The West End of Long Branch has always been its own kind of place — from wealthy to hippie. Here are some images to show — and I’ll keep adding to the collection:
First in Business — The John Guire Company on Brighton Avenue, 1939. The West End coal and feed grain business was started in 1898 by two brothers (John and James). Still in operation, it’s the city’s oldest retail business — MORE INFO.
US Life-Saving Station on Ocean Avenue in West End, 1919. Built in the 1880s, it later became the Takanassee Beach Club — MORE INFO.
Ocean Avenue cottages in West End, early 1900s.
Brighton Avenue looking west from Ocean Avenue, 1908.
Dorothy Parker birthplace marker in West End, 2005. The celebrated writer, citric, wit and founding member of the Algonquin Hotel Round Table, was born in Long Branch in August 1893. She died in NYC in July 1967 — MORE INFO.
Bridge over Lake Takanassee, 1908. The body of water was once “Green’s Pond.”
Takanassee Lake looking west, 1908.
Thomas Barham — oldest West End resident — opens Ocean Avenue, 1948.
Long Branch District Telegraph and Messenger Company in West End, 1884.
John Hoey — a major developer of “West End.”
What’s in a name? — The why’s of West End and Elberon, Long Branch Daily Record, October 1915.
On a Roll — The Roseland Roller Rink on Brighton Avenue. The West End arena (with 10,000-square-foot skating floor) was opened in February 1938 by William Schmitz and operated until an April 1943 fire.
West End Grows — New strip-mall on Brighton Avenue nears completion, Long Branch Daily Record, May 1958. Builder Rudy Primavera opened an Italian grocery store here with his sons. It also held a drug store and US Post Office. The architect of the four, one-story cinder-block stores was James W. Mancuso.
Long Branch Losses — West End Family Pharmacy on Brighton Avenue closed forever in December 2022, a month shy of 60 years in business. Harold Blumenkrantz (a US Army veteran and 1961 Rutgers College of Pharmacy honor graduate) opened the drugstore in January 1963. That year was rough for several landmark city businesses. Among those to close their doors (I’m sure I’ve missed some) in the 12 months were: Tuzzio’s (57 years), Seashore Day Camp (95 years), Ink Well (57 years), West End Family Pharmacy (59 years), Brighton Bar (105 years) and Ron’s West End Pub (40 years). Going soon: Monmouth Medical Center (135 years). If you’re counting, that’s 500+ years of city commerce — gone. Anyone care?
West End — at Ocean and Brighton Avenues, 1920s.
Big Bet — West End Casino, 1910. “Last of the great gaming clubs built in Long Branch,” was at the corner of Ocean Avenue and West End Court; it cost $250,000 to build. Gambling flourished openly in Long Branch, according to city historian James Durnell, from 1893 to 1903 when “private clubs” became betting parlors.
San Alfonso Retreat House on Ocean Avenue in West End, 1950s.
West End bathers, 1931.
West End aerial image, 1982.
West End Casino, early 1920s.
Takanassee Bridge connecting West End and Elberon, early 1900s. In the background are old US Life-Saving Service buildings.
West End, Long Branch postcard, 1960s.
West End Gateway — The West End Cottages (1881-1912) across from the Takanassee Hotel (1907-1934) on Brighton Avenue (looking west), 1900.
West End Hotel on the oceanside, 1902. Up until 1870, it was known as the Stetson House hotel. It was wrecked in 1906 and the Takanassee Hotel was built on the site.
“Movie in the Park” at West End, September 2021.
A very young Bruce Springsteen hanging out in West End, 1973. “The Boss” — just 25 at the time — is outside the “Turntable Record Store” on Brighton Avenue.
Long Branch cottage at 7 1/2 West End Court where local musician Bruce Springsteen wrote “Born to Run” in 1975. Springsteen’s first hit tune, the song is ranked #27 on the 2021 Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Bruce Springsteen and friend ride tandem past Steven’s Bait & Tackle shop on Brighton Avenue, 1973. Steven Vajo first opened the West End business in 1956 catering to local surf fishermen. In 1977, Joe LaPresti acquired the store that’s just steps from the Atlantic Ocean. Tom Karandrikas bought the business in 1998 and Bryan ZImmerman took change in 2000. The business closed in Feb. 2007.
Running & Being— Dr. George Sheehan, Jr. (r) races in a Takanassee Lake 5k, August 1981. Regular summer races along the West End lake began in 1964 organized by the Shore Athletic Club. “The Doc” called the Long Branch course his favorite place to race. After the celebrated physician, author and runner died in 1993, a remembrance plaque for him was placed on the north side of the lake (SI Photo). More on Dr. Sheehan — HERE.
Living Large — Ocean Blvd in West End looking south, June 2022. The “Renaissance on the Ocean” at upper left off Brighton Avenue — its 10 acres are some of the city’s finest oceanfront. Opened in 1999, it’s a gated beach community with 87 luxury condominiums built in Mediterranean style. The development includes pool, spa, clubhouse, tennis courts and underground parking. Back then prices ranged from $300,000 to $2 million. The magnificent West End Cottages once stood on the grounds. The distinctive red Windmill is at the bottom; the restaurant opened in 1965.
Another Time — West End, 1990s.
West End movie theater, 1983. It opened as Grant’s Movies 1 & 2 in February 1974. The first two films were: “Crazy Joe” and “Fantasia.” Music Makers Theatre Circuit acquired the business in 1978 and Loews Theatre took over in 1988.
West End movie theater, 2010s. The double-decker twin theater held 340 rocking-chair seats each.
Lowes Theatres in West End, 1993. The city movie house closed down in June 1995 and the building was torn down in August 2017.
Developer Celeste Carlesimo at her “West End Mini Mall” on Brighton Avenue, October 1976. Russomanno Contracting had owned the building which she bought for $100,000 in 1974. When competed — “a new concept in community shopping” — nine different stores covered 6,000-square-feet. She later opened the Tasti D-Lite in West End.
West End Hotel (r) and Hildreth Pavilion (l) along Ocean Avenue, early 1900s.
Lake Takanassee in West End, 1920s.
St. Michael’s Church in West End, 1924.
Green’s Pond (later Lake Takanassee) in West End, late 1800s.
George Pullman house in West End, early 1900s.
West End Golf Club ad. Long Branch Daily Record, June 1932.
Cedar Avenue in West End, 1902.
San Reno at Ocean and West End Avenues, 1940s.
Folci’s San Reno club, 1920s.
Long Branch Trust Company drive-in branch on Brighton Avenue in West End, 1961. Another LBTC branch was on Broadway, first opening in 1866.
West End Family Pharmacy on Brighton Avenue, 2022. The venerable drugstore closed in December, a month shy of 60 years in business. Harold Blumenkrantz — a US Army veteran and 1961 Rutgers College of Pharmacy honor graduate — opened the drugstore in January 1963.
St. Michael’s Church on Ocean Avenue in West End, 1986.
St. Michael’s Church, 1970s.
St. Michael’s Church, 1924.
Stella Maris Retreat House on Ocean Avenue in West End, 1970s.
XXXXXXXXX Harbor Island Spa on Ocean Avenue in West End, 1957.
Harbor Island Spa seen from an aerial image, mid-1960s.
San Alfonse Retreat House in West End, 1930s. It was started by the Redemptorist Fathers — a congregation of Catholic missionaries — in 1922.
San Alfonse Retreat House on Ocean Avenue, 1948.
San Alfonse Retreat House in West End, 1987. “Where God and Sea Come Together.”
Stella Maris Retreat House on Ocean Avenue in West End, 1940s.
A banner day at Takanassee Beach Club, 1970s. The West End beach dream spot closed in 2006.
Last Call — Old Brighton Bar on Brighton Avenue is ready for the wrecking ball, November 2022. West End’s ultimate live-music venue dates back to 1915 when started by the Beatty family. The bar closed for good in March 2021 — a victim of the pandemic.
1960s West End, NJ.
Lake Takanassee looking west, October 2012 (Dave Booth Photo).
Lake Takanassee looking east, October 2012 (Dave Booth Photo).
Mansions along Ocean Avenue in West End, early 1900s.
Ocean Avenue in West End, early 1900s.
Businesses on Brighton Avenue in West End, 1970s.
Shore Club and Restaurant in West End, 1909.
West End Watch — The Windmill restaurant on Ocean Avenue at sunset, September 2022 (Debbie Callano Parnell Photo).
Lake Takanassee Bridge looking south, early 1900s.
“The Pit” at sunrise in West End, September 2022 (Debbie Callano Parnell Photo).
Long Branch coast in West End, 1960s.
West End postcard, 1960s.
Takanassee Bridge, 2020. The bridge connects West End with Elberon over Lake Takanassee. Jesse and Corlies Howland built the original 260-foot long span — it opened in December 1912. Then the county’s first concrete bridge, it cost $27,000.
Brighton Avenue in West End at the turn of the century. Looking east to Ocean Avenue.
West End along the coast in early 1960s (Long Branch Public Library Photo).
A. Cella’s Choice Fruit store on Brighton Avenue in West End, 1900.
Bonforte’s Market in West End, 1948. Roy and Albert Bonforte opened the new store at the corner of Brighton and Sairs Avenues in 1940. The business was started by their father in 1857.
Brighton Avenue in West End, 1907.
Long Branch, NJ postcard, 1960s.
Brighton Avenue in West End looking west, 1910s.
Aerial image looking west up Brighton Avenue, Fall 2021.
Ocean Avenue in West End looking south, early 1900s.
The Rothenberg building at Ocean Avenue and West End Court. Built in 1901.
Old U.S. Life-Saving Station at Lake Takanassee. An early and eager advocate for better conditions here was Captain Asher Wardell who served as “Station Keeper” at #5 from 1894 to 1904. A Long Branch native, Wardell had served in the Civil War — enlisting in the Union’s 1st New Jersey Cavalry as a teen and rising to sergeant. He died in June 1905 (Painting by Peder Johnson).
San Alfonso Retreat House on Ocean Avenue in West End, 1960s.
San Alfonso Retreat House, 1933.
San Alfonso Retreat House in West End, 1980s. The re-built religious facility opened in 1967 and J. Gerald Phelan was the architect. The Redemptorist Order first acquired the 10-acre oceanfront property in 1925. St. Alphonsus Liguori founded the order in 1732.
San Alfonso Retreat House on Ocean Avenue, 1940.
San Alfonso Retreat House on Ocean Avenue, 1948.
West End Casino, 1920s.
Oceanic firefighters use a tiller truck to battle a West End blaze, 1945.
Major fire on Brighton Avenue in West End, February 1933.
Hollywood Hotel fire, March 1961.
West End fire aftermath, 1909.
Savoy Apartment Building in West End is engulfed in flames, Long Branch Daily Record, March 1933. The fire burned through the night wrecking two city blocks along Ocean Avenue and West End Court.
Keller Hotel on Brighton Avenue. Burned in July 1909, William Keller of New York built the four-story brick structure for $60,000.
West End postcard, 1960s.
Long Branch coast in West End, mid-1980s. Looking south to the LB pier in the distance.
Old Hoey Lodge on Cedar Avenue in West End, early 1900s.
Sand & Surf Hotel undergoing construction on Ocean Avenue in West End, May 1950. By March 1961 it was owned by the Paskow family and was growing larger — becoming the Harbor Island Spa.
Anthony “Little Pussy” Russo’s Cadillac sits in front of the Harbor Island Spa in West End, where the notorious local mobster was murdered in April 1979. The man “everyone feared” was shot four times in the head. Born in July 1916, he grew to be considered by law enforcement as Monmouth County’s top organized crime boss. No one was ever changed in the crime.
Harbour Mansion in West End, 1970s. At left is the Surfside Beach Club, at right is the Harbor Island Spa.
Harbour Mansion aerial image, early 1980s. When first opened in 1968, the 10-story, 115-unit building was called Harbour Towers.
Fire on Brighton Avenue in West End, July 1961.
Pennsylvania Club at Ocean and Brighton Avenues, 1905. John Hoey was the builder in 1868 but it became a betting house through NYC professional gambler Col. John Chamberlain (he also opened the first Monmouth Park in 1870). He kept a French Chef on staff and fed his patrons for free (women and locals weren’t welcome). Even greater glory came with Phil Daly who took over in 1877. It was “easily the highest class and most exclusive gambling club in the Unites States,” according to the APP, March 1910. Among the games of chance were: roulette, poker, faro, and baccarat.
The Pennsylvania Club in West End, early 1900s. Known as the “Monte Carlo of America” — is was finally closed after a police raid in 1902. The glided-domed palace was demolished in September 1909.
The Pennsylvania Club, 1909. The flamboyant owner Phil Daly died in March 1910.
Park & Tilford store on Brighton Avenue, 1905.
Brighton Avenue, early 1900s.
Bruce Springsteen in West End, 1970s.
Long Branch-Monmouth Beach stage coach in West End, early 1900s.
NJ Gov. Jim Florio meets Atlanticville News columnist Charlie Booth in West End, 1991.
St. Michael’s Church in West End, early 1900s.
St. Michael’s Church, 2009.
St. Michael’s Church on Ocean Avenue, 1986.
St. Michael’s Church on Ocean Avenue, 1970s. The West End church was dedicated in August 1891. The Rev. Richard Cream was the first pastor from 1892 to 1928.
St. Michael’s Church in West End, 1950s.
St. Michael’s Church in West End, early 1900s.