Lucy, the world’s largest “elephant,” is now more than 130 years old. Built of tin and wood in 1882 by James V. Lafferty as a publicity stunt, Lucy was modeled after Jumbo, P.T. Barnum’s real life “Largest Elephant on Earth.” Lucy is much larger than Jumbo was, and stands 65 feet high, 60 feet long, 18 feet wide, is made of nearly one million pieces of wood, and weighs about 90 tons.
She still lives in her hometown of Margate City, New Jersey, about five miles south of Atlantic City. Inside the elephant there is a small building space, where over the years Lucy has held business offices, a restaurant, and a tavern. Today, for a small fee, tourists can enter via a spiral staircase in her leg. Inside Lucy is a small museum of her history, with old photographs and a short film.
Lafferty designed and built three giant elephant buildings; Lucy was the first, followed by another on Coney Island, and the third one in Cape May. Lucy is the only surviving elephant, saved from demolition plans in the 1960s by a “Save Lucy” campaign.
Lucy is now a National Historic Landmark. In 2006 she was struck by lightening, which blackened her tusks, but she still stands tall. More than 100,000 visitors climb the narrow spiral staircase into the elephant every year, and a few lucky guests are able to spend the night inside the landmark. In March 2020, Lucy will be available to rent on Airbnb for $138 per night, as a nod to her age.
Know Before You Go
From mid-June to Labor Day, Lucy is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Days and hours are limited at other times of the year, check the website for more information. Guided tours through Lucy the Elephant take place every 30 minutes at the top and bottom of the hour. Tickets are $8.50 for adults, $4 for children ages 3-12, and free for children under two.
There's limited free parking for one hour.