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Category Archives: Asbury Park

Lets see, in the span of two years that I lived in Asbury Park, a heroin addict lived in the apartment above mine. He had yip-yappy dogs that yipped and yapped and scurried across the floor late into the night. Our appartment got broken into, and my wife’s lap top got stolen as a result. My teaching bag — which is a computer bag, only with papers, not computer in it — was stolen out of my car, only to be found blocks away, on a small island in a man made lake. Beer cans surrounded said bag. Strange people, in the middle of the night, would show up on my porch, lookng for Mr. Heroin Addict. The house across the road got raided, rather publically on the news, as a crack house. I had a bicycle stolen. Somebody broke into the basement and stole the communal washer and dryer. That’s right, huge, bulky, heavy appliances had been unhooked, carried up some steps, and apparently loaded onto a truck.  And one or two murders occured within two blocks of my home.

Trust me, I know Asbury Park, rather well. This wasn’t the late 1990’s ghost town either, but the tail end of 2004, 2005, and part of 2006.

And I don’t hold a grudge, either.

I say this, because when I come across this Asbury Park Press story, it made me very happy:

A downturn in crime that made last year the best in the city in a decade is continuing so far this year, according to reports for the first half of 2008.

Police Chief Mark Kinmon released statistics through the end of June showing one murder compared with three at the halfway point last year. There were reports of 69 robberies compared to 86 halfway through 2007, two rapes compared with six at the same time last year, and 62 aggravated assaults compared with 74 as of June 30 last year.

The reduction in homicides, if it continues, is significant, following the high of eight in 2006 and six last year. The city, like many urban communities, was hit hard with young people, often gang members, shooting and killing each other.

“We feel we’re making a lot of progress on the gangs,” Kinmon said. “The county (Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office) continues to be a big help.”

Maybe we really are on the cusp of an Asbury Park Rebirth — complete, this time, not partial. I hope so.

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Empty.  Just like I mostly remember it.  For years, though, it was worse off, with rotting boards.  This picture is a couple of years old, I think.  Circa 2005, I think.

Scars/signs of the old Cold War are still around us, even though a new millenial generation — one born after the fall of the Soviet Union — is just now reaching the upper end of their teenage years. It’s a simple as a yellow and black sign, posting the classification “fallout shelter” on the sides of buildings. Basically, I’m going to start collecting photographs of these signs, partly because I highly doubt new structures will go up with them, now. As for the photo on the left of this post, that building has already met the wrecking ball in Asbury Park. It was the Ambassador Hotel. Slate.com, on another note, has a history of Cold War Civil Defense here.

One of the things about New Jersey, and I’ve likely said this elsewhere on this blog, is that you have pockets abandoned, run down space, even in well to do areas.  This old pool, for example, is in Ocean Grove.  To be fair, however, it’s in the corner nearest the Asbury Park boardwalk.

I haven’t taken any pictures of the place since the new paint job. I figured grayish paint jobs are boring. However, here what’s been painted over in the last year or two:

In the history of Asbury Park, the 1990’s were kind of bleak, as were the early parts of the 00 years.  Around 2004, a lot of redevelopment has happened.  Sure, some of it has stalled due to the housing crunch, but one might say the early phase of the rebuilding hasn’t even touched the things that are left, work wise.

(Note that the C-8 Rust Skeleton still stands in the background.  That’s one definitive way to date an Asbury Photo, these days.)

Last time I was there, the banners were gone.  Thankfully, this building is structurally sound, unlike a lot of landmarks around Asbury Park that met the bulldozer and wrecking ball.

One of the things about The Two Marks and their wonderful magazine, Weird New Jersey: they often feature a lot of photographs of weird chemical shit. Of course, New Jersey has a few nuclear power plants. For a time, I always thought the pollution was just local folklore — you know, the sort of things that New Yorkers and people from Philadelphia often cook up to poke fun at The Garden State Then, in one of my usual pointless walks through Ocean Grove, Neptune, and Asbury Park with my camera, I notice this shit in one of the small man made lakes:

Here’s a close up:

And that wasn’t the only sludge floating around. There’s was also this, floating in the same lake:

There’s a horror story waiting to be found in this.

This is just one such instance of the post below.  For the record, I have never trespassed into any of the abandoned properties in Asbury Park.  I have been tempted, like the day I took the below picture, but I never acted on it.

As Asbury Park rebuilds itself, slowly, I’ve grown to believe something.   The “No Trespassing” signs on many of the tenements are not aimed solely at homeless squatters, but they’re likely also aimed at the cadre of urban explorers that usually roll into town with their cameras.   In the years that I’ve photographed Asbury Park, both when I lived there and when I moved away to Brick Township, I haven’t been the only one wandering the streets with a digital camera.  I remember back when the Casino was largely padlocked and no part of it was open to the public.  Periodically, the plywood from one of the windows always ended up removed, somehow.  Days later, it would be replaced with a multitude of “All Trespassers will be prosecuted” signs.  Of course, I have no hard evidence to back up this claim, but I do believe that redevelopment has slowly been pushing out the homeless.  And if that’s the case, the only breaking-and-entering types left are non-criminal urban explorers.  Just a thought.