New Jersey - Asbury Park

Asbury Park

Compare Bradley Beach's stately and historic oceanfront with the dilapidated and abandoned view in Asbury Park - both are northbound on the respective streets closest to the beach.

A closeup of that old structure, a hotel started in the 1980's in an attempt to revitalize the former booming beach town, until the developer went belly-up. No one cared enough about Asbury Park to demolish the old structure, so it stands in sad reminder of how downtrodden the city has become.

Interestingly enough, Asbury Park was home to one of only seven remaining Howard Johnsons still serving food at the time I visited - many more HoJo buildings are intact though, with their signature peaked roofs. This now-dead HoJo only opened during the summer, which is odd because Asbury Park doesn't get tourists - or maybe they got just enough to fill the HoJo's few rooms. The survival of this endangered species was a sign that Asbury Park isn't all dead - for example, bands as notable as Green Day still came to the Convention Hall, just a few blocks from the abandoned hotel project. In the years since, the HoJo closed, but Asbury Park revitalization has finally taken off in earnest.

After decades of rust, the partially built structure was finally taken down, and new concrete arose in its place. This building did subsequently get completed. Hurrah for Asbury Park!

Speaking of the Convention Hall, this iconic 1930 structure remains one reason to visit Asbury Park no matter the condition of the city.

I'm less sure that the Wonder Bar is a reason to visit. The original Tillie mural from the Palace Amusements building (well, the one of two murals that was preserved) remains in storage. This is just a tribute, and now it's not really in any better shape, but that makes it that much more the stuff of nightmares.

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