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Posts Tagged ‘The Asbury Park steam power plant’

"the Glad to See You" Tower. By Paul Goldfinger ©

“The Glad to See You” Tower. By Paul Goldfinger © The Casino is in the center of the photo.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

We’ve all walked by that peculiar-looking building on the left side of our photo above, adjacent to the Casino in Asbury Park, at the Ocean Grove North End.

Many of us wondered what that is/was. I’ve never heard a clear explanation until now upon reading a wonderful account, with photos, by Marlo Montanaro, a Jersey Shore photographer, who posted a piece on his blog called “The Monolith of Asbury Park.”

Marlo was able to get information and access inside of that mysterious place. He succinctly refers to it as “the steam power plant,” a name known to many old-timers in this part of the Jersey Shore.

The central tower, seen from the roof. By Marlo Montanaro ©

The central tower, seen from the roof. By Marlo Montanaro ©

The steam plant was built in 1930 in order to provide heat to boardwalk attractions so that Asbury Park could compete year-round for recreational business. It was designed by Warren and Wetmore from New York City who were responsible for other Beaux Arts structures nearby, including the Casino, Convention Hall, Paramount Theatre, and the Berkeley Carteret Hotel to the north.

Inside were three huge boilers that used oil to create steam for heat.  The heat was pumped through pipes to the various buildings.  Water may have been obtained from Wesley Lake or even dumped into the Lake.   There is no information as to the success of the project, but evidently it wasn’t used once WWII occurred.

Lovely photograph inside the steam power plant by Marlo Montanaro. ©

Dramatic photograph inside the steam power plant, by Marlo Montanaro. ©  You can see more of these wonderful images by clicking on his link below.  Marlo’s photos posted here with his permission.

Since then it has stood as a monument of sorts to a utility that lost its purpose over 70 years ago.  In the late c. 1960’s we have a photo of Bruce Springsteen, another Asbury icon,  standing north of the tower.

"Young Bruce" at the north end of the Asbury boards. Photo by Emil Salvini.

“Young Bruce” at the north end of the Asbury boards. Photo by Emil Salvini.

In 2003, a developer wanted to move the Stone Pony into that steam building, but, of course, that did not occur thanks to a lot of noise by the Cousin Brucie rock ‘n roll crowd.

The most original recent contribution to the known history of the steam power plant are the evocative interior photographs that Marlo Montanaro posted last April with his detailed review of the subject.

Here is what he said about the enigmas  that remain, “There are still mysteries here- what it really looked like when she was new… the men that worked here, what 1930 was really like… I can picture dark smoke and steam spewing from the top, the noises of banging steam pipes, and loud oil-fueled fires heating huge tanks of water, the smell of burning oil- steam power is a living, breathing thing.  I can see some of the workmen taking a break, looking out over Wesley Lake as families took a ride on the paddle boats, while they toiled in a hot, nasty environment wearing soot-covered overalls.  I wish I could have seen her in all her glory.  But I can only imagine.”

Below are two links to Marlo’s blogposts dated April, 2014.  Thanks to Joel of OG for tipping us off to the Marlo post.

Marlo’s blog site

Asbury Park Steam Plant article

JANE LANIER from the album Fosse.  It is from the 1954 Broadway musical “The Pajama Game.”

 

 

 

 

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