MIDDLETOWN, NJ — This month’s Neighborhood Spotlight is focused on North Middletown. From 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on August 20th, 21st, 27th, and 28th the Police Department’s Mobile Command Center will be stationed at the Tonya Keller Community Center, 50 Bray Avenue.
“Everyone is encouraged to stop by and chat with township officials, police officers and staff about the neighborhood,” said Mayor Stephanie Murray. She noted the Mobile Command Center will also have printed materials about local programs and services for visitors to take with them.
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Each month, Neighborhood Spotlight, a new outreach program, will focus on uniqueness of one of Middletown’s many neighborhoods as well as the concerns and interests of the people living and doing business there.
North Middletown, located in the Bayshore, was known as East Keansburg for nearly 75 years before the name was officially changed in 1987. East Keansburg was born in the early 20th century, taking its name from Keansburg, a then-very popular resort town to its west. The earliest use of name dates back to 1914 with a development named East Keansburg Park. It was one of several housing developments taking advantage of a booming summer tourist market along the Bayshore.
Parks in North Middletown include Ideal Beach on Bayside Parkway, Roosevelt Park on Port Monmouth Road, the Tonya Keller Community Center at Bray Avenue and McMahon Park on Albert Avenue.
Ideal Beach gets is moniker from Ideal Beach Realty Company, which sold about 1,200 lots in the early 1920s along Raritan Bay. The beachfront was maintained by a civic association of East Keansburg lot owners until a 1927 storm wrecked the boardwalk and flooded much of the beach. The township assumed ownership by ordinance in 1929 with the assistance of state aid. Over the years the beach, which fronts the Raritan Bay, been home to summer fireworks, beauty contests, and family beach parties.
In the 1800s, before its heyday as a summer mecca, North Middletown and the adjacent waterfront was vital link for farmers. Bray’s Landing, located west of Pews Creek, was named for the farmer who owned the land on which a dock was built. While the surrounding land was poor for farming, the Bayshore was at one time was considered to be a good central point farmers to ship produce to market in New York City.
Today visitors will find a free municipal parking lot in the heart of North Middletown’s neighborhood commercial district at intersection of Ocean Avenue and Port Monmouth Road. A Bus Commuter Lot is located at intersection of Route 36 and Thompson Avenue. A permit is required to park in the commuter lot.
North Middletown is also home to the East Keansburg Fire Company located at 214 Thompson Avenue and the Middletown First Aid and Rescue Squad located at 11 Cruise Place.
Legend has it that some of the earliest European visitors to North Middletown were pirates. Back in 1699 pirates purportedly made their ashore headquarters at Bray’s Landing, in the area known today as Ideal Beach. According to old historical accounts, several of Captain Kidd’s men married Middletown women, and after execution of their leader in 1701, made their homes in Middletown. Piracy in those days was considered a reputable profession with important commission by the governments during the colonial wars. From captured Spanish ships the pirates were said to have brought qualities of silks, Spanish laces and other luxuries further inland at Middletown Village.