Atlantic City lies on a barrier island on the south coast of New Jersey. Once a popular resort area for residents of New York and Philadelphia from the 1850’s, (the street names in the board game “Monopoly” are taken from downtown streets), the city went into decline after World War II as better travel and transportation services made other destinations accessible. The return to legalized gambling in the late 1970s was a partially successful attempt to revive the earlier prominence.
Today the shore area thrives. The Boardwalk is both a historic gem and a good if somewhat crowded place to spend a morning or afternoon. The large high-rise casino properties rise abruptly on the other side of the “strip.” The economy depends almost entirely on tourism. Cost of living and housing are low on a New Jersey scale but high relative to incomes and U.S. averages. Areas along the coast to the south towards Ocean City and Cape May are more attractive, prosperous and livable and retain more of their historic feel.
Surrounding terrain is mainly flat and composed of tidal marshes and beach sand. Vegetation consists of scrub pine and low underbrush. The climate is principally continental in character. However, the moderating influence of the Atlantic Ocean is apparent throughout the year. As a result, summers are relatively cooler and winters milder than elsewhere at the same latitude. During the warm season, sea breezes in the late morning and afternoon keep temperatures in the 80’s. Precipitation is moderate and well distributed through the year. Tropical storms or hurricanes occasionally bring heavy rain. Most winter precipitation comes from coastal storms (“noreasters”) and creates a rain/snow mix. Large snow accumulations and ice storms are far less common than nearby inland locations. First freeze is late October, last is mid-April.