5. The Monterey Hotel

and the Seventh Avenue Pool

 

Looking south off the top of the Monte Carlo pool building, you would see the back of the huge white Monterey Hotel. The photo below shows the front of this imposing structure.

Image 1.51. When the "New Monterey Hotel" opened in June, 1912, the seven-story 364-room hostelry was touted as "a marvel of beauty and convenience."

The Monterey was between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. Like the Monte Carlo Pool, it covered a full block. I don't recall ever having been inside the hotel, but I have done a little research on it. The following description is from an article I wrote for The Asbury Park Press:

Inside, east of the main hall, semi-private lounges were set off from the broad corridor by mission grillwork. Beyond this area was the east wing, whose walls of pure white, leading south, passed to the palm room. Here ocean breezes rustled potted plants. Further south in the east wing was the ballroom. With tall white pillars that formed a central aisle, it was perfect for a royal entry to the waltz. The dining room was west of the main hall and looked out on Kingsley Street. With private dining chambers intimately set off from the main room, it could seat more than 500 people.

The rich, famous and fashionable came to Asbury's "first modern resort hotel." (As one would expect, there were special quarters for chauffeurs and governesses.) It was a favorite of Metropolitan opera stars. Famed tenor Enrico Caruso stayed there, bringing his own chef along. Other opera worthies to visit included Amelita Galli-Curci, Ernestine Shumann-Heink, and John McCormack. Each required a suite with a grand piano. New York mayor Al Smith enjoyed the hotel, as did the Duke of Windsor (then Prince of Wales). The registry records even the name Winston Churchill! (From: Asbury Park Press, March 17, 1997.)

My memories of the hotel are structural in an abstract way. By "structural" I mean that I recall it as a great puzzle-piece that was part of the beachfront's make-up. It was torn down in 1963, when I was 11 years old. Part of my brain had "forgotten" about the hotel's existence. When, years later, I saw a photo of the building, the empty space (in my mind) was suddenly filled. But what really "brought me back," in an almost physical way, was an experience I had in the 1980s. It involved the actor Jerry Lewis. It was something he did that caused my vision. In a later chapter I will explain this remarkable experience in detail.

Now look again at the above photo of the Monterey Hotel. Just outside the picture, across Ocean Avenue, there was this:

Image 2.5.1. The Seventh Avenue Pool and Pavilion.

That's right - another pool! This was the Seventh Avenue Pool and Pavilion. It was much smaller than the Monte Carlo. What looks like the boardwalk in the photo is really an elevated deck. People sat on the deck, took sun and watched the bathers. The real boardwalk was down below; it separated the pavilion from the pool. Though the photo makes them look close together, the pavilion was actually on the beach, as you can see in the next photo.

Image 3.5.1. The Seventh Avenue Pool and Pavilion. Note the southeast corner of the Monterey Hotel in the lower left.

Image 4.5.1. Here's an old image showing the pool and the east side of the Monterey. I know it says "6th Avenue Pool." Take your pick: the pool was between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.

Asbury Park was a city of pavilions - big ones, small ones. A lot went on in them - music, refreshment, lectures, the general gathering of people. The Seventh Avenue pavilion changed through the years. Different versions of it appear on old postcards (including a lacy Victorian version, filled with people, that keeps showing up). The pool still existed (without the pavilion) in the 1980s. It was empty, cracked and desolate. To see photos I took of it, click HERE.

I never used the Seventh Avenue pool. Consequently, I can't say much about it from experience. Materially, I possess a small blue piece of plaster that came from it. I also have floor tiles from the Monterey Hotel that were still on the ground 25 years after the place was torn down. People still pick up a lot of things from Asbury Park. They want to have a piece of their memories - something to touch - as one keeps a lock of hair that belonged to long-lost loved one.

There's another fine hotel coming up (and this one you can actually stay at!).

 

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