Monday, June 27, 2011

Nucky's Pad at The Ritz

Nucky Johnson’s Pad at The Ritz –

2700 Boardwalk at Iowa Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ 08401 609-347-7889

The Ritz Condominiums in Atlantic City originally existed as The Ritz Carlton. The Ritz Carlton was opened in Jun 24, 1921 with a gala party attended by prominent national figures of the day.

The original cost of construction was six million dollars ($6,000,000.00). Its Merry-Go-Round Bar, considered a marvel of the age, was but one feature of the Ritz Carlton which made it outshine anything of the period. During World War II the Ritz Carlton served as a local barracks for servicemen. In 1969, the Ritz Carlton was converted to an exclusive apartment hotel.

Although plans to convert the Ritz into a casino/hotel with the advent of gambling in Atlantic City never materialized, an extensive renovation program was completed to once again restore The Ritz to its former state of splendor and to offer luxurious residences at affordable prices for the discriminating purchaser.

LOCATION: Directly on the boardwalk in the Chelsea area of Atlantic City on one of the finest stretches of beach in the world. The famous Atlantic City Beach Patrol assures top safety for many hours of leisure. Shopping, houses of worship and excellent transportation are minutes away.

ENTERTAINMENT: Adjacent to the Tropicana Hotel & Casino, which is currently expanding and renovating to become a destination family themed resort providing fun for the whole family. A 15-minute stroll in either direction brings the casino excitement to your doorstep. Dine in the finest restaurants, see the finest live stage performances in the world or try your luck at the casinos.

PARKING: Permanent parking adjacent to The Ritz Condominiums available to all purchasers for an additional charge. Valet service at your option.

RECREATION: The second floor has a beautiful health club with the finest gymnastics equipment and saunas available for your enjoyment. Our enclosed pool area, with ample space for lounging or swimming will enable you to relax at your leisure all year round
HE BLUE ROOM: An exquisite ballroom reminiscent of the roaring twenties is available to our residents to socialize and entertain guests. Many additional public areas have been provided for card rooms, meeting rooms, etc. Naturally, ample space has also been set aside for bicycles and extra storage.

Jim Waltzer’s AC Weekly Article: Nucky at the Ritz

Meet Me at the Ritz – Where the party never stopped – until it did.

Posted by By Jim Waltzer on Wednesday Sep 29th (2010)

The Roaring ’20s, bootlegged liquor and a one-time Atlantic City party central.

They were a pair the envy of any Hollywood scriptwriter. The tall elegant boss man with a penchant for hand-tailored suits and a stranglehold on power, his valet-bodyguard wider than he was tall and loyal to the last detail.

Enoch “Nucky” Johnson, treasurer of Atlantic County, ruled the rackets and the Republican Party in Atlantic City. Former cabbieLouie Kessel ordered his master’s life. Home base was the posh Ritz Carlton Hotel at Iowa Avenue and the Boardwalk (near today’s Tropicana). It was the Roaring ’20s and life was good. Nucky had breakfast with an ocean view. Louie handled the wardrobe and daily rubdowns.

Some of Nucky’s guests were better known for rubouts. In 1929, when crime lords from across the land gathered in Atlantic City to sort out their differences, Nucky installed the likes of Al Capone in suites at the Ritz, or perhaps at the nearby President, spiking the ambience with a generous supply of bootlegged liquor and female companions. The seashore kingpin leased the entire ninth floor at the Ritz, where it was said he kept one closet stuffed with cash. He was a soft touch for both bigshots and people down on their luck until the IRS nabbed him and his signature red carnation in 1938.
The Ritz, though, coninued to dazzle in the sunshine.

The red-brick rectangular structure had opened at a cost of $6 million in June 1921, its prestigious name promising a new era of splendor by the beach. The grand hotels along the Boardwalk had all — except for the Claridge, which would come nine years later — been operating for years when the Ritz added its profile to the Atlantic City skyline. A gala party marked its debut, and with Nucky regularly entertaining political, showbiz and gangland celebrities, the Ritz was party central for many years. New York’s natty Mayor Jimmy Walker favored the Ritz, as did seashore perennial Sophie Tucker. Metropolitan opera star Lawrence Tibbett serenaded Boardwalk audiences by belting arias from his beachfront suite.

Big-dollar card games added to the hotel’s lure and lore.

Two decades later, the stakes had changed. Starting in 1942, the Ritz Carlton served a three-year hitch for Uncle Sam, as did its fellow beachfront hotels — the Army Air Force had commandeered the town for training. In the fall of 1945, AAF Redistribution Station No. 1 restored private ownership to the Ritz, but the world had changed. In the 1950s, new motels grabbed the budget-conscious, while expanding jet travel ushered high-rollers to distant destinations. The Ritz and the city lost their luster. In 1958, giant hotelier Sheraton purchased the Ritz Carlton for just $4.25 million. In 1969, the hotel converted many rooms to apartments; two years later, it was all apartments.

The building still stands at Iowa and the Boardwalk. Gone are the rooms — all on one floor — dedicated to pantry service. No longer does a special elevator take patrons in bathing gear down to beach level and back up. There is no Merry-Go-Round Bar to spin guests packed under a canvas awning. And up on the ninth floor, the powerbroker is long gone from his perch overlooking the ocean, during a time when sin was a commodity and life a carousel.
[Editor’s note: Plans are in the works to offer tours of the historic Ritz building in Atlantic City, which is currently condominiums.]

Jim Waltzer’s ‘Tales of South Jersey,’ co-authored by Tom Wilk, is published by Rutgers University Press.

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