Saturday, December 22, 2007

Asbury Park, again

Dark, cloudy day today -- one of those days when you sense it could start raining any minute. What better time to go down the shore?

Choices were Avalon, Shellpile, Sandy Hook and Asbury Park. So I took AP, wondering how far the resurrection of the Casino had progressed since my last visit in September. Oh, and I was wondering if the Metropolitan Hotel had met the wrecking ball yet.

The Metropolitan is one of those old high-class seaside hotels, 180 sleeping rooms, a nice restaurant, lounge with entertainment, the whole nine yards. Like much of the rest of historic Asbury Park, it's fallen into hard times, having its share of failed renovation attempts, blocked by corrupt, bribe-seeking local politicians.

My exploring buddy and I had had loose plans to check out the exterior a few weeks ago, when I'd read about the impending demolition, but the trip never came to be. I honestly expected the place to be reduced to rubble, so I was a bit surprised to see it still standing.

Given that the ominous weather and general desolation of the place made me a bit nervous, I just took a few shots from the car. Check out this site for much better photos than I was able to get.

Despite everything, the boardwalk was a bit creepy, too, and the wind off the ocean was cutting, so I didn't stay too long. Looks as if they're still doing work inside the carousel house, but nothing is going on within the rest of the Casino property. Weirdly enough, the pedestrian walkway is still open; in fact, lamps have been installed to up-light some of the architectural detail of the interior plaster.

Only a few people were on the boardwalk, and all but one of the storefronts were shuttered. A newish restaurant next to the Casino has limited hours over the winter but is still open for the hearty folk who walk or run the boards for exercise. Business wasn't very good today.

After strolling the boardwalk and taking pictures for about ten minutes or so, I decided enough was plenty and went back to my car.

I stopped in the revitalized shopping district on Cookman Avenue, which consists largely of antique stores and cutely-named restaurants and coffee houses. There were a few people window shopping, more having lunch, but still, I wondered how the establishments were holding up financially.

I found a place that has, among other things, a vintage framed Two Guys bag for sale, plus some fun tchotchkes, tableware, etc. Chatted a bit with the shopkeeper, who told me that foot traffic is kind of uneven but promising. I mentioned that I visit Asbury periodically to take pictures of the Casino, and on his asking how the boardwalk was today, I replied, "Creepy."

"Well, that's what you're looking for, right?"

Gotta love a kindred spirit.

1 comment:

Under the Sun Furnishings said...

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