A Look at the History of Tillie in Asbury Park, NJ

From its historic casino to The Stone Pony, Asbury Park, New Jersey has quite a few recognizable landmarks. One of the most famous is Tillie, an iconic image of two grinning murals on the side of Palace Amusements. Tillie is an amusement park “fun face” that was painted in the winter of 1955. It’s been featured in movies, TV shows, magazines, and even a famous photo of Bruce Springsteen. If you’re planning a trip to the Jersey Shore this summer, set some time aside to see what remains of Tillie in Asbury Park

You can learn more about Tillie and other local landmarks when you download our free vacation guide. It’s full of information on things to see and do during your stay at The Inns of Ocean Grove!

Everything You Need to Know About Tillie in Asbury Park

Ties to Coney Island

It’s believed that the nickname “Tillie” is a nod to George C. Tilyou, the owner of Steeplechase Park in Coney Island, New York. Built in 1897, Steeplechase was one of the leading attractions of its day and one of the most influential amusement parks of all time. It also featured a very similar beaming face, which can still be seen on signs, beer labels, and merchandise all over Coney Island. However, Asbury’s Tillie (seemingly copied from the smiling face at Steeplechase Park) looked a bit different. It glowed neon and had one winking eye.


For decades, Tillie gazed down at visitors from the side of Asbury’s Palace Amusements. The indoor amusement park was built in 1888 and closed a century later. Like many other boardwalk areas in the United States, Asbury Park fell on hard times and the historic building fell into disrepair. When the Palace site was targeted for demolition, residents, Tillie fans, and Springsteen fans formed a grassroots effort to save Tillie, lobbying the state to block the demolition or at least remove the mural beforehand.

From June 8 – 11, 2004, Save Tillie volunteers removed the mural from Palace Amusements. Though the building was demolished in July, the two murals are expected to be reused in a new waterfront building. A new version of Tillie’s smiling face is painted on the Wonder Bar on Ocean Avenue, and the iconic image can be found on T-shirts, coffee mugs, car magnets, earrings, and more.

Book Your Stay at The Inns of Ocean Grove

With a rich history and plenty to see, Asbury Park, New Jersey is a wonderful place to visit. After a fun day, take a short drive back to The Ocean Plaza Hotel or The Ocean View Inn and relax. Our properties are just minutes away and are a great alternative to Asbury Park beach hotels. Enjoy beautifully appointed rooms, gracious service, and warm hospitality throughout your stay. We even offer a delicious breakfast each morning! To book your room this summer, check our availability or give us a call at (732) 774-6552. We look forward to having you!

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