“Keansburg, NJ, ranks as the No. 1
bargain beach town in the country.”
New York Post, July 5, 2016, report by RealtyTrac Photo by M. Kiely
N2 A great place to live, visit and enjoy.
Keansburg’s colorful history and
convenient location have been attracting
visitors since 1917, but the local history
stretches back for centuries. Long before
Europeans reached the shores of Raritan
Bay, it was the stomping grounds of
the Lenni-Lenape tribe, who thrived
on hunting and the abundant seafood.
Henry Hudson’s ship, the Half Moon,
landed nearby in 1609. Over the next
three hundred years, the town was called
Wakioak, then Granville, before it was
finally named Keansburg in 1917, in honor
of Senator John Kean for his efforts to
establish the town’s first post office.
Visitors have long been attracted by the
town’s location, natural beauty, wildlife,
fishing, and water recreation. In the early
19th century, city slickers were attracted
rom New York and other surrounding cities,
arriving by ferry, train and wagon long
before the Parkway and Turnpike were
built. Keansburg is uniquely positioned as
the closest beach along the Jersey Shore
for folks traveling from the North, a perfect
day-trip destination with great restaurants
and shops within walking distance of the
amusement and water parks.
Conveniently located off Exit 117 of
the Garden State Parkway, the bayside
community of Keansburg offers a unique
opportunity for waterside enjoyment, with a
secluded, free beach area complemented
by an astounding skyline view of New
York City. The beach is accessible by two
wooden Bay Walks, perched above the
shoreline and providing easy access for
leisurely strolls and amazing views. Take
in the Manhattan skyline on a romantic
moonlit night. Enjoy beachcombing, dog
walking, or biking and hiking the Henry
Hudson Trail. Wheelchair-accessible
restrooms, changing rooms and showers
are also available.
Keansburg is a bird watcher’s paradise.
According to the New Jersey Audubon
Society, birders can find a variety of water
birds here in the early mornings from
November to March, including Loons,
Grebes, Diving Ducks and Snow Buntings
(early morning is best). Common
Goldeneyes are usually numerous; on
rare occasions a Barrow’s Goldeneye is
observed. Sometimes as many as seventy
Great Cormorants roost on the fishing
pier during late winter. Unusual species
seen here include Red-necked Grebe,
Common and King Eider and Lesser
Recognized as one of the Bayshore’s
favorite spots for recreational fishing
enthusiasts, Keansburg features two
marinas with boat launches, with marine
services and supply stores nearby.
Cast your line along several areas on
Keansburg’s fishing pier—the newly
renovated bulkhead offers several spots
for fishing and crabbing.
If fishing isn’t your sport of choice,
Keansburg’s many other recreational
amenities include new tennis courts, a
skate park and summertime concerts
and movies on the beach. Special events
each year include a car show, St. Patrick’s
Day and Memorial Day Parades, and
summertime open theater every Tuesday
at Collins Field.
Keansburg offers tremendous opportunity
for affordable residential and commercial
redevelopment. The charming Jersey
Shore town is going through a
revitalization plan that will emphasize its
rich maritime history and take advantage
of its unique waterfront affordability.
In the early 1900s William Gelhaus, a local developer, built an amusement park with its famous
merry-go-round and started a steamship line between New York and towns up and down Raritan
Bay. Tents quickly dotted the beach, and soon bungalows sprang up everywhere. Before long,
year-round homes were being built, streets were cut, stores and businesses grew and a bustling
little seaside town was born.
Many celebrities were attracted to Keansburg in the early years, thanks to daily ferry service to
New York City. Harry Houdini visited in 1917. Gene Tunney, the prize fighter and world heavyweight
champion (1926–28) was a lifeguard and bouncer at the old Flamingo Hotel. The singer/
dancer Ruby Keeler was among the many stars of the day who populated Keansburg’s 15 hotels
and dance halls and enjoyed Keansburg’s sun, sand and lively entertainment.
From Keansburg Historical Society & Museum