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Lucy the Elephant, Margate, New Jersey, USA

This kind, well-loved historical monument is a six-storey elephant-shaped example of novelty architecture, constructed of wood frame and tin sheeting in 1882 by South Atlantic City landowner James Vincent Lafferty in Margate City, New Jersey, 3.2 km south of Atlantic City. Lafferty, a 25-year-old engineer, wanted to establish a similarly impressive landmark and sense of place for his own new development in South Atlantic City. Originally intended to encourage real-estate investment on the Jersey Shore, Lucy the Elephant has been, at one time or another, a restaurant, a tavern, a house and a tourist attraction. The idea of an animal-shaped building was innovative, and in 1882 the U.S. Patent Office granted Lafferty a patent giving him the exclusive right to make, use or sell animal-shaped buildings for seventeen years. Lucy the Elephant, a unique example of the eccentric architecture of the late Victorian age, stands 19.7m high, 18.3m long, and 5.5m wide, weighs about 90 tons, and is made of nearly one million pieces of wood. She has tusks, which is a characteristic feature of male Asian elephants. In the first few years following her construction she was referred to as a male; however she is now generally considered to be female. The amazing elephant building was the first of three Lafferty constructed. The largest, a gargantuan, twelve-storеy structure twice as large as Lucy, called the "Elephantine Colossus", was erected in the center of the Coney Island amusement park, New York, and later burned down. The third Lafferty built elephant, slightly smaller than Lucy, was "the Light of Asia," erected as the centerpiece of another Lafferty land sale program in South. It was torn down too, and only Lucy survived into the next century. She was moved and refurbished as a result of a "Save Lucy" campaign in 1970 and received designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1976. Lucy was struck by lightning for the first time in Spring 2006; the tips of the tusks became blackened. In November 2006, Lucy was prominently featured in an advertisement campaign for Proformance Insurance. Lucy was also featured in the show Life After People in 2009. Today on the site you can take tours and learn about Lucy's unique architecture and her history and get to climb a spiral staircase through her insides all the way up to the howdah on her back, providing a spectacular 360° view of the surrounding shore area.

By Lilit Khalatyan,


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