History of the Game Monopoly in Atlantic City

Atlantic City Monopoly

Monopoly Game Board – Atlantic City, NJ

Atlantic City and Monopoly, Perfect Together.

There have been many accounts of who actually invented the game of Monopoly.  The bottom line is that  Charles Darrow is best known for creating an Atlantic City variation of “Monopoly“, the  original game was called “The Landlords Game”.  Darrow was a salesman of heating and  engineering equipment but lost his job during the great depression, triggered by the stock  market crash of 1929.  He decided to create a handmade versions of the game and sell copies to his close friends. He launched Monopoly in 1933 and it quickly became a huge  success, so he decided to patent his invention. What’s truly amazing, is that today, the value of the properties on the Monopoly game board reflect the actual condition of the real streets in Atlantic City, NJ with Boardwalk and Park Place being the nicest and Mediterranean and Baltic being the slums.

Atlantic City became the inspiration for game inventor Charles Darrow’s “Monopoly” game because of his fondness for childhood vacations spent in the beach-side city. He often played a game called “The Landlords Game” with his friends, came up with the idea to apply Atlantic City to the existing game.  Darrow was an unemployed Philadelphian at the time of the game’s invention, and most of the “real estate” for sale in the game is based on actual streets in Atlantic City, New Jersey, with one in-famous  exception.

“Marvin Gardens” in the Monopoly Board Game is a misspelling of “Marven Gardens”, a suburb of Atlantic City. “Marven” gets its name as a hybrid of “MARgate City” and  “VENtnor City”, and is not just an odd spelling of the popular male name “Marvin”.  Hasbro, the game’s current owner, made an official apology to residents of Marven Gardens, perhaps as a publicity move, in the late 1990s. While Charles Darrow cannot be given full credit for inventing the game alone, he is a kind of a folk hero to many, especially inventors trying to create the next great phase!   Biggest lesson to learn, the first one to Patent and Trademark wins.

Atlantic City’s connection in the Monopoly game allowed for the nickname, “Monopoly City” and brought extra attention to the Jersey Shore, a popular vacation destination on the Atlantic Ocean. Monopoly landmarks, photos, and plaques are located around Atlantic City and are dedicated to the game and its “inventor” Charles Darrow. The city gladly embraces its Monopoly heritage, and perhaps some tourists include Atlantic City on their vacations simply because of the Monopoly Game connection. Unfortunately for Atlantic City, newer versions of the game have completely abandoned the once prestigious, New Jersey Shore Town.

The royalties from the sales of Monopoly made Darrow a multi millionaire. He retired at age 46 and lived the rest of his life in Bucks County, Pennsylvania about one hour from Atlantic City, enjoying a world travel and became a collector of exotic orchids.  Many families may not be aware of the interesting history of the game Monopoly, but the  game continues to be enjoyed from one generation to the next.

Monopoly Game Facts:

  • The Monopoly Game Board consists of forty spaces; 28 properties (22 colored streets, 4 railroads and 2 utilities), 3 Chance spaces, 3 Community Chest spaces, a Luxury Tax space, an Income Tax space, and the 4 corner squares: GO, In Jail / Just Visiting, Free Parking, and go to Jail.
  • Monopoly Railroad facts; Short Line is believed to refer to the Shore Fast Line, a streetcar line that served Atlantic City and Philadelphia. A booklet included in the 1935 edition states that the four railroads that served Atlantic City in the mid 1930s were the Jersey Central, the Seashore Lines, the Reading Railroad, and the Pennsylvania Railroad.
  • The longest MONOPOLY® game ever played was 1,680 hours long, that is 70 straight  days!
  • Over 250 million sets of the MONOPOLY® game have been sold worldwide.
  • The character locked behind the bars is called Jake the Jailbird. Officer Edgar Mallory sent him to jail.
  • The total amount of money in a standard MONOPOLY® game is $15,140.
  • In Cuba, the game had a strong following until Fidel Castro took power and ordered all known sets destroyed.

Monopoly Game Board Features Atlantic City Streets

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4 comments for “History of the Game Monopoly in Atlantic City

  1. October 20, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Charles Darrow did NOT “invent” Monopoly. He did not even “create” the Atlantic City version. Lets go back to 1902 when we have our first reference to The Landlord’s Game that you initially mentioned. This was patented on January 5th. 1904 by Lizzie Magie, a Quaker woman, who intended the game to be an educational game enlightening players as to the wrongs of monopolies. The game developed within the Quaker community and Magie acquired a second patent (patent no 1,509,312) in 1924. This patent number actually appears on early Parker Brothers’ editions of Monopoly from 1935 through to about 1941 as a single patent or part of a duel patent number.

    On 1st. January, 1933 Darrow and his wife were introduced to the game when they attended a Monopoly party with friends. Darrow claimed that he liked the game so much that he asked for a concise set of rules. He also made a copy of the board, including copying the incorrect spelling of Marven Gardens that his Quaker friends had incorrectly written when they drew up the board. Darrow then started to produce the game fraudulently claiming it as his own invention and copyrighting it in 1933. He never again spoke to the Quaker group that he had learnt the game from.

    Having bought the rights to the game from Darrow, Parker Brothers discovered the real history of Monopoly and had to buy the rights to other games to avoid court cases being made against them. Magie received a mere $500 for her 1924 patent of The Landlord’s Game.

    For a full history of Monopoly I suggest you read two books, ‘Monopolygate’ by Ralph Anspach for the anti-Parker Brothers’ version and ‘Monopoly, The World’s Most Famous Game and How it got that Way’ by Phillip E. Orbanes from the pro-Parker Brothers’ prespective.

    The 5th Anniversary Monopoly Revolution Edition with an ATM machine at the centre of the round board, removing the need for a banker. This first appeared at the New York Toy Fair back in the spring but wasn’t released until September in the UK and the fall in the US. However, some countries produced a Here and Now electronic version of Monopoly a couple of years ago that used a debit card system, so the idea isn’t all together new.
    As regards the round board, Charles Darrow actually produced a hand made round board in 1933 when he was playing with the idea of marketing Monopoly. This can be seen at the Forbes Galleries in New York at the moment but I have reason to believe that this collection is to be auctioned off in the near future.
    Monopoly Revolution Edition has in fact split Monopoly enthusiasts into two camps, the traditionalists who feel that it is just a gimmick and prefer the conventional game and the, dare I say, younger set, who think it looks cool and contest that it eliminates the element of cheating by the banker. I position myself well and truely in the former camp, handling money, albeit play money, is part of growing up and developing mathmatical skills, but of course I am just an old fogey.

  2. Rita C Austin
    June 26, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Is the original game still made & if so where can I purchase it. I live at 224 E Ammann Rd, Unit 1, Bulverde, TX 78163, north of San Antonio, TX. I have not looked at a game in a long time, is the thimble still part of the game pieces? Thanks Rita

  3. laura
    March 27, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    i have a monopoly box with pieces that are wooden house ect what would be the year of when they were wooden parts. i do not have the board but the small monopoly box with the vintage parts, is there an interest and a value laura

  4. Atlantic City Guy
    March 27, 2013 at 6:12 pm

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