Monopoly on fun

Special to SunSpot

You're already familiar with the geography -- Ventnor Avenue, Baltic Avenue, Park Place and Boardwalk. If you've ever played the board game Monopoly, you've already taken a jaunt around Atlantic City. The seaside resort was immortalized forever by Charles Darrow, a Philadelphian who vacationed there and named the real estate properties in his game after the city's streets.

Surprisingly, Darrow failed on his first attempt to sell Monopoly to Parker Brothers. Edward Parker liked the game, but feared it was too complicated and had the potential to go on too long for the game-playing public's attention span. So Darrow made a few thousand sets himself and sold them to Philadelphia department stores. It quickly caught on, and Parker Brothers made an offer.

Many historians credit Atlantic City's street-naming scheme to Richard Osborne, the civil engineer from Philadelphia who gave birth to the idea of the resort by the sea. Running parallel to the ocean are streets named for the world's seas: Baltic, Pacific, Atlantic and Mediterranean. Those perpendicular to the boardwalk are named for U.S. states and run roughly from north to south in order of their actual geographic position. Of course there are exceptions to these rules.

But if Osborne cheated on his street names, Darrow cheated on his property titles. Marvin Gardens, a coveted yellow property, is really part of the outlying town of Margate. And he slipped in the Short Line, actually a bus line, as a fourth railroad.

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