ca. 1896, “The Elephant, So. Atlantic City, N.J.,” by Carraine and Sligo (Chromolithograph mounted on board, 8 3/8 x 11 7/8”, acc. no. 1986.014.002)
Standing six stories tall, a wooden and tin Asiatic elephant is James V. Lafferty’s architectural legacy. Located in what is now Margate City, N.J., just south of Atlantic City, the building has as much of a New Jersey identity as a Philadelphia one.
In 1882, James Lafferty was granted a patent by the U.S. patent office (view here) and began construction on an elephant shaped building with a view from which he intended to sell real estate. Philadelphia architect William Free was contracted to design the building, then dubbed “The Elephant Bazaar.” The elephant immediately became a tourist destination and began appearing on postcards and advertisements promoting Atlantic City. This card is among the ephemera from the early elephant fervor that swept New Jersey. By 1902, the structure was owned by Philadelphian Anton Gertzen, and despite having tusks to distinguish the elephant as male, it was named “Lucy the Elephant” by Gertzen’s daughter-in-law Sophia. The title Lucy has since stuck, and she survives today as a National Historic Landmark to boot.
From the J. Welles Henderson Archives & Library at the Independence Seaport Museum. Follow us on Tumblr!