Monday, March 22, 2010


Tillie is the nickname of two murals of a grinning figure that were painted on the side of the Palace Amusements building in Asbury Park, New Jersey, United States. Tillie is an amusement park "fun face," painted over the winter of 1955-1956. The name Tillie is likely a nod to George C. Tilyou, the owner of Steeplechase Park in Coney Island, NY. A similar grinning face was featured on Steeplechase Park signage. The mural has been featured in movies, TV shows such as The Sopranos, Weird NJ magazine, and a famous photo of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band early in their career.

Like many other boardwalk areas in the United States, such as Coney Island, New York, Asbury Park has fallen on hard times. Palace Amusements, built in 1888, closed in 1988, and the historic building fell into disrepair. When the Palace site was targeted for demolition and redevelopment, Asbury Park 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. The group was partially successful, as the left-side Tillie, as well as the "bumper girl" murals, were successfully removed. The right-side Tillie was demolished. From June 8 to June 11, 2004, Save Tillie volunteers removed the mural from the Palace building. The building was demolished in July 2004. Tillie and other murals from the Palace building will be incorporated into a new building on the site.

1 comment:

  1. I was doing a little family research tonight and came across this entry. Yes, I agree that it is a nod to the Funny Face at Tilyou's Steeplechase Park. It's a wonderful story. Thanks for posting it.