Construction History: Summer At The Beach, Part 2

When the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin hotels opened in the 1990s, there was some discussion about their decor, which departed from traditional hotel design with, among other things, a fair amount of figurative ornament and statuary. They were, however, following in a long tradition of summer-resort architecture ranging from overly ornate to bizarre. The buildings above are the 1900 Marlborough Hotel (left) and the 1906 Blenheim Hotel (right) in Atlantic City, which were owned and operated together. Here’s a view of them from the boardwalk:

The Marlborough is itself fantasy architecture, but in a reasonably coherent Queen Anne style. The Blenheim is something else. Wikipedia describes it as Spanish and Moorish, but that’s a stretch. It was, like Luna Park, a seaside fantasy. Unlike Luna Park, it was built to last: it was one of the earliest large hotels with a reinforced-concrete frame, and was for a time the largest reinforced-concrete building in the world in terms of enclosed floors space. It had decorated and exposed concrete walls and terra cotta ornament:

One statement on the appearance of this building is that the computer-graphics recreation of it for Boardwalk Empire (the building was demolished in 1979 and therefore not available for filming) was more staid than the actual building. It’s not often actual architecture is too strange for fiction, but there’s an example.

Beaches are good places for fantasy. We could use more of this.

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