The title of this article might be a bit misleading to some readers. No, it is not about a rhythm and blues song called “Under the Boardwalk” released by the once popular singing group The Drifters in 1964. This article is however about the wonderful seaside boardwalk that was once located at Stone Harbor, New Jersey. For that matter, I will be presenting for your enjoyment a new “twist” to the usual or common boardwalk theme. So, here goes.
Recently I acquired this classic Stone Harbor post card.
Depicted here a number of people find shelter from the summer sun under the boardwalk. A young man in knickers, the woman in a long checkered skirt and summer millinery, the fashionable man wearing white slacks and shoes, dark jacket, bowtie, and fedora, and a number of bathers are each captured as they posed almost 100 years ago.
Postmarked APR 4, 1929 at Stone Harbor, N.J., and placed in the mailstream to a recipient at the Y.M.C.A. in Binghamton, N.Y., the penned message amusingly states: “My nose is all red and it isn’t from drinking either.” This quaint or rather strikingly old-fashioned post card scene depicts the popular Stone Harbor boardwalk some 15 years before the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 destroyed it.
The boardwalk at the seashore resort known as Stone Harbor, N.J. is a distant memory that very few persons can now still recall. The following six picture post cards, and the one photograph that is compliments of the Stone Harbor Museum, all serve as proof of the one and a quarter-mile long boardwalk from 83rd Street to 106th Street that once existed for 28 years.
The term boardwalk describes a walkway or promenade, often elevated, typically constructed of wooden planking, and is located along a beach. Atlantic City became the first seashore resort to construct a boardwalk back in 1870 to curb the amount of sand beachcombers tracked into the train and hotel lobbies. According to the National Geographic, the State of New Jersey has 28 boardwalks and promenades – more than any other state.
Those of us who have personally experienced the ambiance and the charm of boardwalks at other seashore locations, either today or yesteryear, are reminded of their immense popularity and the many attractions they offer. “Walking the boards” or leisurely strolling the boardwalks, often at the end of a day, provided countless opportunities for fun and relaxation including souvenir shopping, movie theaters and other entertainment, arcades, miniature golf, saltwater taffy, cotton candy, and delicious fudge.
If the number one attraction of the Jersey Shore is the sandy beaches and the ocean, then boardwalks may be the second most popular reason why people flock to seashore communities during the summer months. Stone Harbor built its boardwalk in 1916. But we all know that mother nature and the mighty forces of the ocean have on numerous occasions not been kind to boardwalks and oceanfront properties.
Stone Harbor boardwalk’s reckoning came on September 14, 1944, when a particularly devastating storm, which became known as the Great Atlantic Hurricane of ’44, struck the New Jersey coast. Stone Harbor lost its entire boardwalk to this monster storm. The boardwalks of Sea Isle City, Atlantic City, Ocean Grove, Asbury Park, and Long Beach all suffered similar fates.
Residents assessed the extent of damage and the replacement costs associated with rebuilding not only the Stone Harbor boardwalk but also a 500-foot fishing pier out into the ocean and a covered pavilion at 96th Street. They agreed that there was a greater value of having unobstructed ocean views and consequently decided not to have the boardwalk rebuilt. A few resorts like Atlantic City and Asbury Park would rebuild.
In all my years of collecting post cards, one thing I have never seen is any post card view that shows the damaged Stone Harbor boardwalk immediately after the storm. If you have one, please share it.
Here you can readily observe not only just how very popular the Stone Harbor boardwalk was but actually see bathers during those years enjoying sitting and relaxing in the shade of the boardwalk to get relief from simmering heat of the summer sun. However, after 1944 and in the absence of the boardwalk, beach umbrellas soon entered the picture and proved very useful and popular as a means of escaping the direct sunlight of those hot afternoons.
Check out these great “Under the Boardwalk” views at Stone Harbor and enjoy this short trip down memory lane!