The History of Lucy, The World’s Greatest Elephant

lucy the elephant margate ventnor tourism
We Love Lucy

From Lucy the Elephant was built by real estate developer, James Lafferty, in 1881, as a gimmick to attract potential buyers to his land holdings along the coast of South Atlantic City (now Margate). Eventually, a popular hotel business was built around Lucy. Presidents and royalty came from around the world to stay at the neighboring Elephant Hotel and climb the stairs to Lucy’s howdah.

During her history, Lucy has survived hurricanes, ocean floods, and even a fire accidentally started by some inebriated party-goers when she served as a tavern. However, by the 1960’s it became apparent there was one disaster Lucy could not overcome – neglect. By that time, the once proud jewel of the South Jersey coast had become an almost hopeless, wretched wreck.

Lucy the Elephant Official Website

Then in 1970, a developer purchased Lucy’s land and intended to build a condominium building on the site. The beach and the ocean could stay – but the elephant had to go!

To the rescue came the Save Lucy Committee. Within weeks, this small concerned group of ordinary citizens had raised enough money to move the entire decaying structure two blocks away to a new site owned by the city. Thirty years and over 1.5 million dollars later, Lucy was completely restored to her original splendor, inside and out.

In 1976, Lucy was designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States government as the oldest surviving example of a unique form of “zoomorphic” architecture, and the oldest “roadside” attraction in America. Today, she stands as the most popular non-gaming attraction in the greater Atlantic City region. She has brought fame to Margate City and is known all over the globe as “The World’s Largest Elephant.”

Lucy the Elephant is located along Margate beach in Josephine Harron Park (named for the co-founder). She is six stories high and is listed on the National Park Registry of Historical Landmarks.

Guided tours through Lucy the Elephant occur every 30 minutes at the top and bottom of the hour. The last tour begins 30 minutes prior to closing. Lucy the Elephant is always available to groups of 10 or more. The park is fenced and contained, making child supervision easy. Picnic tables are on site for eating out-of-doors.

There is NO charge to visit the grounds at Lucy the Elephant or the Gift Shop.  Admission prices for visitors who wish to take the guided tour through Lucy the Elephant are as follows:

  • Adults (Ages 13 and up):  $8.00
  • Children (Ages 3 to 12):  $4.00
  • Children (Ages 2 and under):  FREE

Complimentary admission to members of the US Military with valid ID.

On the tour you’ll learn about Lucy’s unique architecture and her history and you will 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.

Children and families are sure to enjoy visiting the only elephant in the world “you can walk through and come out alive!” We offer convenient hours and of course, Lucy is always available by appointment to be toured by schools & groups.

Visit the Lucy the Elephant Website

Lucy the Elephant

9200 Atlantic Ave
Margate City, NJ 08402

(609) 823-6473

  • May through Mid-June
    • Monday – Friday  11a – 4p  (Last tour 3:30p)
    • Saturday and Sunday  10a – 5p  (Last tour 4:30p)
  • Mid-June through Labor Day
    • Monday – Saturday 10a – 8p  (Last tour 7:30p)
    • Sunday 10a – 5p   (Last tour 4:30p)

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