Raritan Bay Park
Raritan Bay Park was a summer tent community. William W. Ziegler of Manhattan acquired the property in 1892, laid out a grid of streets and mapped 1,369 buildings lots. By 1919, only 201 lots remained unsold. Surf Ave. which runs parallel with the shoreline first appears on the Raritan Bay Park map. Along this stretch of roadway once stood a hotel, eateries, summer bungalows, recreation and dance halls, a lifesaving station, and the Tottenville Yacht Club. Later, bungalows replaced the tents that were eventually winterized for year-round residents. Only a handful remain standing today.
Residents of Raritan Bay Park organized a three-day celebration during Labor Day weekend that included a Carnival Parade through Tottenville and a baby parade. Prizes were awarded for swimming, diving and boating competitions, as well as for decorated floats, houses and businesses. Closing ceremonies were held at the Shore House Hotel.
The Raritan Bay Division of the United States Volunteer Life Savings Corps was organized at Raritan Bay Park in 1912 by the residents of the bungalow colony. Inactive during World War II, the group reorganized as the Raritan /bay Park Life Guard Station, in 1947 . Their rescue station was at Surf and Yetman Avenues, Tottenville Beach.
Shore House Hotel
In 1910, Oscar Friedrich, a prominent hotel proprietor of Newark, NJ, purchased the Wormland’s Hotel on Raritan Bay Beach. He enlarged the building, added a long pier for fishing, a dock for boating, and bathhouses for swimmers. He renamed the building the Shore House Hotel. The hotel offered accommodations by the day or week. In 1914, Friedrich sold the property to Charles Peters who succesfully operated the business until 1923 when it burned down.
The Shore House Hotel burned to the ground in 1923. A devastating fire in 1934 and the hurricane of 1938 destroyed many bathhouses, businesses and dwellings on Surf Ave. A major portion of Surf Ave. was washed away by a late fall storm in 1981 and again in 2012.
Tottenville Yacht Club
The Tottenville Yacht Club was incorporated in 1945 to “encourage the sport of boating” and to promote seamanship and navigation. In November 1950, hurricane winds and tidal flooding destroyed their clubhouse at Surf Ave. and Manhattan St. Working weekends and evenings, it took the members four years to rebuild the clubhouse, bulkhead and dock. They were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1963. Wooden pilings, remnants of the structure, are still visible today