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Barnegat Light, New Jersey
Borough of Barnegat Light
Map of Barnegat Light in Ocean County. Inset: Location of Ocean County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Map of Barnegat Light in Ocean County. Inset: Location of Ocean County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Barnegat Light, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Barnegat Light, New Jersey
Country  United States
State  New Jersey
County Ocean
Incorporated March 29, 1904 as Barnegat City
Renamed November 2, 1948 as Barnegat Light
Named for Dutch language "breaker's inlet"
 • Type Borough
 • Body Borough Council
 • Total 1.20 sq mi (3.10 km2)
 • Land 0.83 sq mi (2.15 km2)
 • Water 0.37 sq mi (0.95 km2)  30.50%
Area rank 487th of 565 in state
22nd of 33 in county
3 ft (0.9 m)
 • Total 574
 • Estimate 
 • Rank 551st of 566 in state
31st of 33 in county
 • Density 785.1/sq mi (303.1/km2)
 • Density rank 406th of 566 in state
21st of 33 in county
Time zone UTC−05:00 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (Eastern (EDT))
ZIP Code
Area codes 609 exchanges: 361, 494
FIPS code 3402903130
GNIS feature ID 0885148

Barnegat Light is a borough in Ocean County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 574, reflecting a decline of 190 (-24.9%) from the 764 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 89 (+13.2%) from the 675 counted in the 1990 Census. The borough borders the Atlantic Ocean on Long Beach Island and is home to Barnegat Lighthouse.

Barnegat Light was formed as a borough by the New Jersey Legislature on November 2, 1948, to replace Barnegat City borough, which in turn had been created on March 29, 1904, from portions of Long Beach Township.


Early history

Barnegat City in 1944

The area surrounding the Barnegat Bay and Barnegat Inlet was described by Henry Hudson in 1609, as "...a great lake of water, as we could judge it to be ... The mouth of the lake hath many shoals, and the sea breaketh on them as it is cast out of the mouth of it." The name of the existing town was obtained from the Bay and Inlet, which were originally named in 1614 "Barendegat," or "Inlet of the Breakers," by Dutch settlers, referring to the waterway's turbulent channel.

On October 26, 1782, a Belgian cutter traveling southward became stranded near the inlet. The ship was noticed by Captain Andrew Steelman, who recruited local men to unload the cargo. While at rest on the beach, the crews were attacked by Captain John Bacon, who was affiliated with the Loyalists. Almost all of Steelman's men were murdered in what became known as the Barnegat Light Massacre.

Caleb Parker, the first European permanent settler in the area, arrived to the Barnegat Inlet area in 1795. By the 19th century, the northern stretches of Long Beach Island were known among early settlers for the wildlife and subsequent hunting, as well as a tourist destination for vacationing farmers and campers. In 1814, portions of the lowlands and beaches were purchased by settlers Bart and Ruth Slaight, who built a small house and later, in 1825, a larger home to accommodate boarders. The boardinghouse was later sold to Jacob Herring, which prompted the structure to become known as the Herring House. The building lodged many of the visiting hunters, who primarily came from New York City and Philadelphia. Nearly a decade later, in 1834, Slaight sold 5 acres (20,000 m2) of land to the United States Federal Government under the stipulation that no stores or taverns may be built, nor could the lands be used for cattle.

The first lighthouse tower was built in 1835 to coincide with the increased economic dependence on the inlet. Whaling had been permitted in the area in 1678, timber was often freighted through from sawmills on the mainland, and Cranberry Inlet (opened in 1750 to provide a shortcut for cargo ships) had recently been closed.


In 1855, John M. Brown bought much of the land that makes up present-day Barnegat Light. This purchase included the acquisition of Herring House, which was renamed Ashley House. The first official name of the community thus became Brownsville. During this time, a house of refuge was built to provide an unmanned shelter for shipwreck victims. Despite several attempts at constructing jetties, the powerful tides caused considerable erosion of the beaches and threatened both Barnegat Lighthouse and later the Oceanic Hotel. The lighthouse collapsed into the sea in 1857 and a replacement lighthouse (already under construction in 1857) was completed in 1859.

The Brown family left the island after John Brown's son drowned at sea. The Brown family's land was sold at auction in 1869, and in 1874, Ashley House was sold to Charles Martin. The United States Life-Saving Service built Station No. 17 in the area c. 1872. C. 1875, the general store and post office were constructed near the intersection of 4th Street and Central Avenue. The general store was originally run by Lucrecia Buttersworth and provided limited supplies—largely due to the difficulty with transporting merchandise to the shop. In 1919, the general store was purchased by the Applegate family, a lighthouse keeper who was also a net fisherman.

Barnegat City

From the air, 2009

In 1881, the Barnegat City Improvement Company was formed by Benjamin Franklin Archer, prompting the name of the community to unofficially become Barnegat City. Adding "city" helped the new resort town capitalize on the success of Atlantic City. The plan succeeded, as the city became a popular tourist destination—primarily for vacationers from New York City, who would travel by train to Toms River and then travel by boat to Barnegat City. The SS Hesse, a ship chartered by the Pennsylvania Railroad, began providing transport into Barnegat City for passengers largely originating from New York City and Trenton. This ship was later replaced by the Connetquot. The Oceanic Hotel was built to meet the increasing lodging demands of the tourism industry, beginning construction in 1881 and completing construction in 1882. The hotel would later be relocated in response to encroaching waters, so as to avoid a similar fate as the first Barnegat Lighthouse.

The Ashley House was sold to John Warner Kinsey in 1882, who renamed the building as the eponymous Kinsey Hotel. Kinsey would later move to nearby Harvey Cedars, abandoning the hotel. A new hotel, the Sans Souci, was built in 1883 with the intention of attracting winter sportsmen. A fourth hotel, The Social, opened to boarders in 1884. Between 1884 and 1886, a direct railroad connection was completed to increase the city's tourism capabilities. The first train reached Barnegat City on June 28, 1886. A large keeper's house was completed in 1889 by the Federal Lighthouse Bureau to house the three keepers and their families. In 1899, Benjamin Archer sold the Sans Souci, which was subsequently renamed the Sunset Hotel. During the Spanish–American War, the United States Life-Saving Service kept watch for enemy ships and a signal house was constructed offshore; but the signal house was complete shortly after the peace was declared.

NJ LBI Lighthouse 04
Barnegat Lighthouse

Barnegat City became part of Long Beach Township after the township's establishment in 1899. In 1904, the city declared itself an independent borough. At this time, much of the northern area of Long Beach Island was undeveloped, causing citizens to feel separated from the rest of the township's communities.

Barnegate Light Upclose

In 1914, the Oceanic Hotel closed and the Sunset Hotel was purchased by John Barber. That same year, an automobile bridge was opened further south, improving access between the island and the mainland. In 1920, Ketzel's Bar was opened on West 7th Street by Paul Ketzel. This location provided rooms to local fisherman and was the prominent location in the city for nighttime entertainment. The bar was later purchased by "Ma" Kubel, resulting in the new name Kubel's Bar, a restaurant which continues to exist today. The bar began serving meals in a dining room addition and was known for its local parties featuring Norwegian dancing.

A severe winter storm in 1920 destroyed most of the Oceanic Hotel as well as a large portion of the beaches, eroding the shore up to the base of the lighthouse and prompting the abandonment and removal of the keeper's house by the United States Lighthouse Service. The destruction of the hotel and continued erosion of the beaches caused the resort to become less popular, ultimately resulting in the discontinuation of train service to the city between 1923 and 1926. Barnegat City returned to its relatively secluded environment that it had experienced in its earlier days.

The city's fishery economy improved beginning with a fishery opened by Captain Dick Myers in 1920, whom the next year purchased 33 acres (130,000 m2) between West 7th Street and the bay. In 1927, several Scandinavian fisherman united to form the Independent Fishery. During this period, gillnetting declined in popularity, but it would later gain a comeback in the 1950s. Also in the 1950s, dragger fishing was ended and tilefishing began.

The Scandinavian fisherman founded the Independent Dock, which is now known as Viking Village and, today, provides a combined shopping and industrial establishment with both handcrafted goods and fresh seafood. Catches typically consist of scallops, tuna, swordfish, tilefish, weakfish, monkfish, bluefish, shad, dogfish, and various other types of in-shore fish. In the 1960s and 1970s, foreign trawlers were permitted to fish in the area. Nearly all of the cod to have been fished out of the area. The scallop boat Lindsay L, docked at Viking Village, was used in the movie The Perfect Storm.

A series of disasters in the area occurred during the 1930s, beginning with the destruction of the Sunset Hotel by fire in June 1932. On April 4, 1933, the Airship USS Akron crashed in the sea near Barnegat Light, resulting in the deaths of 73 of the airship's crew of 76. In 1935, the railroad bridge located to the south washed out, resulting in the complete discontinuation of railroad service to all of Long Beach Island.

Barnegat Light

LBI NJ Beach 01b
Looking southward from Barnegat Lighthouse

In 1948, Barnegat City was renamed as Barnegat Light. The motivations for this renaming were both to honor the legacy of the lighthouse (which was decommissioned four years earlier) and to distinguish itself from nearby Barnegat Township. In 1950, the post office moved from the Applegate general store's location to a new location on 18th Street. The building it replaced had itself been a general store and a gas station, both owned by Jens Jensen in 1920; who had given it to John Englesen in 1940 as a trade for a house on 19th Street. The post office remained at this location until its current location on 10th Street was opened. The site of the first post office, at the general store on 4th Street, remains today as the Inlet Deli.

The continued threat of storms such as the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962 reinforced concerns about the stability of Barnegat Light's beaches. The construction of the existing jetty in the 1990s added a significant amount of land to the town, much of which was designated as parkland and now includes a bird sanctuary. The jetty has provided stabilization to the shoreline along the inlet, but requires frequent dredging. In addition to the lighthouse, the borough continues to maintain a United States Coast Guard station, reflecting the continued presence of the former United States Life-Saving Service. In line with the borough's history, its most prominent industries continue to be tourism and fishing.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 0.852 square miles (2.207 km2), including 0.731 square miles (1.893 km2) of land and 0.121 square miles (0.314 km2) of water (14.22%).

The borough borders Berkeley Township, Long Beach Township and Ocean Township. It is located on the northern tip of Long Beach Island and is bounded by Barnegat Bay on the West, the Atlantic Ocean on the East, the Barnegat Inlet to the North and the Long Beach Township neighborhood of Loveladies to the South.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 70
1920 69 −1.4%
1930 144 108.7%
1940 225 56.3%
1950 227 0.9%
1960 287 26.4%
1970 554 93.0%
1980 619 11.7%
1990 675 9.0%
2000 764 13.2%
2010 574 −24.9%
2019 (est.) 587 2.3%
Population sources: 1910-2000
1910-1920 1910 1910-1930
1930-1990 2000 2010
Barnegat Light HDR
Barnegat Lighthouse, facing west

Census 2010

As of the census of 2010, there were 574 people, 274 households, and 184 families residing in the borough. The population density was 785.1 per square mile (303.1/km2). There were 1,282 housing units at an average density of 1,753.6 per square mile (677.1/km2)*. The racial makeup of the borough was 97.74% (561) White, 1.05% (6) Black or African American, 0.00% (0) Native American, 0.00% (0) Asian, 0.00% (0) Pacific Islander, 1.05% (6) from other races, and 0.17% (1) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.92% (11) of the population.

There were 274 households out of which 9.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.8% were married couples living together, 5.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.8% were non-families. 29.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.06 and the average family size was 2.48.

In the borough, the population was spread out with 7.3% under the age of 18, 6.8% from 18 to 24, 10.1% from 25 to 44, 34.5% from 45 to 64, and 41.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 60.3 years. For every 100 females there were 98.6 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 97.8 males.

The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $63,750 (with a margin of error of +/- $30,634) and the median family income was $104,375 (+/- $41,197). Males had a median income of $71,250 (+/- $36,607) versus $41,250 (+/- $11,770) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $44,933 (+/- $10,912). About 5.0% of families and 8.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including none of those under age 18 and 7.4% of those age 65 or over.


2018-10-04 12 25 51 View north along Ocean County Route 607 (Central Avenue) between 29th Street and 28th Street in Barnegat Light, Ocean County, New Jersey
County Route 607 (Central Avenue) northbound in Barnegat Light

Roads and highways

As of May 2010, the borough had a total of 11.48 miles (18.48 km) of roadways, of which 7.46 miles (12.01 km) were maintained by the municipality and 4.02 miles (6.47 km) by Ocean County.

No Interstate, U.S. or state highways serve Barnegat Light. The main road serving the borough is County Route 607 (Central Avenue and Broadway).

Public transportation

Ocean County Ride provides bus service on the OC9 LBI North route between Barnegat Light and Manahawkin / Stafford Township.

The LBI Shuttle operates along Long Beach Boulevard, providing free service every 5 to 20 minutes from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM. It serves the Long Beach Island municipalities / communities of Barnegat Light, Loveladies, Harvey Cedars, North Beach, Surf City, Ship Bottom, Long Beach Township, Beach Haven and Holgate.


In 1903, the Barnegat City School was built on West 5th Street and Central Ave, consisting of a single room with bathrooms and coat closets in the entranceways, of which there was one for boys and one for girls. An older school based out of a residential cottage on West 3rd Street previously educated small classes of children from the 1880s. Shortly after the new school was opened, the former school and neighboring houses caught fire. The one-room school closed in 1951 at the end of the school year due to increasing class sizes after World War II and the plan to consolidate the Island town schools under one roof, which became the Ethel A. Jacobsen Elementary School in Surf City and later the additional LBI Grade School in Ship Bottom.

For kindergarten through sixth grade, public school students attend the Long Beach Island Consolidated School District, which also serves students from Harvey Cedars, Long Beach Township, Ship Bottom and Surf City. As of the 2017–18 school year, the district, comprised of two schools, had an enrollment of 234 students and 33.1 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 7.1:1. Schools in the district (with 2017-18 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Ethel Jacobsen School in Surf City with 111 students in pre-kindergarten to second grade and Long Beach Island Grade School in Ship Bottom with 125 students in grades 3 – 6. The district's board of education is comprised of nine members who are directly elected from the constituent municipalities on a staggered basis, with three members elected each year. Of the nine seats, one member is elected from Barnegat Light.

Students in public school for seventh through twelfth grades attend the Southern Regional School District, which serves the five municipalities in the Long Beach Island Consolidated School District, along with students from Beach Haven and Stafford Township, as well as students from Ocean Township (including its Waretown section) who attend as part of a sending/receiving relationship. Schools in the district (with 2017-18 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Southern Regional Middle School with 944 students in grades 7–8 and Southern Regional High School with 1,941 students in grades 9–12. Both schools are in the Manahawkin section of Stafford Township.

Notable people

See also (related category): People from Barnegat Light, New Jersey

People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Barnegat Light include:

  • Matt Cook (born 1984), actor known mostly for his roles as Mo McCracken on the TBS sitcom Clipped and as Lowell in the CBS sitcom Man with a Plan.
  • Tom MacArthur (born 1960), former member of the U.S. House of Representatives who represented the 3rd Congressional District from 2015 to 2019.
  • Matt McAndrew (born 1990), singer-songwriter best known for his appearance in Season 7 of NBC's reality TV singing competition The Voice where he finished as the runner-up as part of team Adam.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Barnegat Light para niños

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