Miu Miu

Beauty queens are just some of the lovely sights in Atlantic City

After a seven-year fling in Las Vegas, the Miss America Pageant is returning in a week to its birthplace, Atlantic City, N.J.

The pageant began in 1921 as a beachfront bathing-suit contest between beauty competition winners from eight Northeastern cities. At that time, Atlantic City was a fashionable oceanfront resort with brilliant beaches, grandiose hotels, charming seaside shops and a stylish summertime following. Droves of visitors generated success for the region until economic upheavals beginning in the1960s launched the shore town into a depression that lasted decades.

Today, after weathering a half-century of economic highs and lows, the city has undergone a...