Sea Bright was formed as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 21, 1889, from portions of Ocean Township, based on the results of a referendum held the previous day. The borough was reincorporated on March 10, 1897. Additional portions of Ocean Township were annexed by the borough in March 1909.
In the early 1840s, the area of present-day Sea Bright was a fishing community of simple shacks near the beach dunes; Ocean House, the area's first hotel, opened in 1842, featuring access to fishing and sea bathing. The area was called "Nauvoo", a Native American word, meaning "bright sea". An alternative explanation, which the borough credits as the source, is that the name is derived from the Hebrew language meaning "pleasant place," which was the same name that Mormon leader Joseph Smith gave to Nauvoo, the Illinois town he founded in 1839. Smith is said to have visited Monmouth County during a missionary journey in 1840.
The first bridge across the Shrewsbury River connecting Sea Bright to Rumson was constructed in 1870. After several iterations of the bridge, Monmouth County has announced plans for a replacement of the existing span built in 1950 that connects to Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright with a new bridge that would be completed in 2020 at a site south of the current crossing.
The Sea Bright Skiff was developed on the Jersey Shore in the early 19th century for fishing offshore, by being launched through the surf and returned to shore.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 1.29 square miles (3.33 km2), including 0.72 square miles (1.86 km2) of land and 0.57 square miles (1.47 km2) of water (43.88%).
Sea Bright has seven members-only beach clubs, of which five are in the North Beach area: Ship Ahoy, Sands, Surfrider, Sea Bright Beach Club and Chapel Beach Club; and two are south of the center of town: Driftwood and Edgewater. These clubs charge thousands of dollars for membership and have waiting lists of several years for prospective members. In addition, there is a large public, municipal beach in the center of town which charges a fee, but includes free parking and is protected by lifeguards, with entry limited to those who have purchased a beach badge. The traditional surfing beach area, called the Anchorage, is free and public, but unguarded. In addition, there are numerous public access stairs to other unguarded beaches for fishing, recreation and suntanning.
Of the 792 households, 12.4% had children under the age of 18; 32.1% were married couples living together; 5.7% had a female householder with no husband present and 59.0% were non-families. Of all households, 48.7% were made up of individuals and 8.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.78 and the average family size was 2.54.
11.3% of the population were under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 30.1% from 25 to 44, 38.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46.7 years. For every 100 females, the population had 106.7 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 107.3 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $74,236 (with a margin of error of +/- $8,921) and the median family income was $102,679 (+/- $37,943). Males had a median income of $84,412 (+/- $45,724) versus $72,898 (+/- $10,443) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $82,535 (+/- $20,263). About 3.5% of families and 4.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.3% of those under age 18 and 2.7% of those age 65 or over.
There were 1,003 households, out of which 11.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 29.6% were married couples living together, 6.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 59.9% were non-families. 45.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.81 and the average family size was 2.51.
In the borough the population was spread out, with 11.2% under the age of 18, 5.3% from 18 to 24, 41.5% from 25 to 44, 31.2% from 45 to 64, and 10.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 109.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 109.5 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $65,563, and the median income for a family was $72,031. Males had a median income of $60,417 versus $41,100 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $45,066. About 5.3% of families and 7.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.0% of those under age 18 and 3.7% of those age 65 or over.
The Sea Bright beach on an early summer morning
Parks and recreation
As of the summer of 2015, the borough added lifeguards and began charging visitors a daily admission at Anchorage Beach, an area that has been widely used by surfers, eliminating one of the limited number of free oceanfront beaches in the state.
Sea Bright is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government, which is used in 218 municipalities (of the 565) statewide, making it the most common form of government in New Jersey. The governing body is comprised of the Mayor and the Borough Council, 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 is comprised 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 Sea Bright 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 can veto ordinances subject to an override by a two-thirds majority vote of the council. 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 2020[update], the Mayor of Sea Bright is Republican Brian P. Kelly, whose term of office ends December 31, 2023. Members of the Sea Bright Borough Council are Council President Charles H. Rooney III (D, 2020), Kevin P. Birdsall (I, 2022), Samuel A. Catalano (D, 2022), William J. "Jack" Keeler (R, 2021), Marc A. Leckstein (D, 2021) and Jon Schwartz (I, 2020).
Monmouth County is governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders consisting of five members who are elected at-large to serve three year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either one or two seats up for election each year as part of the November general election. At an annual reorganization meeting held in the beginning of January, the board selects one of its members to serve as Director and another as Deputy Director. As of 2020[update], Monmouth County's Freeholders are
Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone (R, Neptune City, term as freeholder ends December 31, 2022; term as freeholder director ends 2021),
Freeholder Deputy Director Susan M. Kiley (R, Hazlet Township, term as freeholder ends December 31, 2021; term as deputy freeholder director ends 2021),Lillian G. Burry (R, Colts Neck Township, 2020),
Nick DiRocco (R, Wall Township, 2022), and
Patrick G. Impreveduto (R, Holmdel Township, 2020).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 1,095 registered voters in Sea Bright, of which 248 (22.6%) were registered as Democrats, 305 (27.9%) were registered as Republicans and 541 (49.4%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There was one voter registered to another parties.
In the 2012 presidential election, Republican Mitt Romney received 57.7% of the vote (379 cast), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 41.1% (270 votes), and other candidates with 1.2% (8 votes), among the 659 ballots cast by the borough's 1,181 registered voters (2 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 55.8%. In the 2008 presidential election, Republican John McCain received 53.6% of the vote (483 cast), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 43.2% (389 votes) and other candidates with 1.7% (15 votes), among the 901 ballots cast by the borough's 1,220 registered voters, for a turnout of 73.9%. In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 55.9% of the vote (519 ballots cast), outpolling Democrat John Kerry with 43.0% (399 votes) and other candidates with 1.2% (16 votes), among the 928 ballots cast by the borough's 1,282 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 72.4.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 84.1% of the vote (348 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 14.7% (61 votes), and other candidates with 1.2% (5 votes), among the 418 ballots cast by the borough's 1,068 registered voters (4 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 39.1%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 66.2% of the vote (406 ballots cast), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 26.8% (164 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 5.5% (34 votes) and other candidates with 1.0% (6 votes), among the 613 ballots cast by the borough's 1,148 registered voters, yielding a 53.4% turnout.
For ninth through twelfth grades, public school students attend Shore Regional High School, a regional high school that also serves students from the constituent districts of Monmouth Beach, Oceanport and West Long Branch. The high school is located in West Long Branch and is part of the Shore Regional High School District. As of the 2018–19 school year, the high school had an enrollment of 649 students and 57.2 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 11.3:1. Seats on the high school district's nine-member board of education are allocated based on the population of the constituent municipalities, with one seat assigned to Sea Bright.
As of May 2010[update], the borough had a total of 6.37 miles (10.25 km) of roadways, of which 2.71 miles (4.36 km) were maintained by the municipality, 0.08 miles (0.13 km) by Monmouth County and 3.58 miles (5.76 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
The Shrewsbury River Bridge carrying CR 520 into Sea Bright from Rumson
New Jersey Route 36 is the main highway through Sea Bright. To the south, it connects the borough to Monmouth Beach. Heading north, it crosses the Shrewsbury River to Highlands via the Highlands – Sea Bright Bridge, a fixed span which was built between 2008 and 2011 to replace a 1,240-foot (380 m) drawbridge built in 1932. Sea Bright can also be accessed from Rumson to the west via Rumson Road (County Route 520) over the Shrewsbury River Bridge.
According to the Köppen climate classification system, Sea Bright has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa). Cfa climates are characterized by all months having an average temperature > 32.0 °F (0.0 °C), at least four months with an average temperature ≥ 50.0 °F (10.0 °C), at least one month with an average temperature ≥ 71.6 °F (22.0 °C) and no significant precipitation difference between seasons. Although most summer days feature slight-to-moderate humidity and a cooling afternoon sea breeze in Sea Bright, episodes of heat and high humidity can occur with heat index values > 104 °F (40 °C). Since 1981, the highest air temperature was 99.8 °F (37.7 °C) on August 9, 2001, and the highest daily average mean dew point was 77.9 °F (25.5 °C) on July 19, 2019. The average wettest month is July which correlates with the peak in thunderstorm activity. Since 1981, the wettest calendar day was 5.63 inches (143 mm) on August 27, 2011. During the winter months, the average annual extreme minimum air temperature is 5.3 °F (−14.8 °C). Since 1981, the coldest air temperature was −3.6 °F (−19.8 °C) on January 21, 1985. Episodes of extreme cold and wind can occur with wind chill values < −5 °F (−21 °C). The average seasonal (November-April) snowfall total is 18 to 24 inches (46 to 61 cm) and the average snowiest month is February which corresponds with the annual peak in nor'easter activity.
Climate data for Sea Bright, 1981-2010 normals, extremes 1981-2019
^ abcSea Bright 2020 Recovery Plan, Borough of Sea Bright, December 2013. Accessed May 7, 2017. "Nestled along the grass-topped sand dunes, a fishing village, originally named 'Nauvoo' was the site of present-day Sea Bright. Often mistaken for a Native American name, Nauvoo is actually a Sephardic Hebrew word meaning 'beautiful and pleasant place.' The eventual naming of the community as 'Sea Bright' was actually attributed to a Mrs. Martha Stevens of Hoboken who frequented the area in the mid-1860s."
^Borough of Sea Bright, New York/New Jersey Baykeeper. Accessed May 9, 2017. "During the early 1840s a small cluster of shacks was located on the barrier beach.... In 1842 the first hotel (Ocean House) able to accommodate 300 patrons was opened. This hotel catered to patrons in the area for fishing and sea bathing."
^History, Sea Bright, New Jersey. Accessed May 2, 2017.
^ ab"Sea Bright Municipal Records"[permanent dead link], Monmouth County, New Jersey copy of article "My Home Town: Sea Bright," by Jim Bishop in the Red Bank Register, August 25, 1960. Accessed May 2, 2017. "Long ago, the Indians called it Nauvoo, which means bright sea. [The late Monmouth County historian, George H. Moss Jr., in his book Another Look at Nauvoo to the Hook (1990) stated that Nauvoo was not an Indian word but Sephardic Hebrew, meaning 'beautiful or pleasant place,' and that it might have been named by Mormon leader Joseph Smith who visited Monmouth County in 1839 and used the same name for the town he founded in Illinois.]"
^Kimball, Stanley B. "Discovery: 'Nauvoo' Found in Seven States", Ensign (magazine), April 1973. Accessed August 1, 2012. "The name itself is derived from one or both of two Hebrew roots—nawaw and nawvaw (or a varient [sic] nawveh), both of which mean something becoming, pleasant, suitable, beautiful, a pasture, a place of rest and beauty.... The earliest non-Mormon use of Nauvoo is in reference to a small fishing village of about 50 men and boys in Monmouth County on the New Jersey shore (now a part of Sea Bright). Although direct evidence is thus far lacking, this Nauvoo was most likely the result of a missionary trip by Joseph Smith and Orson Pratt into Monmouth County from Philadelphia during January 1840."
^Sheehan, Liz. "Public Hearing Scheduled on Replacement of Aging Sea Bright-Rumson Bridge", The Two River Times, April 28, 2016. Accessed May 10, 2017. "The existing bridge, also known as Monmouth County Bridge S-32, was built over the Shrewsbury River in 1950 and runs from Rumson Road in Rumson to Ocean Avenue in the borough.... According to the NY/NJ Baykeeper, the first bridge was constructed between the two towns in 1870 and was rebuilt several times."
^Parker, Reuel B. "The Sea Bright 38", ProBoat.com, July 18, 2013. Accessed May 9, 2017. "The Sea Bright skiff is an American innovation that first appeared on the beaches of New Jersey in the early 19th century."
^Mullen, Shannon. "Wall keeps beach clubs hidden oases", Asbury Park Press, September 13, 2007.Accessed August 1, 2012. "There are eight clubs in all, strung like macaroni on a child's necklace along a mile or so of coastline -- a greater concentration than you'll find in any other town on the Jersey Shore. From north to south there's Ship Ahoy, the Sands, the Surfrider, the Sea Bright Beach Club, Chapel Beach, the Tradewinds, Water's Edge and the Driftwood Cabana Club."
^Visitors, Borough of Sea Bright. Accessed May 3, 2015.
^Spoto, MaryAnn. "Surfers fighting to save dwindling free beaches", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, May 20, 2015. Accessed October 30, 2015. "A stretch of Sea Bright's shoreline that used to be among the few free beaches in New Jersey will start charging patrons for access starting this weekend when nearly all Shore towns' beach fees kick in for summer."
^Mayor, Sea Bright, New Jersey. Accessed March 4, 2020.
^Borough Council, Sea Bright, New Jersey. Accessed March 4, 2020. "The Council shall consist of six members elected at large by the voters of Sea Bright and shall each serve a term of three years, beginning on reorganization day in January next following his/her election."
^Biography of Bob Menendez, United States Senate, January 26, 2015. "Menendez, who started his political career in Union City, moved in September from Paramus to one of Harrison's new apartment buildings near the town's PATH station.."
^. United States Senate. Accessed April 30, 2021. "Booker, Cory A. - (D - NJ) Class II; Menendez, Robert - (D - NJ) Class I"
^Staff. "Talking Family and Football with NFL Network's Melissa Stark", Living In Media. Accessed May 29, 2017. "As co-host of NFL GameDay First, a Sunday morning show on NFL Network from 7 to 9 a.m., Rumson's own Melissa Stark is on the forefront of delivering that NFL news to the nation.... LIM: When did you move to Monmouth County? MS: We moved here to Rumson in the summer of 2001."
^Staff. "Obituary Notes", The New York Times, June 21, 1894. Accessed May 29, 2017. "Assemblyman Charles L. Walters of the Second Assembly District of Monmouth County died yesterday afternoon at his home, in Seabright, N.J., aged thirty-four years."