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Covering only 1.7 square miles of land, the borough of Red Bank, New Jersey is a small town with a big personality. Located on the banks of the Navesink River in Monmouth County, the river has played an important role in the history of the area.
Red Bank is located 25 nautical miles from Manhattan, and the river has long been used to ferry passengers and goods from New Jersey to New York. For those traveling by road, there are several state roads, and the Garden State Parkway runs just two miles outside of the town. Bus and train service is also available.
Though the population is only 12,200, each day over 80,000 people flock to the town for work and play. The town was revitalized in the 1990s, bringing a wide range of businesses including retail shops, services, and restaurants. Major companies include:
The shopping district is designed with pedestrians in mind, including brick sidewalks and Victorian-style street lamps. Red Bank has become a local hub of activity, and a destination town.
The area of New Jersey that would become Red Bank was originally inhabited by the Lenape, or Delaware, Native Americans. English and Dutch settlers began coming to the area in the 1660s, trading with the Native Americans who were still in the area. Red Bank was formed and named in 1736 as part of a sale including the land “to the red bank”.
Situated on the river, economic life was focused on this waterway. Passenger ships made regular routes to Manhattan, only 25 miles away and Red Bank became a center for shipbuilding in the 1800s. The town also produced textiles, furs, and other goods that could be transported to Manhattan for sale. Red Bank remained a thriving economic and cultural center in Monmouth County, New Jersey up until the 1980s when it began to decline.
However, in 1991, the borough authorized a major redevelopment plan, including the creation of a business district. With this plan, the town was reborn, and today it is again known as an economic and cultural center of activity.
One of the most famous sons of Red Bank is Count Basie. Throughout the town you can find references to this jazz pianist, including the Count Basie Theater, which hosts concerts and plays throughout the year, as well as an annual charity concert given by Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen. There is also an annual jazz festival, Riverfest that draws music lovers to this bustling town.
For many years, a highlight for the town was its annual 4th of July KaBoom festival and fireworks. This exciting event grew in popularity until it was finally cancelled in 2012 due to an inability for local law enforcement to ensure the safety of the growing crowds and rising costs. However, residents can still enjoy other festivities during the summer, including free outdoor concerts and annual sidewalk sale event in July. Christmas also draws many visitors to Red Bank, with twinkling lights and a holiday atmosphere.
Red Bank, New Jersey may be small in area, but it makes up for it a thriving business district, exciting festivals and concerts, and long history of success. This borough in Monmouth County is a place for locals and tourists alike to stop and enjoy shopping, music, and other events throughout the year.