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1902 - Eyewitness to History

The following is from "The New Jersey Coast in Three Centuries" (Vol. III)

William Nelson, editor, 1902


The history of Asbury Park and other seashore resorts of New Jersey has been written in general terms upon other pages of this work. In all that enters into the kaleidoscope scene presented there is no feature more captivating than the amusement halls and pavilions which are found at every little interval. Among them are some which are contemptible and others which are objectionable. Others there are which are in every sense pleasure-giving and refined, and their conductors are deserving of praise, for man can confer no greater boon upon his fellows than to provide amusements which are exhilarating and innocent, and in which his children and their mother may participate with him. This proposition was never so true as it is in the present times, when the pressure of business and the exactions of society are so intense, making more necessary than ever before some new attractions which will afford diversions to the mind and work no injury to good morals.

The one mammoth and leading Pleasure Place at Asbury Park - the largest, most unique and most complete under one roof of all found on the Atlantic coast - is that established, owned and conducted by E. Schnitzler. This establishment is at the same time an exceptionally refined place of amusement, admirably well adapted for ladies and children, and has been delightfully visited and revisited by thousands of foreigners as well as Americans.

The completeness of the establishment may be imagined, in a degree, when it is said that it represents an outlay of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars and the employment of inventive and constructional skill of the highest order. From a great distance are visible the lofty observation tower and its gigantic revolving wheel. These are so combined that when a car on the wheel has reached its greatest elevation, the passenger may ascend one
Brightly lit Palace in 1903.
flight of steps to the tower, which commands a wonderfully broad view of ocean and shore, affording a bird's-eye view of Asbury Park, and glimpses inland of outlying towns. The great merry-go-round is of itself a work of art and mechanical ingenuity, and cost sixteen thousand dollars, and another remarkable fact is that during over nine years of operation not a single accident has occurred. A remarkably attractive feature is the bewildering maze, with duplications of himself and deceptive passage ways visible to the eye, but which afford no egress when closely approached. The entire structure is brilliantly illuminated with myriads of electric incandescent lights of every conceivable hue, giving to the interior a peculiarly dazzling and spectacular aspect, and especially when the rooms are thronged (as they are at all open hours) with an ever moving panorama of pleased and wondering human beings. While the eye is thus delighted, sweet sounds come to the ear from various directions, from instruments of exquisite construction, capable of giving strains of aeolian softness and sweetness, or the full volume of a gigantic brass band or orchestra. These orchestrations and other instructions cost ten thousand dollars.

Mr. Schnitzler, the creator of this great Palace of Pleasure, was the pioneer of such amusements in Asbury Park. He came in 1888 and made his first small beginning, when the place was altogether destitute of all which he had in mind. He began with a modest merry-go-round, and he made additions from time to time as his means would permit. He was the first in New Jersey to introduce magic mirrors, and he was the first private individual to erect an electric light plant. This, put up to illuminate his Palace of Pleasure, comprises two six-hundred-light-power dynamos, and is of sufficient capacity to light the entire city if necessary.

Mr. Schnitzler, who has introduced and maintained this splendid aggregation of innocent and inspiring amusements, is a modest, unassuming gentleman of sterling character. He was born May 26, 1852, in Cologne, Germany. When he was only six weeks old his parents came to the United States, settling in Camden, New Jersey. His father, Anthony Schnitzler, was closely related to Dr. Schnitzler, the distinguished German surgeon and chemist. Anthony Schnitzler was a college bred man, of excellent business qualifications, and he conducted a mercantile establishment in Camden until the time of his death, at the age of sixty-eight years. He served in the Crimean and other wars before coming to America, and while a resident of Camden, New Jersey, his deep knowledge of military affairs led to his being commissioned captain of a militia company. By his marriage with Margaret Hilgers he became the father of three children: Ernest, Charles and Alfred.

Ernest Schnitzler, eldest son of Captain Anthony Schnitzler, was educated in the public schools of Camden, and afterwards entered college, from which he withdrew in order to assist his father in his business. After the death of his father he became interested in a hotel and sea-water bathing business at Atlantic City. This he soon disposed of to purchase and operate a merry-go-round in the same place. A year later he sold the property and moved to Asbury Park to engage in the business of which we have previously written.

Mr. Schnitzler was married to Miss Mary Gunning, of Philadelphia, and a daughter, Mary, was the fruit of this marriage. The parents are members of the First Presbyterian church of Asbury Park, in which Mr. Schnitzler has been a trustee for the past five years. He enjoys the esteem and confidence of the best of the permanent residents of the city, and acquaintance with an army of people of all sections of the country - among them many of national reputation in the professions, in commercial and financial affairs, and in politics - to whose pleasure he has contributed and who also value him for his worth as a man.