James Adam Bradley (February 14, 1830 – June 6, 1921) was a wealthy Manhattan brush manufacturer, financier, member of the New Jersey Senate, philanthropist, and real estate developer.[1] He designed the resort destination of Asbury Park on the New Jersey Shore.[2] Bradley was also involved in the development of Bradley Beach, which bears his name.[3]

James A. Bradley
James Adam Bradley (photo).jpg
Born(1830-02-14)February 14, 1830
DiedJune 6, 1921(1921-06-06) (aged 91)


Bradley was born on February 14, 1830 in Rossville, Staten Island to Hannah and Adam Bradley. At age sixteen, in 1846, he became an apprentice brush maker for Bernalds and Weeks in New York City.[1] In 1857 he established his own brush making business, Bradley & Smith, in New York City. Bradley was married to Helen M. Packard of Boston; they had no children.

Bradley converted from Catholic to Methodist, and was very close philosophically with the leaders of the Ocean Grove Meeting Association who ran the summer retreat on the New Jersey shore. These relationships lead Bradley to focus his attention on developing the area around Ocean Grove.

On January 24, 1871, Bradley acquired approximately 500 acres (2.0 km2) of land east of the New York and Long Branch railroad, between Wesley and Deal lakes. Bradley named the new community Asbury Park after Francis Asbury, the founder of Methodism in the United States.[4]

Bradley served as the first postmaster of Asbury Park from 1874 to 1884, and established the city's first newspaper, the Asbury Park Journal (1876–1910) in 1876, serving as its editor and until 1882. Bradley began Asbury Park’s first sewerage system in 1881, and setup water & gas works in 1884. Bradley also served as Mayor of Asbury Park, New Jersey and councilman. In 1894, Bradley was elected to the New Jersey Senate from Monmouth County.

The City of Asbury Park sued Bradley for control of his beach front property, and sewer system in 1902. Bradley lost the suit. Bradley died June 6, 1921.[1] He was interred at Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York.


Statue at Bradley Park in Asbury Park, New Jersey

A statue of Bradley stands in front of the Paramount Theater and Convention Hall complex in Bradley Park. Constructed shortly after his death to mark the 50th anniversary of the city's founding, a campaign began in 2017 to remove statue based on Bradley's history of racism. Members of the Asbury Park Historical Society acknowledged Bradley's support of segregation but opposed removal of the statue.[5]

Bradley set aside park lands, waterfront areas, and urban scale blocks, that widened at the ocean. Bradley donated land to religious and civic groups, and the public library. Bradley is responsible for the creation of the mile long oceanfront boardwalk that remains today. [6]


  1. ^ a b c "Jas. A. Bradley Dies; Founder of Asbury; Pioneer Also of Ocean Grove and Bradley Beach Succumbs Here at 91 Years of Age". The New York Times. June 7, 1921. p. 14. Retrieved October 31, 2009. James A. Bradley, founder of the famous New Jersey resorts of Asbury Park, Ocean Grove and Bradley Beach, died at 10 o'clock last night in his ... 010
  2. ^ JAMES A. BRADLEY (1830 - 1921) PAPERS, 1891 - 1897, Lois R. Densky, Gregory J. Plunges, April 1981. [1]
  3. ^ A Brief History on Bradley Beach, Bradley-Beach.com/
  4. ^ A Brief History of Asbury Park, Florance Moss
  5. ^ Bogues, Austin. "Don't tear down Asbury Park founder statue, history group pleads", Asbury Park Press, September 27, 2017. Accessed January 23, 2018. "The Asbury Park Historical Society says people should never forget the city's late founder James Bradley's 'advocacy of segregation,' but it draws the line on removing the statue erected in his honor near Convention Hall.... Werner Baumgartner, city historian for Asbury Park, said in addition to being the city's founder Bradley served as the city's mayor for several terms."
  6. ^ Capuzzo, Jill P. "Move Over, Fire Island, Here Comes Asbury Park; Urban Gays Lead Way in Reviving This Run-Down Resort". The New York Times, August 6, 2000. Accessed August 20, 2007. "Founded in 1871 by James Brady [sic], a visionary developer who also began neighboring Ocean Grove, Asbury Park was designed to be the premier resort destination on the Jersey Shore, with avenues 100 to 200 feet wide, two lakes and a mile-long oceanfront boardwalk. ":