“Once it goes, it’s gone forever.”
As early on as my memory lets me, I can recall being fascinated by a large, crumbling and decaying pajama factory that loomed over the landscape of the street I grew up on. In the early 90’s it was called The Mirabelli Building but it was originally known as Steiner and Son, the world’s largest pajama manufacturing concern of its time from the late 1800s until 1940. I loved driving past it down Steiner Ave. The green ivy that snarled over its all, curling past the boarded up and busted out windows whispered to me like you wouldn’t believe. I used to call the 50,000-gallon water tower a giant cookie jar. I cried every time a false report of it being on fire came over my family’s police scanner. I loved this building so much….not even knowing it’s vast, incredible and most importantly, historically significant history that I would one day stumble upon and uncover. I cried when they began tearing it down. I sat in my driveway and watched it go down completely at the young age of 9 years old.
It happened again in 2009. The beloved Golden Star Diner right down the street shuttered it doors about two years prior and with talks of it being torn down for yet another 7-Eleven, I had to at least do something about it. Despite being the town’s dissenting opinion, I wrote numerous letters to the local publication, The Coaster, organized a Facebook group, made obnoxious phone calls and attempted to organize a peaceful protest and lost. It’s a 7-Eleven now. Soon after, all of the industrial remnants of Neptune City’s manufacturing and commercial industry along Steiner Avenue began going out the door. The East Coast Ice Factory followed suit soon after, and then the Charline Motel.
My love for history and passion for urban preservation compelled me to apply to the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University and I wrote about the Mirabelli Building in my admission letter. I was accepted and I got sidetracked by Public Policy before switching my major to Labor Relations. I fell off for a couple of years until summer 2017, when I got the idea to have my cousin take a picture of me skateboarding by the abandoned factory around the corner from me. Well…one up close look and I fell in love because it was a sister factory of Steiner/Mirabelli. Just weeks later, they began to tear down the building…before I scored an exclusive insider’s look after stalking the building every day.
That’s when I decided to start a historical preservation website. I realize that I can’t stop the world from changing…but I can document it, so that others have this information for centuries, right at their fingertips. So with that, I give you…Neptune City NJ History.