Spring Lake was formed as a borough by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 14, 1892, from portions of Wall Township, based on the results of a referendum held on March 8, 1892. On February 24, 1903, the borough of North Spring Lake was annexed.
Spring Lake and its environs are known as the "Irish Riviera" because of the large Irish-American population in the area, with Spring Lake having the highest percentage of Irish Americans of any municipality in the United States.
During the so called "Gilded Age" of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Spring Lake developed into a coastal resort for high society members of New York City and Philadelphia in a similar fashion to the settlements of Newport, RI and Bar Harbor, ME. A surviving example of architecture constructed during this era is the Martin Maloney Cottage next to his former Ballingarry Estate.
Spring Lake is home to the Spring Lake 5 Mile Run, a race that circles the town beginning and ending at the beach front. It has more than 7,000 participants annually.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 1.7 square miles (4.4 km2), of which, 1.3 square miles (3.4 km2) of it is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km2) of it (23.39%) is water.
Wreck Pond is a tidal pond located on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Wall Township and the boroughs of Spring Lake, Spring Lake Heights, and Sea Girt. The pond is the center of the Wreck Pond Watershed, which covers about 12 square miles (31 km2) in eastern Monmouth County.
As of the censu of 2000, there were 3,567 people, 1,463 households, and 983 families residing in the borough. The population density was 2,723.8 people per square mile (1,051.3/km2). There were 1,930 housing units at an average density of 1,473.7/sq mi (568.8/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 98.77% White, 0.34% African American, 0.28% Asian, 0.11% from other races, and 0.50% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.73% of the population.
There were 1,463 households out of which 23.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.8% were married couples living together, 7.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.8% were non-families. 29.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.03.
In the borough the population was spread out with 21.8% under the age of 18, 4.5% from 18 to 24, 19.6% from 25 to 44, 28.9% from 45 to 64, and 25.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 48 years. For every 100 females there were 86.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.2 males.
As of 2008, the median income for a household in the borough was $115,709. Males had a median income of $88,924 versus $41,000 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $59,445. None of the families and 2.6% of the population were living below the poverty line, including no under eighteens and 6.6% of those over 64.
39.4% of Spring Lake residents identified as being of Irish American ancestry in the 2000 Census, the highest percentage of Irish Americans of any place in the United States.
Spring Lake is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government. The government consists of a Mayor and a Borough Council comprising six council members, with all positions elected at large. A Mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office. The Borough Council consists of six members elected to serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with two seats coming up for election each year.
The Mayor of the Borough of Spring Lake is Jennifer Naughton. Members of the Spring Lake Borough Council are Council President Joseph Erbe, John Fitzgerald, Frank Quinn, Joseph Rizzo, Janice Venables, and Bill Fay.
The H. W. Mountz School is a public school that serves students in kindergarten through eighth grade. The school had an enrollment of 282 students in the 2005-06 school year.
Students attending public high school for grades 9-12 are assigned to Manasquan High School as part of a sending/receiving relationship with the Manasquan Public Schools. Manasquan High School also serves students from Avon-by-the-Sea, Belmar, Brielle, Lake Como, Sea Girt and Spring Lake Heights who attend Manasquan High School as part of sending/receiving relationships with their respective districts. Students may also attend one of the magnet schools in the Monmouth County Vocational School District — Marine Academy of Science and Technology, Academy of Allied Health & Science, High Technology High School, Biotechnology High School, and Communications High School.
Many graduates choose to attend private school and students have enrolled in Christian Brothers Academy, Choate, Lawrenceville School, Phillips Exeter Academy, Peddie School, Ranney School, Monsignor Donovan Catholic High School, Red Bank Catholic High School, and St. Rose High School.
Notable current and former residents of Spring Lake include:
Spring Lake is the setting for David Gebroe's movie Zombie Honeymoon as well as the Mary Higgins Clark novel On The Street Where You Live. The opening scenes of Ulu Grosbard's 1968 film The Subject Was Roses were filmed in Spring Lake. Indie rock band Vampire Weekend filmed a music video for their song "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" in a home in Spring Lake, as well as on the beach. Spring Lake was also used as a stand-in for turn-of-the-century Atlantic City in the 1981 film Ragtime. In John Frankenheimer's 1962 film The Manchurian Candidate, the character of Major Bennett Marco (played by Frank Sinatra) suffers from a nightmare set in Spring Lake. He imagines himself and his fellow soldiers sitting through a lecture by Mrs. Henry Whitaker of the Spring Lake Garden Club. A sign reveals the location of the lecture to be the fictional "Spring Lake Hotel." Eventually, the audience sees that the garden club meeting is merely an illusion and the platoon is actually at a meeting of Russian and Chinese officials in Manchuria. The Mrs. Whitaker character is actually a Chinese scientist named Dr. Yen Lo, portrayed by Spring Lake native Khigh Dhiegh.