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There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. This walking tour of Spring Lake, New Jersey is ready to explore when you are. Each walking tour describes historical, architectural landmarks, cultural sites and ecclesiastic touchstones and provides step-by-step directions.
Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets.
The Spring Lake Beach Improvement Company organized shortly after the New York & Long Branch Railroad reached the area in 1873. At the time, the area consisted of a handful of farms and the scattered shacks of local fishermen. The group purchased 285 acres of land from Formon Osborn in 1875 which had near its center a small lake fed by pure spring water just a few hundred yards from the Atlantic Ocean.
The developers set about building the luxurious Monmouth House hotel on the oceanfront and summer visitors began work on their own places. At about the same time the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia was breaking down and as the fair buildings were dismantled the deep-pocketed Spring Lake pioneers had lumber and fixtures shipped by rail and steamer to their building sites. In some cases entire Centennial buildings - the Missouri State Building (Ocean Road) and the Portugese Government Pavillion (a guest house on Atlantic Avenue for over 100 years) for instance - ended up in Spring Lake. Even the main comfort station was shipped to Spring Lake where it became the Lake House Hotel in 1877 with 92 rooms, large dining parlors and a bowling alley. It was demolished in 1904 and was replaced by a public park.
In 1892 four of the fledgling seashore developments were welded into the town of Spring Lake. Many of the wealthy summer visitors came from prosperous Irish businessmen from New York and Philadelphia, so many that the town came to be known as the “Irish Riviera.” But the massive hotels were costly to run and more Jersey shore communities were competing for summer beach-goers and Spring Lake evolved into a town of a few thousand year-round residents and boutique inns.
Today Spring Lake boast the longest non-commercial boardwalk on the Jersey shore - more than two miles - and home lots characterized by grassy lawns and shade trees. Many of those lots house multi-million dollar mansions. Our walking tour will pass by quite a few, tour the downtown business district and look in on some of the surviving Victorian inns and hotels and we will begin with the last remaining dowager from Spring Lake’s Gilded Age...