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Pirate Ship Realty Office postcard (Tichnor Brothers)
Pirate Ship Realty Office postcard (Tichnor Brothers)

Pirate Ship of Cliffwood Beach [1921-1993] (Gone)

Field review by the editors.

Cliffwood Beach, New Jersey

Would you buy your home from a realtor in a pirate ship?

Frame from a 1939 urban planning film.
Frame from a 1939 urban planning film.

A lot of people in New Jersey did for over 70 years.

The Pirate Ship reality building of Cliffwood Beach, 77 feet long, was not meant to suggest its owners' piratical business practices, but to evoke the 17th century swashbuckler Captain Kidd, who was said to have buried at least part of his treasure in the vicinity. The ship, built in 1921, stood at the nearest highway entrance to the then-new community of Cliffwood Beach, developed in the 1920s as a summer resort for New Yorkers. It was moved to different spots along the road at least twice (the last in the adjacent township of Old Bridge) as the needs of residential real estate shifted, much like the sands of the Jersey Shore.

Cliffwood Beach was smashed by a series of hurricanes in the mid-1950s and never fully recovered. Moored safely inland, the ship survived, though late in its life was remodeled without much ornamentation and painted a uniform brown, as if it was somehow embarrassed by its take-no-prisoners, only-down-payments youth.

The structure lasted until 1993, when it was accidentally incinerated in an electrical fire.

Pirate Ship of Cliffwood Beach [1921-1993]

Stood for years on the east side of NJ-35 in a lot now occupied by a 7-Eleven, then was moved to the west side in a spot that's now a housing development cul-de-sac.

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