Lucy the Margate Elephant located at 9200 Atlantic Avenue in Margate City, New Jersey is open during the months of September and October from eleven until four Monday through Friday. On weekends the elephant is open from ten to five. Admission chargers are $6 for adults, $3 for children with kids two years of age and under for free.
The elephant is a six story structure made out of tin and wood during 1882. James V. Lafferty built the structure to attract tourists to the area and make real estate sales. The structure is just two miles from Atlantic City. The United States Patent Office gave Lafferty the patent granting exclusive rights to make and sell or use building shaped as animals for a total of seventeen years.
There were actually a number of buildings shaped as elephants built by Lafferty. The first which became Lucy the Elephant during 1900 was originally known as Elephant Bazaar in South Atlantic City. The name of South Atlantic City was later changed to Margate. Lucy is sixty-five feet high, eighteen feet wide and sixty feet long weighing approximately ninety tons. Lucy the Margate Elephant had almost a million pieces of wood used in her creation. The elephant was sold during 1887. The shape of the head gives her the appearance of an Asian Elephant even though she has tusks which are a trait of the males of the species.
Lucy the Margate Elephant has been a number of things over the years, a cottage, business office restaurant and the last tavern closed during Prohibition. During the 1960's Lucy was due to be demolished because of the state she was in. Edwin T. Carpenter along with citizens from Margate formed the Margate Civic Association in order to keep Lucy the Margate Elephant from being torn down. The Save Lucy Committee was formed by Sylvia Carpenter and Josephine Harron, the committee was given thirty days to move the building or pay for the costs of removal and demolition.
The group succeeded. In 1970 the campaign to save Lucy resulted in the building being moved and fixed. It became a National Historic Landmark during 1976. In 2006 the tips of Lucy's tusks were turned black when the structure was struck by lightning. Donations can still be made to the committee to save Lucy the Margate Elephant to help assist with her upkeep. The facilities have been redone a number of times over the years to ensure that Lucy is in the best condition possible and ensure she can stay open to the public.
There are daily tours given at the elephant which has a museum in the stomach. The main room of the structure has historical exhibits; the walls are not insulated and open providing a view of the buildings framework. Anyone with even a passing interest in elephants or unusual architecture should make it a point to take a tour of Lucy the Margate Elephant if they are ever in the Margate, New Jersey area.