Taking a road trip can involve a lot of stops. Half the fun of going on a long drive is seeing a town’s claim to fame. Whether it’s a big ball of string or the world’s smallest paperclip, every town has something interesting to discover, and New Jersey is no different. The Garden State has a lot of interesting roadside sights for visitors, but one of the oldest ones is Lucy the Elephant.
Built in 1881 by realtor James V. Lafferty to bring potential buyers to Margate, it took $38,000 to build Lucy, the world’s largest sculptured elephant and the only one in America to be designated as an historic landmark. She has 12,000 square feet of sheet tin, stands six stories tall, and weighs 90 tons.
Over the years, Lucy has served a great number of things to the Margate community, including a real estate office, a summer home, and a tavern. However, by 1969, Lucy was in complete disrepair and the land on which she stood was sold to developers. Lucy was scheduled to be demolished until a group of Margate residents stepped in to save her.
In 1970, the “Save Lucy Committee Inc.” was formed, which raised funds to move the elephant to city-owned property a few blocks from her original spot. Four years later, enough money had been raised to restore her exterior. For the first time in 12 years, Lucy was opened to the public. In 2000, Lucy underwent another restoration, only this time both her exterior and interior were restored.
Through all of her changes over the years, Lucy continues to bring life to Margate. Every year, travelers of all ages come to see Lucy and learn about her long history. Lucy the Elephant continues to be one of New Jersey’s most unique claims to fame!