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Home | About Us | Branches | Berkeley Branch | Community Profile
Berkeley Community Profile berkeley branch

History  

The earliest inhabitants of the area now known as Berkeley Township were the Unalachtigo (the People who live near the ocean), a sub-tribe of the Lenni Lenape.  The People were nomadic and moved about in small bands of about a dozen families.  The Cedar Creek was a great source of oysters for them.

White Europeans from England and Holland first settled near waterways, making a living by fishing and boating on the rivers, the bay, and the ocean, and sometimes less legitimately in privateering and smuggling and by looting shipwrecks.  Cedar Creek was the center of a timber industry, and sawmills used the creeks and tributaries of the Toms River.  At one time, the Berkeley cranberry bogs produced the largest crops in the state, two of which still remain in Double Trouble State Park.

“Bayville” was a post office designation assigned in 1870, and on March 31, 1875, the State of New Jersey officially set off the Township of Berkeley from the Township of Dover.  The coming of the railroad around 1881 accelerated development in Pine Beach, Beachwood, Ocean Gate, and Seaside Park, which began as development communities.  Prospective buyers there received free train rides from Newark, Philadelphia, and New York.  Barnegat Park, later called Pinewald, was also planned, but did not develop until the 1920s when the Royal Pines Hotel was built, only to fail during the Great Depression.

In 1975, Berkeley Township celebrated its centennial anniversary, and the book, Berkeley Township: the First 100 Years, published by the Berkeley Township Centennial Commission, is the source for the historical information above.  This book is available at the Berkeley Branch of the Ocean County Library and from the Berkeley Township Historical Museum at 630 Route 9 in Bayville (732-269-9527).

Topography

Berkeley Township consists of an area of approximately 41.9 square miles, or 26,816 acres, located in the central part of Ocean County.  It is geographically divided into three communities: One runs along the Barnegat Bay and along both sides of Route 9 from the Toms River in the north, to Cedar Creek, the borderline with Lacey Township to the south.  Another community in the far northwest corner of the township includes two large older adult housing developments, Holiday City and Silver Ridge.  The third community includes the southern half of Pelican Island in Barnegat Bay, South Seaside Park, and Island Beach State Park along the Atlantic Ocean.

The area east of Route 9 is considered wetlands, and the land west of the Garden State Parkway is in the Pinelands.  Both, therefore, fall under federal and state requirements for development in such areas.  All areas zoned residential are nearly completely built, and any further development is limited.

Population and Demographics

In 1950, the State Office of Demographic and Economic Analysis recorded Berkeley Township’s population at 1,550.  According to 2000 census figures (U.S. Census Bureau, Profile of General Demographic Characteristics) the total population was 39,991, with more than 50% of Berkeley Township’s population over the age of 60.

Berkeley Township is primarily a residential community, and, despite the relatively recent construction of many of its 22,291 homes (U.S. Census Bureau, Profile of Selected Housing Characteristics) provides some of the most affordable housing in Ocean County.  Affordable housing in addition to the predominant over-60 population could be the cause and the effect of the number of adult communities that have been developed in the area.

The 2000 Census Profile for Selected Economic Characteristics shows 33.2% of the population in the labor force, and that the median household income as $32,134.  The 2000 Tract/BNA Median Family Income in Berkeley is $57,528, up from $42,500 in 1990.  The unemployment rate in 1999 was 5.7%, with 5.48% living below the poverty line.

Also see the chart for employment information, 1999 Money Income:  Ocean County and Municipalities, created by the State of New Jersey.

Commerce

The main types of businesses in Berkeley Township are retail stores along both sides of Route 9. In addition to various independent stores and restaurants, there are three shopping centers and six strip malls in varying stages of age and condition. The largest employers in Berkeley Township include two nursing and convalescent homes, Crystal Lake Healthcare & Rehabilitation and Tall Woods Care Center, two supermarkets, Foodtown Food Circus and ShopRite of Bayville, and several restaurants. There are also numerous health practitioners located here, including doctors, dentists, chiropractors, veterinarians, and a home health service, quite a few attorneys, and construction and maintenance companies. Business for the marinas along Barnegat Bay is seasonal, and tourist activity has given way to year-round residency.

Transportation 

The main thoroughfares through Berkeley Township are the north/south routes of the Garden State Parkway, State Highway No. 9, and east/west routes of State Highway No. 37, and Ocean County Route 530 and 618 (Pinewald Keswick Road).  As development has increased, Route 9 has become more and more congested due to the increased amount of traffic.  In late 2002, Exit 77, a new exit/access ramp for Berkeley was opened to help alleviate this condition and to serve the increasing local population.

Public transportation in Berkeley is provided by New Jersey Transit buses #137 (Toms River to New York), #139 (Lakewood to New York), and #559 (Lakewood to Atlantic City).  Ocean County Transportation and Vehicle Services Department also provides a fixed-route service and a handicapped and elderly transportation service (Ocean Ride), arrangements for which can be made by telephone (732-736-8989).

Recreation and Entertainment

Berkeley Township operates a golf course and several athletic fields, neighborhood playgrounds and parks, and the Ocean County Department of Parks and Recreation operates four regional parks within the township.

There are also several private recreational facilities, such as Thunderbowl Bowling and Blackbeard’s Cave, as well as numerous marinas and restaurants.

Communication  

Print publications serving the Berkeley Township/Ocean Gate area:

Asbury Park Press (daily)
Auto Shopper of New Jersey (monthly)
Berkeley Times (weekly)
Ocean County Observer (daily)

Free weekly newspapers distributed in the Berkeley Township/Ocean Gate area:

Berkeley Times
Forked River Gazette

Television stations (closed-circuit)

Channel 21 – Central Regional High School

Cable Television Stations: Comcast

Radio Stations:

B 98.5 Radio – 98.5FM, Manahawkin  (Contemporary Rock)
WJRZ – 100.1 FM, Manahawkin (Oldies)
WOBM – 92.7 FM, Bayville (Adult Contemporary)
WRAT – 95.9 FM, Pt. Pleasant  (Adult Contemporary)
WYRS – 90.7 FM, Manahawkin (Christian Perspective)
WWNJ – 91.1 FM, Toms River (NJ Classical Network)

Internet:

Berkeley Township’s extensive and informative website contains information about the township and links to the various departments in the township, township events and history, printable forms for applications for permits, and information that will be useful for students’ class assignments.

Schools

Berkeley Head Start is a nonprofit school for children between the ages of three and five who have special medical, social, or financial needs.  They have been serving the Berkeley area for more than 38 years and are licensed for 20 children.

Berkeley Township Elementary Schools provide education to children from kindergarten through sixth grade.  All schools in the Berkeley Township School District send students to the Central Regional High and Middle Schools.

The New Jersey Department of Education provides extensive information about each school district in the New Jersey Report Card and the Comparative Spending Guide that can be found at NJ Parents.  

Folklore
Contributed by Linda Feaster, Berkeley Young Adult Librarian

Driving north on the Garden State Parkway, look toward the east just after Exit 74, and you can see the top of a concrete building peeking over the tops of the trees. Back in the 1930's, this was a popular getaway known as the Royal Pines, an eight-story, lavishly decorated hotel featuring a supper club, a roof garden, and solarium. Surrounded by acres of forest, the Royal Pines Hotel was intended to be the focal point of an up-and-coming resort community that would include a championship golf course, a game preserve, and beautiful homes.  It has been reputed that Al Capone, the famous Prohibition era gangster stayed at The Royal Pines, but these are just rumors. He never did.

Unfortunately, the stock market crash and the growing popularity of beach resorts brought the glorious days of the Royal Pines to an end. After years of declining business, the hotel finally closed and became a hospital and then a sanitarium. Since 1974 it has been a nursing home, and is now known as Crystal Lake Healthcare & Rehabilitation.

Information Services, Berkeley

 
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