Having lived mainly in South Jersey from 1940 to 1996, what you say rings true. We had a summer place slightly inland from Ocean City for many years and rarely ever visited Atlantic except for a couple of times when gambling first became legal.
Fickle popularity combined with rapidly evolving technology and economic ups and downs are bound to create regions of boom and bust — the ghost-town phenomena. Just think of some of the great cities of the ancient world that are just a few impressive bits of columns and rubble on a now otherwise empty desert.
Trying is to forecast when a city will bloom or wilt is a fools game. Only from hindsight does it begin to make sense.
This was a very in depth and interesting analysts.