Welcome To Blue Bay Inn

History of Atlantic Highlands
Old Times In Atlantic Highlands


The name says exactly what it is geographically. The town overlooks where the Atlantic Ocean and Raritan Bay meet at Sandy Hook, and its hills mark the highest point on the eastern seaboard of the U.S. Atlantic Highlands is also a meeting point historically, during four main eras:


For thousands of years, the original inhabitants lived along its cliffs and creeks, where we still find evidence of them. Here the Lenape first encountered Europeans, and soon were trading with them. Fifty-six years after Henry Hudson's 1609 visit, English settlers bought the whole peninsula from the Lenape and called it Portland Poynt.


Colonists convened the first Assembly of New Jersey here in 1667. During Revolutionary War years, loyalists to the English crown and patriots of the new America clashed in repeated raids and counterattacks across these lands. And here passed retreating English troops after their 1778 defeat by Washington at Monmouth Battlefield.


During the late 1800's, a handful of peaceful farms met an onrush of resort developers, church groups and town builders. They created the Victorian core of the larger town we know today, attracting thousands of visitors and year-round residents.

In 1879, a surveyor was engaged to lay our roads and lots for a permanent community. The Atlantic Highlands Association was formed by prominent members of the Methodist Church. This organization developed the com munity of Atlantic Highlands.


Individuals and groups came from New York City and the surrounding vicinity to camp along the water in tent colonies. An outdoor amphitheater was created with a large seating capacity and outstanding acoustics. An in door auditorium was built, which was utilized for entertaining visitors at the camp meetings. In 1887, Atlantic Highlands was incorporated as a Bor ough, containing 1.2 square miles of prime real estate bordering on the Raritan Hay


The major construction occurred from the 1880’s trough 1900. It in cluded hotels, cottages, rooming houses, and private homes. A substantial pier was built extending well into the bay to accommodate steamboats from New York City. The next twenty years saw rapid development within the community A water and sewer system was constructed, cottages were erected, and the road system was completed. During this period of development a strong and effective fire department was organized, which is today a well-respected organization within the Borough.


A number of churches saw their beginning in the 1880’s: the Central Baptist, First Presbyterian, Saint Agnes Roman Catholic, First Methodist, and Saint Paul Baptist Church.


Steamer service was a major source of transportation during the forma tion of the Borough, through the 1940’s. The Central Railroad of New Jersey built a major pier at the end of First Avenue. Several trains at a time could continue to the end of’ the pier to off load steamboat passengers. From the teens through the forties, the steamers “Sandy Hook” and the “Monmouth” navigated the waters bringing businessmen and vacationers to Atlantic Highlands.


In the 1890’s, rail service came to Atlantic Highlands. This opened up Highlands and points south to vacationers. The 1920’s saw twenty-six passenger trains daily passing through the Borough.


Today, from its ridges and bayside, we see the Manhattan skyline. From its harbor sail parades of pleasure, fishing and commuter boats. And from its past comes a rich legacy of people and events, landscapes and buildings, memories and traditions which we carry with us into the 21st century.


The creation of our municipal harbor took place from 1938 through 1940. This harbor was built with municipal, state, and federal funds; the Atlantic Highland’s Lions Club supplied the vision and determination. To day, the municipal harbor is the largest on the East Coast, home to 715 craft including high-speed ferry service to New York City In 1962, the existing Central Railroad of New Jersey pier was destroyed by fire. In 1992 high-speed ferry service was introduced into our Borough. Today, eleven runs a day leave Atlantic Highlands for the “city”


It is interesting to note the names that appear in the directories of the 1890’s. These same names populate the Borough and run businesses in the community today. The bungalows on the East Side of the Borough, which in the twenties were summer bungalows, are now year- round homes. The Victorian homes remain a reminder of our glorious past. The waterfront is alive with activity as it was in the 1890’s, welcoming the recreational boater.


Today Portland Pointe, a five-story senior citizen building, provides housing for our elderly. The business community just as at the turn of the century provides for our town and the visitor as well. An array of great restaurants, unique shops, theaters provides the residents and the visitor with a reason to spend time in our unique community A little bit of Victorian America tucked away at the Jersey Shore, Atlantic Highlands is truly the Jewel of the Bayshore.