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John and his wife, Sophia, turned Lucy into a tourist stop and charged 10 cents (about .25 today) to tour her.At some point, Sophia supposedly coined the name ‘Lucy’.But in 1962, Lucy shut down for tours and by 1969, she stood decaying and vulnerable to her greatest foe – a land developer eager to turn her seaside lot into a condominium building.The Gertzen descendants were preparing to sell the land on which Lucy stood.
Today, Lucy is the oldest existent roadside attraction in America and draws around 130,000 visitors each year.The Jersey Shore has long been an attraction for pleasure-seekers.In the late 1800s, it played host to real estate speculators eager to develop the sandy wilds of New Jersey’s Atlantic coast.Lafferty would bring buyers to her howdah, the carriage on top of her back, from which they would gaze across the surrounding landscape rife for development Lucy was conceived by James Vincent de Paul Lafferty Jr, an Irish-American engineer and inventor from Philadelphia.Lafferty thought a giant elephant structure might help boost real estate purchases and tourism in the sandy wilds of what was then called South Atlantic City, five miles down the beach from the burgeoning pleasure capital of Atlantic City.
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One of the Shore’s most beloved residents, a 65-foot-tall elephant, has been there through it all.