While only encompassing one square mile, Asbury Park has a storied history. It was the playground of wealthy New Yorkers and those from Bergen County from its development in 1871 well into the 1950’s. It was serenaded by Frank Sinatra and was a high school football powerhouse into the 1960’s. However, by the late 1960’s Asbury Park began its economic decline; and race riots in the early 1970’s didn’t help the situation. By the time Bruce Springsteen arrived in the late 1970’s Asbury Park was a city of great music in a truly rundown town.
Many say that the Empress hotel and Georgie’s Bar led the way for the LGBTQ community to move in and help to renovate Asbury Park. In the early part of the 2000’s its lovely Victorian houses were discovered by this vibrant community, and Asbury’s rebirth as a hip and tolerant community started to slowly attract the restaurants, stores, bars and developers we see in the city today.
Asbury is divided into quadrants. West of the railroad tracks is considered the “West Side” and is mostly residential. “North West” Asbury is being developed the most quickly, with homes being renovated everywhere one looks and new restaurants and shops opening up slowly. “South West” Asbury has over 80 new housing units in the works and hosts free concerts during the summer. Everything east of the railroad tracks is the “East Side”; the downtown area is in the “South East”, with over 25 restaurants, an indie movie theatre, five art galleries and numerous shops. And the “North East” is residential and beach oriented.