Long before Atlantic City was founded, the island where it would be developed, thick with woods and lined with dunes, was the summer home of the Lenni Lenape Indians, an Algonquian-speaking people. These original summer residents named the island Absegami, meaning "little water", a term for the bay denoting that the opposite shore was in sight. Over time the name was transformed into the present-day Absecon Island. Early colonial settlers in South Jersey largely ignored the island because it could only be reached by boat.
While the exact date of the first permanent settlement has never been determined, it is generally agreed that Jeremiah Leeds was the first to build and occupy a year-round residence on the island, building his home in 1783.
Dr. Jonathan Pitney moved to Absecon village to practice medicine and begins to promote the healing powers of the salt air and sea. He advocated for a health resort on the nearby Absecon Island.
Camden & Atlantic Company received a railroad charter. The first train to Atlantic City from Camden arrived on July 1, 1854.
The city was incorporated. "Atlantic City" name is selected by a civil engineer from Philadelphia, Richard Osborne, who prints it on a map of the city.
Absecon Lighthouse was first lit.
The first boardwalk was 1 mile long, 8 feet wide, and stood 1 foot above the sand. Designed to prevent sand from being carried into the hotel lobbies by the strollers’ long dresses and shoes, later boardwalks were more permanent. It later became an official Atlantic City street, Boardwalk.
The Easter Parade is held on the Boardwalk for the first time.
Salt water taffy is first sold.
Rolling chairs debuted on the Boardwalk.
The Atlantic City Beach Patrol began. Atlantic City had the first paid, professional lifeguards in the country.
Steel Pier opened as an amusement pier.
Martin Couney, an early advocate of neonatal care, starts an infant incubator exhibit on the Boardwalk, saving hundreds of tiny babies before it closed in 1943.
Atlantic City Free Public Library opened its doors and moves into a building funded by Andrew Carnegie.
The Atlantic City Aero Show lifted off for the first time, with the Wright Brothers and Glenn Curtiss flying high.