Miller Center

Making the Casino Public: Architecture, Space, and the Paradoxes of Atlantic City

Speaker: Bryant Simon
Date: April 30, 2004
Time: 12:00 PM

Bryant Simon is an Associate Professor of History at Temple University.

The following summary excerpt from the paper provides an overview of the talk:

"In the book I’m currently finishing on Atlantic City, I argue that no matter what new
urbanist scholars would have us believe that public space in America is something of
a myth, an illusion really. Only when public spaces are walled off, like they were
during Atlantic City’s heyday, do they, I contend, attract the middle-class crowds.
That’s why, I suggest, Atlantic City fell into decline in the 1960s – it couldn’t exclude
anymore. And over the last two and half decades, the crowds have come back as city
leaders have once again created a wall-off public. So Atlantic City’s history is the
history of this making and remaking of the public, of a succession of undemocratic
public. These public spaces, it is worth noting in this case, were manufactured to
provide fantasy, this is after all a resort town. And architecture – as I want to show
now -- both shapes and reflects this on-going and enduring process of making public
middle-class fantasies."


Colloquium Paper: