Mention the word “summertime” to any resident of New Jersey and one of the first things that will almost certainly come to mind are the state’s 130 miles of beaches on its eastern shore. If we were to create a word art of the Jersey Shore, we would include words such as cotton candy, arcades, salt water taffy, t-shirt shops, swimming, fudge, pizza, surf, pretzels, fishing, tanning, sand, lighthouses, souvenir stands, concerts, and most importantly… the boardwalk. New Jersey has the most boardwalks of any state in the nation. One of the oldest boardwalks in the state is located in Asbury Park, a seaside community established in 1871.
Built from the beginning as a resort town, Asbury Park was connected via railroad in the late 19th century to both New York and Philadelphia. At a time when cars were not commonly owned and mass transit was limited to major cities, by 1912 Asbury Park was hosting up to 200,000 visitors a year! As tastes changed and car ownership spread, other seaside resort towns became more popular, causing Asbury Park to languish through much of the middle of the twentieth century. However, the past several decades have seen a renaissance of the town, as it now has a vibrant restaurant, art, and music scene (via Wikipedia). On a beautiful summer day in July with temperatures in the mid 80’s, I set off for Asbury Park to explore this historic beach town.
While I have spent my life visiting the southern beach towns of New Jersey, I was very pleased with my time in Asbury Park. After decades of decline, it is certainly a city on the rebound. The Wooden Walls Project is free and open to the public year round. I was not able to find a map of all the murals, so you will need to simply spend time wandering through the boardwalk until you find all 28! The beaches of Asbury are clean and not over-crowded, and the shops and restaurants provide you with friendly service and affordable fare. If you are driving along the Garden State Parkway, Asbury Park is definitely worth a stop.
Thanks for coming along on another journey down the open road ahead!