comfort and luxury. They may not be the fastest way to get around the boardwalk, but they have a rich tradition and history.
Atlantic City, on Absecon Island, was inhabited more by snakes and bugs than people until 1850. The salt water and sea breezes were publicized as a cure-all for consumption, insanity, cardiac problems, and more. Once the railroad traveled to Atlantic City, the area became a popular vacation destination. By 1860, the city could accommodate thousands of visitors each summer. Ten years later, the first stretch of boardwalk was placed. By 1896, the boardwalk had been completed in five different stages of expansion.
The tranquil rolling chair rides started as wheelchair rentals to invalids. Hardware store owner William Hayday spent several years renting rolling chairs to less-than-hearty vacationers before he realized he could market the rolling chair for public use on the boardwalks. In 1887, the first commercial wicker chairs were sent rolling down the Atlantic City boardwalk.
The 1920s is considered the height of the rolling chairs’ popularity. Only the hotels employed more workers than the rolling chair service. The business declined during World War II, but enjoyed a resurgence in 1948 with the introduction of motorized rolling chairs from the Blue Chair Company. 1955 saw a combination of motorized movement with traditional wicker bodies. The motorized chairs quickly became more popular than the man-powered chairs, which did not make a comeback until the 1980s. Motorized chairs have since been outlawed on the boardwalk.
Looking for a rolling chair to ride? Your best bet is to check outside the casinos. Today’s Royal Rolling Chairs are designed for the comfort of both riders and operator, and seat three adults comfortably. You can choose to pay by the block, if you have a particular destination in mind, or by time if you just want to enjoy the ride. The chairs run every day of the week. You can ride between the hours of 8am and 1am Sundays through Thursdays and from 8am until 4am on Fridays and Saturdays.