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the History
of Ducktown


How did Ducktown
get its name?

Ducktown allegedly acquired its name from the residents because of the duck hunting Italian immigrants that came in the early 1900s, and the many scattered small farms in the area where wildlife inhabited. The Ducktown boundaries are between Texas and Missouri avenues, where the Italian immigrants originally settled. These Italian immigrants-built duck houses along the bay to raise waterfowl. These hunted birds would be sold to local hotels and restaurants in the area. Decoy ducks were also made for hunters to use while hunting for game.


Duck houses were built above or near ponds to provide shelter to egg-laying ducks from bad weather and predators. The picture to the right is a duck house that was purchased from an antique dealer in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. It is a Victorian style, which suggests that it was built to match contemporary architecture during that time.


Craftsman Levi Rhodes Truex lived on the outskirts of Atlantic City working as a decoy carver. He was not a game hunter himself but benefitted from the booming game industry. He sold most of his decoys to Ducktown duck hunters. His decoys, pictured above, were used by hunters to attract more ducks to hunt and later sell. The decoys were made from remnants of cedar bridge timbers. He also made shorebirds that are sold in the Atlantic City area.


During the 19th century, the popularity of the beach brought people from all over to Atlantic City. After a visit to the beach, tourists would stop at local restaurants, hotels, and back on to the train, tracking sand with them. In order to resolve this issue, railroad conductor Alexander Boardman and hotel owner Jacob Keim came up with the idea of a boardwalk. The first part of the boardwalk was 8 feet wide and 1 mile long. After the summer season, the boardwalk would be taken down and businesses were forbidden to build in place of the boardwalk’s location.




Ducktown has become a “melting pot” of ethnicities. In the 1990s, Hispanic and Asian populations began to settle in the area, becoming dominant ethnic groups of Ducktown. They soon opened their own businesses in Ducktown, displaying how cultures can successfully blend and work well together. Some of these restaurants include Pancho’s Mexican Taqueria, Pho Sydney, and El Charro. The faces of the area are ever-changing and over the years, people from the middle east, Asia and Puerto Rico have moved into the row homes. Ducktown showcases a community filled with people’s diverse cultural backgrounds and their appreciation of one another. There are over 27 languages spoken in Atlantic City, which is a large number for such a small city. For decades, the city has drawn people here for work in the casino, hotel and restaurant industry. These opportunities have allowed people to support and raise not only generations of families, but also a close-knit community with common values.

In 1880, the second boardwalk was built and by 1883, the rules of the boardwalk changed. Visitors found more shops and vendors popping up alongside the boards. In 1889, a hurricane destroyed the boardwalk. This led to the development of the modern boardwalk. It was built to be 24 feet wide, 10 feet high, and 4 miles long which later expanded to 60 feet wide and 5 miles long. In 1916, railings and support beams were added to reinforce an infrastructure for amusement parks and more businesses.

Ducktown, known as Atlantic City’s “Little Italy,” is a neighborhood in Atlantic City that is home to a robust variety of culture, commerce, and historically important developments. The Ducktown neighborhood boundaries stretch from Missouri to Texas avenues. Atlantic avenue was featured in the launch of monopoly in 1935, cementing the neighborhood’s notoriety in the city’s landscape. The story of Ducktown begins with the settlement of the Unalachtigo tribe, transitioning through the various phases of development. The name, “Ducktown” comes from the duck hunting Italian immigrants that came in the early 1900s, and the many duck farms in the area. Ducktown is ever changing and is currently home to a diverse mixture of ethnic populations including African American, Italian, Mexican, Caribbean, Pakistani, Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai. This culturally diverse neighborhood has stood the test of time through the rises and falls of commerce during the revitalization of various forms of industrialization in Atlantic City. “Historic Ducktown” details this complex history, covering the history, significant landmarks of yesteryears, current landmarks, and a celebration of the town’s diversity.

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