You may have played Monopoly, but did you know the board game takes inspiration from a real city? Yes, the places in the Monopoly board game are real, and this post is all about that.
The Monopoly board game took its inspiration from the real streets in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The game is about to turn 90 as its version based on real-life streets from Atlantic City came out on March 19, 1935. Baltic Avenue, Mediterranean Avenue, Virginia Avenue, St. James Place, all of these locations, and the rest are or were real places when Monopoly’s Atlantic City version came out. You can still race your way back to many of these iconic locations next time you find yourself in Atlantic City.
The early 20th century witnessed the birth of the Monopoly board game. This was 1904, and the board game was also known as “The Landlord’s Game.” designed by game designer Elizabeth Maggie. However, it was not until 1933, an Atlantic City-based Monopoly board game similar to the modern version in 2021 was conceptualized. Several people have contributed to the game’s design ever since. That said, you will learn about which of the iconic streets actually exist in reality.
The Monopoly board game has an interesting yet complicated history as you can trace its origins back to 1902, i.e., 2 years before the game came out in the market. Since then, it took the game 3 decades to reach a somewhat similar version to the Monopoly we play today.
You can trace the beginning of Monopoly based on Atlantic City’s real streets to a woman known as Ruth Hoskins. She saw and learned to play this game in Indianapolis. However, it was not until she moved to Atlantic City in 1929 that she decided to make her own version from scratch. This was the moment she named all the properties based on the streets where her close friends resided.
Let us look at the streets by the color codes you will find on the board game.
While Park Place is one of the miniature locations, the Boardwalk, in contrast, is quite huge. However, both of these locations are in proximity to the place known as beachfront as it is the most desirable location you will find in any luxurious seaside resort.
There are three avenues found on the strip located in the town’s east corner. The Oriental crosses Connecticut and Vermont as they run parallel to each other. The Oriental runs from southwest to northeast. You may have never noticed this, but you will have a more life-like feel next time you play the games.
You will find Baltic Avenue and Mediterranean Avenue parallel to each other in the middle of the town from northeast to southwest. Both the streets are mostly perpendicular to all other streets on the board game. Additionally, they touch or cross all the other five colors present in Monopoly.
You will find three streets branching off the famous Pacific Avenue. The first is known as Virginia Avenue, and it is a long street running towards the northwest. The other two streets are more of short spurs running towards the southeast. These are States Avenue and St. Charles Place.
A little bit of a disappointing update if you plan to visit Atlantic City to witness these iconic streets. The St. Charles Place is not there anymore as it made way for Showboat Atlantic City, a hotel-casino in town.
Did you know that green is the only color that touches every other color you will find on the Monopoly board game? That is why these opulent streets are so well-connected in multiple ways.
This color on the Monopoly contains two main avenues known as Tennessee Avenue and New York Avenue. Both run next and parallel to each other, going from northwest to southeast. New York Avenue goes all the way to the Boardwalk. You will find St. James place right in between both these avenues in the south of Pacific Avenue.
You will find three avenues in the furthest west, and these are Illinois Avenue, Kentucky Avenue, and Indiana Avenue. They are a part of five streets group, all running from northwest to southeast. However, you will not find Illinois Avenue on the map or in the city because they renamed it to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard back in the 1980s.
You will find Atlantic Avenue as you go past O’Donnell Memorial Park that features a rotunda in dedication to the World War I veterans from Atlantic City. This avenue runs west towards Ventnor City or Ventnor Avenue. You can set it pictured as an inset on the map. The map will also feature a place called Marvin Gardens.
Fun fact about Marvin Gardens, it is a place in Margate City and actually spelled “Marven” Gardens. However, this was an error on Parker Brothers' part, and they apologized to the Atlantic City residents in 1995 for the mistake.
While some streets are not there anymore, some have undergone name changes. Others have now transformed dramatically since the game came out in the 1930s.
For instance, Baltic Avenue is one of the least expensive properties on Monopoly board games. However, now it is one of the most thriving retail stores streets you will notice as you enter the main city.
If you are looking for one place that has changed the least, head to St. James Place. You will be looking directly at the scenes and environment that inspired Elizabeth Hoskins to draw her original Monopoly board game design.
The real Marven Gardens took its name from the combination of Margate and Ventnor. This beautiful property on the board game is a housing community rounded back in the 1920s-1930s. So next time you are in Atlantic City, you can drive down a few miles to check all the dig rangers you just learned about. That will be a trip down memory lane, only to witness a board game laid out in a real city.
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