Cape May is a New Jersey city that is situated on the southern tip of the Cape May Peninsula. This city is at the intersection of the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay and is located in Cape May County. It covers an area of almost three square miles and has a population of approximately thirty-eight hundred residents. This city is known for its prize winning beaches, its numerous Victorian houses and is listed as a top location for bird watching. The city of Cape May is also home to a number of prominent clubs, restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels. The city can trace its roots back to the seventeenth century, when it was explored by Captain Cornelius Jacobsen May, whom the town is named after. Not only did he explore the area, but he also established a claim for the province of New Netherland. Later on it would be settled by settlers from the New Haven Colony. During the eighteenth century, tourist from across North America began flocking to the city and its known as the oldest seaside resort in the United States. In 1851, it was incorporated as Cape Island and in 1869, its name was changed to Cape May. In 1876, a fire raged through the town and destroyed twenty-nine acres of the town’s center. Replacement homes were subsequently built, which is why there is a uniform Victorian style in the city’s architecture. In 1976, the city was designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Today, tourism is the main economic activity of the city. Cape May has a large assortment of restaurants, lodgings, shop and tourist attractions. The second main economic activity of the city is commercial fishing. In recent years, bird watching and mammal watching has become a big part of the eco-tourism movement of Cape May. Also being developed is a wine growing area that lies close to the city. In this area are four wineries which include Cape May Winery, Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery, Natali Vineyards and Turdo Vineyards. A popular attraction in Cape May is Sunset Beach. Sunset Beach is known for it spectacular sunsets and for the quarts crystals that line the beach and are called Cape May Diamonds. There are also several shops, a grill, fireworks during the summer and the S.S. Atlantus. The S.S. Atlantus was built by the Liberty Ship Building Company and was put into service in 1918. In 1926, she was decommisioned and was purchased for civilian use. The new owners had plans to creat a ferry dock out of her, but this plan was never realized due to it being run aground at Sunset Beach. The owners could not move her and she quickly became a tourist attraction. Today, the condition of the ship is rapidly deteriorating and only her stern is visible above the water. It is not known how long it will be before she completely sinks.
Cape May Lighthouse is another prominent attraction in the city. It is situated in Cape May Point State Park and was built in 1859. In 1946, it was fully automated and is still in operation. It has one hundred and ninety nine steps that leads to its top. Visitors who make the climb can see to Wildwood, Cape May Point and Cape Henlopen on clear days. Cape May Lighthouse is owned by New Jersey. The lighthouse is one hundred and fifty-seven feet tall. The lighthouse contains two seperate walls. The inside wall is cylindrical and is eight and a half feet thick. Its outside walls are conical and are three feet thick. This dual wall design is meant to protect the lighthouse from hurricanes. It is estimated that the structure can withstand winds several times higher than hurricane force.
A beautiful example of Victorian architecture in the city is the Emlen Physick Estate. This eighteen room Victorian mansion has been attributed to Frank Furness, an American architect. It was built in 1879 for Doctor Emlen Physick Jr. This house features corbelled chimneys, hooded dormers and large stick brackets on the porch. It contains a lot of its original furnishings. Other prominent attractions in the city of Cape May include Tree House Antiques Center, Cape Kayaks, Spirit of Cape May, Poverty Beach, A Rose is a Rose Antiques, Hobby Horse Antiques, Out of the Past Antiques, Cape Island Antiques, Antique Doorknob, Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center, Tabby House Antiques, Stipson’s Island, Salt Marsh Safari, Cape May Whale Watcher, Cape May Carriage Company, East Coast Parasail, Cape May Stage Professional Equity Theater, Bay Springs Farm Alpacas, The Original Fudge Kitchen, Washington Street Mall, Miss Chris Marina, Nature Center of Cape May, Finishing Touches of Cape May, Historic Cold Spring Village, Cape May National Golf Club, The Meadows and The Meadows. Hotels and restaurants in the city include Ugly Mug Bar & Restaurant, Washington Inn, Elaine’s Haunted Mansion Restaurant, Union Park Restaurant, Cucina Rosa Restaurant, 410 Bank St Restaurant, Lobster House Restaurant & Bar, Angel of the Sea, Hotel Alcott, La Mer Motor Inn, Marquis De Lafayette Hotel, Congress Hall Hotel and the Grand Hotel of Cape May.