Updated: Sep 9, 2021
Sandwiched in between Fletcher Lake and Sylvan Lake, Bradley has a lot in common with small American towns. Along the beach promenade, there's a mix of condos, apartment buildings, a mini-golf course, a gazebo, a playground and houses which are big and small (see the adobe
home below). People here have a strong affection for the place. Bradley Beach residents and visitors are out running and walking on the promenade north to Ocean Grove and Asbury Park or south to Avon by the Sea and Spring Lake. They shop and dine along the town's buzzing business strip at Main Street and Brinley Avenue.
(From the vantage point of the beachfront or boardwalk, this is a breezy overview of what you see, where to park and beach access, plus a bit or history and the latest happenings. See map below.)
The state's beach replenishment efforts are evident between the promenade and the ocean. Since Superstorm Sandy, dunes have been built and planted with grasses that appear to be taking hold.
How the town got its name in three bullet points
James Bradley, a recent convert to the Methodist religion, visits Ocean Grove in the 1870s and sees the opportunity for beach town development at the Jersey Shore. Bradley buys land immediately north of Ocean Grove to Deal Lake and invests in William Bradner's development south of Ocean Grove on land as far south as what is now Avon-by-the-Sea.
Bradley names the northern section Asbury Park after Francis Asbury, the founder of Methodism in the United States. Bradley's statue, not Francis Asbury sits in the park across from the Asbury Park Convention Hall and Paramount Theatre.
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Ocean Park is Willam Bradner's first choice for the land south of Ocean Grove. The post office asks for a change because of the similarity of the name to nearby Ocean Port. According to the town's website: William Bradner did not want to suggest his own name, so one of the post office officials said, “You have a man down here by the name of Bradley. Why don’t you call it Bradley Beach?”
In summary Bradley Beach is named after a man who was devoted to the town to Bradley Beach's north, whose statue is prominently displayed in a park two towns north of Bradley Beach and who was not the primary developer of Bradley Beach.
The ShowRoom Cinema on Main Street
The ShowRoom Cinema on Main Street started life as a vaudeville theater in 1915 and converted to showing movies on Christmas 1924. Throughout most of the next 96 years, the theater showed first-run movies. It closed in 2018, re-opened in 2019 and then closed seemingly for good in 2020. Cinema Labs with a boost from its actor/partner Patrick Wilson hopes to purchase, remodel and re-open the historic movie theater. They launched a Kickstarter campaign in January and raised $65,090, beating their $50,000 goal. No word yet on next steps.
Tips for Visiting Bradley Beach
What's New: Free Saturday concerts at 7pm in Riley Park from June 19 to August 28.
Road Access & Parking: The main entry to Bradley Beach is along Route 71/Main Street. There is metered parking on the ocean side of Ocean Avenue and along Sylvan Lake at the southern end of the city. Paid parking is in effect 8am to 7 pm from the weekend before Memorial Day through the Sunday after Labor Day. Parking is free on the west side of Ocean Avenue. Use the M2Pay parking app or the pay stations.
Amenities: There are restrooms along the promenade.
Beaches: Beach badges are required weekends from May 29 through June 18 and then daily from June 19 to September 5. Daily beach badges for people 13 and older are $12 -- a decrease of $1 from last year -- and can be purchased through the Viply app or at the beach. Seasonal beach badges are $80 for people 17 and older, $30 for seniors 60 or older.
Starring Role: Bradley Beach has been featured in the movies -- According to Greta with Hilary Duff and Me and Veronica.
This spring, summer and fall, follow Jersey Shore author and expert R.C. Staab as he walks the entire 139 miles of the Jersey Shore from Sandy Hook to Island Beach State Park, from Old Barney to Beach Haven, from Brigantine to Cape May.
Next stop: Avon by the Sea at Jersey Shore Walk Mile post 20.5 See all the Jersey Shore Walk stories at www.jerseyshorewalk.com