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Lucy the Elephant is a six-story U.S. historical landmark along the beach in Margate City New Jersey, and two miles South of Atlantic City. This unique and patented landmark was designed and built in 1881 by James Vincent de Paul Lafferty, an Irish-American engineer and inventor from Philadelphia.

Lucy the Elephant weighs 90 tons, is 65 feet tall and has 22 windows, and was built of wood and tin sheeting allegedly at a cost between $25,000 to $38,000. It was built as a spectacle to attract potential real estate buyers to Margate then called South Atlantic City.

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While there are many things to do in Atlantic City, visiting Lucy is one of the most unique!

A Brief History Of Lucy The Elephant

Lafferty would take real estate buyers to Lucy's howdah (the seat on her back) to show them available land for sale in Margate. In 1887 Lafferty sold the then-named elephant bazaar to Anton Gertzen, a patriarch of a German immigrant family who was married to Caroline Schurmann.

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Gertzen's third son John had a wife called Sophia who in 1902 renamed the landmark Lucy, and she turned it into a tavern. In 1903, Lucy the Elephant became a summer residence for a British doctor and his family.

By 1969 failure to maintain Lucy the Elephant made it dilapidated, and so in 1970, the Gertzens donated it to the Save Lucy Committee. On July 20, 1970, it was moved 100 yards to its present city lot location where it was restored.

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After it was restored it was reopened in 1974 to the public and in 1976 it was designated as a National Historic Landmark. To date Lucy the Elephant undergoes routine renovations and tours are limited when that happens.

What To Do At Lucy The Elephant

The management of Lucy the Elephant has many activities available for visitors.

Tours and Group Overnights

Tours are available for visitors who wish to see the "insides of Lucy the Elephant's belly" and spend a night there.

The Save Lucy Committee offers tours and overnight stays to scouts, students, and teachers and hosts events like birthdays, weddings, cocktails, receptions, reunions, and corporate events. Included in these tours to visitors are:

  • Private guided tours of Lucy the Elephant
  • Night climbs on Lucy's Howdah
  • A Lucy staff member is on call in the evenings.
  • Optional storytelling time from Lucy the Elephant catalog or visitors' own "Lucy" affirmed book selections.
  • After hour access to Lucy's Gift Shop
  • Evening snacks
  • Breakfast

The belly of Lucy the Elephant and the Gift Shop are heated and air-conditioned but lack a bathroom which makes it an experience of camping inside an elephant. Lucy has the capacity of hosting 48 guests.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Group Overnights are on hiatus in compliance with health and safety measures.

To spend the night inside Lucy the Elephant visitors need to bring the following:

  • Sleeping Gear
  • Personal Hygiene and Grooming Products
  • Fun implements like movies, cards, board games, etc

Tour and Overnight Stay Regulations

  • Overnight stays are restricted to youth groups, not families.
  • Overnight stays start at 8 PM to 9:30 AM the following morning.
  • Groups must have six or more visitors to be hosted here.
  • Group overnight stays cost $45 per person.
  • For every six children, there must be an adult chaperone and the minimum number of chaperones required is two adults.
  • To book visitors have to pay a 10 percent deposit that is non-refundable if the booking is not canceled within 24 hours.

Lucy The Elephant Tour Experience

Tours to the interiors of Lucy the Elephant start on the hind legs where visitors show their tickets and enter the "belly" of this monstrous inanimate being.

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A wooden staircase inside Lucy's legs leads up to a room with beautiful upholstery that belies that it's an "elephant's belly." The room's walls have paintings, doors, and windows with great outside views and a curved ceiling.

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The room's tiny staircases are crafted intricately with glossy varnished wooden newels and handrails. A door in the room opens up to a staircase leading up to howdah on Lucy the elephant's back. From the howdah, visitors get great views of Margate City and the vast, blue waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.

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Interesting Facts About Lucy The Elephant

  • On July 20, 1970, when Lucy the Elephant was relocated to its present location, the Margate City Mayor then Marin Bloom proclaimed the day Lucy's day.
  • Every year its birthday is celebrated on a Saturday closest to the date when she was relocated.
  • During its construction, its features were modeled on a male Asian elephant though today it is considered a female.
  • Lafferty built two more elephant-shaped buildings but today only Lucy is still "healthy and surviving."
  • During the prohibition era cohorts of rum runners lit Lucy the Elephant red to warn those in the ocean when it wasn't safe and green when it was safe to smuggle in the rum.

Lucy The Elephant Admission Hours And Fees

Lucy the Elephant's exterior is undergoing construction as of September 2022, and the grounds are closed. She is obscured by scaffolding but a guided, modified tour is being offered to visit her "belly" during construction.

  • Hours: 10 am to 5 pm on weekdays and to 8 pm on weekends
  • Cost: Adults (Ages 13 and over) $8.50, Children (Ages 3 to 12) $4:00, Free for children under 2 years
  • Contact: email or phone: (609) 823-6473