When you think of Seaside Heights and its history one normally thinks of the beach and boardwalk during the Summer season. Generations have enjoyed the rides, amusements, visiting the beach, and dips in the atlantic ocean.
The Jersey Shore Beaches including Seaside Heights have been enjoyed by native americans for hundreds if not thousands of years prior to being settled by european settlers. The Lenni Lanape Indians who were the inhabitants of much of Delaware, New Jersey and Southern New York areas before the europeans arrived spent summers on the outer islands where fish, shellfish, beach plums, blackberries and other plants were abundant.
The area what is now Seaside Heights, Seaside Park, and Island Beach were once part of an Island. By the late 1700’s this area was known as “Nine-Mile Beach” or “Island Beach”. In the year 1812 there was an enormous storm that came through with the ocean and wind moving the sands. When the storm subsided the Island was no longer an island but was now part of the peninsula that still remains today. The inlet on the northern side of the island named “Cranberry Inlet” was filled in. There were attempts to keep the inlet open but they failed. It is not known exactly where Cranberry Inlet cut through from the Barnegat Bay to the Atlantic Ocean but it has been estimated to be between Carteret Avenue in Seaside Heights to as far north as a few streets into Ortley Beach. There are occasions over the years when during large Nor’easters and/or Hurricanes the water from ocean will meet the bay in these low lying area in north end of Seaside Heights and into Ortley Beach. Infamous storms such as the storms of 1938, 1944, 1962, and most recently Hurricane/Nor’easter Sandy revived the former Cranberry Inlet waterway.
The town of Seaside Park was settled before Seaside Heights. In 1874 the first house was built by a man named Issac Jennings. It was purchased a few years later and renamed the “Bouwd House”. It was located somewhere between North and Island Avenues and West Central Avenues in Seaside Park. Originally called Park City the name was later changed to Seaside Park.
A railroad bridge was built that stretched across the Barnegat Bay landing on the island in South Seaside Park. Part of the old railroad bridge exists today and is a pier used for crabbing and fishing. The Railroad made its first run thorugh Seaside July 4th, 1881 and a railroad station was built in 1882. Later in the early 1900s this railroad eventually extended and followed what is now Central Avenue into then incorporated Seaside Heights . There was a train station near Sumner Avenue and it made its way down central avenue in Seaside Heights past the Barnegat Cold Storage between Grant and Sherman Avenues making its way north through Ortley Beach, Bay Head and Point Pleasant.
Back in the late 1800s the outer islands were not much more than large sand dunes. The appearance would not be much different than can be observed today in the northern section of Island Beach State Park. Between Bay Head and Barnegat Inlet there were only 7 houses.
The first settlers of Seaside Heights were Mr. Cranmer and his wife who lived on one tract of land known as the Upper Tract, and Mr. Heiring and his wife who lived on what was known as the Manhasset Tract.
In 1908, Seaside Heights was still a large stretch of sand dunes. In 1908 Developers began to advertise Seaside Heights and provided transportation to and from the area from Philadelphia. During that time there were three Tracts of land known as Tract No. 1, Tract No 2., and the Larkin Tract. On the Larkin Tract there was a fishery with a number of small shacks to accomodate fisherman going out on fishing trips.
The Gas and lights were put in during 1912 and the the Boulevard and streets were put in during 1913. Many of the streets were still dirt roads at that time. The lighting was put in by the Borough of Seaside Heights and the Water by the Peninsula Water Company.
The Sumner Hotel was the first hotel in Seaside Heights. They were later followed by the Sheridan Inn, St. Charles Hotel, and Hotel hamilton.
A church was organized in 1913 with the church building built the following year. the Post Office need was identified in 1912 so the towns people would not have to travel to Seaside Park to get their mail.
A school was built not long after in 1913 and the first newspaper the “Ocean County Review” was started on April 13, 1913.
Seaside Heights was first established as a borough in the fall of 1913. The Cummings Brothers and the manhassett Company had started to develop some years before that time. The Manhassett Company started to develop from Porter Avenue to Grant Avenue. The Cummings Brothers started to develop from Sherman Avenue to the north end of town.
The first Mayor of Seaside Heights was Mr. A.C. Cranmer and he stayed in that position for about 10 years. The first coucilman of Seaside Heights were: Mr. Cranmer, Mr. Heiring, G. Hauser, F.C. Goodwin, Fred Jones, and Mr. Sales.