Saturday, March 10, 2007

The deconstruction of Asbury Park

They've started the "renovation" of one of the iconic structures on the Asbury Park boardwalk: the Casino.

Shellpile readers will remember a post last summer where I described my experience walking into the small bit of the Casino which was open to foot traffic. It was a corridor linking the Asbury Park boardwalk to the neighboring town of Ocean Grove, and it offered just an indication of a building that had sat idle for close to 20 years. The portion of the building that stood over the beach was decrepit and inaccessible; trees growing inside the building could be seen through the broken windows and holes in the roof.

Now, that expanse over the beach is no more than a pile of milled rubble. The eeriness of the structure has dissipated in the brisk ocean winds of late winter. And the sound of demolition equipment surrounds the area; it's the most activity that particular bit of beach has seen in quite some time.

Though the building is partitioned away by temporary fencing, I could see into the corridor I'd walked through last summer. The sign for the Casino Skating Palace is gone; with any luck it's being preserved along with an old chandelier they found in the building. I wonder where the ghosts have gone -- the screams from the haunted house, the laughter from the roller rink, the clandestine pleading from the Tunnel of Love.

Last I heard, the people who bought the Casino are rebuilding it to look exactly as it looked in its heyday. They'd wanted to preserve the structure but found it was unsound. Allegedly they are working to keep as much standing as possible, but I don't know. Those things tend to stray from plan, especially in New Jersey, where they take every renovation project as an opportunity to tear down what's there and replace it with McMansions. I guess we'll see.

Asbury Park Casino: May 6, 2006

Asbury Park Casino: March 10, 2007

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