HISTORY OF SEASIDE HEIGHTS NJ
Seaside Heights is one of the beach communities
on the Barnegat Peninsula. Its land area is about a half square
mile and it is located between Seaside Park to the south and the
Ortley Beach of Dover Township to the north.
the early years of the 1900s, a land development company envisioned
Seaside Heights as a resort and promoted it to Philadelphia area
residents as an ideal location to build summer homes. So that
prospective buyers could see the lots available (a 40-foot beachfront
lot cost only $100.00) as well as breathe the cool, refreshing ocean
air, the development company began running train excursions in 1909
and continued them seasonally for several years.
In 1913, Seaside Heights was incorporated as a
borough formed from sections of Berkeley and Dover townships.
Investor and manufacturer Christian Hiering played
a key role in nourishing this newborn borough. In 1913, Hiering
started the Barnegat Power and Cold Storage Company bringing electricity
to Seaside Heights for the first time.
December 1, 1915, the first toll bridge was opened across Barnegat
Bay, linking Seaside Heights with Toms River and the mainland.
The bridge was built by the Island Heights and Seaside Heights Bridge
Company at a cost of $153,477.90. The tolls varied; a horse
and buggy was 25¢ - with extra persons an additional 10¢, a car
and driver cost 40¢ - with additional persons an additional 15¢,
horses, cattle, pigs and sheep cost 10¢ each. Children under
5 were allowed to cross free of charge.
Now visitors had more convenient access without
having to take a boat or travel by train on the railroad bridge
built in 1881.
By this time, there were now two new hotels in
Seaside Heights: the Sheridan Inn and the Sumner Hotel. The
Seaside Heights Amusement Company announced plans to build a theater
and carousel along with billiard, pool and shuffleboard rooms.
Before World War I, an amusement park opened between
Seaside Heights and Seaside Park. The two communities were
to share the benefits for the remainder of the 1900s.
So the seeds were planted that would flourish into
New Jersey's "Family Fun and Sun Resort," claiming Seaside
Heights as the greatest concentration of games and amusement rides
in the world!
But it took a lot of persistence. The first
three blocks of boardwalk took four years to build back in 1917.
Four decades later, in 1955, a major boardwalk fire destroyed a
substantial number of amusements including the original carousel
that dated back to 1917. Today's 17-block, mile-long boardwalk
is enjoyed by the tens of thousands who visit each week in season.
Strolling along the boardwalk was a success from
the beginning. It's reported that in 1917 the Pennsylvania
Railroad had to send a special 12-car train to get Philadelphia
visitors back home.
Today's day-trippers flood in from North Jersey,
New York and Pennsylvania via freeways and toll roads all feeding
into the $6 million Thomas A. Mathis Bridge, which replaced the
narrow wooden bridge back in 1950. The efforts to get the
new bridge were spearheaded by determined Seaside Heights residents,
including Joseph Stanley Tunney who served the community as mayor
for nearly 25 years. (It is for Tunney that a second bridge,
one that now carries visitors from the shore back to the mainland,
It was also Tunney who led the fight for boardwalk
expansion back in the 1940s. He knew it was the key to community
growth. As a result of lengthening the boardwalk along the
entire oceanfront, new homes, hotels and motels were built.
Summer residents, renters and vacationers followed.
Fun-seeking visitors come from beyond the metropolitan
NY-NJ and Philadelphia areas to spend a day, week or more enjoying
the entertainment-filled boardwalk, the amusement piers, water park
and the spectrum of ocean and bay swimming, boating, fishing, crabbing
and other water sports. And of course, the hand-held foods
as well as the fine restaurants. It's all centered in Seaside