In Asbury

As my husband’s family had a long association with Asbury Park–operating a sporting goods store downtown at the turn of the last century and amusement concessions on the boardwalk for most of the twentieth–we always visit there when we are on the Jersey Shore. In the past this has not been a particularly pleasant experience: brown concrete towers loom over rather tired remnants of the city’s prosperous past, downtown buildings are boarded up, and one of the “anchors” of the boardwalk, the Casino (where my husband’s grandfather installed a carousel in the 1930s), appears to be on its last legs. And while this is all still true to a certain extent, things were looking up last weekend: there was more activity and fewer boards in the very clean downtown, and the boardwalk and beach appeared to be almost as busy as they would have been a century ago. The rise, decline, fall, and resurgence of Asbury Park are much bigger topics than I can pursue here, but this was the first time, as an occasional outside observer, that I sensed energy in the city–and Ocean Grove next door seems to be positively booming!

Asbury 3


Asbury 7

Asbury Park this past weekend: the past-and-present images are a family picture of my husband’s great-grandfather in front of the Cookman Avenue sporting goods store with his customers (he’s in the center with arm akimbo) and the current storefront.

Asbury 8

Asbury Carousel 2p

Asbury 9

Asbury 5

On the boardwalk: semi-motion picture of the Casino, the Carousel, brought to Asbury by my husband’s grandfather in 1932 and removed in the 1980s–it showed up on ebay a couple of months ago (photograph from Helen Chantal-Pike’s Asbury Park’s Glory Days: the Story of an American Resort); the view from the Casino, a container concession.

APPENDIX: apparently the other Asbury carousel–housed in the adjacent Palace rather than the Casino –is the ebay listing (see comments below); the Seger/Casino carousel is in Myrtle Beach, but you can now download an app to recreate its ride!

6 responses to “In Asbury

  • Michelle

    This is where I grew up! Lived in Ocean Grove and Red Bank throughout my childhood. You’re right, a dedicated corps of early creative-economy pioneers, the arrival of developer Madison Marquette, and the investments of smart local entrepreneurs like the restaurateur Tim McLoone have generated a strong revival. The city still struggles at the municipal level, but the beautiful downtown and waterfront are now catering to a hip young-adult clientele and doing well, with robust events schedule all year round. It’s heartening to see and bodes well for the preservation of some of these striking buildings.

    • daseger

      Well now I understand your avatar, Michelle! Went to a music festival in Red Bank to see my nephew play on Saturday–that’s a great town.

  • Michelle

    Just a technical note: the carousel that showed up on eBay was not the Casino carousel, but the former Palace carousel. The Casino carousel was bought in the 90s and moved to an amusement park called Family Kingdom in Myrtle Beach, SC. There is a grassroots effort underway to purchase the Palace carousel and install it in the Casino building (since the Palace is long gone).

    • daseger

      Thanks the for the clarification–I was trying to get this story straight and got really confused! So the Seger carousel (that’s what I call it) is still in Myrtle Beach–great to know.

  • markd60

    Hope you have good weather for the 4th

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