Originally called Great Swamp, the area was the southern border of a wood containing cedar and oak trees that extended along the entire northern end of the island to Barnegat Light. It was here at Great Swamp that the Mansion of Health was built in 1821 the first of many grand hotels on the island. The hotel did not do as well as the boarding houses at Tucker’s Island and Bond’s, and by the 1850’s the Mansion of Health was deserted and eventually burned down.
The resort community of Beach Haven was established in 1874. The residents of the Great Swamp area (now sometimes referred to as Old Mansion) wanted their community to acquire the same prestige and popularity, so in 1875, they elected to called their town Long Beach City. However, the name lasted for only nineteen years because it was too similar to other area names such as Long Beach, Long Branch and Long Island. The name Surf City was selected and has been used since 1894.
The Surf City Hotel which stands at 8th and Long Beach Blvd. was originally called the Mansion House and was built atop the foundations of the old Mansion of Health on 7th Street above Central Avenue. It was moved to its present site just after the railroad came to the island in 1886. This placed the building just across the street from the train station. The hotel changed names a couple of times. It was the Long Beach Inn, then the Marquette Hotel, and finally received its present name around 1920.
Other hotels in the area also took advantage of the community name. There was Surf House and the Surf Villa. But the Surf City Hotel has the longest and most well-known history in the area. The club added to the hotel in the 30’s became very popular. A series of talented manages enlarged and improved the hotel over the years, so by 1950, it was a hot nightspot. More modern and more expensive resort hotels have taken most of the business away from the island and the Surf City Hotel. Yet, it survives today as one of the most historic buildings on LBI.
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