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.
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 our 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 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.”
What color is Baltic Avenue?
Brown. (It used to be purple, which I personally preferred.)
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%.
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.”
My all-time favorite use of the word “Baltic” comes from the Urban Dictionary which provides two definitions:
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.”
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.