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Street Lighting Atlantic City Boardwalk, NJ

Atlantic City Relies on Holophane Teardrop Esplanade
Fixtures to Attract Visitors to Boardwalk
Luminaires create safe, inviting environment after dark

Holophane Tear Drops at Atlantic City Boardwalk

Atlantic City’s historic four-mile boardwalk is the longest boardwalk in the world, creating the backbone for this seaside resort city. With 30 million visitors each year—and more than a quarter million residents—the boardwalk attracts young and old 24 hours a day, some enjoying the romance of the sand and beach and others accessing casinos, resorts and businesses.  

The Atlantic City boardwalk, however, has not always been so alluring after dark. Dunes rising up on the ocean side of the boardwalk are higher than the structure and the double-head, acorn-shaped low pressure sodium fixtures installed in the past created a tunnel effect that made the environment feel uncomfortable and almost threatening.

“The fixtures provided a romantic yellowish light but shot high levels of illumination into the sky, creating light pollution instead of placing the light along the boardwalk where it was needed,” said Don Guardian, Director of the Special Improvement Division, Casino Reinvestment Development Authority. “Our goal in retrofitting the lighting was to create a safe, clear and comfortable environment where people would want to stroll along the sand and beach after dark.”

Fixture durability was also a factor as the beach area is plagued by violent northeast storms that wreaked havoc on the previous lighting system. Broken poles required the Atlantic City Fire Department to travel to the site and shut down the power before poles could be replaced. Atlantic City has at least 20 days each year with wind gusts surpassing 70 miles per hour.

Holophane Tear Drops at Atlantic City BoardwalkWeather extremes—searing UV rays in the summer and frigid temperatures in the winter—faded the luminaires’ polycarbonate cover, causing it to become brittle and cracked.

“The former lighting system could not withstand the weather fluctuations and required almost constant maintenance,” Guardian said.

The city installed teardrop-shaped Esplanade pedestrian luminaires from Holophane, mounted on 14-foot decorative Hamilton poles. Guardian traveled to Holophane’s headquarters in Newark, Ohio, where he viewed various outdoor luminaire styles in a park-like setting and worked with Holophane engineers to develop the lighting design.

“Atlantic City was founded in 1854 and we liked the teardrop fixtures’ historic appearance, which complemented the buildings in the city’s downtown,” Guardian said. “We felt the borosilicate glass refractor could place the light where it was needed and withstand our coastal weather extremes.”

Guardian said the city considered more than 60 pole designs from various manufacturers before deciding on the Hamilton pole, which Holophane custom designed with fluted corners so the poles look round.

“I knew the Hamilton poles were very durable because the poles were among the few things still standing in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina,” he said.

The pedestrian teardrop luminaires with 150-watt metal halide lamps are installed on Hamilton poles along the boardwalk at the same locations as the previous lighting system. The boardwalk is constructed of expensive Ipe hardwood and poles were generally installed in locations so none of the boards in boardwalk would need to be replaced.

The city installed 22-foot Holophane SiteLink® decorative poles with Modular TracPole System and a North Yorkshire base at the end of each street. The poles, which support the large teardrop Esplanade luminaires, include integrated wireways inside the system, offering an adjustable platform for mounting pole accessories. City officials plan to mount flowers, a 5’8” American flag and the sides of every pole.

Holophane Tear Drops at Atlantic City BoardwalkEach SiteLink pole has a security camera on the top, which is linked to the Atlantic City Police Department. Illumination from the light fixtures extends 60 feet along the length of the boardwalk and 60 feet on the beach, providing facial recognition at great distances. The lighting fixtures and security cameras allow police officers to view specific areas of the boardwalk on the laptops in their cars and run background checks on individuals, as necessary.

The city installed a total of 220 Hamilton poles and 72 SiteLink poles, mounting two pedestrian teardrop luminaires on each pole. Illumination levels are .5 footcandles, with luminaires controlled by photocells.

“The Holophane fixtures create a warm, rich environment that feels comfortable and inviting at night,” Guardian said. “Even though the beach closes at 10 each evening, people want to stroll onto the sand and listen to the sounds of the ocean. The luminaires have transformed the boardwalk into a tourist destination with an atmosphere mindful of Times Square. It’s very rare that someone doesn’t comment about how pretty the lighting is at night.”

The city completed the two-mile casino section of the boardwalk first and is working on the second two-mile section now. Project funding was provided by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, which is credited with dramatically changing Atlantic City’s commercial, cultural and social landscape while improving the quality of life throughout New Jersey.

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