Due to the obsession with Kevin Smith, I have also developed an obsession with Asbury Park, New Jersey. I wanted to explore the places I saw in the movies, and the place Bruce Springsteen made famous with that iconic album cover. The first time I visited it was the Summer of 2001. I was shocked to discover a ghost town. So I did some actual homework (not just movie-watching) on this once quaint seaside town.
Originally developed in 1971, the 1920s gave Asbury Park a drastic change on the original (but successful!) boardwalk with the development of the Paramount Theatre and Convention Hall complex, the Casino Arena and Carousel House. The Berkeley-Carteret Hotel was also developed during this period. Asbury Park was on it's way up. But not surprisingly, the Great Depression and World War II were not kind to Asbury Park. In the decades following the war, the seaside town lost it's surrounding farming community and suburbs popped up. In the 1950s the tourism industry was nearly booming again. But then a confluence of events (Garden State Parkway development, creation of a nearby Six Flags, opening of the Monmouth Mall) pulled visitors and their disposable income away from Asbury Park again. Riots (spurned by civic unrest regarding municipal mismanagement) in 1970 led to the destruction of many aging buildings. By the time I arrived in 2001, many of those buildings had not been repaired or torn down. So it was an interesting and unique vacation. We stayed at the Berkeley-Carteret Hotel, feeling as though we were the only guests there, and exploring dark and dank ballrooms with peeling paint and unclean carpets. It was right out of a horror film.
When I returned in 2006, I was thrilled to find some retail open on the boardwalk and the Casino walkway open. There were high rise condos under construction, and there were actually people on the sand and in the surf. We stayed in a B&B this time, but we visited the Berkeley-Carteret and there seemed to be a decent amount of guests there, including a wedding party. I've since learned that it was purchased in 2007 and will be restored to it's original four star glory. I am very excited for Asbury Park, and I believe it should be a destination for vacationers, and I look forward to returning soon!