Enticement: Trump and the 80s Transformation of Atlantic City
Enticement: Trump and the 80s Transformation of Atlantic City is an exhibition of photographs by American photographer Janet Greco that took place in Barcelona during March and April 2016.
The photographs correspond to the legalization of casino gambling in Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the time that Donald Trump, billionaire real estate magnate and current U.S. presidential front-runner began purchasing properties there. Once a glorious seaside resort, Trump opened his first casino on the Boardwalk in 1984.
The 1980s were boom times for the casinos, with a third of the US population within three hours commuting distance of “A.C.” (approx. 100 miles south of New York City, and 60 miles east of Philadelphia). Busloads of people were enticed to Atlantic City during the height of the casino era. A typical bus ticket cost around $18 and on arrival visitors were handed the equivalent in quarters (for the slot machines) and coupons to spend in the casinos.
The liquor stores, cafés and sex shops that comprise the nearby urban and suburban landscapes of New York and New Jersey provide a glimpse into an entertainment era before the introduction of the internet and mobile phones.
As Atlantic City was built up as the place to go for fun (and to lose money) the old world charm of this once respectable family resort town went into steep decline. The famous “Million Dollar” and “Steeplechase” oceanfront amusement arcades were transformed into shadows of their former selves. Glitzy oceanfront casinos were introduced on the Boardwalk while one block behind remained slums and the remnants of traditional attractions.
Gambling revived the town. By end of the 1980s it was one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. At the time, besides Las Vegas, Atlantic City was the only place in the U.S. where casino gambling had been legalised. An interesting fact is that the town was the original inspiration for the real estate-inspired board game, “Monopoly”.
Today, the city struggles once again. Four casinos (including Trump Plaza) closed in 2014 and now stand empty, as the previous era´s grand hotels did before them. The new decline comes from the liberalization of gaming laws and the opening of many competing casinos nearby.
Janet Greco began documenting the urban and suburban landscapes of New Jersey and New York City in 1980 as a photojournalism student at Temple University. She is currently pursuing a post-graduate Masters in Photography and Design at Elisava School of Design and Engineering, Barcelona. This exhibition is her first solo show in Barcelona with sixteen limited edition black and white photographs that have never before been published.