On-line Book




Chapter 1
Early Resorts

Chapter 2
Railroad Resorts

Chapter 3
Religious Resorts

Chapter 4
The Boardwalk

Chapter 5
Roads and Roadside Attractions

Chapter 6
Resort Development in the Twentieth Century

Appendix A
Existing Documentation


An Historic Theme Study of the
New Jersey Heritage Trail Route
National Park Service Arrowhead

Frontispiece. New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route, 1993. Map compiled by NPS, Denver Service Center. (click on image for an enlargement in a new window)


During the summer of 1991, the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record (HABS/HAER), a division of the National Park Service (NPS), commenced its research on the Atlantic Coast areas within the designated New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route (Frontispiece, above). Three HABS historians were assigned to the project—covering an area stretching 275 miles from Perth Amboy and Sandy Hook, south to Cape May and east of the Garden State Parkway, which lies within Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Burlington, Atlantic, and Cape May counties.

Initially, this project was intended to consider a variety of themes and resource types previously studied in the "Delsea" area, and serve as a companion document to the book, Historic Themes and Resources within the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail, Southern New Jersey and the Delaware Bay: Cape May, Cumberland, and Salem Counties (1991). As fieldwork and research progressed, however, the theme of recreation and resorts clearly surfaced as the outstanding motive for development of this coastal strip—within which transportation, religion, architecture, and industry are all subservient themes. Beach-based tourism has been the attraction of this area throughout its history.

Unlike the relatively undeveloped wetland-dominated South Jersey and Delaware Bay counties, the Atlantic shore portion of the Trail consists of a string of communities that are generally quiet except for the summer months, when they are more densely populated; the northernmost area is more urban and industrial-based than elsewhere along the Atlantic portion of the trail. The most popular summertime destinations are the long, narrow, barrier islands that lie off the mainland, with their beach, boardwalk, commercial strips, and guest accommodations from cottages to motels. The extent of the territory and the diversity of growth between Cape May and Perth Amboy make countywide generalizations impossible, but the number of towns—of more than 100, approximately forty were documented—surveyed in the three-month period of fieldwork demanded broad thematic treatment. By writing individual town histories focusing on early settlement, growth through local industry, improvements in transportation, and significant social and geographic variation, HABS historians attempted to provide both a basic, historical overview and more detailed information unique to each locality (See Appendix A for available town and site histories). As the town histories illustrate, improvements in transportation brought more people to the shore, expanded markets for coastal products, and created new destinations for an emerging leisure class. The relationship among these themes became increasingly apparent as work on the project progressed.

Over a three-month period, HABS historians visited regional sites, performed fieldwork, and took photographs. Local historians and directors of historical societies were consulted for guidance in site selection and archival research. The Monmouth and Ocean County "sites inventories" supplied valuable background information. While primary source material such as Gustav Kobbe's The Jersey Coast and Pines (1889), Edwin Salter's A History of Monmouth and Ocean Counties (1890) and H. C. Woolman and T. H Rose's Historical and Biographical Atlas (1878) offered nineteenth-century observations, secondary sources were more useful for examining broader patterns of settlement and growth within each county. The New Jersey collections at Monmouth College, the Monmouth Historical Society, Ocean County Library, and the Ocean County Historical Society provided both historical and contemporary accounts of Jersey shore life. Similar collections at the Cape May and Atlantic County historical societies proved equally useful. Magazines, brochures, and newspaper articles from these archives allowed historians to include more personal information about the lives of people and buildings. Such records were invaluable in discussing attitudes toward local preservation, urban development, and other factors influencing the contemporary built environment.

This survey phase was followed up in summer 1992 with more intensive research on a small number of significant and representative sites exemplifying the unique cultural heritage of the Jersey shore. Individual reports were written, for instance, on sporting clubs, convention centers, bathing pavilions, and hotels. In addition to architectural and physical descriptions of these structures, the reports explore the social context in which they functioned. Both the town histories and the building reports written over the past two summers have been incorporated into the following history, prepared in summer 1993. This study focuses on the growth and development of a resort industry that remains a dynamic part of New Jersey's economy and a significant cultural experience in the twentieth century.

HABS historian Sara Amy Leach supervised the HABS research work on the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route, Janet C. Wolf, Project Director. The Trail in its entirety falls under the geographic jurisdiction of the new NPS-Northeast Field Area, Marie Rust, Director. The summer 1991 historian field team consisted of supervisor Sarah Allaback (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Alfred Holden (University of Vermont), and Camille Gatza (North Carolina). During the summer of 1992, the team included field historian Alison Isenberg (University of Pennsylvania), and historian-editor Elizabeth May (American Institute of Architects-Washington, D.C., chapter), who worked in HABS's Washington office. David Ames (University of Delaware) and HABS photographer Jack E. Boucher shot the large-format photographs. All the written data has been consolidated and incorporated into this volume, edited by Sarah Allaback during the summer of 1993, Marty Taylor in spring of 1995, and compiled for layout, design, and final edit by New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail Route, Chief of Interpretation Chuck Milliken, in the spring and summer of 1995.

Special thanks go to all the historical societies, libraries, and individuals along the "Jersey Shore" who provided assistance and advice to the various historians over the four years of this project. Thanks also to three out-of-state institutions, the Library of Congress, the Henry Francis DuPont Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, and the Hagley Museum and Library.

Other books in this series:

Kim Sebold and Sara Amy Leach, Historic Themes and Resources within the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail, Southern New Jersey and the Delaware Bay: Cape May, Cumberland, and Salem Counties, 1991.

Kim Sebold, From Marsh to Farm: The Landscape Transformation of Coastal New Jersey, 1992.

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