We arrived in Atlantic City from the New York area last December for a Goo Goo Dolls concert in the Trump Plaza. If Atlantic City is supposed to be crowded and full of people this time of night, you wouldn't know it driving down the main roads. The roads are amazingly clean, nicely paved, and smooth as a hot girl's skin. We arrived at night, noticing few cars, if any. And as expected I saw plenty of glamour and glitz.
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We settled down to the parking lot next to Trump Plaza, then headed inside to attend the concert. We arrived at halftime, but the cover band, which I won't name, simply could not compare to the Goo Goo Dolls.
After the concert we settled down to either watch the games and occasionally put money in them, and experience that has been repeated a million times before. At one point I paid $3 to a shoe shiner in the bathroom. Since the casino hotels like Trump Plaza are utterly expensive, we decided to look an inn outside of town.
Of course the casinos were glamorous and unusually neat, but when we left the casino areas however for a drive around, I was shocked by how blighted the surrounding area was. I'm referring to the residential area just inland from the casinos by the boardwalk. Among the main streets are vacant lots, plenty of dilapidated houses and apartments, and the occasional red-brick housing project. Some of them were right next to the casinos entrances. In some street corners I recognized street youths smoking weed and drinking cheap beer. It makes you wonder how these people are getting by in this place at all.
I also saw prostitutes, especially streetwalkers, in the entrance to every casino. When you see a lone woman in a short skirt walking along the casino sidewalks bordering the poor areas... well, I have no need to get into it. They walk around everywhere flashing the you-know-whats to any type of passersby. The more of them I passed by the more I felt I would be lucky getting carjacked rather than having one of the streetwalkers hopping into my car.
If this is what has happened to Atlantic City, I hate to think what Las Vegas is like on a larger scale, especially in the areas surrounding the Strip. So far I haven't been there, and if Atlantic City is any indicator, I've been turned off from going there, at least for the near future.
Clearly the revenue going into these casinos could better be used to improve housing and job conditions for the locals living around the Boardwalk. Either that or raise plenty of new apartment buildings for new residents. The outlying areas beyond the barrier island (Atlantic City sits on a barrier island) were no better. The inn where we stayed in overnight was modest, and the entire strip was strip-mall hell.
As we drove home along the Garden State Parkway, one of my buddies kept cursing out Atlantic City all the way home, for all the same reasons mentioned previously. I can't blame him. I'm not expecting to come back myself for a while. If I do come back, expect me to remain in the casinos and not go anywhere else. It may be expensive in the casinos, but the inner areas are simply not worth it.
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