Seaside Heights is a borough in Ocean County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough’s population was 2,887, reflecting a decline of 268 (-8.5%) from the 3,155 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 789 (+33.3%) from the 2,366 counted in the 1990 Census. Seaside Heights is situated on the Barnegat Peninsula, a long, narrow barrier peninsula that separates Barnegat Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. During the summer, the borough attracts a crowd largely under the age of 21, drawn to a community with boardwalk entertainment and one of the few shore communities with sizable numbers of apartments, attracting as many as 65,000 people who are often out until early morning visiting bars and restaurants.
Seaside Heights was incorporated as a borough by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on February 26, 1913, from portions of both Berkeley Township and Dover Township (now Toms River Township), based on the results of a referendum held on March 25, 1913.
As a resort community, with a beach, an amusement-oriented boardwalk, and numerous clubs and bars, making it a popular destination, Seaside Heights calls itself, “Your Home For Family Fun Since 1913!” The beach season runs from March to October, with the peak months being July and August, when the summer population explodes to 30,000 to 65,000. Route 37 in Toms River is routinely gridlocked on Friday afternoons in the summer months as vacationers travel to the barrier islands. The community is also known as the location of the hit MTV show Jersey Shore, with the director of the borough’s business improvement district saying in 2010 that “we can’t even calculate the economic benefit” to Seaside Heights from the continued presence of the show.
Seaside Heights is located at 39°56′42″N 74°04′44″W (39.944978,-74.078783). According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 0.746 square miles (1.933 km2), of which, 0.619 square miles (1.604 km2) of it is land and 0.127 square miles (0.329 km2) of it (17.02%) is water.
DEMOGRAPHICS (2010 Census)
At the 2010 United States Census, there were 2,887 people, 1,376 households, and 586.2 families residing in the borough. The population density was 4,662.9 inhabitants per square mile (1,800.4 /km2). There were 3,003 housing units at an average density of 4,850.2 per square mile (1,872.7 /km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 80.74% (2,331) White, 6.69% (193) Black or African American, 0.59% (17) Native American, 1.52% (44) Asian, 0.00% (0) Pacific Islander, 6.96% (201) from other races, and 3.50% (101) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.87% (516) of the population.
There were 1,376 households of which 20.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 21.0% were married couples living together, 14.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 57.4% were non-families. 46.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.10 and the average family size was 3.03.
In the borough, 19.7% of the population were under the age of 18, 10.8% from 18 to 24, 32.5% from 25 to 44, 28.6% from 45 to 64, and 8.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.2 years. For every 100 females there were 112.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 113.2 males.
The Census Bureau’s 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $33,380 (with a margin of error of +/- $12,171) and the median family income was $39,688 (+/- $28,475). Males had a median income of $46,005 (+/- $18,386) versus $18,928 (+/- $13,004) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $19,865 (+/- $4,981). About 37.0% of families and 33.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 73.5% of those under age 18 and 0.0% of those age 65 or over.
In 1915, Senate Amusement Company of Philadelphia was working on plans to build an ocean-side attraction in Seaside Heights within feet of the border to Sea Side Park. Their plan was to build a covered pier to house a carousel. The structure was built in 1915 under the direction of Joseph Vanderslice of Senate Amusement Company. Budget issues caused the business to not open in 1916, and the amusement ride and building was subsequently sold to Frank Freeman. The combination of the completion of the Toms River Bridge on October 23, 1914 and the DuPont Avenue carousel and boardwalk are what likely lead to the 159% population growth shown between the 1920 and 1930 censuses in Seaside Heights.
On June 9, 1955, a malfunctioning neon sign component caused a fire at a shop on the corner of Ocean Terrace and DuPont Avenue. The fire was driven by winds estimated at 50 miles per hour (80 km/h), blowing the fire south and engulfing the entire pier. The fire was stopped at Stockton Avenue due in part to the fact that the boardwalk and pier ended there. In what became known as Freeman’s Fire, a total of 85 buildings were destroyed with an estimated $4 million in damage from the conflagration.
Beginning on October 29, 2012, substantial portions of the boardwalk were damaged and much of the borough was flooded as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Both the Funtown Pier and Casino Pier suffered major damage, with sections of both piers torn apart by powerful storm surges and waves causing many of the rides to collapse into the ocean. With a curfew set at 4:00 pm to prevent looting, a New Year’s Eve party was held at the Beachcomber for hundreds of area residents at which the arrival of 2013 was celebrated at 3:00 in the afternoon. Casino Pier began cleanup attempts soon after, in an attempt to reopen in time for the summer 2013 season. The Jetstar roller coaster that fell into the water with the Casino Pier had become an attraction in itself. It was taken apart by a wrecker from Weeks Marine on May 14, 2013, just a short time after Prince Harry of Wales’ visit to the site the same day with Governor Chris Christie. Repairs to the boardwalk were completed on June 21, 2013, with New Jersey’s First Lady, Mary Pat Christie hammering the nail into the final board of the project.
On September 12, 2013, a ten-alarm fire swept from the Funtown Pier northward. The fire is believed to have started under the boardwalk, below the Kohr’s Kustard stand at the southern end of the pier. The wind pushed it northward, and fire crews were able to make a stand at Lincoln Ave. by tearing up the newly replaced boardwalk which was destroyed less than a year ago by Hurricane Sandy. Jack & Bill’s Bar and Kohr’s Kustard were two businesses that were both destroyed in the 1955 and 2013 fires.
Seaside Heights is best known as the setting for MTV’s reality TV series Jersey Shore. The first season of Jersey Shore was filmed in Seaside Heights and Toms River during August 2009. The show’s third season was also filmed in Seaside Heights, during July, August, and September 2010. After New York City officials nixed MTV’s plans to hold a “Snooki Drop” at its studios in Times Square alongside the square’s own ball drop, the event was moved to Seaside Heights. The show returned to Seaside Heights for its fifth season, which wrapped filming on August 2, 2011 and began airing in January 2012. Later that month it was announced that the studio was scouting for a new location to film the upcoming sixth season of the reality show. Las Vegas and Australia were possible locations as well as Jersey City and Atlantic City.
Prior to Jersey Shore, the town was also the setting of MTV’s True Life: I Have A Summer Share, which was filmed in Seaside Heights, as was MTV’s True Life: I’m a Jersey Shore Girl from 2004, which was one of the network’s first stories of guidettes looking for the perfect guido. Additionally, the MTV summer beach house was located in Seaside Heights for many summers in the early 2000s.
In 1985, New Jersey rock band Bon Jovi filmed most of their music video for the song “In and Out of Love” in Seaside Heights, mainly on the boardwalk.
Portions of the 2006 movie Artie Lange’s Beer League were filmed in Seaside Heights.
The ABC soap opera One Life To Live filmed a portion of its 2008 storyline in Seaside Heights, mainly on the beach and boardwalk.
(Source: Selected excerpts from the Seaside Heights New Jersey page on Wikipedia.org)