Keansburg turns 100! — Discover their history and how they’re celebrating
Keansburg Historical Society)
There’s a lot you do not know about Keansburg, New Jersey. And I’m excited to tell you about it because it is one of those places in New Jersey that’s underappreciated—even mocked (I’ve done some of the mocking myself, as a matter of fact!)
But like a lot of other spots in New Jersey, it’s filled with beauty and a rich history and doesn’t get the credit it deserves. At one square mile, so, while it’s true that Keansburg has had its share of detractors, this coming weekend will change that for a lot of people as the centennial celebration of the town gets underway.
That’s right. Keansburg celebrates its 100th anniversary this weekend, October 6th through the 8th, and there are plenty of things in store to mark the celebration with the fanfare it deserves.
I’ll bet you didn’t know, for instance, that Keansburg was the stomping ground of many luminaries like, the great heavyweight champion Gene Tunney, the legendary magician Harry Houdini and another magician, just as famous at the time, Servais Le Roy, the inventor of the levitation trick and others that magicians still use to this day.
Keansburg was also one of the first true Jersey Shore resorts. Just after the turn of the century, entrepreneur William Gelhaus began developing the beachfront, including a boardwalk and the amusement park, and—noting Keansburgs short hop over the water from New York—founded the first ferry service to bring New Yorkers to the new resort.
Keansburg soon became a convenient, popular and attractive locale for the city folk to enjoy and they did so in droves. Art Boden of the Keansburg historical society provided us with pictures of the “City of Keansburg”, the “MobJack”, and the other vessels that carried the well heeled New Yorkers over to the shore town.
Lodging was plentiful with cottages and rooming houses ready to reap the rewards of Keansburg’s lovely scenic seashore location and the many tourists who needed a place to stay. The College Inn and the Berkshire House were just two of the many rooming houses and hotels catering to the visiting clientele, the latter boasting rates of $9-$12 dollars per week, running water in each room, as well as what was surely a luxury in those days—electricity.
Below you'll see one of the many cool nostalgic videos featuring Keansburg that you can find on Brian Janie’s YouTube channel. You can really get a sense of what vintage Keansburg was really like from watching these.
So yes, Keansburg has never gotten the credit for being the quaint, historically significant seaside gem that it really is, but this weekend's festivities seek to change all that.
Not only will they celebrate the past but also the future of Keansburg, unveiling plans for new apartments and condominium complexes, a microbrewery, restaurants, and a 9/11 memorial, the country’s first dedicated solely to the emergency medical services personnel who responded that day.
So there’s a lot of “new” to look forward to in Keansburg, but a lot of old to look back on, too. Here are some of the highlights of Keansburg’s 100th birthday bash:
Friday, October 6th
- Craft beer garden and food tricks at Main St. & Beachway, from 5-9 p.m.
- Concert: Jimmy Shoez & The Magooz, from 6-9 p.m.
Saturday, October 7th
- Family fishing derby at Keansburg Beach/Baywalk East, 8-11 a.m.
- Old Truax Burial Ground Ecumenical Memorial Service at Leroy & Frederick, 9 a.m.
- Forest Park Mini-Carnival, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (petting zoo, pony rides, carnival games)
- Friendship Park festivities, 1-8 p.m. (arts and crafts, beer garden, concert by RB Express 5-8 p.m.)
- Historical Museum gifts and souvenirs at 59 Carr Ave., 1-7 p.m.
Sunday, October 8th
- St. John’s Field activities (old-timers baseball game show, hot dog-eating contest), 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
- Parade starting at the municipal building, 3 p.m., and ending at the 9/11 memorial.
- Historical Museum gifts and souvenirs at 59 Carr Ave., 1-5 p.m.
- Carnival at Main St. & Beachway, 4-8 p.m. (concert and beer garden starting at 5)
- Fireworks on the beach
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