Atlantic City is working hard to assure that its very name glitters, but a recent event shows how hard it can be to shape a city’s image. As reported in today’s Press of Atlantic City, the city council in the New Jersey tourist town recently discovered it had unwittingly approved rechristening part of the most famous stretch of sand on the Jersey Shore as “Revel Beach.” Revel, a new mega-resort, plans to open over Memorial Day weekend as a centerpiece in the much-awaited reinvention of a struggling seaside city.

Don’t look for Parker Brothers to rename its iconic Atlantic City–based Monopoly place names anytime soon. The move has led to vows by the city never to allow another section of the municipal beachfront to be renamed in the future. The concern is understandable. Although Revel may play a big role in the intended renaissance of a city that once called itself “The World’s Playground,” Atlantic City remains an iconic brand. Other beach communities have witnessed such rebranding. The famed South Beach moniker in Miami Beach, for instance, became a household name in the 1980s and to some extent has become the dominant image for Miami Beach itself. Revel’s move differs mainly in that it introduces a company name to part of a city. And yet this is what often happens in older cities.

Atlantic City Boardwalk

Atlantic City Boardwalk. Photo by SurFeRGiRL30 on Flickr

Time will tell whether Revel Beach becomes a bellwether for the surrounding city or an inward-looking enclave that dissociates itself from its surroundings. One thing is sure: Revel’s move signals the continuation of a long-term effort to return Atlantic City to the ranks of places that trade on their image of exclusive leisure.

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