The Monolith of Asbury Park

The Asbury Park boardwalk.  In one word, iconic.  About a mile of New Jersey history.  The Casino.  The Palace.  The Carousel.  The Paramount.  Tillie the Clown.  Convention Hall.  The Berkeley Carteret.  The Stone Pony and Bruce Springsteen.  Mrs. Jays.  The list goes on and on.  But there’s one building that almost never gets any mention.  One building that is just out of frame on so many famous pictures of the boardwalk.  One building that, as I walked along the boardwalk countless times in the last 34 years, was a mystery to me.  It stood, seemingly married to the Casino, a partner but still alone.  Lonely.  Dark.  Abandoned.  Forgotten.  Mysterious.  Long fenced off and closed to the public, it rises at the southern end of the boardwalk, behind the Casino and adjacent to Wesley Lake, like a monolith to the dark side of the history of the town.

The Steam Plant.

The east side view of the exterior of the central chimney.

The east side view of the exterior of the central chimney.

The History

Many of you know it as “the old steam plant.”  It is interesting how it doesn’t have an “official” name, so it’s always preceded by “the old.”  We don’t say, “the old Paramount Theater,” or “old Convention Hall”  yet those buildings are both older than the steam plant.  A remnant of technology long gone and forgotten, entering operation in 1930, it has been marking the southern end of the boardwalk for 84 years now.  In that time there have been fires, floods, hurricanes and superstorms, political and social upheaval, economic rise and fall, riots, wars, and shipwrecks at her feet.  Asbury Park has risen, fallen, and is rising again.  And still it stands.  Unchanged.  A monument.

The “icons” of the boardwalk had one major design flaw.  As Asbury Park struggled to compete with the likes of Atlantic City, and New York, the buildings on the boardwalk lacked a major convenience during winter… heat.

So, in the hope of attracting patrons all year round, in the late 1920’s Asbury Park Mayor Clarence E.F. Hetrick commissioned the steam plant.  Famous architects, and icons in their own right, Warren and Wetmore from New York, were hired in a very controversial no-bid contract to build the steam plant.  Of course, they designed the building to complement their other work on the boardwalk- the Convention Hall/Paramount and the Casino were also designed by this team in the Beaux-Arts style of the time (they also designed the Berkeley Carteret Hotel in the 1920’s).  Warren and Wetmore also claimed such accomplishments as the Helmsley Building, The Commodore Hotel, the NY Biltmore Hotel, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Grand Central Palace, and many more now historic buildings.  So, their pedigree and qualifications were a given.  When you look at the four buildings together, the design consistency is obvious.  In fact, the steam plant was an almost identical design to a library they built in Louvain, France with its tall, slanted tower.  And while classic now, one can see that they fit the 1930’s like a glove.  (Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the entire boardwalk was revitalized in this style?)

The Northeast view from the solarium.  The Casino to the north, the "inkwell" beach to the east.

The Northeast view from the solarium. The Casino to the north, the “inkwell” beach to the east.

 

This is the view of Wesley Lake from the roof of the Steam Plant.  I wish I could come back and take this when the light was better and the construction was complete.

This is the view of Wesley Lake from the roof of the Steam Plant. I wish I could come back and take this when the light was better and the construction was complete.

Location

The original proposed location for the steam plant was to be adjacent to the municipal sewer plant on Eighth Ave., near the boardwalk.  But Mayor Hetrick saw a way for it to serve a dual purpose.  One must remember the era in which it was built… the 1920’s and 30’s.  “Things” were not as they are today, unfortunately.  Mayor Hetrick saw the opportunity to bolster his constituency a bit with the location of the steam plant and Casino.  Since the Casino originally extended onto and over the beach like Convention Hall still does, the steam plant’s location, shape, and size blocked the view of the beach to the south and east from the rest of Asbury Park.  It created a “private” beach that was designated “blacks only.”  This beach was nicknamed “the Inkwell” and was not visible from the “whites only” beach north of the Casino to Convention Hall.  As I said, times were different.  This was also convenient because the City of Asbury Park ran the steam plant and Casino, and Mayor Hetrick staffed both buildings with African American workers, further segregating them while also providing jobs.  Sadly, discrimination was alive and well in the 1930’s, as was political corruption.

Operation

So, in 1930, the steam plant became operational.  Little is written about it or what was inside.  And, at least in my research, it is not known how long it was in operation or if the equipment it started with was what it ended with.  As it was described to me, it had at least three massive tube-type boilers, approximately 20x8x15 feet each, covered in a silver material with brick and asbestos fireboxes.  The whole operation was fed by four fuel tanks adjacent to Wesley Lake (where the Casino parking lot is located now), each holding 15,000 gallons of “bunker” oil- so thick it needed to be heated just to flow from the tanks.  (Bunker oil is literally the bottom of the barrel in the oil refining process.  The only thing thicker, or cheaper, is the tar used in roads.  Thus, it was often used in large boilers in steam plants and aboard ship.)    I do not know if it used public water or siphoned water from Wesley Lake to fill the boilers and make steam.  I would imagine lake water would be risky as it could bring many impurities into the boilers requiring additional maintenance, expense, and down time.  But locating the steam plant next to the lake may have also given it a convenient source of water.  And I’m sure excess water was dumped right back into the lake.  The steam output of the plant was delivered in pipes that ran in a concrete tunnel adjacent to the boardwalk, from the steam plant north four blocks to the Paramount Theater and Convention Hall.  Along the way, the Casino complex, the Natatorium (a massive indoor pool, long gone) and other buildings received steam heat.

The Interior

 

If you look carefully near the bottom, center, you can see where the bunker oil supply pipes once entered the building.

If you look carefully near the bottom, center, you can see where the bunker oil supply pipes once entered the building.

Every time I walked by the building, I would wonder what the interior looked like.  How were the boilers situated?  How many people did it take to operate the plant?  When I entered the steam plant for the first time, I was amazed at how simple it was.  A central chimney was surrounded by what appeared to be three pads where the boilers were located.  A high, ornate ceiling, held the massive brick structure above.  The central chimney is huge and had to handle the thick black exhaust that resulted from the large boilers burning a dirty fuel.  With today’s environmental laws, there is no doubt that this plant, as it was, could not operate today.

As you descend the stairs, the chimney greets you, to the right.

As you descend the stairs, the chimney greets you, to the right.

The windows, once beautiful and ornate, are all boarded up, the glass long gone.  They were a similar style to what you see on the Carousel building today.  The chimney is still open to the sky and I could see faint traces of sunlight that made it from the top all the way down to below ground level.  The floor was dirt and partially wet.  The sound of dripping water could be heard, but considering the condition of the building, I was surprised there was not more water.  It did not even have a “musty” smell – no mold that I could see.  This may be attributed to some modern drainage as I could see white PVC pipes had been installed to carry water away.  Just the same, I’m glad to have been there on a somewhat warm day.  Around the back of the chimney, where the third boiler was located, a small trench was full of water and I was told this was frozen over during winter.

The back of the chimney where another boiler was placed.  Old winch or pumping equipment can be seen near the ceiling.

The back of the chimney where another boiler was placed. Old winch or pumping equipment can be seen near the ceiling.

In the back corner was a small area with the remnants of electrical boxes and other equipment.  I’m not sure it was big enough for someone to work in this area- possibly a storage or electrical closet.  Along the walls, the broken ends of cast iron pipes disappeared to a destination long gone.  One square opening was obviously where steam pipes sent winter warmth north to the buildings of the boardwalk.  Along the western wall, I could see the remnants of twelve pipes that entered through the concrete- these have been removed and concrete patches were put in their place.  However, below these patches I could still see where bunker oil had slowly dripped down the wall.  These were the pipes that led out to the storage tanks (I’m speculating, but four tanks, three boilers, therefore, twelve pipes?).  There were also pipes in the ceiling that sent over-pressure boiler steam up and out through ornate structures on the roof, which are still there to this day.

The chimney of the steam plant.  You can still see sunlight streaming through from the large tower, above.

The chimney of the steam plant. You can still see sunlight streaming through from the large tower, above.

The Exterior

The top and front of the steam plant were not accessible from inside.  Walking around the building to the front, there are boarded up windows which once housed concession stands.  There are several historic photos that show these businesses in operation.  A central outer staircase leads up to the solarium on the second floor- really the roof of the building.  Fortunately, the owners installed a modern rubber roof here which undoubtedly has protected the structure from years of water damage.  The roof area is large and overlooks Wesley Lake to the west, Ocean Grove to the south, the beach (the former Inkwell) to the east, and of course, the Casino to the north.

One of the alcoves on the roof of the steam plant.

One of the alcoves on the roof of the steam plant.

 

The central archway on the roof.

The central archway on the roof.

The roof is dominated by the majesty of the central chimney, black near the top from years of escaping soot.  The green decorative steam venting structures are still in place on the east and west sides.  There are brick archways all around the building which lend to its 1920’s styling.  There’s even what appeared to be an office area.  Poking my head in through a large open window, I disturbed several residents who had made a nest… we grow sea gulls big on the Jersey Shore, and I’m not sure these would fit through the window- needless to say, I wasn’t going to find out.  If you look carefully at some of the exterior photos, you can see where a lot of the brick mortar has deteriorated.

The view of the central tower from the roof.

The view of the central tower from the roof.

 

This is where excess steam from the boilers escaped.  Must have looked really cool...

This is where excess steam from the boilers escaped. Must have looked really cool…

Shut Down

This is where the history of the building goes a bit dark.  I was not able to determine when the steam plant was finally shut down.  Given its location right on the coast, I cannot imagine it was in operation during World War II.  The bunker oil it burned would have been a valuable resource during war time and it certainly would have been a German target during the war.  Whether or not it was operated after the war is unknown at this time, but it is doubtful considering newer technologies that were taking over (steam heat is very inefficient).  I did hear from one person who grew up in Asbury Park in the 1940’s and he does not remember the plant being in operation even then.

View of the second floor windows from the solarium.

View of the second floor windows from the solarium.

 

View of the detail on the east side of the plant.

View of the detail on the east side of the plant.

 

Boardwalk view of where the concession stands once were.

Boardwalk view of where the concession stands once were.

What is known is that around 2007, a contractor was finally hired to remove the massive boilers and clean out the building of any hazardous materials, putting it in its current benign state, a shell of its original, industrial glory.  When I first contacted the owners about photographing the building, I expected to get a “no way” response.  What I got instead was a “we don’t usually allow that, but let’s see what we can do.”  I would like to thank Madison Marquette for allowing me to have brief access to this historically lost building so that it could be documented for all time to come.  I hope my pictures do it justice.  I hope it is not forgotten, called an “eyesore,” or marked for demolition.

Future Use

Future use of the building has not yet been determined.  I certainly hope it stays as a structure marking the southern end of the Asbury Park boardwalk, for many years to come.  A few years ago someone proposed turning it into an art gallery or a restaurant, but those ideas proved to be unworkable at the time.  Maybe documenting the building in this way will bolster a little interest in its use and the right people and right ideas will come along as the rest of Asbury Park continues on its revitalization.  If my pictures could be part of sparking that interest, wonderful.  Hey, I think it would make a great photo studio, run by yours truly of course!  But then again, when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  The point is, it’s not too late for the steam plant.  Despite the looks of the interior, this building can be revitalized and put to good use again.  The structure is still sound, and its unique design lends itself to many uses.

Epilogue

There are still mysteries here- what it really looked like when she was new… the men that worked here, what 1930 was really like… I can picture dark smoke and steam spewing from the top, the noises of banging steam pipes, and loud oil-fueled fires heating huge tanks of water, the smell of burning oil- steam power is a living, breathing thing.  I can see some of the workmen taking a break, looking out over Wesley Lake as families took a ride on the paddle boats, while they toiled in a hot, nasty environment wearing soot-covered overalls.  I wish I could have seen her in all her glory.  But I can only imagine.

So now, as I walk along the Asbury Park boardwalk, I see people looking at the traditional icons… tourists snapping pictures at The Stone Pony, another Yappy Hour at the Wonderbar, beach goers and sunbathers carrying lounge chairs, some zombies left over from another zombie walk at Convention Hall, yet another photographer taking a picture of the “CA SI NO” and lovers walking hand in hand…

But me?  I cannot help but glance towards my new friend, the old steam plant.  May she live long, and stand tall…

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49 thoughts on “The Monolith of Asbury Park

    • I always thought it would be pretty cool if waterfalls came out of the top of the tower and fire burned in the “urns” on the sides of the tower. It would make a great restaurant with some shops. I hope someone invests in it and revitalizes it. The location is perfect.

  1. It’s always been one of my favorite buildings in Asbury. I’ve always though it to be stately and beautiful. I enjoyed reading your article very much and glad you took such great photos of her. The old girl deserves some attention.

  2. Thanks for the photos they are very hard to come by as to the inside. I do think the building should come down, as well as the Casino. Asbury has a tendency to cripple itself hanging on to dilapidated and useless structures driven by nostalgia. That spot in particular, the Casino-Heating Plant complex, could be the site of something glorious that our own generation can be known for a century from now if we build it, but we instead bow to the dead hand control of the past. And we are left with useless space used only be memories and ghosts.

    • Thanks for your thoughts Tom. I get where you’re coming from, however, to some extent I respectfully disagree. You talk of something glorious that our generation can be known for a century from now… but the heating plant and Casino is a mere 84 years old. Were they not glorious in their day? And look at the glorious project Xanadu built at the Meadowlands- an eyesore of our generation if there ever was one. And some of the design ideas that have been put forward for the current site are hideous at best. No, our generation doesn’t have a clue. In my opinion, renovating these buildings and returning them to their original glory would be both less expensive and give you a structure that you know is sound.

      In many ways, these buildings fell into disrepair because of a misguided belief that they had to hang onto the same use they always had. As I walked through the steam plant, I saw a beautiful and unique restaurant. A rooftop overlooking a beautiful lake, room for two bars. Inside, imagine an incredible brick-oven pizza sliding out of that magnificent chimney. A photo studio (forgive me, that’s what I do), an art gallery… Fleeting thoughts, yes, but all it takes is a little imagination rather than a “rip it down and start over” mentality.

      You see, I think what you really mean is Asbury Park has to find a use for itself. It has to have a reason for existing, a reason to reinvent itself so people will come. It doesn’t matter what the shape of the building is, or that the bricks have already been there for 84 years. It matters that someone cares about it enough to fix it and make it useful, rather than having it just sit there, closed down. The buildings are unique and they need to be preserved- what would go up in its place would merely be more gray concrete designed by some architectural “firm” no one ever heard of.

      I put to you that if they actually restored the Carousel building, and put a replica carousel in it, the line to ride the thing would be all the way down the boardwalk. And imagine if a skating rink was put back in the Casino building? Again, the line would be down the boardwalk. And how about some big name concerts in Convention Hall instead of these behemoths on the beach that no one wants to go to in the heat? It can work, if Asbury Park wants it to work.

      No my friend, the answer isn’t ripping it down and starting over. The answer is as simple as making the decision that you want what’s there to work. Again.

  3. Amazing !!! How many thousands of people, including me, drive along Lake or Kingsley, kind of glance over and up, at the almost spooky tower, and a lttle thought never fails to go through the mind, hmmm the tower. Awesome. So, here’s a thought, Martello Museum, in Key West. Mom lived there for over 30 years, and visiting her often, i would go to the Martello Tower, which were brick ramparts, built, i guess as a fortress to protect the island at some point. power washed and scrubbed, electricity installed, one walks along the corridors, footsteps echoing, and views walls hung with the history of the island, maps, hurricane articles, then entering rooms filled with art by local artists, rooms of vintage furniture, mannequins dressed in clothing from the islands’ inception. Even weddings are held there, as well as art shows and musical events. And it only took a good scrubbing of the ancient wonderful red brick. Sometimes the soul hungers for the old, the preserved, the well-kept. If it can be saved and put to good use, do so. The eye delights and the hunger for our past is satisfied. Thank-you for such wonderful pictures. I will try and find mine of Martello, taken 35 years ago.

  4. This is wonderful! Thanks for all your hard work. I grew up in Asbury Park in the 50’s and 60’s and know this tower well. But never once did I actually know what it was for! Many thanks.

  5. Great article..I grew up on that boardwalk in the 50s,60s etc. never really knew what that building was except the dividing line between asbury park and ocean grove…thanks for the photos and information..I will certainly look at it differently next time I bike by this summer

  6. I’ve seen old maps from the time the plant was built and the area in front of it was labeled “Nigger Beach”. Even in the 70s and 80s the area was called “Blacks Beach.” I’ve seen photos from its heyday and there was a restaurant on the top if I recall correctly as well as colored only concession windows. It was really nice in its day. Sadly the foundation is failing and the structure is unsound. I doubt if it will be around in another 20 years or so. Sad.

    • Oh how I would love to see those maps and any photos- if you ever come across any, please remember me and please share! There are precious few from the 1930’s. Most are just drawings on post cards. And none that I could find… even searching the archives of Warren and Wetmore… You would think that the architect’s biographies would have a picture- but sadly, not even a mention since this wasn’t supposed to be a public building. Utilities don’t really get a mention, I guess.

      I hope the structure is more sound than you think. The central chimney weighs tons and I can only imagine that, even though it goes to ground level inside the structure, it still puts tremendous strain on the rest of the building, especially during a storm. The fact that it is all still “up” is a small miracle. I do believe that there are several layers of façade in place, and they are definitely in poor shape. But considering that, the interior does seem sound. Of course, that is all speculation on our part… and masonry, architecture, and mechanical engineering I find to be the black arts…. why they work is anyone’s guess.

  7. Thanks for the excellent article and peek inside a landmark that has always caught my attention and stirred my imagination.Lit up at night, it impressively crowns the western end of Wesley Lake. One can only imagine what great uses will give this iconic structure another look, life and an architectural rebirth. To demolish it would only destroy what little is left of Asbury’s glory days.

    • I couldn’t agree more. She is a beautiful structure (at the east end of Wesley Lake) and no matter her condition, is majestic and beautiful. It would be sad if she were no longer there.

  8. I always thought the structure was older than the 30’s. I agree that it should be repurposed. It would make a great haunted attraction, as it reminds me of the asylum for the remake of “The House on Haunted Hill” or a ‘Steampunk’ theme.

    • Interesting you should say that Tom as the building was used as the backdrop for a horror movie in the 1980’s. Of the “old” structures in the boardwalk area, it is actually the youngest building… it has just received the least amount of “love.” I believe the Berkely Carteret Hotel is the oldest.

  9. I have a shop in Convention Hall and love to look at the details each time I am in the building. I, like you, always had a curiousity about the steam plant. This was fascinating. I am looking forward to seeing what is done with the building as well. Love all the motifs and how they are shared also inside the casino building and Convention Hall. I really appreciate the craftmanship that went into these buildings and love what has been done to preserve them and keep them operating.

  10. Back in 1983 and 1984 there were still metal rungs in that rectangular gap you can see in the chimney and it was possible, though extremely scary, to climb up to the top. The view down the Boardwalk, which wasn’t as desolate then as it later became, was amazing. I imagine that the rungs are all rusted through by now, as they weren’t in good shape 30 years ago, and it would be impossible instead of just stupidly dangerous to climb nowadays.

  11. I have a real soft spot in my heart for this building. I worked in the burger joint/concession stand there for the summers of ’66 thru ’69. Fond memories. Thanks for this history!

  12. The steam plant was definitely in operation up to at least the early ’60’s. I remember it. When one of the boilers fired up, a huge plume of dark black smoke would come out of the chimney, leading to the rumor that this was actually an incinerator (never true).

    • Very interesting that you should say that! Of the hundreds of people I’ve spoken to in person or on social media, you are the first person to say it was in operation as late as the 1960’s!

  13. And more: In an act tragic civic vandalism, the top of the chimney was chopped of by the City Of AP in the mid-60’s. Get ahold of an old post card to see what I mean. Someone actually got an AWARD for gettting this done “for free” with city employes! A beautiful spire that’s not as beautiful as it used to be…………

    • Yes, the urn at the top was removed. I’m not sure why they did that, but I have seen many old postcards with it in place. Thankfully, the overpressure urns lower down are still in place.

  14. Lost for words, other than thank you so very much! Ever since I was a little girl, I wondered what the old steam plant looked like inside. Your pictures are incredible and thank you for sharing:-)! Of I won the lottery tomorrow, I would renovate that beautiful building!! Thanks again:-)))))
    Jessica

    • Thank you! Yes, in her heyday she was just as beautiful as she is now! I would love to find pictures of the interior during operation- with the actual boilers and some of the workers. That would be a find.

    • Absolutely amazing find Lynn, thank you so much! If you look carefully at 5:10 or so of Part 3, you can actually see steam coming out of the east-side overpressure urn (on the far side of the building in the video)- so this, as far as I know, is the only images of the plant in operation.

      Amazing quality color video for the time period.

    • Thank you so very much for your rich and extensive historical analysis of this iconic structure! You totally captured the information I was searching for. Your eyewitness narrative and of course your photographs quenched my thirst for the information I desired. I have been enamored by several building in Asbury, but the ‘The Steam Plant’ is by far my favorite of all! I walk the beach everyday with 2 dogs and admire it from afar and needed to know all I could about it. Can you please update your narrative and include information on the current artist that painted the mural – “Save Her Glory”…? I would also be interested in teaming up with you to chronicle other iconic buildings in Asbury as well as the new development currently taking place. A good friend of mine that also lives in AP is a film maker….

      • Thank you so much for your kind words. Researching the building was definitely a labor of love.

        The murals are often commissioned by the owner of the property, Madison Marquette, I assume as part of an effort to prevent the older properties from becoming an eyesore until their disposition can be determined. You would have to contact Madison Marquette directly to get information on that particular work as they are ever changing.

        Of course, I would be interested in any collaborative projects you have in mind. If you are serious, please contact me via email (marlo@marlopix.com) so we may discuss in further detail…

  15. this is a wonderful documentation of such an iconic building. you obviously put many hours of your time researching this for your extensive article. there is a display of historic moments,places etc in New Jersey coming up in June up in Morristown. may i use some of this information to back up my submition to be considered for the display? of course giving you credit for the content.

  16. I’ve written poems of this building,all the years I’ve walked around it,pictured it in my head, wondered about it,the inside.So tonight I thank you,and wish it a place not as to be improved or understood,or re-thought as function of Asbury Park. Steam,a beautiful thing,hissing the way it does.

  17. Great article about an iconic structure. My family vacationed every summer at the shore starting in 1960, we rented a home in Allenhurst to the north, and spent virtually every night on the boardwalk in AP, that is, after eating a cheap dinner at the Grand Atlantic cafeteria in Ocean Grove.

    I remember being intrigued with that building as a small child; someone on the boardwalk told us it was the “power plant,” so I assumed it generated electricity for the facilities on the boardwalk.

    Wonderful pictures, too bad the boilers weren’t still there for you to photograph. As a photographer myself and “student” of industrial archaeology, those would have been great shots, too.

    I can easily see the building repurposed as a restaurant, bar, gallery, etc. I was just down there last week and was surprised to see the casino structure on the east side of the boardwalk totally gone. But the whole area is picking up, great to see it starting to recover, but it did take 40 years after the riots to do so.

  18. Great photo journalism. I have always been intrigued by the building as well as convention hall since my early teens (I’m now 60). Great shots of a beautiful structure! Really enjoyed the interior shots where the boilers were. Being involved with a few major boiler projects myself made it even more interesting. Thanks for a job well done. I agree the building should remain and be transformed into something special to celebrate the history and resurgence of Asbury Park. Thanks again.

  19. This is beautifully done! Like you, I sincerely hope that this complex will be repurposed and preserved, and work like yours can only help!

  20. There are usually two fuel oil lines for each boiler: one supply, and one return:
    The fuel is burned at such a low rate in Gallons per hour, and pumping at these low
    flow rates is difficult, hence the supply, and return piping.
    The third pipe: another re-circulation system to keep the heavy fuel oil
    heated, and pump-able..

  21. Very interesting article. I’m one of those people who always heard it was an incinerator. I grew up in Ocean Grove and in 1989 when I was 14 years old a few friends and I climbed over what was a 10-12 foot high wooden gate where the central stairs are (the gate doesn’t exist anymore) leading to the roof of the building where the alcoves and solarium are. I actually climbed the old rungs of the tower and don’t know how I was never caught (it was the middle of summer). I remember walking through the building completely perplexed and could not figure out what its purpose was. I don’t remember much about the boilers, I just remember them being extremely large. I went home and asked my father what the building was (didn’t tell him what I had done of course) and was told it used to be an incinerator. I will now tell my dad he was wrong 🙂

    On a side note…there is actually a whole underworld of tunnels running beneath the casino and surrounding area. Now I know a little more history to the reason for its existence thanks to this article. I used to access these areas from the Inkwell beach (I think the entrance is completely buried by sand or even concreted over now) and from a metal door/hatch in the sidewalk that used to run east from the north end pool entrance (sidewalk has been removed and I see no evidence of the old hatch anymore). If I remember right the area under the casino was more like a crawlspace but still very cool to explore for a 14 year old kid. Reading this article brings me back to those days. Thanks for putting this article up, it answered a lot of questions I’ve had about the building ever since that day in ’89.

    • Thank you very much for your comment and the insight you provided!

      I can’t believe you climbed the central chimney… but I’m actually surprised more people haven’t. I wondered that myself looking up at it. Today, I would imagine those rungs are no longer safe.

      I had never heard about tunnels, or probably more accurately, crawl spaces under the Casino. But when you consider that it used to partly be a skating rink, that isn’t surprising. I’m sure they seemed mysterious and irresistible when you were a kid.

      With any luck, the plans to revitalize the building will happen soon and we can continue to enjoy her uniqueness for many generations to come.

      • Well done Marlo. I grew up in Asbury Park and just celebrated my 50th high school reunion ASHS.

        Sent from my iPhone

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