Ocean Grove, New Jersey

Ocean Grove began in 1869 as a Methodist camp meeting, one of a number of such places established in the United States in the 19th century by Protestants.  Originally, visitors would live in tents for the period of a camp meeting while attending various religious activities. 

The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association was established to provide a summer ministry and to govern the town with a strict hand in regard to preserving morality, the sabbath, and quiet.  A special decree of the state legislature allowed the Association to assume the role of a municipal government.  The town gates were originally locked nightly and all day Sunday.  The most famous regulation was a prohibition of all wheeled vehicles on the streets or even within sight on Sundays.  While these restrictions are now gone, Ocean Grove remains a quiet place with no businesses along the ocean boardwalk.

 In 1870, the town was divided into 30 by 60 foot lots that were leased by the Association to home owners, an arrangement that still exists.  These lots were soon filled with cottages built in a variety of Victorian styles. The height of Ocean Grove's popularity as a religious resort was marked by the 1894 construction of the Great Auditorium, a steel framed wooden structure seating 10,000.  By the 1920s, however, interest in the religious aspects of Ocean Grove declined and the town experienced little in new construction.  The result was that Ocean Grove became a time capsule of late 19th and early 20th century architecture.

Today, as a National Historic Site, Ocean Grove is visited by lovers of Victorian architecture.  During the summer season, organ concerts and Saturday night shows are offered in the Auditorium, as well as, religious services.  Gospel music is presented during the day in a open pavilion on the boardwalk.  Special town events are held almost weekly in the summer.  A well-groomed beach appeals to those who enjoy a peaceful visit to the ocean.  The small business district of Ocean Grove has gift shops, and several eateries ranging from pizza to fine dining.

Nearly al lthe hotels in Ocean Grove were constructed between 1870 and 1900 when rooms were small and elevators and private baths unknown.  While some hotels have been modernized with private baths, visitors should check this feature when making reservations.  It was not so long ago that common items as room AC and TV were uncommon.  All of these old hotels suffer from thin walls and floors and visitors need to be especially quiet at night.  A basic feature found at many hotels is a front porch with rocking chairs.

Public transportion to Ocean Grove tends to be limited to those going to and from New York City.  The NJ Transit North Jersey Coast Line operates rail service from Pennsylvania Station, Manhattan, with a change of trains at Long Branch.  There is no station for Ocean Grove and riders must use either that of Bradley Beach or Asbury Park.  The Asbury Park station is slightly north of Ocean Grove and is within easy walking distance, but may sometimes seem a bit scary.  The Bradley Beach station is somewhat of a hike from Ocean Grove, but is in a nicer area.  There are often taxis at the both stations.

Academy Bus offers a "Shore Points route" that stops in the business district of Ocean Grove from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan.

Finding a parking space on summer weekends can be a major problem.  Many are inclined to leave their cars when parked and travel by foot in this easily walkable town.

Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association   http://oceangrove.org/

Ocean Grove Chamber of Commerce         http://www.oceangrovenj.com/

Historical Society of Ocean Grove                 http://oceangrovehistory.org/