Atlantic City considers renaming part of street near beach for ‘Boardwalk Empire’ boss Nucky

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Atlantic City considers street name for Nucky

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Real-life political and rackets boss — and current posthumous TV star — Enoch “Nucky” Johnson may finally get a street named after him.

The subject of the hit HBO series “Boardwalk Empire,” Johnson ruled Atlantic City during Prohibition, ensuring that vice flourished here, and the cash was spread around freely.

City Councilman Dennis Mason told The Press of Atlantic City he’ll introduce a measure to rename a one-block section of Belmont Avenue — near a hotel where Johnson used to live — as “Nucky’s Way.”

Mason is not put off by Johnson’s eventual conviction and imprisonment on tax charges.

“It was just tax evasion,” Mason told the newspaper. “He didn’t actually murder anyone.”

Belmont Avenue runs alongside the Ritz, a high-rise condominium building that was once the Ritz-Carlton, a luxury hotel where Johnson lived and rented out the entire ninth floor.

Other high-profile visitors to the hotel included U.S. Presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge, and gangster Al Capone, a close pal of Nucky’s.

Mason acknowledged the move is a ploy to generate more interest in Atlantic City among tourists. He said he hopes to organize an event in November in which people will don 1920s clothing and red carnations, a trademark of Johnson and the HBO character based on him, played by Steve Buscemi.

The ethical bar to getting a street named after someone in Atlantic City is not all that high. The city has already named streets for Louis Kuehnle, a city political boss in the early 20th century convicted of accepting kickbacks, and Don King, the boxing promoter who was convicted of second-degree murder before getting it downgraded to manslaughter.

Mason said Nucky held no monopoly on corruption in Atlantic City, noting a slew of recent arrests and prison terms of City Council members.

“I mean, if everybody gets real, I’m sure there are a lot more people that did something (illegal),” he said. “We have bad people in this government now.”

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