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Highlands Borough

Highlands Borough Hall is located at 171 Bay Avenue, Highlands, NJ 07732; phone: 732-872-1224.

Beginnings [1]

The highest point on the east coast, Highlands Borough was the first land sighted by explorers and millions of immigrants approaching America. Highlands Borough has a colonial history with roots as far back as the 16th century. In 1525, Highlands was first seen by the Italian explorer Giovanni de Verrazano.

Other explorers followed, including Henry Hudson, who sailed his ship, the Half Moon, into Sandy Hook Bay in 1609. The land that is now the Highlands was purchased by the British settler Richard Hartshorne from American Indians in 1677, and the first European settlement followed in 1678.

The hills of the Highlands played an important role in the American Revolutionary War as a strategic point for both the British and Colonial armies. During the years after the American Civil War, Highlands prospered as a resort town. Sailing ships, steamboats, ferries, railroads and trollies brought numerous visitors to the scenic hills of the Highlands. Highlands Borough was officially incorporated in 1900, and in the years that followed, fishing, clamming, boating, and shipbuilding became the main industries in the Borough.

Highlands Borough is probably best known for its Twin Lights. First built in 1828 and later replaced in 1862, the Twin Lights is the only twin lighthouse in the world, and was the first to use kerosene, electricity, and the revolutionary Fresnel lens. When operating, it was the nation's most powerful light, and was visible for 22 miles at sea. In 1899 the Twin Lights was the site of Guglielmo Marconi's first practical radio demonstration, and in the mid 1930's it was the site of America's first experiments with radar. After many years of service, the Navesink Light Station was decommissioned in 1949. In 1962, the State of New Jersey acquired Twin Lights from the Borough of Highlands and opened it as a museum. Twin Lights is now on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Today, scenic and historic Highlands Borough is still known for its marinas, fishing industry, and excellent seafood restaurants. The Historical Society of Highlands and the Twin Lights Historical Society are active in their preservation, promotion and promulgation of Highlands history.

  1. Borough of Highlands, Monmouth County, NJ, Master Plan: Historic Preservation Plan Element, 2004,, accessed August, 2015.
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