Photo Booth

2 Strips of Photos – $5

You’re standing in front of the photo booth which operated at Asbury Park’s famous Palace Amusements for nearly three decades. The Palace was a huge indoor entertainment center with hundreds of arcade games and full size rides, including a ferris wheel that extended up through the roof of the building. It was located three blocks south of here at the corner of Cookman Avenue & Kingsley Street, just west of the Casino carousel building. The site is now a parking lot.

Installed by Palace owners Edward Lange and Zimel Resnik in the late 1950s or early 1960s, this photo booth delighted thousands of patrons until November 27, 1988 when the Palace closed its doors for the final time. The building sat vacant and decaying for more than 15 years until it was demolished in May 2004, despite massive public opposition and offers from local developers to save and renovate the historic 1888 structure.

After the Palace closed the booth was moved to Sandy’s Arcade, which at that time was located in the First Avenue Pavilion on the Asbury Park boardwalk. Today Cubacan Restaurant occupies the arcade’s former space. Sandy’s went out of business in the early 1990s and the photo booth was put up for sale.

The offering caught the attention of Slim and Pamela Smith, Jersey Shore natives who had migrated to Vermont but were vacationing near Asbury Park. The Smiths stumbled upon the closed arcade and purchased the photo booth. They moved it 342 miles north to Burlington, Vermont and installed it in their small gift shop known as “Folkheart”. Eventually the machine was moved to a second Folkheart location in the tiny village of Bristol, Vermont where it resided among Nepalese clothing, Himalayan bric-a-brac and various trinkets. For thirteen years the Palace photo booth vended pictures for the Smith’s customers. In 2003 the strobe unit which powers the flash tubes failed, and after several unsuccessful repair attempts the booth sat unused for three years.

In December 2006 Folkheart went out of business. Slim and Pamela Smith knew the rich history of their beloved photo booth and wanted to see it preserved, but they could no longer keep it. They generously donated the machine to Save Tillie, a nonprofit organization made up of fans of Asbury Park, the Palace and Bruce Springsteen, dedicated to preservation of Palace artifacts.

In early 2007 a Save Tillie volunteer restored the booth at an arcade in New York state, and on May 31, 2007 it was brought back home to Asbury Park. It was installed on the lower level of the Shoppes at the Arcade at 658 Cookman Avenue, where it was lovingly maintained by the nonprofit group for more than six years.

In 2013 Save Tillie sold the booth. It was relocated to the Silverball Museum on December 2, 2013, where it will be preserved for the enjoyment of generations to come.