It is in honor of all who remember the original Steel Pier in Atlantic City.
I was just thinking of the World Famous Steel Pier in Atlantic City, owned by the legendary George Hamid family.
Please come with me and take this pleasant walk through the past together.
The Original Steel Pier was a real gem. For a nominal admission fee, you can stay all day and watch several first-run movies, the aquatic circus, the best entertainment shows, and more.
There was an attraction owned and operated by the Beck family called “The Diving Bell”.
As a family, we loved every moment.
When you took the diving suit down to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, you would usually see greenish / dark blue seawater and lots of algae.
It was okay, it was really great. You went down very slowly then the operator / announcer looks like going up is very different from going down.
It was like taking off from a spaceship. It was a takeoff. We looked forward to it every time. He never got old.
50 years later, I still hear the ride operator / announcer say… “We just got back from a trip to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and we haven’t even gotten wet.
The cadence of this spiel was exactly the same every time and it was awesome every time you heard it.
We also loved the High Diving Horse. Much has been said and written about alleged cruelty to animals.
During my on-air interview, Mr. Hamid answered my question on this subject. He confirmed that the horses liked to jump in the water tank. In addition, Mr Hamid said: “when they didn’t want to jump… they didn’t jump”.
On rare occasions, the horses did not jump and they easily came down the ramp. I always thought it was good in a human way and that the horses were always very well looked after and properly cared for.
In 1964, The Osmonds appeared on Steel Pier and they were very popular. Check out this marquee displaying many activities available at Steel Pier each day.
Every day was an epic day at Steel Pier. There has never been anything else like Steel Pier and there never will be.
Another really cool fun fact from Steel Pier. For many years, WFPG AM Radio broadcast from a glass booth in front of Steel Pier.
In a good deal, the rental cost was at the top every hour, the Identification station would say, “WFPG Steel Pier Atlantic City.” It was rent paid hourly, by the hour. You would never see a deal like this today.
In one of his last interviews, I spent an hour on the air with the late George Hamid, Jr.
I felt like a child during this surreal hour together. I asked questions and relived some of the happiest memories of my childhood, all at the same time.
My favorite question that I asked Mr. Hamid that day was: “Could Steel Pier exist today exactly as it did then?” “
Mr. Hamid did not hesitate… he answered categorically: “No. So, I asked why? Mr Hamid said: “It would be prohibitive. “
Remember, in its heyday, Steel Pier featured the biggest names in show business:
Take Frank Sinatra for example. Sinatra would do 9 performances a day with the Harry James Orchestra. Imagine that!
The economies of scale and the costs of the modern era for high-level entertainment would make this impossible. Add to that the aquatic circus performers, movies, diving horse and many other expensive items.
Steel Pier was so big at one time that you were considered unsuccessful in show business until you performed at Steel Pier.
Atlantic City’s Steel Pier has hosted thousands of performers, show business figures and circus acts.
Ray Charles, Abbott and Costello (working together for the first time, Diana Ross, Dick Clark, The Rolling Stones, The Three Stooges, “March King” John Philip Sousa signed an exclusive Steel Pier contract, to name a few. -a.
In my final interview with Mr. Hamid, he discussed the choice between reserving Elvis Presley or Ricky Nelson.
Believe it or not, even after meeting “The Colonel,” Hamid chose Ricky Nelson over Elvis.
Ricky Nelson brought the biggest day of presence in Steel Pier history. There were so many people on the pier that it became known “like the day Steel Pier rocked”.
That’s right, the pier was rocking back and forth. People thought the pier might collapse.
Legendary broadcaster Joe Grady, half of the Grady and Hurst crew never returned to Steel Pier after that day.
This was Ricky Nelson’s first concert and it took place in the summer of 1958. A Steel Pier record 47,000 people attended several shows.
Check out this photo, from the Don P. Hurley private collection. With Ricky Nelson headlining over the Three Stooges. Here in Atlantic City.
I also spoke with Mr. Hamid about the origin (construction) of Steel Pier. Here are the fascinating details Mr. Hamid shared with us on the air:
Mr Hamid confirmed that Steel Pier was not the first amusement pier to run east from the boardwalk in and over the Atlantic Ocean.
Steel Pier was the longest in Atlantic City, measuring 1,621 feet, and would later 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 piles. It has been around for over 120 years,
Hope you enjoyed this walk in the past. For many of us, Steel Pier holds such a special place in our hearts forever.
IMPORTANT PERSONAL NOTE: I want to take a moment of personal privilege. This is something I haven’t shared publicly until now. We didn’t have a lot of money when I was young.
We never felt poor. We had wonderful parents and we received all that was important in life.
As a child, Steel Pier was just what we needed. You have received maximum pleasure, for a reasonable and affordable amount of money.
I want to thank my sister Karen (6) who always took us on a steel pier, big adventure and other cool places when Don and I were just little boys.
I didn’t know it then, but as I got older I realized how selfless it was on Karen’s part. Most girls Karen’s age wouldn’t have had such a good time with their little brothers.
I spent my adult years “spoiling” Karen whenever I could.