Bradley Beach

RECORD GROUP: Municipalities
RECORD SERIES #: 8600.20
SERIES: Bradley Beach
DATES: 1889-1997
VOLUME: 28 record cartons
Bradley Beach logo

Historical records from this local municipality were placed on deposit in the Monmouth County Archives and Records Center pursuant to a municipal resolution and a depository agreement, which provide that this local municipality retains ownership of the records and that the Monmouth County Archives can provide public access to them.
The following historical narrative about Bradley Beach is based largely on the text prepared by Shirley Ayres, Township Committee member, for the book, Town by Town: Impressions of Monmouth County (Freehold: Office of the Monmouth County Clerk, 2002). It was revised in 2018 using a history of the town by Cathy Shea prepared in 2017 with input from the Monmouth County Archives.

Prior to 1893, the territory now known as Bradley Beach was a part of Neptune Township and was commonly referred to as Ocean Park. This territory was comprised of a line equal distance between Fourth and Fifth Avenues on the south, the center line of the railroad tracks on the west, the center line of Fletcher Lake on the north, and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. The citizens of this section appealed to the legislature of the State of New Jersey asking for a referendum on whether the area could become a separate municipality. This act became a law in 1892, and at the referendum, the voters decided to become a separate borough.

According to the report of the election board, the judge and inspectors of the election assembled at the residence of A.T. Jones on the corner of Cook Avenue, now known as LaReine Avenue and Main Street, at 7:00 pm on March 21, 1893. In the statements signed by the election board, 137 votes were cast. One week later on March 28, 1893, Bradley Beach was incorporated as a borough. Rules and regulations covering procedure and administration were adopted during the first council meeting.

In 1908, citizens living in part of Neptune petitioned the state legislature to have their neighborhood annexed to Bradley Beach. This section of Neptune was bounded by a line equal distance between Fourth and Fifth Avenues on the north, Atlantic Ocean on the east, Sylvan Lake on the south, and the center line of the New York and Long Branch railroad tracks on the west. The addition became part of Bradley Beach later that year.

The Borough continued under the council form of government until March 16, 1915, after a referendum to determine whether the form of government should be changed. The vote was recorded in the affirmative and election for commissioners was held on March 9, 1915. This is the form of government in effect today.

About 1870, James A. Bradley, a frequent visitor to Ocean Grove, began buying land south of the Grove when it was nothing but pine forests and sand dunes. At the same time, William B. Bradner bought a farm across the lake south from Ocean Grove. Bradley and Bradner laid out plots of land for sale. Observers at that time thought both men were crazy. Who would want to live in this sandy pine forest? Bradley took a fatherly approach to the pioneers who decided to settle in this newly established community. He patrolled the beaches to make sure bathers were safe. He donated plots of land for churches, public services, and the library. The land was donated with certain stipulations, of which the most important was a prohibition on selling or making alcohol. Bradner named the land Ocean Park, but soon learned that there was a problem with the post office, which fused Ocean Park with Oceanport; therefore, the town had to be renamed. The postmaster reportedly said, “You have a man down there named Bradley. Why don’t you call the town Bradley Beach?” And that’s just how it happened, easily and without any fanfare.

Travel to Bradley Beach initially was time consuming using horse drawn wagons, some of which came from the ferry terminal at Long Branch. Development accelerated beginning in the 1880s with the introduction of train service by the New York and Long Branch Railroad. By 1927, Bradley Beach had become a popular resort with two open-air swimming pools, attracting visitors especially from New York, Pennsylvania, and Newark. Beach badges were introduced in 1929, making the town the first to use them in the United States. That year, an International World Chess Tournament was held at the Hotel LaReine, which had 500 rooms. The 30-room Bradley Hotel was built next door to accommodate the overflow guests. World Champion Alexander Alekhine won the tournament.

The town of Bradley Beach is now fully developed and the move toward tearing down the old structures to make way for the new has slowed. A sense of history is being displayed. Homeowners are proud to have old houses, and they want to know the history of their home. Instead of reshaping their homes, they are restoring their homes, proud to show original designs and plans.

The records contain Cash Books, Minute Books, Tax Sale Books, Tax Sale Duplicates, and miscellaneous ledgers for welfare, local assistance and other matters. Also included are the Sewer Utility Book, Sewer Utility Tax Duplicate Book, Sewer Utility Board Meeting Minutes, sewer Cash Book, Audit Tax Sale & Tax Lien Books, Ordinance Books, and workshop meetings.
This series is open to researchers, except for one box of restricted material.
These records are available at Monmouth County Archives, except as noted in Access Restrictions.
The books are arranged chronologically within series. Entries in the books are chronological.
Monmouth County Archives
125 Symmes Drive
Manalapan, NJ 07726
Phone: 732-308-3771
These records were placed on deposit at the Monmouth County Archives by Kelly Barrett, Bradley Beach Municipal Clerk, on December 7, 2018. Bradley Beach retains ownership of the records.
This finding aid was created December 20, 2018, by George Joynson. The history section was prepared by Gary D. Saretzky.
1 Cash Books 1969-1972
2 Cash Books 1965-1968
3 Cash Books 1961-1964
4 Cash Books 1957-1960
5 Cash Books 1953-1956
6 Cash Books 1976-1979
7 Cash Books 1973-1975
8 Minute Books 1947-1959
9 Minute Books 1912-1927
10 Minute Books 1927-1947
11 Minute Books 1993-1997
12 Minute Books 1983-1987
13 Minute Books 1988-1992
14 Minute Books 1977-1982
15 Minute Books 1960-1969
16 Minute Books 1970-1976
17 Tax Sale Books/Duplicates 1889-1919; 1911-1916
18 Tax Sale Books/Duplicates 1893-1900
19 Tax Sale Books/Duplicates 1901-1905
20 Tax Sale Books/Duplicates 1906-1909
21 Tax Sale Books/Duplicates 1912-1915
22 Miscellaneous ledgers 1919-1998
22R Restricted 1919-1998
23 Miscellaneous ledgers 1990-1996
24 Sewer Utility book 1980
25 Sewer Utility cash book 1979-1986
26 Audit, Tax Sale, Tax Lien books 1916-1977
27 Ordinance Books 1902-1910; 1911-1923; 1971-1995
28 Workshop Meetings 1976-1997