Yes, there was once a time when Atlantic City was the poster child for good behavior.
In 1919, Prohibition went into effect. But Atlantic City had already embraced the anti-alcohol ethos long before.
“There was a time,” said Sam again as the boom swung toward Spain, “when seven out of ten men got on my boat here with flasks in their pockets, and on Sundays the crowds I took out were half loaded before they got on and jagged to the scuppers when I landed them. Within late years, long before they put over prohibition on us, not one passengers in twenty — yes, not one in fifty — that I carry has anything on his hip, and on Sunday I do not carry one intoxicated man or woman in a hundred. Is there any rum on board now?” he asked, negotiating a roller that looked like Davy Jones’s own private make.
“The American people vindicated again!” said Sam, twirling the wheel a la roulette.
To be fair, Atlantic City wasn’t really “Atlantic City” yet — the first legal casino wouldn’t open there until 1978.
The first legal casino in Las Vegas, if you’re wondering, opened in 1931.
Sobriety Just Grew, Without Awaiting Dry Laws: Look at the All-American Seaside Resort, for Example: Atlantic City Became a Mirror of Decency Before It Knew Prohibition Sobriety Just Grew
Published: Sunday, July 20, 1919