asbury park: a jersey shore beach destination with nineteenth century roots


Asbury Park, New Jersey is probably best known for its connection to Bruce Springsteen and rock bands such as Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. However, with its beautiful beaches and welcoming boardwalk, this town is a good option for a beach destination free of extraneous riffraff and with food options other than funnel cakes and hot dogs.

Asbury Park is a city in Monmouth County, New Jersey, and is an hour or so drive south from New York City. It was originally incorporated as a borough by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature in 1874. Originally developed as a residential resort by New York brush manufacturer James A. Bradley, the city was named for Francis Asbury, the first American bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States. Many of the iconic buildings that can be seen today along the boardwalk were developed in the late nineteenth century, such as the boardwalk itself and the grand event pavilions. Around this time Asbury Park was quite a popular vacation destination, and many beautifully preserved Victorian homes were born in the decade leading up to the twentieth century.

By the roaring twenties additional construction projects added the Paramount Theatre and Convention Hall complex, the Casino Arena and the Carousel House. In 1934 the wreck of the cruise ship SS Morro Castle was stuck near the city very close to the Asbury Park Convention Hall and this quickly became a famous tourist attraction of the time. Asbury Park remained popular until the 1970s and 1980s during which time the city experienced a decline. This decline lasted through the end of the century. Fortunately, the dawn of the twenty-first century saw the beginnings of a renaissance in Asbury Park, and the city is on its way to reclaiming some of its former glory. Buildings such as the Casino building on the boardwalk, now only a shell, are scheduled to be rebuilt in the coming years.

Now is a great time to visit Asbury Park’s beaches before the masses [both washed and unwashed] rediscover it!