The Borough of Rumson is an upscale and historic community that caught the eyes of English settlers as far back as 1663. During the Victorian Age, it was the summer playground of New York's elite due to its proximity to New York City. Today Rumson is an upscale suburb, home to New York City commuters and celebrities alike.
Covering an area of 7.2 square miles, of which 2.0 square miles is water, it's a small town with a population of just 7,309 (as of 2009), which gives residents a population density of 986.4 people per square mile, a tiny village when compared to the Big Apple.
History Behind the Name
Legend has it that the borough's name is derived from early settlers who bought the piece of land now known as Rumson from the Native Americans. The cost of the land? You guessed it, rum. As far back as 1663, long before the area was officially named Rumson, Native Americans called it “Navarumsunk.” Over the years it was shortened to “Rumson” and in 1907, it was officially incorporated as a borough.
Rumson is known for its many sprawling turn-of-the-century estates located along the shores of the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers and along historic Rumson Road, which serves as one of Rumson's main thoroughfares. Rumson's many old estates were built as summer homes for wealthy New York bankers and industrialists. The oldest of Rumson's homes was the Tredwell House, named after a family that summered here for almost 100 years. The oldest part of the house being from 1670 and the estate once occupied 700 acres.
In the 19th century, Rumson became a summer colony for wealthy New Yorkers. These elite residents enjoyed many activities, such as swimming and boating in the adjacent Navesink River and the Atlantic Ocean, or taking a wagon ride. In winter, residents used the river for ice boating.
By the late 20th century, and thanks to the construction of railroads and highways, Rumson evolved into an enclave of wealthy commuters.
Wealth and Celebrity
Rumson has always been a very affluent area. In fact, it is still one of the wealthiest towns in New Jersey. The homes are spectacularly large, many with private yachts anchored in the Navesink River, which serves as their backyard. Locals enjoy the beautiful beaches just over the Oceanic Bridge, as well as a quick commuter ferry to downtown Manhattan. Many fine eating establishments such as the Salt Creek Grille, located on Bingham Avenue right near the Oceanic Bridge, or world renowned chef David Burke's Fromagerie on Ridge Road, and perennial favorite, Barnacle Bill's Restaurant & Grog House on First Street, where locals come to eat, drink and listen to live music, make Rumson an ideal place to visit, any time of the year.
Thanks to the charming atmosphere, beautiful landscape and historic estates it has become a popular hometown for celebrities including (“The Boss”) Bruce Springsteen and his wife, Patti Scialfa, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Queen Latifah.
Aside from the celebrities, most residents are high-earners, with many working in the financial services industry in Lower Manhattan, and as mentioned, the commute isn't that bad, thanks to a high-speed ferry that leaves from nearby Red Bank and lands commuters at Wall Street in less than 35 minutes.
Though Rumson is considered a Jersey Shore town, it is world’s apart from MTV's “Jersey Shore.” The wealth of the community and the desire for privacy by its many noteworthy residents, Rumson maintains a quiet, conservative dignity. The average median household income is $129,527 per year, as of 2009. The real estate prices reflect the affluence of the Borough with the estimated median condo value being $938,929, which is nearly three times New Jersey's average.
Rumson has six magnificent parks, which include several baseball fields, basketball courts, full and junior size football fields, jogging paths, soccer fields, tennis courts, a lacrosse field, playgrounds, outdoor exercise equipment and a public boat ramp. The Parks and Recreation Department also oversees the recently renovated Binghall Hall which serves as a community recreational center and plays host to many clubs, organizations and groups.
One of the larger parks is Piping Rock Memorial Park that runs along East River Road. This park maintains two large football/soccer fields, two tennis courts and a baseball diamond that runs along East River Road. Walking north from the park you'll find many enticing shops, galleries and restaurants including Murray MacGregor's Publik House and Val's Tavern & Restaurant. Val's is famous throughout the Jersey Shore community for its lobster pie (pizza, that is).
If you feel like venturing out of the borough for some real Jersey Shore fun, just cross the bridge and you're in Sea Bright, enjoying the white sandy beaches of one of New Jersey's most famous shore towns. Just to the north of Sea Bright are the Atlantic Highlands where you can not only board ferries to New York City but you can get aboard a party boat and go deep sea fishing and hunt for fluke, flounders, stripers and bluefish.
Rumson offers beautiful houses; good food; nightlife; great shops and galleries; beaches; boating; fishing; great infrastructure; good schools; legendary neighbors; easy commute to New York City and a fine standard of living. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how much this 7.2 square mile borough has to offer.
Liam P. Cusack is associate editor of The New Jersey Cooperator.
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