The eighties were an eventful decade in New Jersey filled with heavy metal and big hair. It was quite the decade and one I thoroughly enjoyed. Let’s take some time to relive the eighties and look over some of the decade’s most memorable places, people and events.
1. Failures at the Salem Nuclear Plant
Completed in 1981, this nuclear power plant had a rough start. There were several minor water and gas leaks in the early 80's and a reactor failed to shutdown automatically in 1982. This was the first ever complete breakdown of an automatic shutdown system in an American nuclear plant.
2. The Haunted Mansion and Long Branch Pier
The above photo shows what Long Branch looks like today and it's nothing like the Long Branch of the 80's. Long Branch Pier was home to The Haunted Mansion, a massive tourist attraction, an arcade and a giant water slide. Sadly, the pier burned down in 1987. The area began to deteriorate but was revitalized in 2005 with the building of shopping and entertainment complex, Pier Village.
3. The launch of popular music television network, MTV
Launched on August 1st, 1981, this cable channel was originally only available to households in parts of New Jersey.
4. Hurricane Gloria
There were 11 hurricanes that hit New Jersey in the eighties but Hurricane Gloria in 1985 was the most severe. Many evacuated and it was being called "The Storm of the Century". While there was damage from high winds and flooding, the storm thankfully did not live up to its nickname.
5. The revitalization of Atlantic City
Once a popular resort town, Atlantic City fell into decline after WWII. For years the city faced foreclosures until gambling was legalized in the late 1970's. By the 80's casinos were being built left and right and tourism was at an all time high.
6. Capitol Theater, Passaic
Capitol Theater was one of THE most popular concert venues in New Jersey. It thrived in the 70's and early 80's hosting artists including The Grateful Dead and Prince. Shut down in 1984, the theater was demolished in 1991. Now a strip mall home to Pizza Hut, Capitol Plaza stands in its place,
7. Action Park, Vernon
Though it recently reopened, the Action Park seen above is probably the way you remember it if you grew up in the 1980's. One of the first modern water parks, it had a reputation for unsafe rides. You may recall the nicknames "Class Action Park" and "Traction Park".
8. Syringe Tide
An environmental disaster caused significant amounts of medical waste, including used syringes, to wash up along the Jersey Shore in 1987-1988. Determined to have originated from a Staten Island landfill, the event caused the loss of millions of tourist dollars but led to stricter waste disposal regulations. Often referenced in popular culture, it has been mentioned in several songs including "We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel. "Hypodermics on the Shore", remember? You might wish you didn't.
9. The Garden State Bowl
New Jersey's failed attempt at a post-season college football tournament, the Garden State Bowl was short lived. Held in December from 1978-1981, freezing temperatures and a lack of successful local teams contributed to its swift demise.
10. Rocking out to Bruce and Bon Jovi.
Okay, let's admit it. New Jersey STILL loves Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi.
Did this list bring back fond memories? I hope so! What other notable 80’s events would you add to this list?