The Tallest of the Brightest

The tallest of all the lighthouses in New Jersey, the Absecon light is 171 foot high and hosts a variety of programs including weddings and educational events. It originated in the 19th century, when Jonathan Pitney, known to many as the Father of Atlantic City, secured a Congressional appropriation for the US Lighthouses Service to construct a light on Absecon Island, and the Camden and Atlantic Land Co. transferred land to the US government for the construction.

The building was completed by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1856 at a total cost of $52,436.62 and was lit for the first time Jan. 15, 1857, using a kerosene flame through a first-order Fresnel lens. The light shone a distance of 19.5 nautical miles at sea.

Incandescent oil vapor lamps replaced kerosene in 1910 and electricity was installed in 1925. The lighthouse was decommissioned and the light extinguished in 1933, and relit briefly in 1954 in celebration of the centennial anniversary of Atlantic City. It was relit again in 1963 to celebrate the state’s tercentenary, and named to the State Register of historic places in 1970, and the National Register of Historic Places the following year.

Restoration of the tower began in 1997 and was completed the following year and opened to vistors in 1999. The lighthouse celebrated its 150th anniversary Jan. 15 2007.


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