Red Bank was originally formed as a town on March 17, 1870, from portions of Shrewsbury Township. On February 14, 1879, Red Bank became Shrewsbury City, a portion of Shrewsbury Township, but this only lasted until May 15, 1879, when Red Bank regained its independence. On March 10, 1908, Red Bank was formed as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature and was set off from Shrewsbury Township.
Occupied by indigenous peoples for thousands of years, in historic times the area of modern-day Red Bank was the territory of the Algonquian-speaking LenapeNative Americans, also called the Delaware by the English. The Lenape 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 European settlers from England and the Dutch Republic in the mid-17th century, who purchased land in the area.
Originally part of "Shrewsbury Towne", Red Bank was named in 1736, 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." Red Bank was settled by English colonists beginning in the 17th century and became a center for shipbuilding. Its population grew rapidly after 1809, when regularly scheduled passenger ships were established to serve the route to Manhattan.
By 1844, Red Bank had become a commercial and manufacturing center, focused on textiles, tanning, furs, and other goods for sale in Manhattan. With the dredging of the Navesink River about 1845, Red Bank became a port from which steamboats transported commuters to work in Manhattan. Red Bank grew in size as a result of this, as well as the effects of construction of a railway in the town by the Raritan and Delaware Bay Railroad in 1860.
During the 20th century, Red Bank was a strong cultural, economic, and political center in Monmouth County, until it was hindered by the economic recession that began in 1987. During this time, Red Bank's economy, based largely on retail commerce, was in decline, due to a real estate scandal. Local pundits and urban planners referred to the town as "Dead Bank".
Beginning in approximately 1991, under the New Jersey Development and Redevelopment Law, the borough authorized the creation of the Red Bank RiverCenter to manage redevelopment in what was designated as a special improvement district. RiverCenter retains authority over the management and redevelopment of a defined central business district, which includes Broad Street from the post office to Marine Park and from Maple Avenue to one block east of Broad Street. A number of urban redevelopment projects have taken place, including improved signage, distinctive and pedestrian-friendly sidewalks and lighting, a coherent design plan for Main Street and other major thoroughfares, improved condition of parking lots with landscaping, and similar projects.
The district as originally proposed was larger, to include the commercial areas west of Maple Avenue, including the antique buildings, The Galleria, and Shrewsbury Avenue. But, some property owners in this area were opposed to paying the special assessment. Plans for the larger district advanced but opposition became more rigorous. The proposed district was amended to exclude opponents, and the district that was adopted stops at Maple Avenue.
There were 4,929 households, of which 23.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.8% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 49.9% were non-families. 40.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.29.
In the borough, 20.4% of the population were under the age of 18, 9.3% from 18 to 24, 34.6% from 25 to 44, 23.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.2 years. For every 100 females there were 103.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 103.5 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $59,118 (with a margin of error of +/- $9,139) and the median family income was $79,922 (+/- $12,117). Males had a median income of $51,053 (+/- $6,351) versus $47,368 (+/- $9,445) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $36,424 (+/- $3,310). About 13.1% of families and 14.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.5% of those under age 18 and 9.7% of those age 65 or over.
There were 5,201 households out of which 18.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.2% were married couples living together, 11.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 51.9% were non-families. 42.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.20 and the average family size was 2.99.
In the borough the population was spread out with 17.5% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 35.2% from 25 to 44, 20.3% from 45 to 64, and 18.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 91.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.9 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $47,282, and the median income for a family was $63,333. Males had a median income of $45,922 versus $34,231 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $26,265. About 6.3% of families and 12.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.5% of those under age 18 and 10.6% of those age 65 or over.
Red Bank is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government. The governing body consists of a Mayor and a Borough Council comprising six council members, with all positions elected at-large on a partisan basis as part of the November general election. A Mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office. The Borough Council consists of six members elected to serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with two seats coming up for election each year in a three-year cycle. The Borough form of government used by Red Bank, the most common system used in the state, is a "weak mayor / strong council" government in which council members act as the legislative body with the mayor presiding at meetings and voting only in the event of a tie. The mayor makes committee and liaison assignments for council members, and most appointments are made by the mayor with the advice and consent of the council.
As of 2014[update], the Mayor of Red Bank is Democratic Pasquale Menna, whose term of office ends on December 31, 2014. Members of the Borough Council are Council President Arthur V. Murphy (D, 2015), Cindy Burnham (R, 2016), Michael R. DuPont (D, 2015), Kathleen Horgan (D, 2016), Juanita Lewis (D, 2014) and Edward Zipprich (D, 2014).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 6,217 registered voters in Red Bank, of which 2,118 (34.1%) were registered as Democrats, 1,185 (19.1%) were registered as Republicans and 2,906 (46.7%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 8 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 63.2% of the vote here (3,129 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 34.0% (1,682 votes) and other candidates with 0.9% (47 votes), among the 4,948 ballots cast by the borough's 6,669 registered voters, for a turnout of 74.2%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 58.1% of the vote here (2,849 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 40.4% (1,984 votes) and other candidates with 0.6% (42 votes), among the 4,905 ballots cast by the borough's 6,856 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 71.5.
In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 46.0% of the vote here (1,460 ballots cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 45.9% (1,457 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 6.3% (200 votes) and other candidates with 0.8% (24 votes), among the 3,176 ballots cast by the borough's 6,332 registered voters, yielding a 50.2% turnout.
For grades nine through twelve, public school students attend Red Bank Regional High School, which also serves students from Little Silver and Shrewsbury Borough, with students from other Monmouth County municipalities eligible to attend the high school for its performing arts program, with admission on a competitive basis and tuition paid by the sending district or by the parent. The school had 1,161 students as of the 2011-12 school year.
Red Bank Charter School is a public school for students in Kindergarten through eighth grade that operates under a charter granted by the New Jersey Department of Education and accepts students and receives its funding from a portion of property taxes, like a typical public school. It does not charge tuition and operates independently of the public school system, with a separate school board. Students are selected to enroll in the charter school based on an annual lottery, which is open to all Red Bank residents of school age.
As of 2010[update], the borough had a total of 29.86 miles (48.06 km) of roadways, of which 23.09 miles (37.16 km) were maintained by the municipality, 5.25 miles (8.45 km) by Monmouth County and 1.52 miles (2.45 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Route 35 runs north-south through the borough while CR 520 passes through briefly in the southeastern area. Red Bank is also 2 miles (3.2 km) east of Interchange 109 of the Garden State Parkway.
Red Bank is connected by rail to other urban centers.
Red Bank is a noted social and commercial destination, filled with boutiques, designer clothing and home stores, parks, and restaurants. Special events are scheduled throughout the summer, such as the KaBoomFest fireworks on July 3, which attracted as many as 150,000 spectators at its 51st annual event in 2010.
Since the 1950s, Red Bank has held the Annual Red Bank Sidewalk Sale. The 58th Annual Sidewalk Sale was held from July 27, 2012 to July 29, 2012, and was seen in "The Sidewalk Stash", the November 11, 2012 episode of the reality TV series Comic Book Men.
The town is considered a center of artistic activity, and is home to the Monmouth County Arts Council, as well as several art and photography galleries.
Broad Street is one of the borough's central streets and is known for its lavish Christmas decorations, which appear on the street during the holiday season. The street is closed to traffic for a free concert sponsored by Holiday Express, after which the lights are all lit again. Up to 7,000 people attend the shows annually.
An annual fireworks display (called "KaBoom! Fireworks on the Navesink") is held on July 3, which is popular with metropolitan residents. Red Bank hosts the Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival in partnership with the Jersey Shore Jazz & Blues Society. "First Night", a New Year's Eve arts and entertainment festival, is a Red Bank event designed to provide an alternative to alcohol-related events.
The George Sheehan Classic began in 1981 as the Asbury Park 10K Classic and quickly became one of the major road running events on the national calendar. The race moved to Red Bank in 1994 and was renamed in honor of Dr. George A. Sheehan, the prominent author, philosopher and area physician. The Classic was named one of the Top 100 Road Races by Runner's World magazine, and the Best Memorial Race in New Jersey by The New York Times. The 2012 running, shortened to a 5K race, attracted nearly 1,300 participants.
Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash on Broad Street. Tinted panels have been placed over the windows and door to block sunlight during filming of the reality TV series Comic Book Men.
Several tunes composed and/or made famous by Count Basie name-check the town in their title, including "Red Bank Boogie" and "The Kid from Red Bank". Basie was born and grew up in Red Bank, starting his musician's career there. A bronze bust of Basie was commissioned to mark what would have been his 100th birthday in 2004, and was placed in the plaza outside the Red Bank train station.
In his 1942 essay "Memoirs of a Drudge", humorist James Thurber recalls being sent to Red Bank by his newspaper's city editor on a tip that "Violets (are) growing in the snow over in Red Bank." Putting in a telephone call to that town's Chief of Police in advance, Thurber is told by a desk sergeant, "Ain't no violence over here."
New office building construction on West Front Street
Red Bank offers many high-end shops, offering luxury boutiques and department stores, including Garmany of Red Bank which has been expanded from a men's store into a luxury department store with 40,000 square feet (3,700 m2) of high-end retail space. Store openings have included Tiffany & Co. in November 2007.Mark Ecko Cut & Sew opened a Broad Street store in 2008 as part of an effort to reach out to more suburban customers.
^"History". Borough of Red Bank. Accessed July 11, 2012.
^Staff. "Anniversary of the City Guard.; EXCURSION TO LONG BRANCH OPENING OF THE RARITAN AND DELAWARE BAY RAILROAD DINNER, SPEECHES, ETC.". The New York Times. June 20, 1860. Accessed May 9, 2012. "It being the occasion of the opening of the Raritan and Delaware Bay Railroad, to Long Branch, the City Guard accepted the invitation of the Railroad Company to pass over their road and join in the opening celebration at the same time that they celebrated their own anniversary.... The Raritan and Delaware Bay Railroad, it may be proper to state here, was projected to run to Cabe [sic] May, and to form part of an air-line from New-York to Norfolk, a distance of 300 miles, 250 of which is to be by rail and the remainder by water."
^James, George (June 17, 2001). "COMMUNITIES; From Dead Bank To Red Bank". The New York Times. Accessed May 9, 2012. Quote: "It was the mid 1980's, and downtown stores were being forced out of business by the invasion of sprawling new malls, the population was slipping and the commercial and residential tax base was eroding. Red Bank was known as Dead Bank."
^Red Bank, New Jersey Travel and Vacation Information. Accessed July 10, 2012.
^Burton, John. "Special Improvement District Seeks Expansion To West Side", The Two River Times, November 17, 2006. Accessed July 15, 2012. "A plan to include the borough's west side in the original special improvement district was abandoned because of a threat of legal action brought by a Shrewsbury Avenue commercial property owner, who opposed the special assessment as inequitable.... As proposed, the lines of the district would include Monmouth Street west of Maple Avenue to Bridge Avenue, including Bridge and extending to Rector Place, to Chestnut Street on the south, and going to the Navesink River to the north."
^School Data for the Red Bank Regional High School, National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed October 7, 2014. "*If I am from out-of-district who pays my tuition? When considering Red Bank Regional High School from outside our sending districts please consider: Out-of-district students pay tuition, which in some cases, is paid by the sending school district. If the sending district will not cover the tuition and/or transportation it will be the sole responsibility of the parent/guardian."
^About RBCS, Red Bank Charter School. Accessed May 9, 2012.
^LaGorce, Tammy (June 24, 2011). "A Town Celebration, Fireworks and All". The New York Times. Accessed May 9, 2012. "KaBoomFest, now in its 52nd year, shows few signs of slowing down. In 2010, 150,000 people attended the fireworks display, which will run 23 minutes this year. The same number of spectators is expected this year, said Mr. Hogan, who is also the president of the town’s Riverview Medical Center."
^"The Sidewalk Stash". Comic Book Men. Season 2. Episode 5. November 11, 2012. AMC.
^Egan, Christine. "JOURNEYS; 36 Hours | Red Bank, N.J.". The New York Times. September 17, 2004. Accessed July 15, 2012. "Red Bank supports a growing array of trendy shops and restaurants, and has fashioned itself into a mini-center for the arts, with famous neighbors including Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi in nearby towns."
^Who We Are, Monmouth County Arts Council. Accessed May 9, 2012.
^History, Count Basie Theatre. Accessed May 9, 2012.
^About Us, Phoenix Productions. Accessed May 9, 2012.
^Who We Are, Two River Theater Company. Accessed May 9, 2012.
^VH1 Storytellers Bruce Springsteen, Allmusic. Accessed May 9, 2012. "Springsteen, appearing alone on-stage at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, NJ, on April 4, 2005 (except for a duet with his wife, Patti Scialfa, on Beautiful Disguise) takes the 'storytellers' concept of explaining the sources of his songs seriously, although he peppers his remarks with self-deprecating humor, much of it directed at his good-guy image."
^Berry, Coleen Dee. "Out of Mothballs, Awaiting Ice". The New York Times. January 8, 2009. Accessed July 10, 2012. "Iceboating is so firmly entrenched in Red Bank that the borough’s official seal contains an image of an iceboat."
^Robbins, Jim; and Hinck, penny. "Annual George Sheehan Event is Exceptionally Classic", Atlantic Highlands Herald, June 17, 2012. Accessed July 15, 2012. "Twelve hundred and 96 (1296) road racers competed in the annual George Sheehan Classic 5K (previously a five-mile race) on a course that starts and finishes on Broad Street in Red Bank, continues onto Red Bank’s Bergen, Silverton, Prospect Streets then onto Harding Road where the racers are confronted with challenging Tower Hill, on the sunny, windless, warm, great-running-weather morning of June 16."
^Steinberg, Kimberley. " The 'Kid from Red Bank' is back where he belongs; Basie bust gets prominent spot at train station", The Hub, October 8, 2009. Accessed October 8, 2013. "The bronze bust of the Count, sculpted by New Jersey artist Brian Hanlon, has been housed at the Visitors Center at the Red Bank Train Station for the past few years. 'When first commissioned in 2004 to commemorate the Count's 100th birthday, the original plan called for the Basie statue to be displayed outdoors on the train station plaza,' said Councilman Arthur V. Murphy III, who served as the emcee for the ceremony.... Basie remembered his hometown when he recorded 'The Kid from Red Bank' and 'The Red Bank Boogie,' both of which were played during the ceremony."
^Lussier, Germain; Harris, Karen; Rothman, Robin A.; and Tomcho, Sandy. "The Top 10 Drives of 2006". Times Herald-Record. January 5, 2007. Accessed May 9, 2012. "This year, he hosted Vulgarthon 2006 in Red Bank, where two theaters full of Smith fans enjoyed early screenings of Smith's latest film, Clerks 2 and his latest acting effort, Catch and Release, to be released Jan. 26, among other things."
^Fischler, Marcelle S. "SHOPPING; A Cappuccino With That $5,000 Suit?". The New York Times. November 19, 2006. Accessed May 17, 2013. "Last year the Garmanys expanded the Red Bank outlet into a 40,000-square-foot, sophisticated department store. The first-floor men's department is divided into boutiques for designer brands like Canali and Zegna."
^Horner, Shirley. "ABOUT BOOKS". The New York Times, October 3, 1993. Accessed May 9, 2012. "Timothy Thomas Fortune, a pioneering black journalist, who went on to start 'The New York Age,' once the nation's leading black newspaper, moved to Red Bank in 1901. His Red Bank home, Maple Hill, is a National Historic Landmark."
^Drape, Joe. "COLLEGE FOOTBALL; Penn State Batters Buckeyes to Win". The New York Times. October 17, 1999. Accessed May 9, 2012. "The Buckeyes began the afternoon swarming. Three quarters later, after being pinballed about by McCoo, a native of Red Bank, N.J., they looked as if they were rooted in the Beaver Stadium grass and McCoo was watering them."
^Hahnen, Gretchen (1948). "Biography of Eddie August Schneider (1911–1940) written by Gretchen Hahnen (1902–1986) to accompany his papers deposited at the George H. Williams, World War I Aviation Library at the University of Texas at Dallas". "... his family moved to Red Bank, New Jersey where he attended grade school."
^Chanko, Kenneth M. "A Lot Happens at a Convenience Store". The New York Times. October 16, 1994. Accessed May 9, 2012. "Earlier this month, the film maker, who recently moved into an apartment in Red Bank, returned to Leonardo to shoot a music video for Soul Asylum's "Can't Even Tell", a song that appears on the Clerks soundtrack."