Lucy the Elephant

Lucy is an example of zoomorphic architecture, that is, a building shaped like an animal. The concept for an animal shaped building was deemed innovative & unique, and now no one else could build one unless they paid him royalties. Read more about Lucy at the official Lucy the Elephant page or at a Lucy fan page (which tells much more about Lucy then the official page…)

James Lafferty owned a desolate stretch of sand dunes and scrub pine at the Jersey shore. In 1881 constructed Lucy the Elephant as a way to generate interest in the area, and sell real estate. It worked & people came from all around to marvel at the gigantic beast. It was deemed a success, so Lafferty built two more. A twelve-story structure twice as large as Lucy, the “Elephantine Colossus” was located in the center of Coney Island. The third elephant was slightly smaller than Lucy, was called “the Light of Asia,” and helped draw crowds to Cape May The Colossus burned down and the Light of Asia was torn down, leaving Lucy the only survivor.

Lucy is 6 stories tall, weights 90 tons and is made from tin & wood. It can be seen from as far out as 8 miles at sea. It originally housed a bar, which closed during Prohibition, then reopened when the laws were changed. As people began to travel further from home via air, destinations such as the shore faded, and Lucy no longer drew the crowds as she once had. Lucy fell into disrepair, and by the 1960s, was a slated to be torn down. In 1969, the “Save Lucy Committee” was formed by the Margate Civic Association. Lucy was moved to beachfront land owned by the city and was designated as a historic site. Fundraisers have since been conducted, which have allowed Lucy to be fully restored. Tours are conducted routinely for a nominal fee.



One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Gregg on February 12, 2014 at 5:59 PM

    I was there as a kid on vacation in the sixties. It was free to go in. She was in very bad shape at the time. Memoirs of my childhood. THANKS! A JERSEY KID STILL AT HEART. Gregg


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