Asbury Park: Pictorial History in Brief

Asbury Park beach on July 4th, 2012
Asbury Park beach on July 4th, 2012

Asbury Park, New Jersey got its name from 19th century New York brush manufacturer James A. Bradley, who named it after Francis Asbury, the first American bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the U.S. Asbury Park is famous for its boardwalk and for music concerts. The city has nurtured the talents of actors such as Cesar Romero, Danny DeVito and Jack Nicholson and musicians Lenny Welch, Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi.

casino, Asbury Park
The 1920’s saw a lot of development in Asbury Park, including this casino. Unfortunately, unlike other buildings that were redeveloped in the past decade, the casino still seems to be just a frame of a building now.

The decline of the prominence of Asbury Park began in the Depression, and competition from shopping and amusements in other parts of New Jersey continued its decline. When my husband first took me on a tour of Asbury Park in the early 1990’s, it looked quite decrepit. In the past decade, however, buildings such as the Paramount Theater below were redeveloped. I posted another shot of the Asbury Park theatre in 2010, with a bit of its history. You can visit some cool shops like this one inside the convention hall and beside the boardwalk.
Asbury Park Paramount Theatre

Asbury Park Berkeley Carteret Hotel with Tillie on Wonder Bar
Pictured above is the Berkeley Carteret hotel, with the famous Tillie face in the foreground on the Wonder Bar. The hotel has a bit of personal history for me: when I was pregnant with my first child in the 1990’s, my brother-in-law knew the caterer who was working at the hotel during Passover. So he invited us to come and enjoy the bountiful buffet at the hotel. Unfortunately, I had morning sickness and could only eat the cucumber salad.

Asbury Park beach chess set
One of the amusements near the Asbury Park beach is this gigantic chess set.

Asbury Park Jewish history is one of the synagogue Sons of Israel: in 1904 the Orthodox Jewish community in Asbury Park incorporated as the Sons of Israel. My husband’s family belonged to this synagogue; sadly, it needed to sell the synagogue building and move out of Asbury Park in the 1980’s.

Interview with Iola Caplan: Iola Caplan is a friend of mine who now lives in Highland Park, New Jersey. In this interview, she talks about living in Asbury Park in the 1950’s and 60’s, including living through riots in 1967. She relates that the Hillel School also got its start in Asbury Park.

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31 thoughts on “Asbury Park: Pictorial History in Brief

      • I enjoyed your historical and personal comments about Asbury Park. I spent four glorious summers there, 1961 and then from1963 through 1965. My family would pack up the car inJuly and head for the Metropolitan Hotel on Asbury Avenue. Although it wasn’t in its heyday it was paradise for my brother and I. We had the boardwalk rides complete with puppet shows, the beach, Cookman Avenue , and everything to make a kid happy from July fourth to Labor day.

      • Val, thanks for your own historical perspective on Asbury! Sounds like it was still in operation in the 1960’s – it wasn’t just dead building like when I first saw it in the early 1990’s. Love the idea of the puppet shows.

  • I’ve read and heard so much about Asbury Park! Always wanted to go there! Your photos are the next best thing! Thanks for sharing, Leora! Hope you have a great week!


    • Sylvia, truth is, being there is much more fun than looking at photos. It’s great fun to walk up and down the boardwalk, look at the shops, play in the waves!

  • I have heard of Asbury Park, must have been from the movies and TV shows. The beach looks like a fun place to visit. Great photos and thanks for sharing.

  • Great post for My World..or Our World..I forget…It does look like it was a hot day and I know you have really been warm there..but having the ocean close must be wonderful..except it is probably crowded…

  • Nice to get the history behind the photos.
    Regarding the casino, hopefully someone with money will think of a way to use it again without losing its original feel.

    • I believe I read people have already invested in rebuilding the casino. There were a lot of promises of rebuilding in the 1990’s that never came through (some corruption and scandal during that time), so it was surprising when the area did turn around and became a go-to spot once again.

  • Not being a big casino fan (any time I have gone, my allotted $20 has disappeared in about 2 minutes flat), I think that lovely building should be turned into a performance venue to encourage live theatre and musical performances. This was a very interesting post with the personal story adding a great touch. Cucumber salad, huh? Darn! Although in the hot weather, maybe just perfect 🙂

    • I agree, Carol, I hope it’s used for something other than a casino! The Convention Hall and theatre are already set up for performances, so the casino would have to be for something else. Indoor ice skating rink? More fancy shops? We’ll have to find out.

  • Thanks for sharing this Leora. I haven’t read Iola’s interview for a long time, so it was interesting to reread it. It gives me a glimpse into Jonathan’s youth.

    • I like Iola’s comment about having four children in a row after being an only child myself. As you know, Lori, my mother-in-law also had four in a row after being an only child.

  • What a wonderful trip through history. I enjoyed your sharing of how the name came to be. Excellent photos, also.

  • I’ve visited Asbury park a few times over the years, and I’m glad ti hear it is slowly being revitalized, Leora. It was in run down condition like many beach communities in NY were before they were redeveloped.

  • I grew up in Asbury Park and as a teenager it was a great place to live. The big bands and singers appeared at Convention Hall and we danced all night. Hot nights we slepted on the beach and the boardwalk was crowded all day and evening. There was so much to do all summer long. My parents owned the Metropolitan Hotel for 35 years and sadly it has now been demolished. Hopefully Asbury Park may again be the wonderful place it once was.

    • Beverle,

      Thanks for leaving your personal note. So sorry to read the Metropolitan Hotel was demolished. The town seems to be a new place already, with new vibrancy.

  • Joe Rediker was my uncle he had the monte carlo, pool,cavalier hotel, reeds jewelers,storyland village, ice skating ring in the casino, Used to have the big bands at convention hall and the paramount. Whast amazing memories. My father had American travel agency across the street Bob and Irvings mens store

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