The Search for Marvin Gardens by John McPhee

This story unfolds with a narrator playing the game of Monopoly. While playing, he talks about the physical parts of Atlantic City. Certain places with cities and street names that may sound familiar in the the game of Monopoly is derived off from certain areas across America. After reading this story, I just noticed I was never curious about where the names came from while playing Monopoly. I never bothered asking anyone how these street names came to be. However, these street names do correlate to actual places in reality.

Throughout time, places have changed significantly with a blink of an eye. Spending a sufficient amount of time within an area results in familiarity in places and knowing where one place locates. “The sidewalks of St. Charles Place have been cracked to shards by through-growing weeds. There are no buildings. Mansions, hotels once stood here” (McPhee 9) This quote is specifically describing a drastic change within time. McPhee mentions this to show that certain places no longer exist. It displays a meaning behind its history to the area.  In the story, narrator discusses how the founder of Monopoly, Charles B. Darrow went to different areas of Atlantic City. He went to different areas to see the history of how the names came to be, what it is known for, and the specific descriptions of the places that once existed.

In the story, the narrator analyzes the once well-recognized city called Atlantic City located in New Jersey. For now, he is in the search for Marvin Gardens and asked everyone if they knew where it was located. The narrator even went through the Boardwalk, Atlantic, Ventor, Illinois, and Indiana and still could not find Marvin Gardens when he realized he needed Marvin Gardens. I find this significant because the narrator is relying on Marvin Gardens.  Marvin Gardens can help him beat his powerful opponents despite his opponent owning many hotels on Virginia State and St. Charles. Marvin Gardens is a “citadel and sanctuary of the middle class” because people rely on places like this (20). The setting is more private and consists of solid buildings. This area is known for its nice houses and for its unique setting. In the end of the story, the narrator felt embarrassed and ashamed that most people that lived in Atlantic City does not know how to find Marvin Gardens. The narrator explained to himself that he enjoys where he lives and finds out that most people would die to live in areas such as Marvin Gardens.

Marvin Gardens can be compared to my neighborhood of the Upper West Side. I find this area very similar to the Upper West Side because of its private homes and its peaceful private streets. It is the citadel and sanctuary of the middle class because the middle class want to move into areas like these where it is convenient to get around. Similar to Marvin Gardens, the Upper West Side is based on its surroundings. It may not be the city’s main attraction but security is provided and it is a one of the safest areas in Manhattan.

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