The end of 2018 marks my departure from Atlantic City, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on my experience. I moved in the beginning of 2018 to be closer to school. The first problem I ran into was finding a place, more specifically, a safe place. I previously visited a friend who lived in Warwick Condominium and it seemed to be the best, so I checked their availability. Real estate agents also recommended it as the cheaper alternatives I found were dangerous according to them which I confirmed upon my inspection as there had been cases of thugs breaking in and violence. Funny enough, I can’t seem to find the article of the incidents which makes me suspicious of the city trying to hide its crime. Anyway, I took a studio at Warwick, but it was ridiculously expensive – $950 for a studio. The agent got it down to $900, and shortly after, I negotiated to bring it to $800, but still, for a very small studio that was originally meant for a short stay vacation, it was still pricey. In a way, I’m thankful, because these days you’re lucky to find that in the Garbage state of New Jersey.
Rent typically starts at $1400 and up, that is for a livable space that has reasonable accommodations. Everyone in America is so obsessed with roughing it out in the slum yet praise their country as being the best first world nation. A quick visit to AC, NYC, or any city for that matter, will prove otherwise. After I got settled in, I went to Nizam’s Indian buffet in Galloway and I met the head chef. He said he used to work at the once famous Taj Mahal, but ever since it closed down, he worked there to support himself.
So after living in AC for a year, here’s my straightforward opinion –
The City is a Complete Dump
Upon driving the beaten up roads filled with pot holes, jaywalkers, and filth, it quickly became apparent that this place was on par with a third-world country. People generally fell into two categories – grumpy minorities and rich white folks. The minorities were actually cool, but the rich folks, primarily from New York and Florida, had this arrogant vibe to them like you’re beneath them and should stand aside to make way for them. I didn’t make any friends with the locals since most keep to themselves. Some of the residents were friendly, mainly the single middle-aged women who wanted to seduce me. There was one guy who I like a lot and that was the Jamaican gate guard. We hit it off quick and I learned that he used to be on the DEA and he showed me old pictures of busts which was cool. We talked about a lot of things ranging from the politics to extraterrestrials, but he was a good gentlemen. Unfortunately, he was fired for allegedly stealing but strangely enough, when I tried calling him on his cell, his number was no longer in service. It’s as if he just disappeared. When I asked another gate-men he simply said he was no longer with us. Guess that’s how it is in the city.
Drugs, hookers, and bums fill the streets of the once desired attraction. Tourism has flocked elsewhere as no one is interested anymore in the once famous AC Boardwalk, casinos, and nightlife. Instead, the city has become more of a refuge for retires who have bought up the entire city and make substantial profits off of vacation rentals to tourist. More and more landlords are selling their properties because they are fed up with the politics and laws which put them at a disadvantage, causing them unnecessary hassle and monetary loss. The only thing that’s left are the remnants of casinos and the inhabitants who are too poor to move out. As the chef from Nizam’s told me, “You’re the first person I’ve met to into Atlantic City, most people want to move out.”
Now I know why.
Atlantic City is a ghost town, as stated time and time again by many. Building more casinos desperately trying to reboot the beachfront gambling experience is not going to suddenly spike tourism. The city is a dump, a total slum, and no one is addressing the real problem – bums. Ever since the bum demographic moved in, the city lost its reputation. It used to be a place of high class, but ever since diversity infected the area, namely unqualified Blacks and Hispanics looking to win it big in the city, the economy has steadily plundered, speaking of which –
The Economy Sucks
There are no jobs, a common complaint of many as the unemployment rate is 6.6% as of this year, higher than the national average. The only employment option available are the casinos, some of which are no longer in operation, which appeals to only a few professions namely hospitality and marketing with a few gaming engineers here and there. I applied for marketing at Caesars and for a candidate of my qualifications, I should have received better offers, but apparently having an MBA puts you on the same boat with a minority who shows up to interview in street clothes. Casino jobs start at $11 bucks an hour, who can live on that these days? You also have to pay a ninety-dollar fee to get licensed. Don’t tell me America is a first world nation when one of its famous cities pays this slave wage. Security basically does nothing as the insides of casinos are filled with street bums high on drugs and prostitutes who freely walk around looking for their next prospect. It’s so in your face you wonder where are police? Well, it seems they’re only interested in writing parking tickets. So long as there’s no shootout going on, they’re content, but it’s hurting the city.
Stockton University’s Presence in Atlantic City is Not Going to Improve its Economy
Stockton originally started at the Mayflower hotel in Atlantic City and eventually moved to the pinewoods in Galloway. It has been hellbent on reestablishing its presence back to AC. In their haste, they’ve made a few mistakes, the most significant one being done by former president Herman Saatkamp who signed a deal to buy a former casino allegedly knowing about the clause that forbids the building to be used for anything other than a casino. This led to the school selling the property and the dismissal of Saatkamp. Later they purchased another building what used to be a high school and transformed it into the new campus. Their whole pitch was beachfront college, something very few schools can sell, but there’s a problem. The dorm building is across the cafeteria and campus building where classes are. This has made traffic more difficult at the four-way intersection as now students are crossing the busy streets. There is also The Enclave, an apartment complex right next to them who has become overshadowed by the school since Stockton hogs the traffic making it difficult for residents. I have eaten at their cafeteria and must say it’s a big disappointment as the food selections are limited and overly priced. Nobody seems to care about Stockton in AC anyway, because there’s nothing to do. Even students are stuck as the beach scene quickly wears off. You can only go to bars, casinos, and have beach parties for only so long.
Gambling also doesn’t have a bright future during a struggling economy especially in New Jersey. Atlantic City also has a big corruption problem, something that is kept under the rug. The only thing Stockton can provide is more social workers to help the screwed up population there, but that’s not going to improve the economy. It’s only going to make the situation worse, because the school is already causing nearby residents problems and there are simply just no jobs available other than in hospitality for a failing casino market, and in social work for an increasing mentally ill population. Sure, there may be a temporary spike, but it will only be just that – temporary. A city’s economy cannot boom solely on more social workers and gambling, it needs some ingenuity and that is severely lacking at both Stockton and Atlantic City.
From what I’ve seen, Stockton is becoming the next Rutgers, and what Rutgers did to New Brunswick, Camden, and Newark, Stockton will do to Atlantic City. All of these cities at Rutgers are completely bankrupt, it’s as if the university bought the entire city and look how it ended up. New Brunswick is a total dump – garbage, thugs, homelessness, just filth everywhere you look yet Rutgers advertisers the city to students like it’s a good thing. Now, Stockton is doing the same to Atlantic City, so mark my words it will turn the already run down slump do amazon jungle swamp filled with predators and zero opportunity. Selling the idea that it will promote economic growth is just nonsense, all nonsense based on nothing.
Conclusion – Atlantic City is just a Hype
And a disappointing one at that. My friend and I were very disappointed when we went to the Tropicana’s buffet and just the overall experience. We waited in line for too long on a Sunday night and when it was finally our turn, some Black bum who clearly was on drugs, offered to “pay for our meal”. My friend gave the employees that look to do something, and I was also surprised that none of them did anything even when the manager clearly saw what this bum was doing. We had to shout to the employee that he was not with us, and even after the man continued to try and scam other customers in line, security was never called. Upon being seated inside, we asked the waiter what was covered since we had already paid over $30 a pop. He responded all of the food, but not him. I don’t remember if we left a tip, that remark ticked us off since he clearly was expecting a generous tip. Waiters are supposed to earn their tip, not demand it and this guy didn’t deserve it as he did nothing. He never asked how we were doing nor took our plates when we were done and went for more food. Like I said, we were very disappointed.
The casinos, whether it being Golden Nugget, Balle’s, or Caesars, are pretty much mega malls, the only difference being you can gamble. There is nothing really much to it other than blowing money and prostitution. My friend and I laughed when we saw a short Bangladeshi looking guy in front of us, with a girl who was clearly out of his league, negotiate and suddenly she locked arms with the guy. He started dancing while walking like he was the man. We passed by an Asian pimp standing with a Russian looking blonde who looked scared. My buddy, a Christian, met eyes with him and he gave him the nod to initiate a deal…we just continued walking. I was surprised at how many hookers there were at Havana Tower since there were families with children. Oh well, guess that’s what the culture is there.
As the year comes to an end, so does my time at AC. The only good thing I can say is being able to walk to the beach and enjoy the waves and calming breeze when no one is around. But other than that, there’s nothing much good to say. The whole “Do AC” thing is a punch line for suckers. After living there for a year and experiencing the nightlife, casinos, and beaches during all four seasons, I recommend people to avoid AC. The correct slogan should be – DON’T Do AC.
Image credits – R. Hoffmeister & G.S. Luthra