Red Bank: Then
For thousands of years before European settlement, what we know today as Red Bank was occupied by the Algonquian-speaking Lenape Native Americans. These indigenous people lived in the area between the Navesink River and the Shrewsbury River in an area that they called Navarumsunk. The Native Americans traded freely with English and Dutch settlers in the mid-17th century, who purchased land in the area.
It is believed that the name Red Bank was first used when Thomas Morford sold Joseph French “a lot of over three acres on the west side of the highway that goes to the red bank,” in 1736. In those early days the land known today as Red Bank was part of Shrewsbury Township, one of Monmouth County’s first three townships. In 1870 it split from Shrewsbury to become the town of Red Bank. Nine years later, it rejoined Shrewsbury only to separate again a few months later. In 1908, Red Bank was formed as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature and was permanently set off from Shrewsbury Township.
In it’s early days, due to its strategic location on the Navesink River, Red Bank was a bustling port town with shipbuilding, trading, and ships moving goods and people from its port up to Manhattan. By the mid 1800s, our town was a commercial and manufacturing center, focused on textiles, tanning, furs, and other goods that were sold in Manhattan. The town continued to grow as transportation improved, making a daily commute to New York City possible. By the mid-1800s, steamboats were ferrying workers to Manhattan. The railroad soon followed. During the two world wars, Red Bank’s factories went to work for the war effort. Afterwards, the town boomed as suburban developments sprang up in formerly rural areas like Middletown Township.
Red Bank: Now
By the time of the 2010 census, Red Bank had a population of 12,206 people, 4,929 households, and 2,469 families residing in its borders. After a period of economic decline in the 1980s and 1990s, the town’s business district has made a startling comeback due to the implementation of a special improvement district and the strategic planning, management and vigilance of the district’s management organization, Red Bank RiverCenter, which is run by downtown property and business owners.
Today, Red Bank is a center for the arts and entertainment with two professional theaters, a broad array of restaurants and eateries, and a wide variety of unique retail establishments, ranging from nationally known giants like Tiffany & Co. to trendy boutiques and galleries. Financial and investment firms have made Red Bank their home, providing jobs and customers for the other businesses downtown.
Its unique combination of stunning Navesink River views from waterside parks and boutique hotels, charming historic buildings and streets, dining for all palates and pocketbooks, modern amenities, boating and fishing, outdoor fairs and festivals, and just enough grit to keep it real make Red Bank a regional destination. It also makes Red Bank the envy of towns for miles around. We hope you’ll come to see us soon.