Along with neighboring communities most notably, Ocean Grove , it retains many fine examples of late-Victorian urbanism, including spacious, detailed houses, a traditional downtown, a wide, wood-planked boardwalk, and a rich mix of complementary activities along its streets. Its urban fabric is also sustainable.
Its street pattern is walkable, built around a railroad station still active and streetcar lines long gone. The sea breeze and the shade created by street walls, combined with pre-air-conditioning architecture, keep the pedestrian space somewhat cooler in the summers, and the short proximities between homes and businesses minimize car travel.
Small, urban parcels, by nature, require less maintenance than subdivisions of more recent vintage. Places like Asbury Park still manifest the wisdom of practical and more sustainable building customs. The ubiquity of air travel and climate control had taken vacationers further afield, and in the path of suburban sprawl, the beach towns of Monmouth County began to divide into two groups. Meanwhile, towns with larger lots were reinvented as year-round suburbs. Today, a new shift is underway.
A growing appreciation for urban neighborhoods, combined with long-term economic and demographic patterns, has fueled an unprecedented affordability crisis in many of our old, first-order cities. This has been particularly true at the core of the New York region, where dozens of erstwhile working- and middle-class neighborhoods have become very expensive in the space of just one generation. A similar trend may now be gaining steam around Philadelphia. At the same time, new appreciation of the value of community has sparked a newfound interest in the virtues of smaller places, while the rising number of Americans who can work remotely has made housing options at the metropolitan fringe more viable for those who remain attached but not tethered to specific regions.
Accordingly, livable, attractive, and humanely-scaled towns situated at the affordable frontiers of metropolitan housing markets have a special combination of advantages in the current real estate environment.
New Jersey town made famous by Springsteen at centre of gentrification row
Those places with natural beauty to offer, as well, are poised to be in the catbird seat. Situated roughly halfway between the more famous boardwalks of Coney Island and Atlantic City, Asbury Park has benefited from the convergence of these trends. Its proximity to two of the largest and most dynamic cities of the American Northeast allows it to be easily rediscovered. As it was in the elegant days of the late Victorian era, and in the cool, modern s, Asbury Park is but a day trip from Midtown or Center City.
But today, its comparative affordability, combined with its traditional, humane scale, have joined the Atlantic Ocean as major selling points. Significantly, recent development has largely followed established patterns. This inherently conservative approach means that new buildings promote a continuous fabric of traditional urbanism.
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Street walls have been extended, building lines that approach sidewalks, and foot traffic and physical coherence are maintained through the resulting density. Where new development departs from established patterns, it is concentrated in the right locations — along the beach itself, and around the traditional downtown blocks.
Ocean Avenue runs parallel to the Boardwalk and has several surviving historic buildings. In a unique turn of design, the coordinate, east and west parts of the complex are joined by an enclosed arcade, through which the Boardwalk passes on a north-south axis. The Paramount Theater and Convention Hall. Acroterion, via Wikimedia Commons. Just north of the Paramount Theater, the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel has stood for more than a century and continues to offer elegant rooms with ocean views. To the south, the Stone Pony, at Ocean and Second, has been a consistent destination since the s, with nightly concerts in the warm months.
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The music club has long been the hub of a vibrant local scene, helping launch the careers of Bruce Springsteen, the Asbury Jukes, and others. The famous Stone Pony, where Springsteen has been known to play since the s. On the Boardwalk, the Silverball Museum contains a dense collection of dozens of colorful, clanging, vintage pinball machines — a refreshingly tactile and mechanical diversion from the ubiquitous touchscreens of liquid modernity. Nearby, a miniature golf course gives way to a water park comprising a cluster of gigantic, bright-hued garden tools.
The haunting, ruined shell of the massive Asbury Park Casino and Carousel House looms on the white sandy beach, nearby.
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Unfortunately, despite the historic, iconic, tragic, and otherwise curious sites along Ocean Avenue, a very high proportion of the buildable land between the beach and Bergh Street another ocean-parallel street, two blocks west continues to be occupied by parking lots and random, low-rise, post-war buildings. One could easily surmise that the underuse of these parcels is not accidental, but the result of ongoing speculation.
Willjay, via Wikimedia Commons. Presently, the one obvious exception to this underutilized land-use pattern on the waterfront is the Asbury Ocean Club, a story white tower nearing completion at Ocean and Third. Instead, they hope to inject a dose of serious outside money into the local real estate market.
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Focused around Press Square named for the former newsroom of the Asbury Park Press , and its neoclassical building, which still stands , a cluster of stores and restaurants caters to residents and visitors alike. Cookman Avenue, the main commercial street, comprises a multicolored variety of compact, attached storefronts, dating mostly from the early 20 th century. The scene is visually reminiscent of an Edward Hopper painting, but with fewer faces marked by anomic despair.
A closer look quickly reveals several practical, downtown businesses, along with a growing number of make-your-own-art galleries, chipper bruncheonettes serving the requisite esoteric varieties of Bloody Marys and mimosas , a cat-themed tea house, and other shops geared toward the pervasive retail marketing correlation between excessive cuteness and disposable incomes.
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