A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Beach Drive in Cliffwood Beach

It was a bright, crisp afternoon here today, so my daughter and I decided to take some photos at the shore. We drove down South Concourse and made a left onto Beach Drive and parked in a small lot there near the western end of the Cliffwood Beach seawall. From there you get a beautiful view of Staten Island across Raritan Bay and an excellent vista on Keyport harbor.

Behind the beautiful homes there are houses on a promentory about twenty or so feet above us along a section of North Concourse that turns a horseshoe and becomes Woodcrest Drive. The view of the bay from up there is stupendous, especially from a gap in the houses between North Concourse and Woodcrest. (Note that Google Maps considers Woodcrest to be in Keyport. There's no municipal border on this side of Matawan Creek, is there?)

For over seventy-five years, this area was the home of the Cliffwood Beach Fossil Preserve, a state- and township-sponsored shelter which protected an internationally renowned treasure trove of fossils first discovered in 1858. School field trips and research grants were mounted to conduct studies there. But the Conrad house was threatened by the 1/2 ft per annum shore erosion, so the preserve had to be abandoned. As a compromise, Rutgers University sent paleontologists to record what they could before the seawall was filled in and access to the preserve was lost. A full report of this quandry and its resolution, including a history of the site and a series of maps, photos, and charts, is available online in pdf format at NOAA's Coastal Zone Information Center.

It is interesting to note the difference in the roads back then. In the 1970s, before this last section of the seawall was built, a road connected Marshall Concourse, Seawood, and Woodcrest along the bayshore. One of the maps shows Cliffwood Avenue connected to Woodcrest, but that surely is a mistake. I'd be interested in hearing more about that period in Cliffwood Beach's history and a discussion of the changes to the local roads that resulted from the construction of the various phases of the seawall.

Photographs above and below, from top of bottom, are 1) a view of Staten Island across the Raritan Bay, as well as, in the far distance, Manhattan skyscrapers (left of center), the Verrazanno Narrows Bridge (right of center), and Brooklyn (right); 2) a view westward from the seawall near Beach Drive; and 3) a view of Keyport from the seawall near Beach Drive in Cliffwood Beach.


  1. I'd be interested to see if there are any pictures of Cliffwood (pre-hurricane) available on the internet.

  2. I found a MySpace member with posted images of early Cliffwood Beach in its prior glory days.


  3. Great pics at that site. Seem to be personal pictures from before Hurricane Donna. I especially like the one of the Cat and the Fiddle sign. Thanks for pointing them out, Sally. I added the MySpace site under Regional Media, Blogs, and Other Sites.

  4. Recently i was walking on the path along our bay and realized that the concrete slabs put in last year by the township are lifting up - people walking and jogging should be careful. the township really needs to help maintain this walkway. also it would be nice if they could put the stairs back in from the woodland/marshall so that we can continue to have access like back in the day.

  5. I posted pictures in this blog on 3 November 2012 showing that damage, which was caused by Hurricane Sandy. The beach and seawall took a beating and people will have to be careful down there until repairs can be accomplished.The funding for repairs and additions will have to be right or it won't get done. That means county, state and federal funds. Beyond repairs, I've been hoping to see a formal way to get on the seawall at the beach end of the wall. Formal access from Marshall and Woodland would be nice. Make sure a council member knows what you want.