Study Guide

Samuel Richards in Boardwalk Empire

By Nelson Johnson

Samuel Richards

Jonathan Pitney might have the big dreams, but Samuel Richards is the one who turns them into reality. Richards is the Brain to Pitney's Pinky, the Dexter (not that Dexter) to his Dee Dee. If it weren't for Richards's rational, business-oriented mind, Atlantic City would have never existed in the first place.

In fact, the project is floundering when Richards enters the picture. Richards has three big things going for him: He's rich, he has political connections, and he owns a ton of land in South Jersey.

That last one might be the most important, though, as the only reason Richards supports Pitney's harebrained scheme is because "a rail line linking his landholdings to Philadelphia would increase their value" (1.29). With Richards's support, this ambitious project finally gains steam. Richards uses his connections to business and political leaders to expedite the process and woo investors, guys who wouldn't fork over a dime if only Pitney came knocking at their door.

In other words, Pitney—and Atlantic City—would have failed miserably without Richards. After all, Richards is the only one who realizes that "more working-class visitors from Philadelphia were needed to spur growth" (1.59). Without this practical mind at his side, Pitney would have never seen his seaside fantasy come true.