The Monopolization of Monopoly
Marven Gardens

by Burton H. Wolfe
©1976 The San Francisco Bay Guardian

Unknown to Darrow, Todd made a mistake when he copied his Monopoly board from Eugene and Ruth Raiford's. The Raifords spelled Marven Gardens correctly, but Todd copied it down as "Marvin" Gardens, with an i. When Darrow copied Todd's board, he repeated the mistake.

Then Darrow began making his own copies of the game and selling them to friends and Philadelphia stores. Finally, he sold the game to Parker Brothers in December 1934. And from then on it was "Marvin" Gardens.

So it is that Marven Gardens appears on all manufactured Monopoly boards as "Marvin" Gardens, Parker Brothers having refused every overture from the commissioners of Margate City to alter it; the name of the famous movie that takes off on the Monopoly game is "The King of Marvin Gardens"; the definitive article on the place by a man supposed to be intimately familiar with it is found in The New Yorker's "Reporter at Large" feature in the issue of Sept. 9, 1972, as "The Search for Marvin Gardens" and it is spelled with an i throughout the article; it is spelled the same way when it is mentioned in every other magazine and newspaper story you can find in standard reference works; and even in The National Zip Code Directory, published by the US Postal Service, it is shown as "Marvin" Gardens.

The government and the people of Margate City still use the correct spelling, Marven Gardens, and they have made every conceivable effort to correct the mistake that appears everywhere else. Having failed in all servious efforts, they tried pranking the world into a correction by staging a ceremony, with nationwide publicity, officially changing the spelling of Marven Gardens to "Marvin" Gardens for one day. A resolution passed by Margate City's Board of Commissioners on Dec. 12, 1974, reads as follows:

"Be it resolved by the Board of Commissioners of the City of Margate City, in Atlantic County, New Jersey, that in order to (1) eliminate decades of confusion, (2) render clear title to property which has been purchased millions of times for millions of dollars, (3) make millions of amateur real estate brokers honest people, (4) make all authors and writers accurate in their subject matters and descriptions, be it firmly resolved that one day only, Jan. 21, 1975, be recognized as International Monopoly Day and that property known as Marven Gardens (with an E) be officially changed to Marvin Gardens (with an I)."

That didn't work either. Journalists kept right on spelling it the way Parker Brothers does.

"We're stuck with it," G. Roland Brown, the city clerk and tax collector of Margate, told me resignedly with a bit of disgust.

Just as Parker Brothers got stuck with the claim that Charles Darrow invented Monopoly.