Lucy the Elephant is a six-story elephant-shaped building located along the beach in Josephine Harron Park in Margate, New Jersey. Lucy can be called the world's largest elephant, and the only one in America designated as a National Historic Landmark. Built in 1881, by the eccentric real estate developer James Lafferty, Lucy served - at different times - as a hotel, restaurant, office, cottage and briefly as a tavern, until unruly drunks nearly burned her down. It currently serves as a tourist attraction. Visitors enter through a spiral staircase in her left rear leg that goes through her insides all the way up to the howdah on her back, providing a spectacular 360° view of the surrounding shore area.
Lafferty built Lucy so that he could take real estate customers up the narrow spiral staircase to the howdah, where he could point out real estate parcels available for sale. To do this, he first obtained a patent from the U.S. Patent Office in 1881 that gave him the exclusive right to make, use or sell animal-shaped buildings for 17 years.
Lucy was built at the cost of $25,000 to $38,000. Originally named "Elephant Bazaar", the building is 65 feet (high, 60 feet long, and 18 feet wide. It weighs about 90 tons, and is made of nearly one million pieces of wood. There are 22 windows and its construction required 200 kegs of nails, 4 tons of bolts and iron bars, and 12,000 square feet of tin to cover the outside.
Lafferty went to build at least two more elephant-shaped buildings – one each in Cape May and Coney Island, though neither survives. Lucy herself was stated for demolition by the late 1960s after years of disuse. Fortunately, the of Margate banded together and raised money to restore the proud monument to her former glory. Now, thousands of visitors tour Lucy's innards each year and buy post cards in her gift shop.
In 1976, Lucy was designated a National Historic Landmark.
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