We’ve all heard of the elephant in the room, but how many people can say they’ve been in a room in an elephant? Well, last week I finally joined the ranks of those who can.
There are probably thousands of roadside attractions in the U.S.—some (like the Corn Palace, Paul & Babe, the Blue Whale and Salem Sue) are so iconic they almost transcend the genre. And Lucy might just be the queen of them all.
Her story is a bit of an odd one. She was built in 1881 by a real estate developer—as Lucy was one of the taller buildings (yes, she is a building, not just a sculpture!) in town, the developer invited prospective customers to climb her staircase and view adjacent property parcels from the houdah (pavilion) at the top. Lucy, of course, became a bigger tourist draw than the local real estate market—her owner even built a much larger copy at Coney Island (Lucy’s big sister burned down in 1896).
Lucy was sold and resold over the years, and the room in her belly served as a residence, a restaurant, a business office, and even a tavern at one point. She survived visiting tourists, rowdy barflies, several remodeling jobs, a tavern fire, and many hurricanes. By the 1960s, though, she was in such a sorry state she was slated for demolition. A group of concerned locals banded together in the 1970s to move her slightly inland and restore her to her original glory—in 1976 she was designated a National Historic Landmark.
The rest, as they say, is history. Now, you know how I’m going to finish this story, right?
Yep, you guessed it. The end.