Aerial view of Absecon Island​.

Absecon Island

Absecon Island is a barrier island along the Jersey Shore of the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of New Jersey, United States of America. The island is home to Atlantic City, Ventnor, Margate, and Longport, all considered resort cities. Absecon has a total population of roughly 57,500 people, the majority of which reside in Atlantic City. 

History Of Absecon Island

Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City, New Jersey

The name Absecon is derived from the native word 'Absegami,' which means little water. Indigenous people were known to live along the Absecon Creek and gave their name to the area. The English were the first known Europeans to settle on Absecon. They were primarily clammers and oyster shuckers, and they used this as their primary source of income. Settlers came to the area for the importance of the land itself, and its prominent position along this coastal waterway, rather than for the fertility of the land - which was minimal. 

Thomas Budd was the first to purchase land on the island in 1695. He acquired the area known as Further Island (which is now Atlantic City).  The first permanent settler on the island was Jeremiah Leeds, who settled on the island in 1785. He was the first to build a cabin, and cleared a field for farming in the area where the current Atlantic City Expressway ends. Columbus Plaza was also once part of the Leeds farm. Many of the homes in the Atlantic City area that predate 1850 were built by descendants of Jeremiah Leeds, and in fact, the first mayor was Jeremiah's son, who took office in 1854. 

In 1819, Dr. Jonathan Pitney visited Absecon. He later felt the area was an excellent location for a health resort. His interest in the area helped to bring the railroad line to the beach and sparked the beginning of Absecon Island's popularity. A second railroad was built in 1877 due to the success of the resort. 

Geography Of Absecon Island

Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City New Jersey
Absecon Island view.

The island is bordered by Absecon Inlet to the north and Great Egg Harbor Inlet to the south. The island is approximately 13 kilometers long and has long sandy beaches and warm waters (especially in July and August). The island is a series of inlets and waterways on its inner coast and on the outer eastern side. Six different road bridges lead to the island, two free roadways and two with tolls, and a rail line that connects the island to Philadelphia on a route that takes approximately one hour. 

Attractions In Absecon Island

Music festivals are popular in the area, most of which take place in outdoor Bader Field. Additionally, seafood festivals, beer festivals, beach bashes, Summer Solstice Parades, multicultural parades, airshows, and the annual 'Paddle Around Absecon Island' event have all been known to take place here, with most of these occurring each year.  

Atlantic City

Atlantic City
Aerial view of Atlantic City in New Jersey. Editorial credit: Mia2you /

Like most of the major cities located on the island, Atlantic City is a resort city. It is known for its beaches, casinos, and extensive boardwalk. Originally a health resort, it is now predominantly high-rise hotels, nightclubs, and gambling facilities. Gambling was legalized in the area in 1976 by popular vote, and the first casino opened here in 1978.Atlantic City is the largest city on the island and has a population of roughly 40,000 people (more than two-thirds of the island's total population). It is the inspiration for the American game Monopoly, with many of the street names being derived from the area. The city has also hosted the Miss America Pageant since 1921. The Absecon Lighthouse can be found at the southeastern end of the island, unlike the many newer hotels and bars such as the Hard Rock Cafe or Bally's Atlantic City Hotel.

Ventnor City

Ventnor City
Aerial view of Ventnor City.

Ventnor City was established in 1903 and has a population of roughly 10,000. The city borders Atlantic City and Margate City. Its main attraction is the boardwalk which runs the entirety of Ventnor City beachfront, some 2.7 kilometers, and connects to the Atlantic City Boardwalk, ending at the border of Margate City.

Margate City

Margate City
Statue of 'Lucy the Elephant' in Margate City. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

Margate City is smaller, with a population of some 6,000 people. Margate is a small area that reaches roughly eight blocks across from the Atlantic Ocean to the bay. It is a highly popular Jersey Shore area and attracts many visitors in the summer months. The city is also the home of the famous "Lucy the Elephant," a 20-meter high wooden elephant structure that sits along the waterfront. The Marven Gardens neighborhood is also located here, as made famous through the American version of Monopoly. LongportLongport was founded in 1898 and has a population of fewer than 1,000 people. This area of Absecon Island is popular for surfing and water sports, and various rental shops can be found along the beach. Though once a bustling gambling and resort city, the area has seen a decline in both permanent populations and visitors due to the increasing growth and popularity of competing cities such as Las Vegas. Still, the island continues to be a vacation hotspot for entertainment and beach lovers looking for a change of pace just outside the big city. 


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