BELMAR, NJ — Local historian and writer Rick Geffken will take a look back at when amusements parks reigned supreme along the Jersey Shore during a presentation tonight, October 10 at 7 p.m. at the Belmar Municipal Building.
Presented by the Belmar Historical Society (BHS), Geffken’s talk will center around his latest book, “Lost Amusement Parks of the North Jersey Shore,” which details through photos how Monmouth County’s seashore towns became the most famous vacation and recreational destinations in the coastal United States by the late 1800s.
In their new book, Geffken and co-author George Severini document the rich heritage of a remarkable era through rarely seen images they have obtained from the Library of Congress, local historical societies that include BHS and private collections.
BHS’s contributions to their effort include photos of recreational areas in Belmar that endured for years, but are now just fond memories. Coinciding with Geffken’s presentation is a new BHS exhibit also at the municipal building called “Bygone Amusements in Belmar,” which consists of vintage photos and newspaper articles of many of these attractions across the decades.
From the late 1800s to early 1900s, there are photos of such attractions as the Shoot the Chutes water slide, where Klein’s Fish Market on River Road stands today, and the Gordon Pavilion Swimming Pool, circa 1908 — now the home to Taylor Pavilion.
Illustrating more recent history are photos of the 13th Avenue Pavilion from the 1930s where an organist would serenade the public in sing-alongs, and Belmar Playland and Rooftop Golf from the early 1970s, which continued to be a popular Ocean Avenue destination into the 1990s.
The exhibit can be seen during regular business hours in the lobby of the Sixth Avenue entrance to the Belmar Municipal Building, 601 Main Street. It is located right outside where Geffken’s October 10 presentation will be held in the building’s courtroom. His talk is free, and light refreshments will follow. He also will have books for purchase and be available to sign a personalized message.
For additional information, call the Belmar Historical Society at 908-309-3380 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The BHS Museum at 900 E Street, located in the annex of the Union Firehouse, is open on Monday from 2 to 4 p.m., Thursday from 10 to noon, and Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m., or by appointment. Visit its new website at www.belmarhistoricalsociety.org.
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