Summary of the Borough of National Park, NJ
15, 2002, was the 100th birthday of the 1902
Incorporation of National Park NJ.
But National Park on the Delaware, as it was
originally named, really began a few years earlier. The
community began with the incorporation of The National Park
Association (NPA) in 1895 by the Reverend James E. Lake and
others. The stated purpose of the NPA was to create a religious
resort community. Within
one year, the NPA had purchased and sub-divided land, sold
lots, and established a Camp Meeting Ground.
Camp Meeting Grounds provided a religious retreat for
members of the Methodist Episcopal faith.
Most of the attendees came by steamboat, trolley, or
hired wagon from the Camden/Gloucester area, while others in
Western Gloucester County traveled by horseback or personal
wagons. Many of
these people bought lots and built cottages adjacent to the
campgrounds, which was in the area now used as a playground. In 1899, Reverend Lake also established the National Park
First Methodist Episcopal Church.
There is no doubt that Reverend Lake is the founder
of this community.
greatest influx of people began after Reverend Lake formed
the National Park Amusement Company to build an amusement
center at the top of Beach Hill, summer cottages along the
beachfront, and a 300-foot pier at the foot of Beach Hill.
Reverend Lake also formed the National Park Navigation
Company to provide steamboat transportation between the Arch
Street Pier in Philadelphia and National Park.
This Philadelphia/National Park linkage not only
provided large crowds for such beach activities as swimming,
boating and fishing, it also radically changed the religious
profile of the community.
A large portion of the Philadelphia traffic consisted
of Irish Catholics that came to National Park to enjoy the
resort aspects rather than the religious aspects of the
Park changed from an exclusively Methodist Episcopal
community to one that was shared about equally with the
National Park was flourishing as a resort, it was also
moving toward a residential community.
The permanent population changed over the years from
160 in 1905, to an estimated present day number of 3237.
through the 1920's, the Delaware was clear and beautiful and
the National Park waterfront offered 1700 feet of white
sandy beach. Shad
fishing and crabbing were excellent and 69 beachfront cottages
were available through the summer season.
However, in spite of this, resort activity began to
in transportation technology began to provide leisure time
alternatives far more attractive than National Park. The New Jersey seashore offered more activity with more
an example, the National Park cottages had no internal
plumbing, fire protection, or road access.
In fact, most of the cottages had been destroyed by
fire by the end of the 1940's, because the cottages were so
close together that a fire in one cottage quickly spread to
It was in the 1940's that National Park completed its
transition from a resort to a rural community.
World War II created massive job opportunities in the
nearby shipbuilding industries. This caused many summer cottages to be converted for year
round usage and brought about an increase in the number of
permanent residents. That
increase, in turn, created demand for more borough services
and greater attention to borough politics.
By 1945, National Park had come into its own as a
Gloucester County community.
The 1905 New Jersey State census recorded 160
residents in National Park. Since then it has grown to 1977
in 1940, to 3730 in 1970 to 3205 in 2000 and a estimated number of 3237 in 2005.
Many events have occurred in
the ensuing years. Hopefully National Park will keep it's small town values and close knit comunity into the future.