The Magic of Kentucky Avenue
Atlantic City was a major center for entertainment long before casinos came to town. The area around Kentucky and Arctic Avenues, “KY and the Curb” as it was known, was the place for visitors and locals to frequent nightclubs that attracted top performers along the East Coast. The clubs were filled with celebrities, including those who performed at other venues, politicians and people looking for a good time. It was a huge draw for big stars in the entertainment industry and for those looking for a big break. People would drive from Philadelphia, New York, Washington D.C. and even Boston to enjoy a weekend of entertainment from the 1930s to the 1960s.
The popular nightclubs near KY and the Curb - Club Harlem, Little Belmont, Paradise Club, Wonder Garden and Wonder Bar - attracted such stars as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Ethel Waters, Nat King Cole, Lena Horne, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway, Frank Sinatra, and Dinah Washington. Crowds from all walks of life filled the streets and clubs, for the programs on Saturday nights and the “breakfast shows” on Sunday mornings. It was difficult to even walk down Kentucky Avenue at times because of all the people waiting to get into the various clubs and the restaurants.
By the late 1960s the area was changing. Most of the clubs were gone by the time Resorts, the first Atlantic City casino, opened in 1978. But the excitement, the fun, the great names in entertainment, the mingling of people and the Magic of Kentucky Avenue will always be a part of The Atlantic City Experience.