Estonia / Finland / Latvia / Lithuania / Travel

Monopoly: Gotta Love Baltic Avenue

monopoly

When we were kids we’d occasionally play Monopoly. I can’t say it was my favorite game – it always seemed so cutthroat. Around our house, none of us really had the inclination or killer instinct to crush our opponents … we saved that tactic for penny poker … then we rocked.

But I loved the “purples” – Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues. They sounded so romantic … and they were really cheap! Guess I was frugal even back then.

Baltic Avenue

THE BALTIC BECKONS
Since I’ve had this lifelong romantic attachment to The Baltic, we decided to make it a travel destination. That area of the world fascinates both of us. We planned a big trip a few years back, but had to postpone it. So now it’s back on the board and we head out in 2 weeks. I am SO pumped!

We’re traveling to 4 countries (3 new – Woohoo!): Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Right now we’re wrapping up all of our research, making reservations, and brushing the “renovation dust” off the little rolling backpacks.

Next week we’ll fill you in on some of the details, but for now I had to share some of the fascinating Monopoly Trivia I uncovered while researching The Baltic.

MONOPOLY TRIVIA
Monopoly is set in an abstract version of Atlantic City, New Jersey, and hasn’t changed significantly in the last 77 years. Baltic Avenue was, and still is, a real street.

But why streets in Atlantic City, of all places?
According to travel writer Martin Loughlin, Darrow (the game’s inventor) “actually traveled from his home in Philadelphia to Atlantic City to pitch his idea to Parker Brothers, and the street names he saw just stuck with him…There is no doubt that the popularity of the game was partially responsible for making Atlantic City famous as a resort in the 1930s and 40s.”

Baltic Avenue Card

What color is Baltic Avenue?
Brown. (It used to be purple, which I personally preferred.)

The Price?
Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues are the cheapest properties on the board at $60. That’s sixty bucks – how can you not love them?

What are the Odds?
Baltic is the 3rd space in Monopoly, but the 2nd property. Its rents are usually double that of Mediterranean Avenue, and, unlike Mediterranean, can be bought on the first turn. However, the odds of rolling a 3 are fairly low at 5.6%.

Name Change
According to Hasbro, in 1972, the Atlantic City Commissioner of Public Works threatened to change the names of the real Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues, but public outcry vetoed the bill.

The UK Version
The British version of Monopoly changes the names a bit. Mediterranean Avenue is called “Old Kent Road” and Baltic Avenue is “Whitechapel Road.” They are the least-landed-upon properties.

World War II Escape Tool
In 1941, the British Secret Service asked the UK manufacturer to create a “special edition” for World War II Prisoners held by the Nazis. The games were distributed by fake charity groups, and hidden inside were maps, compasses, real money, and other escape tools.

Strategies to Win
According to Sam Greenspan of 11points.com, one of his 11 strategies for dominating Monopoly is:

“Buy as much property as you can early on, even Baltic or Mediterranean…You will very gradually bleed the other person dry… but it will be a long, slow, boring death. Like, if you decided to kill someone by planting a tree in their yard, waiting until it grew taller than their house, then chopping it down so it lands on them. That’s victory via Baltic.”

monopoly w Baltic

Modern-Day Slang
My all-time favorite use of the word “Baltic” comes from the Urban Dictionary which provides two definitions:

Baltic
1. Northern Irish slang, used among contemporary youth to describe a severe degree of cool. Synonyms include chill, radical, sweet, and awesome
“That concert was totally baltic, so it was.”
baltic
2. Freezing ones balls off
It’s baltic out here.

And if you still haven’t had enough Monopoly trivia, check out this youtube video by two guys who have figured out how to play the shortest possible game of Monopoly in 21 seconds.

Cheers!
Terri

51 thoughts on “Monopoly: Gotta Love Baltic Avenue

  1. OK, so I was cracking up while reading this post…I especially like the quote about strategies on winning monopoly! Plus I learned a lot more about Baltic Avenue.
    I’m interested in traveling and have been to a few different countries, but not as many as you two. 🙂 Thanks for liking my posts and checking out my Blog.
    Your Blog is very readable and well organized and it seems like you two enjoy sharing your travels with the world–I look forward to reading more!

    • Hi Jennifer,
      When I read that quote I cracked up too! I guess when I was a kid I was too caught up in keeping my little sister from stealing all my hotels. I never really thought much about the origins of the game. Thanks so much for stopping by, Terri

  2. Monopoly also was my least favorite game. The person who first taught me to play it gloated when he won … and I was bankrupt. Not a great feeling even if it only was with play money.
    Loved your history on the game, especially the part about it being a WWII escape tool. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  3. Everyone remembers playing monopoly, but did not realise each country has its own version. I grew up playing the British version with “old Kent Road” and now play the Aussie version with Smith Street and Todd Street replacing Baltic and Mediterranean Ave. I also love the purples for the same reason as you.

    • Thanks for the comment Mark, and for dropping by the blog. I hate to admit, but when it came to Monopoly, I didn’t really employ a strategy. I guess that I just did what most people do in their everyday lives … tossed the dice, and hoped for the best.

  4. Just had to share how much I enjoyed reading this post. & I also was never big fan of the game due to its cut throat nature. But like you I loved the place names and grew up with the British version. Until I read your post I’m afraid I was ignorant about the origins of the game. I’m was fascinated by the details you shared. Its a great bog & I will come by again.

    • Thanks for the comment Tanya, and for dropping by the blog. It has been amazing to us how much feedback we’ve gotten on this post. Obviously, lots of folks had Monopoly experiences as kids. We received strategy recommendations, rants about how much people hated it, and stories of cut-throat playing tactics. BTW, I love your photos of the West End at Christmas. When we lived in London, my office was in the WE, and I absolutely loved working there. I got very spoiled. Thanks again.

  5. I love the fun facts. I always loved Baltic because purple is my favorite color, and somehow I figured it had been named after me (my last name being Baltuck). We used to have family Monopoly marathons that would last the whole weekend. A very fun post. At the top of my to-go list is the Baltic region.

    • Thanks Naomi, for the comment and for dropping by the blog. It’s amazing how many Monopoly stories we’ve heard, but weekend marathons is a new one. It sounds like a lot of fun. Recently at my sister’s house, we had a big family weekend (including kids and adults.) Someone brought a huge, complex jigsaw puzzle and we took over the dining table. It was amazing how much togetherness it generated. People would drift in and out, stories were told, drinks and food were enjoyed, and it just seemed effortless.

      • Sounds lovely. At the last family reunion in Alaska, my sisters set up a table for beading. Every day we went fishing, or hiking, or out to see the glacier. Every night we all sat up late making jewelry–even my sister’s teenaged boys. It was a really cool way to spend time, something to do with our hands while we talked.

    • Thanks for the comment and for dropping by the blog Mrs. Butterfingers. And I agree, electrons are good for many things, but Monopoly isn’t one of them. BTW, I really enjoyed the great photos and detailed “About Me” on your blog.

      • And I found the photographs of the two of you – through the years – a delight. It adds so much to the enjoyment of reading a blog when I can picture in my mind, the people behind the words. Virginia

  6. Thanks for checking out my blog. Everyone has a story of Monopoly from childhood I guess. Mine is when I was 10 playing with my big brother who was 15. He was beating me badly and kept “loaning” me money to keep the game going. I begged to stop playing, telling him my stomached hurt. He made me play till my last property was mortgaged. Next day I found out I had hepatitis.

    Happy travels and thanks for loaning me a smile today!

  7. I loved your Monopoly post, and was re-living many childhood moments whilst reading it. The favourite time to play was during beach holidays, on those occasional days when it rained and we couldn’t go out. I too was a great believer in the power of purple properties; we had the British version. Thanks for stopping by my blog – so glad you enjoyed ‘Reader’s Road Trip’.

    • It’s interesting that you played Monopoly during beach holidays. For us it was in the doldrums of winter when we were tired of building snow forts. And there was always a card table set up with a jigsaw puzzle in progress for any passerby to try their hand. ;-} Terri

  8. I used to play Monopoly many years ago too.
    Haven’t seen the game in a long, long time.
    I wonder if they have raised the prices to reflect the inflation over the years.
    “Get out of Jail” card should be about $2,000 (at least) by now.

  9. Hi! Great post – I loved playing Monopoly when I was a kid and would constantly plague my brother & sisters to join me in a game.

    In the mid 70s I actually won a Monopoly competition. My prize was a special edition of the game complete with gold coloured pieces – which I still have 🙂 Plus an invitation to the British Monopoly championships that were to be held at a London mainline station. I could hardly breathe for excitement. My Mum, however, said I couldn’t go. I was only 11 and she said she was worried about IRA attacks – at the time they were targeting places like these. The real reason was probably that they couldn’t afford the enormous cost of the trip. Sadly, the prize didn’t include expenses. In any case, I don’t think I would have got too far past GO – our family played by our own rules… 😉

    • Thank you Helen. That’s one of the most incredible stories I’ve ever read! First, what a fantastic accomplishment for an 11 year old. Well done! Putting your story in the context of time and history makes it even more stunning. I love that you say that your family played by their own rules – my family was also notorious for the same predilection. Of course, we always accused someone of “making up rules on the fly!” She usually won … and it wasn’t me. Thanks so much for sharing your story – I hope you’re publishing it somewhere. All the best, Terri

    • Thanks Josh. We lived in London, but strangely, didn’t manage to see the UK version. It’s been very interesting to hear everyone’s memories and preferences for Monopoly. Thanks. ~Terri

    • Juliann, that is too funny! The entire row – yikes! What an interesting strategy – guaranteed rental income from anyone passing go. I agree, that’s depressing if you’re the tenant! So glad you stopped by. All the best, Terri

    • Thanks Betty. The Baltic Trip was a joy! I just caught up with you on your heifer12x12 blog. What an amazing project … and you did a fabulous job. Congrats on the FP – richly deserved. Now I want to go read lots more. Oh, and by the way, what’s next? All the best, Terri

  10. Sounds like a wonderful trip ~ I look forward to your updates.

    I did enjoy your memory lane with Monopoly. A pub quiz we attended a few weeks back had the question “What is the color of the least expensive properties on the monopoly board?” I hadn’t heard Baltic Avenue changed colors so I said “purple” but thankfully a younger member on our team insisted it was brown so we went with that and won the point. I was a bit confused since when I played it was purple ~ mystery solved. THANK YOU!

    • That’s too funny! I did the same double-take when I saw a new version of the game and Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues were brown … eewww! They’re supposed to be purple! It seems such a strange, misguided change to make. LOL ~Terri

  11. My name for Monopoly was Monotony, but your article makes it sound totally cool. Love your site. Thanks for stopping by The Noah Project and liking my article.

    • Daniela, that is too funny – Monotony! I love it. Thanks for your kind words. I think The Noah Project is fascinating and look forward to reading more. All the best, Terri

  12. Loved this Monopoly blog. It brings back memories and not all of them fond.. 😉 I’ve never been to the Baltic, but would love to travel there some day. Glad your excursion there was pleasant. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and liking. Come again, come often. You never know what’s happening on the porch.

    • I also have that love/hate relationship with Monopoly, Judy. My Dad used to say that it was good practice for doing business to which I replied, “Well then I don’t want to do business!” I love your blog – especially the header of you typing in your gloves. 🙂 So glad you stopped by. ~Terri

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