While visiting Atlantic City this week, I couldn’t help but visit Caesars, one of the remaining hotel/casino buildings on the Boardwalk there.
Because, you know, #TheAsterixAgenda means I’m all about Caesar this year.
First, let me set this up, for those unfamiliar:
Atlantic City, NJ
In the 1970s, the only legal gambling in the country was allowed in the state of Nevada. Las Vegas was the undisputed center of the gambling world in this country.
That lasted until the mid-1970s when, for whatever reason, New Jersey passed a law allowing casinos in state, but only in Atlantic City. I’m sure there’s ten layers of political tomfoolery and shennanigans going on that created that, but it is what it is. By the late 1970s, casinos were opening left and right in that southern New Jersey shore town, and the money was rolling in.
It has been, sadly, downhill for Atlantic City in the last 20 years for a variety of reasons. Most of them have to do with competition. Gambling is allowed in a lot of states now. The opening of two major ones, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, in nearby Connecticut was especially painful for Atlantic City, I’d have to think.
A.C. clung to its shining history as the home of the Miss America Pageant, which is now a struggling enterprise that nobody cares about.
While a couple of casinos have opened in recent memory — the Borgata 15 years ago and the new Hard Rock just recently — the city has seen a huge decline in popularity.
Caesars is one of the casinos that remains. It opened in 1979, though the name “Caesars Atlantic City” didn’t become official until 1987. It has only put more money into the Ancient Roman/Greece look in the last 30 years.
Caesars Parking Garage
From my point of view near the convention center, this is what Caeasars looks like.
1 and 3 are Caesars Parking Garages. We’ll get to them later.
2 is the Caesars Hotel and Casino. The casino is all on the lower levels, which are hidden behind the garage here.
4 — bonus! — is the building formerly known as Trump Plaza Atlantic City. It closed in 2014. It was supposed to be demolished back in the spring, but that still hasn’t happened for some reason. (Please note: We’re not discussing politics in the comments below. I’ll delete those immediately.)
You do not want to wage war in this weather, however:
Suddenly, you think you’re back in Great Britain, siding with your cousin’s village against encroaching Romans, most of whom in reality didn’t know how to pilot a ship around country, anyway.
If you walk over a couple streets, it looks like this:
Between the convention center and Caesars, there’s a Tangers Outlet Mall — basically, a small subcity of outlet shops. There’s one in Long Island and one at Myrtle Beach that I know of, also.
That’s how you get a logo from Nike, a Greek, in front of Caesars. Everyone knows that story should be named “Victoria.”
It’s only about a five minute walk from that spot to Caesars, just past the Under Armor Store and behind the Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.
Caesar would balk at such crass commercialism, particularly since Christ wasn’t born for nearly 45 years after he was killed, so there would be nobody named “Chris” yet in his time.
First “Nike,” now this. By Jupiter!
The Front Door
We’re almost there now!
I was writing this article in my head as I walked over to the building, but they got to the joke first. I was going to talk about how many chariots I was expecting to see in the garage, but there’s a sign on the skywalk that reads:
CHARIOT PARKING TURN LEFT
Curse you, Caesars!
I didn’t see any signs that indicated how many Sestertii it cost to park there, though.
Just above that picture, the front of the parking garage building looks awesome with all the extra Romans on it. Ave, Caesar!
If I were designing this, I’d add Asterix and Obelix statues at the top, looking back down on the Romans, possibly laughing. Very few people would get it, but it would be awesome. Maybe I can ask Squaronthehypotenus for help drawing up those plans?
OK, now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the entrance!
It’s pretty cool, complete with water features and horses that stand 8 or 10 feet high when all is said and done. Behind it, atop those columns, stand more Romans:
This might also be a good place to remove those Romans and throw in Asterix, Obelix, Getafix, and Vitalstatistix….
You can also check into the hotel just behind them, or consume a big steak meal from one of noted Italian-American Tilman Fertitta’s restaurants, Morton’s Steakhouse.
Inside, On the Way to An Actual Caesar!
Let’s avoid the casino and head up the escalator to the restaurants and hotel’s front desk.
More columns, more Romans, more arches.
At the top of the escalator, they have an Instagram-worthy photo opportunity. Sadly, I was there by myself on a limited time budget, so I didn’t get my picture in this chariot:
I was also too early for this romp of betting excess:
Julius thought Cleopatra was quite the treasure. (She also had a lovely nose, you know.)
So did Marc Antony, but let’s not get into that…. It didn’t end well for either of them.
And now, the big show: Augustus Caesar, in all his glory!
I discovered afterwards that this statue is based on the statue named “Augustus di Pirma Porta.” Made in 20 BC, it depicts a young Augustus Caesar with an ornate breastplate and Cupid, son of Venus, at his side. As one might expect, there’s a lot of symbolism in this statue. I direct you to its Wikipedia page for all the details.
Caesars Atlantic City lights its copy of the statue magnificently. (The Vatican has the original.)
Eating Authentic Roman Food
You have some great eating options at Caesars. Let me highlight two of them:
Nero was the 17 year old Emperor who gained the title after his mother had his great-uncle, the current emperor, killed.
Nero returned the favor by having his mother killed five years later.
It is also thought that he possibly burned down half of Rome so he could build himself a new (very gold and glorious) house.
Oh, and he didn’t play the fiddle. He played something closer to a harp.
He also, it would seem, cooked a mean steak.
But if the murderous Nero is not your style, another famous Italian has a restaurant at Caesars:
I believe they call him Gordonramsius. I have to ask Anthea Bell. Let me get back to you on that.
Say Goodbye to Rome/A.C.
And that was that.
In case that sign is too small to read, it says:
NEXT TIME... EXPERIENCE THE EMPIRE
Ooh, does that mean there will be brutal stabbings, lots of civil wars, matricide, incest, and nation conquering?
I’m going to cosplay as Asterix and walk around interviewing people about their feelings on Julius Caesar. Now THAT would be a viral video waiting to happen…
Stuff I Missed
I didn’t have enough time to walk around and explore everything. I didn’t even look at the t-shirts in the gift shop.
Is there a Julius Caesar statue anywhere on the site? Part of me wants there to be, and part of me would be sad that I missed it, if there was.
I didn’t get to see the concert venue they have on site, at the aptly named Circus Maximus.
I didn’t grab a drink at the Toga Bar. (I was also there at 9:00 a.m.)
And, of course, I’d like to see the other side of the building that faces out over the Boardwalk and the Atlantic Ocean.
One Last Thought
If I could go back today, I’d go immediately to the craps table and I know the first thing I’d say. It’s right here in the middle panel from “Asterix the Gaul“:
Get it? “Alea Jacta Est” is “The die is cast,” and you throw dice at the craps table. I’m a genius at this Latin language/gambling parlance.
Next week: On a more serious note, I’ll be reviewing “Asterix in Belgium”.
This is not a paid endorsement or advertisement on behalf of Caesars Atlantic City. It’s just me being goofy and running around taking pictures. Also, Hackette owns Asterix now. I’m using him without permission for illustrative purposes. This article should not, in any way, be meant to associate the two, except in the history books and my own fevered imagination.