Wednesday, April 15, 2009
The Iron Pier - Long Branch
The two original resorts on the Jersey Shore were Cape May and Long Branch.
They both prospered in the era before there were a reliable rail and road systems because they had a water monopoly. East access from the ocean.
Long Branch catered to Manhattan tourists by building large piers that could accommodate steamships like the monstrous Plymouth Rock. In 1879 Long Branch christened the 3rd pier-the Iron Pier- as the others were lost to storms and accidents. For 60 cents - the round-trip fare from New York City to Long Branch a tourist could spend a week or just a day. The day of the day-tripper had arrived. A flag would be hoisted on either side of the pier depending on which way the wind was blowing so the ship captain knew which side of the pier to dock and a small cannon was fired to alert the town that the ship had docked. Must have been a heck of a celebration.
The Plymouth Rock was owned by the flamboyant Jim Fisk, who kept 250 canaries in gilt cages, each named after a wealthy friend. The ship and resort were so popular that the New York Times reported on July 5, 1880 that on a smoldering July weekend the Plymouth Rock was forced to return to Manhattan " laden down with persons who had intended to stay over the 4th and 5th, but who were unable to find accommodations anywhere." The ship was described as a 345-foot floating luxury hotel.