Haunted Brighton Park
If you find yourself strolling along the famous Atlantic City boardwalk, do yourself a favor and stop by the unassuming Brighton Park. This is not a typical park, with shade trees keeping you cool under the New Jersey sun in the summer.
This park is more concrete, and few natural elements add to its charm. In a destination known for slot machines and the roll of the dice, where fortunes are made, and lives lost, in the land of winners and losers, this park is often overlooked, and even its history is speculative.
Yet this is iconic of Atlantic City, the stereotypical image that Bruce Springsteen railed against. Of course, there is more here than meets the eye. You see, in Brighton Park, where the sand and salty air mix, so too, it is said, does the otherworldly. It has been told that this place contains a portal that leads to the other side. And this portal is in plain sight, right here in Brighton Park.
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Brighton Park: Devils and Dust
The antique fountain, carved and placed in the park around the turn of the 20th century, is rumored to be the portal. Water is often associated with hauntings as it’s believed to have the ability to trap and hold emotions and release a replay of events in the form of residual hauntings. Water may also provide the kinetic energy by which intelligent hauntings can manifest.
Whatever the reason, this fountain is claimed to be the source of Brighton Park’s spectral entities. Faces have been seen taking shape in the dancing waters of the fountain, strange and ghastly images of distorted humans, many without eyes, who seem to stare out from the black sockets of their skulls.
Some of these unnerving figures have been known to take on a more tangible form and have been seen manifesting in the waters, becoming corporeal, and stepping from the fountain to the dismay of onlookers.
At night, when the fountain is lit, is the time when the shadow people come out to play. What is a shadow person? Some researchers believe they are earthbound souls stuck in a kind of purgatory. Others maintain that they are not the spirits of a tormented soul but derive from some other essence.
They may be made out of energy that appears black, and they chose to take on human form. A few investigators claim shadow people are advanced extraterrestrial life forms that no longer need a biological body and are made up of concentrated energy. However, after all that speculation, the consensus is that shadow people are demons, devised of dark energy, formed in our image to trick and deceive us.
Many tourists have witnessed shadow people in the periphery of the park, seen out of the corner of their eye. Some witnesses have photographed these shadow people, others have claimed that these entities touched them, and in a few chilling cases, some experiencers have said these entities have followed them home. So beware, the shadow people of Brighton Park!
Murder Incorporated: The Ghosts of Prohibition
There is another reason that may be the reason Brighton Park is haunted. Prohibition served as a boom period for Atlantic City. While the rest of America had to break the law to partake, Atlantic City made it quite clear that it was open for business of any kind. Between 1926 and 1933, around 40% of all the illegal alcohol brought into the United States came ashore in or near Atlantic City.
That was all due to Enoch “Nucky” Johnson, who made Atlantic City his personal empire and opened the city up to organized crime. Johnson, known as the “Czar of the Ritz,” rubbed elbows with the likes of Al Capone and “Lucky” Luciano. These were men who made problems disappear, and they wielded their power without fear of reprisal.
Even before Prohibition ended, Johnson was already raking in cash for his decision to let Atlantic City establishments serve alcohol on Sundays, which was outlawed in most states. This move caused an instant boost in tourism, and the rest, as they say, is history.
But to maintain this kind of control, one needed to assert their dominance. Anyone getting in the way of these bosses jockeying for the position would be unscrupulously “knocked off.” The “mob hit” was real; many died from a rival’s bullet.
It has been suggested that the reason the fountain is so haunted is because of bodies buried underneath it and around it. In the creation of Atlantic City, many sins were committed, and little penance was asked for by those dishing out the punishment. Murder was common, and lives were expendable. Is this the reason Brighton Park is so heavily charged with the electricity of the otherworldly?
Graves and Slot Machines: Brighton Park Today
People still flock to the enigmatic fountain. Sure, it is a little battered and worn, but so is Atlantic City. That doesn’t mean it has lost its charm. In fact, the decay adds a certain mystique. So, too, do the hauntings.
Is the fountain a conduit between worlds? Is it the gateway to Hell? Is it a headstone that stands as a monument to those whacked by the mob? Truly, it may very well be all of the above. When visiting the park, bring a camera. You may get a selfie with Al Capone. Just make sure no shadow people hitch a ride back home with you.