Miss America crowns you.

Miss America Crowns You

Field review by the editors.

Atlantic City, New Jersey

No matter the hard times, or how decrepit it appears along its fringes, Atlantic City retains bits of its splendor as a 20th century boardwalk beach mecca. Key to its reputation is the Miss America Pageant, a national beauty competition dating back to 1921. For most of its history, the pageant was held in A.C. For a 10-year period starting in 2004 it moved to Las Vegas, in the wake of declining TV viewership and shifting tastes regarding beauty pageants.

Miss America crowns you.

When the pageant returned to its hometown in 2014, a larger-than-life sculpture of Miss America was erected on the ocean side of Boardwalk Hall. The bronze beauty queen wears a gown, sash and crown, and extends both hands holding an empty crown for the next winner.

At 1.25 life-size, the figure is like an emissary from a planet of statuesque giantesses. It's easy for anyone strolling the planks to strike a pose under the crown. We spotted guys having their tear-filled moment as girlfriends or wives goaded them from behind phonecams. Sculptor Brian Hanlon told us it "was an idea that I had so that all visitors to the boardwalk could participate in the Miss America pageant just a little bit."

The pageant, once exclusionary, now trumpets a grand promenade of barriers broken over its history: first Jewish contestant, first Latina, first African-American, first deaf, first gay, first autistic.... The statue's empty crown -- much larger than the one the Bert Park's statue brandishes across town -- might be symbolic of modern inclusiveness (or a hedge against future evolution in tourist head size).

For the sculpture, Hanlon blended the features of three former Miss Americas selected by a committee -- two winners from New Jersey -- 1937's Bette Cooper and 1984's short-reigning Suzette Charles -- and the 2013 winner, New York's Mallory Hagan (who tap danced to James Brown's "Get Up Offa That Thing").

Hanlon's other sculptures in Atlantic City include boxer LeVander Johnson, near the mayor's office; and a firefighter/police sculpture on the boardwalk near an Irish pub.

Also see: Miss America University

Miss America Crowns You

Address:
2301 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ
Directions:
On the ocean side of the Atlantic City Boardwalk directly opposite the entrance to Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall (the old Atlantic City Convention Center), just south of S. Mississippi Ave. and just north of S. Florida Ave.
Admission:
Free
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Home of the Miss America PageantHome of the Miss America Pageant, Atlantic City, NJ - < 1 mi.
Caesar's Horse-Drawn ChariotCaesar's Horse-Drawn Chariot, Atlantic City, NJ - < 1 mi.
Frank Sinatra's Used Towel, EnshrinedFrank Sinatra's Used Towel, Enshrined, Atlantic City, NJ - < 1 mi.
In the region:
Uncle Bill's Pancake House Mural, Wildwood, NJ - 33 mi.

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November 24, 2017

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