Steel Pier Theatre & Steel Pier Ocean Theatre

1000 Boardwalk,
Atlantic City, NJ 08401

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1953 photo courtesy of Larry Erhart.

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The Steel Pier Theatre was opened in 1898, and seated 1,200. It was listed on its own in the 1926 edition of Film Daily Yearbook. By the 1931 edition of F.D.Y. the Steel Pier Theatre is listed with 2,000 seats, and the Steel Pier Ocean Theatre is listed with 1,400 seats. It was closed in 1979. The site is now an amusement park.

Contributed by Chris1982

Recent comments (view all 46 comments)

Mikeoaklandpark on June 18, 2017 at 8:57 pm

And now a page from our “Sunday Morning” Almanac: June 18th, 1898, 119 years ago today — the day Atlantic City, N.J., opened its famous Steel Pier, with Annie Oakley in person as the headliner.

Great segment on CBS Sunday morning today about the Pier

Loaded with amusements and attractions, the Steel Pier was the centerpiece of the jam-packed beach scene that Thomas Edison captured on film in 1901. The pier featured diving horses, bears on bicycles, and tiny cars that spun in midair, and acrobats galore. The pier hosted some of the very early Miss America pageants as well.

It also was the stage for some of the biggest entertainers of the day. The Three Stooges ogled a bathing beauty in this 1938 color short of dubious political correctness. In 1958, Ricky Nelson performed for a Steel Pier record crowd of 44,000-plus.

Eventually, however, changing times and vacation habits caught up with Atlantic City’s Steel Pier; it closed in 1978.

And then, in 1982, came WORSE: The main building of the Steel Pier was destroyed in a suspicious fire that raged for more than six hours.

There were no serious injuries, but a fire official said that the Steel Pier’s career was ended.

Not quite, as it turns out.

The Steel Pier has been rebuilt with new rides and amusements — an echo of the original pier’s claim to be “The Showplace of the Nation.”

Mikeoaklandpark on June 18, 2017 at 9:02 pm

Photo added from segment of CBS Sunday morning showing that the Pier currently as an amusement park. The bio above says it’s the Taj Mahal. Which is correct?

walterk on June 19, 2017 at 2:03 am

The Taj Mahal was on the other side of the boardwalk, connected to the Steel Pier by a bridge. The Pier was for many years owned by the Taj Mahal, but leased to a family who eventually purchased it in 2011. More information here.

Mikeoaklandpark on June 19, 2017 at 2:31 am

Walter K thank you. What awesome news. That was a major part of my childhood in the 60’s

Cinedelphia on June 19, 2017 at 3:23 am

I really appreciate all the info re the Pier. It was also a big part of my growing up in Atlantic City and Ventnor in the 60’s.

Mikeoaklandpark on June 19, 2017 at 4:06 pm

Here is a copy of the article Walter K referenced.

The World-Famous

Steel Pier

Steel Pier featured many entertainment attractions, such as The Diving Bell, The Water Circus, The Marine Ballroom, Movie Theatres, The General Motors Exhibit, Midway Games, Tony Grant’s Stars of Tomorrow and the famous Diving Horse.

The Steel Pier has a long and colorful history. It was once considered the greatest entertainment venue in the United States. First opened to the public in 1898, Steel Pier originally debuted as a theater, but expanded to include attractions, rides, and corporate exhibits.

Steel Pier featured every great entertainer of their day from Frank Sinatra to Al Jolson to The Beatles. Steel Pier truly was the “Showplace of the Nation.”Steel Pier and The Diving Horse were featured in a Disney movie titled, Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken. This was the story of Sonia Carver and her life as a rider on the Famous Diving Horses.

The Steel Pier has been rebuilt many times over its history, including once by Mayor Bader, whose name has been made famous by the recent HBO Series, Boardwalk Empire. Steel Pier featured many colorful showmen owners, such as Frank Gravatt, George Hamid and Donald Trump.

Trump’s plans for Atlantic City and Steel Pier were never realized. During Trump’s ownership, the Steel Pier was leased to the Catanoso family, who continued the entertainment tradition operating under tumultuous ownership conditions for almost twenty years. In August 2011, the Catanoso family and a group of investors purchased the Steel Pier, its buildings, and the bridge connecting the boardwalk to the Taj Mahal. The Catanoso group has embarked on a multi-year plan to restore the Pier to its former glory and make it once again, “The Showplace of the Nation.”

walterk on June 19, 2017 at 6:30 pm

Mikeoaklandpark, that piece is from the history page at the Steel Pier website. Its information page says the Pier is “located near the Taj Mahal”. Further down that page it also mentions that it is “located across the Boardwalk from four of the largest hotels in the World: Resorts International and The Taj Mahal.”

By the way, the Taj Mahal closed last year and was recently purchased by Hard Rock International. They are currently renovating the property and will reopen it as the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino next summer.

The description in the overview would be more accurate if it were to say the site is now an amusement park.

Mikeoaklandpark on June 19, 2017 at 8:16 pm

I agree Walter K.I find it exciting that they want to rebuild it to the glory days of the past.

CT, Please update the overview to show it is now an amusement park.

davidcoppock on June 20, 2017 at 2:11 pm

Was this place possibly in the American version of Monopoly?

Mikeoaklandpark on June 21, 2017 at 7:05 pm

Actually David all of Atlantic City was. Overview info has been updated. Thanks CT.

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