Jersey Shore Names Like Brick and Ship Bottom Have Their Own History

New Jersey shore towns are often named after beaches, bays, capes, and seas. Others, such as Lavalette, have a more interesting history behind them.

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial summer opening of the Jersey Shore.

The trip from North Jersey down the Garden State Parkway is a rite of passage for toddlers on family vacation, teenagers on prom weekend, and seniors on group tours.

On “The Parkway,” exit numbers mean more than town names. Destination digits are often posted on SUV windows alongside visual descriptions of shore-bound families in proclamations of Jersey Pride.

Often, Jersey Shore towns were created specifically as bastions for bathing tourists. As a result, their founders preferred to play it safe in the name game.

There are obvious references to bays, capes, seas, beaches and fancy boats – yeah, you, Brigantine. Still, there are a few standout town names on the way to Exit 0 — Cape May if you don’t know — that could use an explanation.

Deal (Monmouth County, Exit 102)

New Jersey has an answer to the age-old question, “Deal or no deal?”

Deal is a Monmouth County town named for an English carpenter from Kent County, England, specifically the Deale section of Kent.

The carpenter, a man named Thomas Whyte, was among many English settlers from the 1660s. Whyte owned 500 acres near Shrewsbury that eventually grew to become the Borough of Deal. The name became official on March 7, 1898, when the state legislature approved the borough’s split from Ocean Township.

Despite its optimistic name, getting a deal on a home in Deal is an unlikely prospect. Forbes magazine ranked Deal’s 07723 zip code the 268th most expensive in terms of home value last year with a median sale price of $1.63 million.

The zip ranked immediately behind 10036 in New York City, a six to eight-block wide strip that stretches from the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum to 5th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan and encompasses Times Square.

Mantoloking (Ocean County, Exit 98)

Mantoloking started as a strip of beach bought by Frederick Downer of the American Fire Insurance Company of New York and his lawyer partner Frank Hall around 1875. Two companies, the Seashore Land and Seashore Improvement companies, subsequently formed to develop the resort town.

Downer selected the community’s enchanting moniker from Lenni Lenape terminology. Donald W. Becker in his book, “Indian Places in New Jersey,” said Mantoloking translates to “frog ground,” with a secondary meaning of “sand place.”

Incorporated in 1911, the town is best known for the Mantoloking Yacht Club. The yacht club, built in 1900 on land donated by the Downers, has produced 10 Olympic sailors and in more recent years several other internationally-competitive sailors.


Home to only about 300 people, Mantoloking’s north end was developed after World War II – after the railroad through town had been abandoned and removed. The most recent census bureau estimates pin the median price tag of a Mantoloking home at upwards of $2 million, tying Alpine in Bergen County as the highest in New Jersey.

Brick (Ocean County, Exit 89)

Incorporated in 1850, Brick Township gets its name from Joseph Brick, the owner of the Bergen Iron Works. Originally known as Washington Furnace, the works on the  Metedeconk River took advantage of a easily obtainable resource in bog iron.

“Opponents argued that the present name has an old tradition, that businessmen and official bodies would face expensive stationery changes if the referendum passed, and that the local high school made the present name known throughout the state,” the report continued.

Lavallette (Ocean County, Exit 82)

An exactingly planned waterfront resort town covering about one square mile on the Barnegat Peninsula, Lavallette was named for Elie Augustus Frederick La Vallette.

La Vallette was one of the first rear admirals appointed to the U.S. Navy after President Abraham Lincoln created the rank in July 1862. The naval officer was also the father of Albert T. Lavallette, head of the land development company that planned the proposed community “Lavallette City, By the Sea” in 1878.

Nine years after the Barnegat Bay Land Improvement Company submitted the faithfully heeded development plans for the resort town, Lavalette was incorporated from portions of Dover, now Toms River, Township. Six years earlier, in 1881, the local railway extended into Lavallette – priming the waterfront community for the resort boom.


The town holds two miniature golf courses, a non-commercial boardwalk along its oceanfront, and about 1,800 residents – among them actor Joe Pesci. Pesci’s cream-colored bay house on Pershing Boulevard stands out as strikingly modern among a cluster of more classically-styled beach homes.

Ship Bottom (Ocean County, Exit 63)

Known as the “Gateway to Long Beach Island,” the Borough of Ship Bottom gets its name from a shipwreck in March 1817. The accident left just one survivor, a young woman who was rescued from the hull of the overturned schooner by an ax-wielding boat captain.

Ship Bottom’s borders were officially set in May 1925, when Ship Bottom-Beach Arlington formed by mashing up parts of Bonnie Beach, Bonnet Beach and Edgewater Beach. The shortening of the name to Ship Bottom occurred in 1947.

The boundaries were unofficially established when Captain Wesley Truex built a home there to manage the lifesaving station that served as the town’s only business between 1872 and 1898.

Today, Ship Bottom town boasts a year-round population of 1,150 that swells to about 20,000 each summer. As its nickname and motto denote, the town hosts the Route 72 causeway that links greater New Jersey to Long Beach Boulevard.

Avalon (Cape May County, Exit 13)

Formerly known as part of Seven Mile Beach, Avalon Borough was incorporated in 1892, expanded in 1910 and contracted in 1941 when portions were annexed by Stone Harbor.

Unlike Avalon’s very real history, its name is a mythical one. Avalon was the moniker given to the place where the sword Excalibur was forged in Arthurian legend. The name was re-purposed in the late 1880s by Seven Mile Beach Company secretary Charles Bond, a former master at the Freemason’s lodge in Spring Lake Heights.

Avalon started as a cattle ranch. For about a century, it was owned and operated by the Leaming family, which purchased the island in 1722.

After Seven Mile Beach Company took over in 1887, Avalon’s transformation began. The remaining juniper forests were clear cut and the dunes were flatted to allow for the infiltration of the railroad and the explosion of lodging and leisure.