Nucky Johnson & Atlantic City’s Bizarre Glory Days

The true history of Nucky Johnson almost reads like something preordained, which is to say this history is almost a perfect fantasy in and of itself. He essentially stepped into a powerful role in town – a role vacated by his own father – and became part of an unofficial, enterprise-based ruling class. Though he was only Sheriff of Atlantic County for some three years (from 1908 until 1911), and he was never explicitly in charge of Atlantic City, Johnson was largely in control of the area. From an official political standpoint, his influence came in the form of a leadership role with a major Republican organization in town – from which he’s said to have influenced the campaigns of even statewide and national politicians. More broadly though, Johnson’s power came from his willingness to exploit Atlantic City’s overt embrace of illicit entertainment. Continue Reading