Last edited 11 Jan 2021

Lucy the Elephant



[edit] Introduction

Lucy the Elephant, originally named Elephant Bazaar, is a six storey building in the seaside town of Margate, New Jersey. The structure was built by James V. Lafferty, Jr in 1882 to attract economic development to the area.

Lafferty would invite real estate investors into Lucy’s uppermost carriage (or howdah) to enjoy the panoramic view of nearby Atlantic City and the Atlantic Ocean. He would also point out surrounding plots of land that could be purchased by potential investors.

[edit] Becoming Lucy

Philadelphia architects William Free and J. Mason Kirby were hired to design the structure based on Lafferty’s patented plans. The completed structure required roughly one million pieces of timber and was covered in 12,000 square feet of tin. It stands 19.7m high, 18.3m long and 5.5m wide and weighs approximately 90 tons.

Lucy-USpatent268503 1882.jpg

The Elephant Bazaar was given the name ‘Lucy’ after it was sold in 1887 to Anton Gertzen of Philadelphia. Over the years, Lucy was used as a restaurant, office building, cottage and pub (which closed during Prohibition).

[edit] Lucy today

Time had taken its toll on Lucy, and in the 1960s, she was scheduled for demolition. A campaign to save her was successful, and she was refurbished and moved to a location a short distance from her original site. She was hit by a lightning strike in 2006 that discoloured her tusks.

Lucy has continued to attract tourists to the area. In 2020, Lucy became an Airbnb property (the only National Historic Landmark available through the hosting service) for a limited number of stays. Even when booked, Lucy is still open for tours.

--Heidi Schwartz

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