Sunday, April 15, 2007

Rainy day tour of Asbury Park

My husband and I ventured out in the storm this afternoon to have a look at the ocean - can you see just how churned up it is with the storm? No, me neither. This view is typical of the northern part of the Jersey Shore - huge mansions and condos on the right and the concrete seawall on the left. The seawall is meant to keep the huge mansions from floating away in a big storm. In some towns, the people who own houses on the right side of the road (the river side) also own the rights to a private staircase over the seawall. The rest of us get to look at the concrete wall that keeps *us* safe from the ocean's fury. Yea right. The seawall only runs through those towns that are backed by the river; where it ends it's replaced by condos, hotels, and beach clubs that also block public access to the ocean. Until you get to Asbury Park.

Asbury Park is a ghost town and has been for at least the past twenty years. There was a time long ago when it was a seaside resort and a family place. Through the years it's become a seedy sort of place, yet I can remember as a kid going there on Easter Sunday all dresssed up to ride the rides and walk on the boardwalk. My husband remembers going there to race along the main drag when he was in high school. Bruce Springsteen made Asbury and its nightclubs famous.

Now it's just a very sad sort of place. Most of it, like the once gorgeous Convention Hall pictured above, is in some perpetual state of revival that never seems to come. What's not boarded up, falling down, or outright abandoned is "under construction" that seems to have been stalled for a decade at least. There's yellow police tape and orange construction barrels at every turn, but never any work being done. There are still plenty of families who make their home here, and some sections of town have been revived, but I don't know that the parts of Asbury that I remember will ever get back to what they were so many years ago. I don't think many people care about Asbury Park anymore or its future.

One thing that Asbury had going for it today was easy ocean access, not that we were willing to step out of the car to enjoy it. The gulls were in heaven, or so it seemed. I'm not sure what this was about, but there must have been something churned up by the waves to draw so many to one spot. The ocean was angry today, but the *historic storm* the weathermen predicted turned out to be nothing more than a rainy day with some flooded roads. Here locally, at least. Some places are being pounded with snow - glad it wasn't us.


Cathy said...

An excellent and dramatic picture of an angry ocean. I've never witnessed anything like that, Laura. Was the sound as intense as those churning waves would indicate?

Body Soul Spirit said...

I thought the pictures on TV almost looked hurricane-like. I wonder how the gulls face into the strong winds like that. Glad the storm was not as bad as expected for you.

Larry said...

So that's Asbury Park.-All I knew about it was that Bruce Springsteen played their.-Nice way to spend a rainy day.

Mary said...

Asbury Park will see it's day again. It's bound to happen, after all, it's Ocean property!

That last photo is awesome, Laura. I've been to the ocean during nor'easters and once during a hurricane. It's a stunning sight, isn't it? Common sense says lets get out of here but you can't. It's just too breathtaking.

Susan Gets Native said...

Sorry that it rained on your Sunday. But like you said, it could have been snow. Hello? Isn't it APRIL?

To answer your question from a few posts ago: I try to rotate the birds I use...and I can hear them whisper about getting a union.

KGMom said...

Hold on to your hat, Laura--the storm may yet be gathering. I am watching weather now and it may still rain a bunch tomorrow with lots of wind.
It feels like an adventure to see the ocean in a storm.
Years ago, my husband & I vacationed in Atlantic City (just before it became a gambling place). We got caught in a thunderstorm, and had a blast as water quickly rose. We were soaked til we got back to our hotel, but just laughed & laughed.

mon@rch said...

This weather is crazy and looks like you will get hit with the brunt of it! I love the shot with the gulls at the ocean! Stay dry!

bunnygirl said...

I love abandoned, decrepit-looking places that have seen better days. They give off such an interesting vibe.

And that ocean pic is great. It would translate well to a painting.

John said...

I also remember visiting Asbury Park as a kid. It was dying even then, but there were still signs of life - nothing like its current state. It is kind of odd that the development boom along the Shore somehow missed Asbury Park. I imagine that much of it will eventually be razed and rebuilt. The convention center is the sort of thing that could become a center of revitalization if restored quickly. If it is allowed to sit and deteriorate, then at some point it will not be salvageable any longer.

LauraHinNJ said...

Cathy: We didn't think it was very bad really, lots of whitecaps, but the wind wasn't anything like we were made to expect.

Ruth: I haven't seen any of the storm reports on tv, although we did come across a news van broadcasting from one of the shore towns. There's hardly any wind, and my husband hasn't been called in to work yet, so it musn't be bad.

Larry: Really, it's just a peek at Asbury Park, just a few images that I thought people outside NJ might recognize. And that's not the real *Tilly* if anyone's wondering.

Mary: That's part of what's stragne with Asbury - other oceanfront towns have new hotels and condos, but nothing like that even happens in Asbury. They try, but it never gets anywhere.

Really, I'm not sure that the best thing for Asbury anyway. It's a very, very poor town, and people wouldn't be able to afford to live there otherwise.

My husband took the gull shot!

Susan: You better watch out for that!

Did you ever read Hootie's story that I linked to? It's a very sweet one, you ought to.

KGMom: I've only been to Atlantic City once or twice - not a gambler, but it's a seedy sort of place too. I don't think it's always been that way, but the gamblers helped. What was there when you vacationed before the casinos?

Monarch: It's very wet here and think it will be for a few days.

Bunnygirl: Do you really? I'm not sure I'd call the vibe here *interesting*, but maybe that's cause I've seen it in better days. Just makes me sad.

LauraHinNJ said...

John: I think a good part of it has already been razed, it's the rebuilding that seems to be stalled! My DH blames it on the corruption in Asbury, I don't know.

Dr. Know said...

That was an excellent perspective on that region of the coast. Not been to Asbury, but been down the coast from Atlantic City to Cape May. Your synopsis depicts the situation facing many towns, coastal or otherwise. As for the inclement weather, nothing beats sitting on the Sunshine Skyway or Gulf to Bay Bridge in the first hours of a hurricane. Wow!

Jayne said...

Glad you all escaped the brunt of the storm. I am sure there are some gulls in need of :c) Just imagine all the yummy things washed up with that surf.

dguzman said...

We had a rather rainy blustery day in Central PA as well; no foot of snow as predicted. Reality rarely lives up to Meteorologist Drama.

I often wonder about those towns where construction is stalled, or never even begins. I can't see anyone investing in it, if they haven't already, you know? It's like some places become the worn-out batteries that we throw away, or the fashions that are no longer fashionable. But there's no Goodwill store for towns.

LauraO said...

I love a stormy ocean - thanks for the tour. I didn't realize Asbury Park was nearly abandoned. Sad. But if its on the ocean, someone will surely reclaim it someday...Bruce????

LauraHinNJ said...

Dr. Know: Cape May is my favorite part of the Jersey Shore! Asbury has a long way to go.

Jaybe: I saw lots and lots of Bonaparte's gulls - a treat as gulls go!

Delia: I think there's been a fair amount of investment in Asbury, but it doesn't seem to come to much.

Laura: Really, it's not abandoned, just the boardwalk and casino to convention hall look that way. Bruce is trying, I think, and still plays at the Pony once in a while.

Rhea said...

I went to Asbury Park as a kid, too. My family took day trips from there. I grew up near New Brunswick. It looks incredibly sad there. I'd heard about it, but your photos are a good documentation of it.

Omar Cruz said...
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