Long Branch was a beach resort town in the late 18th century, named for its location along a branch of the South Shrewsbury River. In the 19th century it was a "Hollywood" of the east, where some of the greatest theatrical and other performers of the day gathered and performed. It was visited by presidents Chester A. Arthur, James A. Garfield, Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Harrison, Rutherford B. Hayes, William McKinley, and Woodrow Wilson. Seven Presidents Park, a park near the beach, is named in honor of their visits. The Church of the Presidents, where all seven worshiped, is the only structure left in Long Branch associated with them.
President Garfield was brought to Long Branch in the hope that the fresh air and quiet might aid his recovery after being shot on July 2, 1881, an incident that left the assassin's bullet lodged in his spine. He died here on September 19, 1881, exactly two months before his 50th birthday. The Garfield Tea House, constructed from railroad ties that had been laid to carry Garfield's train, is in Elberon.
The famous Long Branch Saloon of the American Old West, located in Dodge City, Kansas, was given its name by its first owner, William Harris, who had moved west from Long Branch, New Jersey, his hometown.
Originally a resort town with a few hotels and large estates and many farms in the early 20th century, Long Branch grew in population. Italian, Irish and Jewish immigrants settled in during this period. By the 1950s, Long Branch like many other towns had developed new residential spots and housing to make room for the growing population. Many of the former farms of Long Branch were transformed into residential suburbs. Many of the estates and a few old historic resorts (with the addition of many new ones) still remain.
With the ascendancy of Hollywood in California as a film capital, Long Branch lost much of its activity as a theater spot. In addition, the opening of the Garden State Parkway in the mid-1950s allowed shore visitors to access points further south, which added to Long Branch's decline. The civil unrest of the 1960s caused riots in neighboring Asbury Park, and many fled the shore cities for the suburban towns west of the beach. Decades later, the older, more dilapidated parts of the resort town were condemned and redeveloped, in part by using eminent domain legislation.
Long Branch still continues to be a popular resort area. Many people from New York City travel or settle into the area to escape the crowded city and enjoy Long Branch's beaches. The area also attracts some tourists from the Philadelphia area as well.
On October 29, 2012, Long Branch was one of many shore communities that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Although Sandy's winds were powerful, Long Branch's position between Long Beach Island and Sea Bright gave Long Branch a much larger wall of security because it could not be engulfed by surrounding waters. Despite this mainland advantage, there were still several instances of flooding in Long Branch during the storm. Many residents went without electricity for 9 to 15 days. The boardwalk was destroyed and the city plans to start rebuilding it in 2015 and finish by summer of 2016. It is the last boardwalk damaged by Sandy to be rebuilt, and is planned to match that of Pier Village.
Long Branch takes its name from the "long branch" or south branch of the Shrewsbury River.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city had a total area of 6.283 square miles (16.274 km2), including 5.274 square miles (13.660 km2) of land and 1.009 square miles (2.614 km2) of water (16.06%).
The city borders the Monmouth County communities of Deal, Monmouth Beach, Ocean Township, Oceanport and West Long Branch.
There are several distinct neighborhoods and areas in the City of Long Branch, each with its own character. Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the city include Branchport, East Long Branch, Elberon (served as ZIP code 07740), Hollywood, Kensington Park, North Long Branch, Pleasure Bay and West End. Other areas include North End (once known as "Atlanticville"), Beachfront North and South (including Pier Village, adjacent to the site of the former Long Branch Pier at the foot of Laird Street), Downtown and Uptown. As the city's redevelopment initiatives continue to expand, the lower Broadway area (a portion of the city's Downtown) will become an Arts District.
In years past, Long Branch was a major destination for beachgoers, along with Asbury Park, and enjoyed an upscale connotation with tourists. Long Branch is home to Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, named for the United States presidents who visited the fashionable resort town, including Ulysses S. Grant, Chester A. Arthur, Rutherford Hayes, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, Woodrow Wilson and James Garfield.
Long Branch's fame as the Nation's First Seaside Resort waned in the years following World War II. The defining moment marking the end of this era occurred on June 8, 1987 when the largest fire in the history of the city destroyed the landmark amusement pier and adjoining Haunted Mansion, "Kid's World" Amusement Park and other businesses.
Broadway Center is a planned entertainment and commercial hub of Long Branch, as envisioned by the City Government and Thompson Design Group, who created the Master Plan for the city. This complex is planned to offer retail shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and two performing arts theaters as well as 500 new residences sitting atop a 1,500 car parking garage. It will be designed by the architectural firms of Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (HOK).
In June 2013, the city approved designation of the area around its train station as a transit village, which can bring incentives for revitalization and denser development.
There are several mid-rise buildings lining the oceanfront. In December 2013 another 12-story residential project was approved.
Portions of Long Branch are part of an Urban Enterprise Zone. In addition to other benefits to encourage employment within the Zone, shoppers can take advantage of a reduced 3½% sales tax rate (versus the 7% rate charged statewide) at eligible merchants.
The 2010 United States Census counted 30,719 people, 11,753 households, and 6,876 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,824.4 per square mile (2,248.8/km2). The city contained 14,170 housing units at an average density of 2,686.7 per square mile (1,037.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 65.30% (20,060) White, 14.21% (4,364) Black or African American, 0.55% (170) Native American, 2.13% (655) Asian, 0.08% (24) Pacific Islander, 13.24% (4,067) from other races, and 4.49% (1,379) from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 28.07% (8,624) of the population.
Out of a total of 11,753 households, 26.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.2% were married couples living together, 15.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.5% were non-families. 31.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.23.
In the city, 21.7% of the population were under the age of 18, 12.2% from 18 to 24, 31.1% from 25 to 44, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 11.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33.8 years. For every 100 females the census counted 100.3 males, but for 100 females at least 18 years old, it was 98.3 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $52,792 (with a margin of error of +/- $2,549) and the median family income was $56,778 (+/- $4,202). Males had a median income of $36,404 (+/- $3,363) versus $33,397 (+/- $4,036) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $30,381 (+/- $2,212). About 11.5% of families and 14.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.7% of those under age 18 and 9.6% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 United States Census there were 31,340 people, 12,594 households, and 7,248 families residing in the city. The population density was 6,008.6 people per square mile (2,318.1/km2). There were 13,983 housing units at an average density of 2,680.9 per square mile (1,034.3/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 68.03% White, 18.66% African American, 0.36% Native American, 1.64% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 7.08% from other races, and 4.19% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 20.67% of the population.
There were 12,594 households out of which 27.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 36.9% were married couples living together, 15.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.4% were non-families. 34.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.19.
In the city the population was spread out with 23.8% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 32.4% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 12.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 94.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.6 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $38,651, and the median income for a family was $42,825. Males had a median income of $37,383 versus $27,026 for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,532. About 13.9% of families and 16.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.3% of those under age 18 and 13.3% of those age 65 or over.
The City of Long Branch is governed under the Mayor-Council (Plan A) form of municipal government under the Faulkner Act, enacted by direct petition as of July 1, 1966. The government consists of a mayor and a five-member City Council, whose members are elected at-large in nonpartisan elections to serve four-year terms of office on a concurrent basis.
As of 2016, the Mayor of Long Branch is Adam Schneider. Members of the City Council are Council President Kate Billings, Council Vice President Dr. Mary Jane Celli, Joy Bastelli, John Pallone and Michael Sirianni. The terms of office of the mayor and all council members end on June 30, 2018, after they were all reelected in the May 2014 municipal election.
Councilman John "Fazz" Zambrano resigned from office following a July 20, 2006, federal court appearance at which he pleaded guilty to accepting a $1,000 bribe from an FBI informant. His seat was filled by Jackeline Biddle, a leader in the Puerto Rican community, who served until the November 2006 general election.
Long Branch is located in the 6th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 11th state legislative district.
New Jersey's Sixth Congressional District is represented by Frank Pallone (D, Long Branch). New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Cory Booker (D, Newark, term ends 2021) and Bob Menendez (D, Paramus, 2019).
For the 2016–2017 session (Senate, General Assembly), the 11th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Jennifer Beck (R, Red Bank) and in the General Assembly by Joann Downey (D, Freehold Township) and Eric Houghtaling (D, Neptune Township). The Governor of New Jersey is Chris Christie (R, Mendham Township). The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Kim Guadagno (R, Monmouth Beach).
Monmouth County is governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders consisting of five members who are elected at-large to serve three year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either one or two seats up for election each year as part of the November general election. At an annual reorganization meeting held in the beginning of January, the board selects one of its members to serve as Director and another as Deputy Director. As of 2014, Monmouth County's Freeholders are Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry (R, Colts Neck Township; term ends December 31, 2014), Freeholder Deputy Director Gary J. Rich, Sr. (R, Spring Lake; 2014), Thomas A. Arnone (R, Neptune City; 2016), John P. Curley (R, Middletown Township; 2015) and Serena DiMaso (R, Holmdel Township; 2016). Constitutional officers elected on a countywide basis are County Clerk M. Claire French (Wall Township), Sheriff Shaun Golden (Farmingdale) and Surrogate Rosemarie D. Peters (Middletown Township).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 13,442 registered voters in Long Branch, of which 4,293 (31.9%) were registered as Democrats, 1,783 (13.3%) were registered as Republicans and 7,358 (54.7%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 8 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 64.5% of the vote (5,421 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 34.5% (2,897 votes), and other candidates with 1.0% (81 votes), among the 8,470 ballots cast by the city's 14,289 registered voters (71 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 59.3%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 61.2% of the vote (6,171 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 35.7% (3,600 votes) and other candidates with 1.0% (98 votes), among the 10,090 ballots cast by the city's 14,433 registered voters, for a turnout of 69.9%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 58.0% of the vote (5,724 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 40.5% (4,001 votes) and other candidates with 0.7% (99 votes), among the 9,870 ballots cast by the city's 14,563 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 67.8.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 57.4% of the vote (2,621 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 41.1% (1,876 votes), and other candidates with 1.6% (71 votes), among the 4,677 ballots cast by the city's 14,129 registered voters (109 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 33.1%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 48.1% of the vote (2,714 ballots cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 44.7% (2,523 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 5.7% (320 votes) and other candidates with 0.9% (48 votes), among the 5,645 ballots cast by the city's 13,812 registered voters, yielding a 40.9% turnout.
Long Branch's public schools are operated by the Long Branch Public Schools, serving children in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. The district is one of 31 former Abbott districts statewide, which are now referred to as "SDA Districts" based on the requirement for the state to cover all costs for school building and renovation projects in these districts under the supervision of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority. All Long Branch Public Schools are free, including the district's preschool programs which are full-day and accommodate children ages 3–5 years old. Long Branch schools offer free breakfast each morning for the students. In addition, Long Branch Public Schools provide free summer programs for most of the summer.
As of the 2011-12 school year, the district's nine schools had an enrollment of 5,396 students and 505.5 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 10.67:1. Schools in the district (with 2011-12 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Lenna W. Conrow School (PreK and K; 369 students), Joseph Ferraina Early Childhood Learning Center (PreK and K; 343), Morris Avenue School (PreK and K; - was PreK-2; 433), Amerigo A. Anastasia School (1-5 - was PreK-5; 749), George L. Catrambone Elementary School (1-5 - new for 2014-15), Gregory School (1-5 - was PreK-5; 804) West End School (defunct - was K-5; 301), Long Branch Middle School (6-8; 943), Long Branch High School (9-12; 1,113) and The Academy of Alternative Programs, an alternative education program (was 3-5; 341 as Audrey W. Clark School).
George L. Catrambone Elementary School was constructed at a total cost over $40 million for a facility that was designed to house 800 students in a facility covering 109,000 square feet (10,100 m2) for which construction began in 2012. With the start of the 2014-15 school year, a realignment of the district closed West End School, converted Morris Avenue School for early childhood use and repurposed Audrey W. Clark School for alternative education.
Seashore School is a private K-8 school, with class size limited to 16 students.
Declining attendance led the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton to close the K-8 Holy Trinity School in June 2006.
The city had a total of 89.49 miles (144.02 km) of roadways, of which 80.10 miles (128.91 km) were maintained by the municipality, 6.26 miles (10.07 km) by Monmouth County and 3.13 miles (5.04 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Route 36 and Route 71 pass through the city.
Long Branch is connected to New York City and Northern New Jersey via NJ Transit trains running on the North Jersey Coast Line. The Long Branch station, located three blocks away from the beach, marks the end of electrified trackage, with passengers continuing south must change to diesel-powered trains. A second station is located at Elberon district just north of the borough of Deal. In the past there were stops in the West End neighborhood and on Broadway, but they were closed to reduce travel time to New York City.
Local bus transportation is provided by NJ Transit on the 831 and 837 routes.
Additionally, the City has contracted with EZ Ride to provide a shuttle service during peak commuting hours connecting the train station with Monmouth University and the Pier Village in Long Branch.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Long Branch include:M. H. Abrams (1912-2015), literary critic, known for works on romanticism.
Aida de Acosta (1884-1962), socialite and the first woman to fly a powered aircraft solo.
Richard Anderson (born 1926), best known for his role as Oscar Goldman, in both The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman TV series and subsequent TV movies.
Arthur Hornbui Bell (1891-1973), attorney who was the Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan in New Jersey.
Clint Black (born 1962), country music performer.
Jeff Blumenkrantz (born 1965), actor, composer and lyricist.
Clara Bloodgood (1870–1907), stage actress.
Dorothy Borg (1902-1993), historian specializing in American-East Asian relations.
MarShon Brooks (born 1989), basketball player for the Brooklyn Nets.
Frank Budd (born 1939), wide receiver in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins who once held the World Record in the 100 yard dash.
John Cannon (born 1960), former defensive end who played nine seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Rick Cerone (born 1954), former Yankee catcher who played for eight major league baseball teams, and was part of the New York Yankees for seven years.
Jo Champa (born 1968), actress, producer and model.,
June Clark (born 1900), jazz trumpeter who later managed boxer Sugar Ray Robinson.
Paul Cohen (1934–2007), awarded the Fields Medal for developing forcing to show the independence of the continuum hypothesis and the axiom of choice in axiomatic set theory.
Tom Constanten (born 1944), musician, former keyboardist for the Grateful Dead.
Bob Davis (born 1945), former NFL quarterback whose career included three seasons with the New York Jets
Sean Davis (born 1993), professional soccer player for the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer.
David Doubilet (born 1946), underwater photographer.
Frederick Douglass (1818–1895), lived in Long Branch for a short period of time until his home burnt down.
Joan Field (1915–1988), concert violinist.
James A. Garfield (1831–1881), President of the United States of America, died in Long Branch.
David Garrison (born 1952), actor most noted for playing Steve Rhoades on Married... with Children.
Richard T. Gill (1927–2010), Harvard University economist who became an opera singer at midlife.
Sonny Greer (1895–1982), jazz drummer, best known for his work with Duke Ellington.
John Faucheraud Grimké (1752-1819), father of abolitionists Sarah Grimké and Angelina Grimké.
Sarah Moore Grimké (1792-1873), abolitionist and women's rights activist, briefly lived in Long Branch while caring for her father.
Garret Hobart (1844–1899), 24th Vice President of the United States, under William McKinley.
Winslow Homer (1836–1910), stayed in Long Branch in 1869, while he produced paintings of Victorian women strolling the boardwalks.
Deborah Lee James (born 1958), 23rd Secretary of the United States Air Force.
Jim Jeffcoat (born 1961), professional football player for the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills from 1983 to 1997.
Norman Mailer (1923–2007), novelist.
Bobby Martin (1903–2001), jazz trumpeter who performed with Sam Woodings, Willie Lewis and Benny Carter.
Sam Mills (1959–2005), NFL Football Player, attended Long Branch High School.
Julian P. Mitchell (1854-1926), Ziegfeld Follies director.
Frank Pallone (born 1951), member of the United States House of Representatives since 1988, who served on the Long Branch city council from 1982 to 1988.
Dorothy Parker (1893–1967), writer and storied member of the Algonquin Round Table, whose birthplace at 792 Ocean Avenue has been designated as a National Literary Landmark.
Robert Pinsky (born 1940), Poet Laureate of the United States from 1997–2000.
Brian Pulido (born 1961), founder of Chaos! Comics and writer of comics books such as Lady Death, Evil Ernie and Purgatori.
Harry Ray (born 1946), R&B vocalist who was a member of the groups "The Moments" and "Ray, Goodman, & Brown".
Richie Rosenberg, trombonist who performed with Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes.
Jason Ryan (born 1976), pitcher who played two seasons for Minnesota Twins.
Scott Schoeneweis (born 1973), a relief pitcher who played for the New York Mets, among other teams.
Bruce Springsteen (born 1949), born in Long Branch and raised in Freehold Borough, New Jersey, wrote "Born to Run", "Thunder Road" and "Backstreets" in a cottage at 7 1/2 West End Court.
Danny Stubbs (born 1965), who won multiple National Championships with University of Miami and two Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers as a defensive tackle.
Ivy Troutman (1884-1979), Broadway actress.
Chase Untermeyer (born 1946), United States Ambassador to Qatar.
Anthony M. Villane (born 1929), dentist and politician who was elected to serve seven terms in the New Jersey General Assembly from 1976 to 1988.
John Villapiano (born 1951) former professional football player who played in the World Football League and politician who served on the Monmouth County, New Jersey Board of chosen freeholders and the New Jersey General Assembly from 1988 to 1992.
Phil Villapiano (born 1949), former NFL linebacker who played in four Pro Bowls and was a part of the Oakland Raiders Super Bowl XI winning team.
Earl Wilson (born 1958), NFL and CFL player
Bernie Worrell (1944-2016), keyboardist and founding member of Parliament-Funkadelic.
The AXS TV reality series, Bikini Barbershop, is set in Long Branch, at Bikini Barbers located on Ocean Boulevard.
In the HBO series, The Sopranos, Long Branch is the setting for Adriana La Cerva's nightclub, the Crazy Horse (see "The Telltale Moozadell"). In the episode "The Blue Comet", the house in which Tony Soprano hides out towards the end of the series is near the beach in North Long Branch.