A selected chronology of events in the history of the Greater Point Pleasant area with links to articles published by the Point Pleasant Historical Society.
The first documented sighting of Point Pleasant. Sailing along the New Jersey shoreline, Captain Henry Hudson and his crew of the Half Moon drop anchor off the northern New Jersey shore on September 2. Crew member Robert Juet notes in his Journal “This is a very good Land to fall with and a pleasant Land to see.”
The Monmouth Patent, issued by Royal Governor of the American colonies gives rights to the lands in much of today’s Ocean County and three others to twelve patentees. Conflicts develop when the Duke of York gives title for the same lands locally to Lord Berkeley and Sir George Carteret.
The Manasquan Beach Company claims 2,500 acres from Spring Lake to Barnegat Bay. The area south of the Manasquan Inlet is named Squan Beach. It is part of Shrewsbury Township, Monmouth County.
English troops sail into the Manasquan River and destroy the Union Salt Works on the north side of the river.
Construction of a bridge across the Manasquan River where the current Route 70 bridge stands. Previously the closest land route from the north was over the river at what is now Allenwood-Lakewood Road.
The first building in Mantoloking, Uncle Jakey’s Tavern, owned by Jacob Herbert, caters to hunters and fishermen.
The first village-type settlement in the Point Pleasant area. Charles Stout builds a home in Lovelandtown, at the current Bay Avenue, just south of Bridge Avenue, founding a fishing, hunting and clamming village at the top of Barnegat Bay.
Tourism begins. Thomas Cook, owner of one of five farms occupying the beachfront, opens his farmhouse near the current Antrim School to boarders. The Cook Homestead, Forman House and Curtis House subsequently take in summer tenants.
The New Jersey Assembly authorizes the creation of a company to build a canal between the Manasquan River and Barnegat Bay. That canal would not become a reality until 1925.
The wreck of the John Minturn sailing freighter off of Mantoloking, February 15. Over 30 lives are lost. Local rescuers are accused of looting the ship and its victims, but a federal inquiry board finds no hard evidence. As a result of the tragedy and inquiry, the United States Lifesaving Service is created, the predecessor of the U. S. Coast Guard.
A company is formed to build a canal between the Manasquan River and Barnegat Bay. Nothing is to come of this enterprise and the canal will not open for another 79 years.
Ocean County spins off from Monmouth County. The Point Pleasant area becomes part of Brick Township.
The first public school is built, a one room building on the south side of Arnold Avenue, near Lincoln Avenue.
Captain John Arnold constructs a roadway, later named Arnold Avenue, from his boarding house (behind Borden’s Stationery store now) to the ocean. The retired sea captain, widely credited with being the most important person in developing Point Pleasant, was later to create Arnold City, between Central and Arnold Avenues.
Clark’s Landing – the first amusement resort. Wounded Civil War veteran Roderick Clark purchases property on the Manasquan River. Over the next 20 years his boat building business evolves into a fishing and swimming and picnicking spot, and then into the first local amusement area, with a steam organ and electric merry-go-round.
The first bridge between Brielle and Point Pleasant. River Avenue is the only approach. Captain Arnold is instrumental in securing the project.
The Point Pleasant Land Company buys the 250-acre Forman Farm, including the beach from Forman to Elizabeth Avenues, beginning beachfront development. Calling the project Point Pleasant City, the company will start the first subdivisions in the area for home sales and build resort hotels.
The first of the grand hotels, the Resort House, opens on Richmond Avenue, between Forman and Atlantic. The four-story structure, the biggest building in Point Pleasant, accommodates 200 guests.
The first mass transit system, a horse-drawn trolley, begins.
The Bay Head Land Company is formed by several Princeton businessmen for the purpose of establishing a high-class resort town.
The railroad comes to Point Pleasant, making it easily accessible for the first time. Captain John Arnold convinces the Central Railroad of New Jersey to extend its line by giving the company land and money. The first passengers arrive on July 3.
The first beachfront pavilion is constructed on Atlantic Avenue.
Mantoloking is given its name by a land company preparing a planned resort. The name is of obvious Indian derivation but of uncertain translation. Captain John Arnold is associated with the land company.
The Point Pleasant Beacon newspaper, predecessor of the Ocean County Leader, begins publication.
Point Pleasant Hardware opens for business and James M. VanNote becomes an owner of what is later called VanNote Lumber. Both companies will be downtown business district mainstays for more than 100 years.
Ocean Fire Company #1, is created.
Point Pleasant Beach and Bay Head become independent municipalities, spinning off from Brick Township. Forty voters cast ballots in the first Point Pleasant Beach election. The town’s total tax receipts are $1,248.
The first boardwalk, a flimsy, portable structure is built. It washes away two years later.
Electricity is introduced. Electric trolley service begins in August. By Christmas several private homes are wired from the same powerhouse used by the trolley line.
Telephone service begins. The Ocean Telephone Company is created with three subscribers. It goes through several names and grows to over 300 customers before the Bell System buys it in 1925.
The Point Pleasant Beach Library building opens on McLean Avenue.
The decision is made for privately owned beaches in Point Pleasant Beach.. From minutes of the August 16, 1887 Point Pleasant Beach Council: “Ownership of the beach turned down by the Council because of extreme cost to the borough for maintenance.”
The first class graduates from Point Pleasant Beach High School. Three receive diplomas after two years of study. Those wishing a four-year degree must travel to Asbury Park.
Prominent local citizens found Ocean County National Bank. In the following decades the bank is instrumental in providing financing for the growth of the area. Local control ended when it was taken over by the Summit Bank in 1983.
Lakewood Road (Route 88) becomes the first “paved ” or hard gravel road built in Ocean County.
The Great Fire destroys the heart of the downtown business district. Four buildings and two barns at the southeast corner of Arnold and Bay Avenues burn on March 20, causing a staggering loss of $82,000. There are no serious injuries.
Fire destroys the first major hotel, the Resort House, now known as the Warwick Arms, built 31 years ago, and in financial difficulty.
Mantoloking becomes an independent municipality, spinning off from Brick.
The first permanent boardwalk is built between Philadelphia and Central Avenues.
The Ocean County Leader newspaper begins publication.
Point Pleasant Hospital is founded. Dr. Frank Denison puts aside four upstairs beds in his River Avenue home for patients.
The Point Pleasant Fishing Pier is constructed off of what is now Martell’s. Over the years it will be damaged, destroyed and rebuilt several times.
Eugene O’Neill , who was to become America’s preeminent playwright, spends a winter in West Point Pleasant, working on several plays including Chris Christopherson. He finds the area disagreeable and does not return. But in later years, his son Shane and daughter Oona (who later married Charlie Chaplin) spend their formative years here. Oona becomes the best known native of Point Pleasant ever.
Trolley service ends. The lines were never profitable.
Point Pleasant Borough becomes an independent municipality, spinning off from Brick. Brick petitions the state for financial relief, complaining all the tax ratables were taken by the new town.
A major Ku Klux Klan rally in Point Pleasant Borough ends with “several score” injuries. The floor of the over-crowded First Methodist Church Community House collapses. The rally attracts 600 persons, 400 in full regalia. The accident draws attention to widespread local Klan activity.
The Point Pleasant Canal opens. Salt water intrudes into upper Barnegat Bay. Manasquan Inlet begins to close as Manasquan River waters rush down the new canal. In 1928 and 1929 the inlet no longer exists. Fishermen are out of business.
Charles Jenkinson constructs Jenkinson’s Pavilion and pool on beachfront property he bought two years ago.
The Point Pleasant Emergency and First Aid Squad is organized.
Back-to-back April nor’easter storms cause severe oceanfront damage. The boardwalk near the inlet is destroyed, as are numerous buildings. Part of the Leighton Hotel collapses.
The Point Pleasant Beach rail yard, located directly north of Arnold Avenue, closes. It once had a turntable, ice house and water tanks.
The Manasquan Inlet is reopened after a year-long construction project. Jetties are built for the first time to keep the inlet from shifting and closing again.
Point Pleasant Beach is a main base of rescue operations when the Morro Castle luxury liner burns off of Sea Girt on September 8. One hundred thirty-three persons die. Many of the survivors and bodies are brought to the current Ken’s Landing.
The Coast Guard station building is completed.
3,800 feet of the Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk, and half of Bay Head’s boardwalk are washed away in a September 21 storm. The Point Pleasant Fishing Pier loses 75 feet. Numerous buildings are destroyed. The southern end of the Point Beach boardwalk is never rebuilt.
A September hurricane destroys the Bay Head boardwalk and 300 feet of the Point Pleasant Beach Fishing Pier. The Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk north of Jenkinson’s is badly damaged.
The Greater Point Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce is created.
A plan to build a power plant on Gull Island in the Manasquan River is defeated by Point Pleasant Beach voters. Opponents said the Jersey Central Power and Light proposal would permanently change the town to an industrial area from a resort.
Two separate fires destroy virtually all the pioneer buildings left on the boardwalk. An April blaze burns the 1893 merry-go-round house on Arnold Avenue and eight other buildings. In September, the original Martell’s is destroyed.
Jenkinson’s beach, amusements and Pavilion are sold to Pat Storino, beginning a process of consolidation of ownership of most boardwalk commercial property under one owner.
Jenkinson’s Pavilion burns to the ground. It is rebuilt the following year. Other notable fires in 1989 include the OB Diner, Woodhaven Lumber, and Chi-Chi-‘s Pizzeria.
A December nor’easter causes widespread flooding and damage to the beachfront, boardwalk, and homes east of the railroad tracks.
The Fisherman’s Memorial statue is dedicated at Loughran’s Point Park at the west end of the Inlet. Bronze plaques bear the names of area fisherman lost at sea.The memorial was inspired by the tragic winter of 1999 when four clam boats sunk within 13 days of each other, claiming the lives of 10 fishermen.
Superstorm Sandy rips through the Jersey Shore with a storm surge of over 12 feet. Numerous businesses, homes, and attractions are destroyed.
The Bennett Cabin, built in 1920, is disassembled from its location on Dorsett Dock Road and put into storage.
The Bennett Cabin is officially reopened as a museum at Point Pleasant Riverfront’s Park after a two-year long reassembly process.
The US Coast Guard Boathouse is demolished to make way for a state-of-the-art Coast Guard facility, which leads to the decommission of the original Coast Guard building built in 1937.
Improvements on the Point Pleasant Beach side of the Manasaquan Inlet is completed, which includes a play area and gazebo at Loughran’s Point Park, replacement/reinforcement of the sea wall, and upgrades to the Fisherman’s Memorial Statue after nearly being destroyed by Superstorm Sandy 6 years prior.