Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Replica of "Boardwalk Empire" Facade
It's a real shame that when casinos first came to town they were allowed to destroy everything historical - the old hotels, the old boardwalk, the old bars and restaurants, Kentucky Avenue, even the Sands Casino, all gone and in their place, for the most part, parking lots.
Even when they decided to make the multi-million dollar Boardwalk Empire production, instead of just giving them a few miles of the boardwalk north of Resorts, where there is nothing, and allow them to build their old style boardwalk facade there, they went and built it in Brooklyn, New York.
And now, thanks to local radio talk show host Pinky Kravitz, they made a replica of the facade, which means its a fake two times.
Replica of 'Boardwalk Empire' facade goes up in Atlantic City
By DEREK HARPER, Staff Writer Press of Atlantic City.
ATLANTIC CITY — There’s hot, and then there’s wearing-a-black-pinstripe-suit-in-the-blazing-sun hot. But for Rich Francesco, 37, who portrays the “real” Enoch L. “Nucky” Johnson on an Atlantic City bus tour, there was no missing Monday morning’s debut of the “Boardwalk Empire” facade.
Francesco and cohorts Shelly Damiano and Carla Myers, each of them dressed in their Roaring ’20s finest, were among several hundred people in attendance as longtime area radio host Pinky Kravitz formally unveiled the Boardwalk Empire facade.
The 180-foot long display is in front of the West Hall of Boardwalk Hall, near the intersection of the Boardwalk and Florida Avenue. It is a re-creation of some of the sets for the HBO television series, which is itself a translation of Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Nelson C. Johnson’s history of Atlantic City.
The show has led to a local cottage industry as businesses and individuals seek to cash in on the series, which returns to television with new episodes next month.
This display is the brainchild of Kravitz, who also is a columnist for The Press of Atlantic City. “It is just an unbelievable feat that we have here accomplished,” he said Monday.
Before the 10 a.m. grand unveiling, the display was sheathed in a white covering with towering capital letters that spelled out “Boardwalk Empire.”
Part of the point of the facade is to hide the industrial front of the West Hall addition to Boardwalk Hall. City officials don’t know what to do with the long expanse of yellow brick and debris, exposed to the elements and tens of millions of visitors since the former Trump World’s Fair casino was demolished in 2000.
A colorful printed mural by Peter Max hung in front of the 1970 structure for about five years before it faded and was finally dismantled by a January 2008 winter storm.
This new coverup comes from Interstate Outdoor Advertising, which created the images from designs from the show provided to them by Kravitz. The company said the frames that hold up the facades are similar to their billboards.
The storefronts are re-creations of the Ritz-Carlton, Steel Pier and a store that put premature infants on display, among other actual places. It is unclear how long they will remain on display.
Speakers on Monday said that the Atlantic City Special Improvement District would have an employee stationed nearby to keep the facade safe. And Kravitz said that special anti-graffiti paint was being tested on the facade.
After the unveiling, Carol Boyce Heinisch, 69, stood near the infant store. She was once an infant on display, living in a store incubator through the summer of 1942, she said. She was grateful today for the care she received then.
On Monday, she posed for photos with people who wanted to have their pictures taken with one of the real premature infants.
“We weren’t freaks,” Boyce Heinisch said. “We were babies. We were just little.”
Visitors also clustered around the costumed Francesco, Damiano and Myers.
“We tell the true story of Nucky Johnson,” Damiano said of the Atlantic City bus tours.
“‘Boardwalk Empire’ doesn’t do Nucky Johnson justice,” Myers added later.
Unlike Steve Buscemi, who portrays the show’s “Nucky Thompson” as a sickly looking violent criminal, the broad-shouldered Francesco resembles the real “Nucky” Johnson.
Tom Verba, of Vineland, was one of the people who attended the facade unveiling. Verba, 65, said he and his wife are extras who have attended several Boardwalk Empire casting calls but have never gotten a role.
“I like the show Boardwalk Empire and think that its great Pinky got this done.”
Within a half-hour of the unveiling, the crowd had scattered, leaving city employees to stack the chairs and clean up the Boardwalk.
One of the people stacking chairs, Shaheed Salaam, 46, said he enjoyed the show.
“I didn’t realize so many political things were going on behind the scenes,” he said. “I think it put Atlantic City on the map a little bit.”
Contact Derek Harper:
Friday, July 29, 2011
By DEREK HARPER, Staff Writer |
ATLANTIC CITY — Cathy and Megan Murphy were out for a morning walk when they saw Atlantic City’s past — or at least the version created for HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” — coming to life before their eyes.
“I love ‘Boardwalk Empire,’” said New York City resident Megan Murphy, 29, “I was just telling my mom she needed to rent it.”
In town for the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival, the pair found themselves in place Friday morning to watch as crews began erecting the 108-foot-long replica of the Boardwalk stores seen on the HBO series.
As gulls flew overhead and morning joggers and bikers passed by, workers from Interstate Outdoor Advertising and Acord Outdoor Services set up the 18-foot-tall facade in front of the West Hall of Boardwalk Hall, near Florida Avenue.
The “Boardwalk Empire” facades are designed to hide, or at least partially obscure, the ugly yellow brickwork in front of the West Hall building, itself an out-of-place,
industrial-looking shed attached to the side of the more elegant 1929 Boardwalk Hall.
They are about 75 percent life-size, and take the place of a 280-foot Peter Max mural that partially covered the wall for about half a decade until finally shredded by a 2008 storm.
Casting off wooden blocks that held down a protective black tarp shortly after 7 a.m., crews on Friday unveiled images of some of the stores and shops that appear in the fictionalized version of the city during the Roaring ’20s. For Atlantic City, a place that has spent much of its history re-creating itself to put its best face forward, Friday was just the latest step in the process.
A formal unveiling is planned for 10 a.m. today, with parking available from 9 a.m. to noon in the West Hall.
People on the boards Friday morning got a preview of the exhibit. Like the show, all of the stores reflect real institutions, with some circumstances changed to fit the story.
Radio host Pinky Kravitz watched as his brainchild came to life.
Kravitz, who is also a Press of Atlantic City columnist, persuaded show producers to provide a disk of facade drawings that Interstate developed into the vinyl display.
“This is it,” he said admiring the display from inside erected police barricades Friday morning. “And I tell you, it looks like you could walk right into these places.”
He pointed out small changes from the television show originals: every storefront except for the Steel Pier has “Atlantic City” written somewhere on it. And the sign at the end above the palmist that reads “Welcome to Atlantic City” on the Boardwalk, in the show advertises “nuts and Tootsie Rolls.”
People will be able to stop and have their picture taken in front of locations such as Babette’s Supper Club, the primary drinking and dining location in the series. In real life, Kravitz said, the place was once near the intersection of Pacific and Michigan avenues.
Other locations on display include Fralinger’s candies and the Steel Pier, which still exist elsewhere in the resort.
One long-vanished attraction re-created here is “Atlantic City’s Baby Incubator,” a freak show-type Boardwalk exhibit that actually put premature infants on public display from 1902 to 1943. Signs tout “Living Infants,” adding “Come see babies that weigh less than 3 lbs - 25 ¢.” The fake door entices people to “Come see what Science has done for Nature’s little weaklings.”
“It was located just two blocks from here,” Kravitz said, gesturing toward the inlet, “in front of the Million Dollar Pier, now the Pier at Caesars.”
He recalled going in as a child, seeing the tiny babies, and throwing a nickel into a bucket at the end that collected donations for baby food.
Kravitz said the new facades are designed to remain at least until a long-vacant tract nearby is built on.
The facades were built to last, said Steve Gura, Interstate’s director of operations. He said it was designed similar to some of the company’s billboards, some of which are “oh, 100 years old, so I think it will hold.”
Kravitz said that special anti-graffiti paint is being tested on the facades.
Marcy Lipher, of Margate, stopped and watched the crews as they worked. “Oh, how cute,” said Lipher, 57. “It’s something good.”
But she wondered how long it would last.
Lynne LaPointe, 47, and Richard Massicotte, 57, of Montreal, Quebec, rode their bikes in the early morning mist. As the new display was explained, LaPointe nodded her head, saying “C’est bon, c’est bon”: It’s good.