I grew up just down the hill from Essex Mountain. I was around back in the late 60s and early 70s up there. i still remember hiking up into that area, and seeing people from there around the area. we used to sneak up there as kids. i moved down the shore back when they closed the place in 1975. they still had some patients back then. years later, when i was in high school, in 1982, i got my license and this was one of the first places i remember driving to with friends and sneaking around the abandoned buildings. back then there was still much left behind and it wasn't all too ragged out.
i wish i had gotten the chance to get back there and see the place before they demolished it. although i must say, i've been in and out of many of the larger asylums in and around NJ, but this one was truly the coolest place of all. the main building was a sight, not sure if it was bigger than greystone, but it sure seemed so. maybe because i was so much younger and kinda scared by being in an " insane asylum " at the time.
RIP Essex Mountain