This is not about today’s iteration of Steel Pier, rather, this is in honor of everyone who remembers and loved the original Steel Pier in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The original Steel Pier was a true marvel of engineering and invention.

For a nominal, (largely) all-inclusive entrance fee, you could stay all day and watch multiple first-run movies, the water circus, top entertainment acts, and so much more.

There was an attraction owned and managed by The Beck Family called "The Diving Bell."

When you rode the Diving Bell down to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, you typically saw dark greenish/blue ocean water and a lot of seaweed.

It didn’t matter that you couldn’t see much around you.

You went down very slowly and then the operator/announcer would say that coming back up is very different than going down.

It was like lifting off from a spaceship. It was a blastoff. We looked forward to it each and every time. It never got old.

More than 50 years later, I can still clise my eyes and hear the ride operator/announcer say ... "We just returned from a trip to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and we didn't even get wet."

The cadence of that spiel was exactly the same each and every time and it was great every time you heard it.

Here’s a great look at the original diving bell … which now sits in Atlantic City's Gardner’s Basin:

Don Hurley photo.
Don Hurley photo.

As a family, we loved every bit of the Steel Pier and we got our money's worth. It was always an all day adventure.

We also loved the High Diving Horse. There's been much said and written about alleged cruelty to the animals.

During my on-air interview with George Hamid, Jr., he addressed my questions about this. He confirmed that the horses loved to jump into the water tank. Further, Mr. Hamid said, "when they didn't want to jump... they didn't jump."

Here is a look at this spectacular attraction:

Don Hurley photo.
Don Hurley photo.

On rare occasions, the horses wouldn’t jump and that simply eased their way back down the ramp.

The horse were treated in a very humane manner.

Every day was an epic day at Steel Pier. There never has been anything else like Steel Pier and there never will be, again.

Look at this marquee displaying many of the activities available at Steel Pier on any given day.

Steel Pier 1964 - Photo from the Don P. Hurley Collection.
Steel Pier 1964 - Photo from the Don P. Hurley Collection.

Another really cool Steel Pier fun fact. For many years, WFPG AM Radio broadcasted from a glass booth in front of Steel Pier.

In a great bargain, the rental cost was at the top of every hour, the station Identification would say:

"WFPG Steel Pier Atlantic City." It was rent paid every hour, on the hour. You would never see a deal like this today.

In one of his last interviews ever, I spent an hour on-air with the late, great George Hamid, Jr.

I felt like a child during this surreal hour together. I posed questions and relived some of the happiest memories of my childhood, all at the same time.

My favorite question that I posed that day to Mr.

Hamid was, "Could Steel Pier exist today exactly as it existed then?"

Mr. Hamid didn't hesitate ... he answered emphatically, "No." So, I asked why? Mr. Hamid said,

"it would be cost-prohibitive."

Remember, in its heyday, Steel Pier presented the biggest names in show business:

Take Frank Sinatra for example. Sinatra would do 9 performances per-day with The Harry James Orchestra. Imagine that!

Mr. Hamid confirmed that Steel Pier was not the first amusement pier to run eastward from the Boardwalk into and over the Atlantic Ocean.

Steel Pier was Atlantic City's longest, coming in at 1,621 feet, and later would be extended to 2,000 feet.

Steel Pier was built in 1898 at a cost of $200,000. It was the first pier to use steel beams on iron pilings.

It has stood for more than 120 years,

It is my hope that you've enjoyed this walk down Atlantic City memory lane. For so many of us, Steel Pier holds such a special place in our hearts forever.

SOURCES: George Hamid, Jr. & Don Hurley.

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