Atlantic City, from the beginning, was a playground by the sea. For decades the working class flocked to its beachfront hotels, boardwalk promenade, and entertainment piers, a theme park resort where a wholesome veneer thinly masked less virtuous attractions, and belied the political corruption at the heart of the enterprise.
In the growing affluence of post war America, a more mobile public discovered other vacation destinations, and Atlantic City’s sheen faded and its fantasy architecture decayed. In the 1970s city leaders and urban planners were lured by the promise of casino gambling to save the city and restore its lost glamor.
And it worked — for a while. Vast sums of money poured in, jobs were created, and organized crime was kept at bay. Until a new kind of predator arrived in the name of Donald Trump, a fabulously wealthy real estate developer from New York City. That wealth, it turned out, was fed by illicit Russian money, and Trump’s casinos served as money laundering machines of unprecedented scale.
Eventually, all of Trump’s casinos’s failed, but not before he sucked out the lifeblood of Atlantic City leaving thousands jobless, the city bankrupt. But even in the face of such destruction, the city and state government doubled down and promoted an even larger, glitzier casino, the Revel.
It survived barely two years, and now stands empty, a 50-story glass testament to American greed and corruption. In the photograph above of the casino’s north wall, two small houses, vestiges of old Atlantic City, slump precariously in a vacant lot. A tiny American flag flaps in the brisk sea breeze beneath an illusory sky.
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ATLANTIC CITY -- In the Wake of Destruction left by Donald Trump