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Ocean City, New Jersey
City
City of Ocean City
Ocean City beach at 12th Street
Ocean City beach at 12th Street
Motto(s): 
"America's Greatest Family Resort"
Ocean City highlighted in Cape May County. Inset map: Cape May County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Ocean City highlighted in Cape May County. Inset map: Cape May County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Ocean City, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Ocean City, New Jersey
Ocean City, New Jersey is located in Cape May County, New Jersey
Ocean City, New Jersey
Ocean City, New Jersey
Location in Cape May County, New Jersey
Ocean City, New Jersey is located in New Jersey
Ocean City, New Jersey
Ocean City, New Jersey
Location in New Jersey
Ocean City, New Jersey is located in the United States
Ocean City, New Jersey
Ocean City, New Jersey
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  New Jersey
County Flag of Cape May County, New Jersey.gif Cape May
Incorporated May 3, 1884 (as borough)
Reincorporated March 25, 1897 (as city)
Government
 • Type Faulkner Act (mayor–council)
 • Body City Council
Area
 • Total 11.56 sq mi (29.93 km2)
 • Land 6.72 sq mi (17.39 km2)
 • Water 4.84 sq mi (12.53 km2)  41.87%
Area rank 196th of 565 in state
5th of 16 in county
Elevation
3 ft (0.9 m)
Population
 • Total 11,701
 • Estimate 
(2019)
10,971
 • Rank 207th of 566 in state
4th of 16 in county
 • Density 1,847.7/sq mi (713.4/km2)
 • Density rank 300th of 566 in state
5th of 16 in county
Time zone UTC−05:00 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (Eastern (EDT))
ZIP Code
08226
Area code(s) 609 Exchanges: 391, 398, 399, 525, 814
FIPS code 3400954360
GNIS feature ID 0885332
Ocnjmusicpier
Ocean City Music Pier

Ocean City is a city in Cape May County, New Jersey, United States. It is the principal city of the Ocean City Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Cape May County and is part of the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Camden, PA-NJ-DE-MD Combined Statistical Area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 11,701, reflecting a decline of 3,677 (-23.9%) from the 15,378 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn declined by 134 (-0.9%) from the 15,512 counted in the 1990 Census. In summer months, with an influx of tourists and second homeowners, there are estimated to be 115,000 to 130,000 within the city's borders.

Ocean City originated as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on May 3, 1884, from portions of Upper Township, based on results from a referendum on April 30, 1884, and was reincorporated as a borough on March 31, 1890. Ocean City was incorporated as a city, its current government form, on March 25, 1897. The city is named for its location on the Atlantic Ocean.

Known as a family-oriented seaside resort, Ocean City has not allowed the sale of alcoholic beverages within its limits since its founding in 1879, offering miles of guarded beaches, a boardwalk that stretches for 2.5 miles (4.0 km), and a downtown shopping and dining district.

The Travel Channel rated Ocean City as the Best Family Beach of 2005. It was ranked the third-best beach in New Jersey in the 2008 Top 10 Beaches Contest sponsored by the New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium. In the 2009 Top 10 Beaches Contest, Ocean City ranked first.

History

The island, a stretch of dunes and swamps running for seven miles, had been used by local Native Americans who were brought there by its abundance of fish during the summer months. Originally purchased by the Somers family, the island had once been named Peck's Beach, believed to have been given the name for a whaler named John Peck who had a camp on the island.

In 1700, whaler John Peck began using the barrier island as a storage place for freshly caught whales. Eventually known as Peck's Beach, the island had several purposes: it was an Indian summer fishing camp, cattle-grazing area, and sometimes mainlanders would boat over for a picnic or to hunt.

On September 10, 1879, four Methodist ministers, Ezra B. Lake, James Lake, S. Wesley Lake, and William Burrell, chose the island as a suitable spot to establish a Christian retreat and camp meeting on the order of Ocean Grove. They met under a tall cedar tree, which stands today in the lobby of the Ocean City Tabernacle. Having chosen the name "Ocean City", the founders incorporated the Ocean City Association, laid out street and lots for cottages, hotel and businesses. The Ocean City Tabernacle was built between Wesley and Asbury Avenues and between 5th and 6th Streets. Camp meetings were held by the following summer. As a result of its religious origins, the sale or public drinking of alcoholic beverages in Ocean City was prohibited.

The first bridge to the island was built in 1883, and the first railroad soon followed. The first school began in 1881. The boardwalk grew and was relocated several times. The ship Sindia joined other shipwrecks on the beach on December 15, 1901, on its way to New York City from Kobe, Japan, but has since sunk below the sand. A salvage attempt to retrieve treasures believed to have been on the ship was most recently launched in the 1970s, all of which have been unsuccessful. A large fire in 1927 changed the city significantly, causing $1.5 million in damage and leading the city to move the boardwalk closer to the ocean, which resulted in the greater potential for damage from saltwater.

Boardwalk

OceanCityNJ Boardwalk
Ocean City Boardwalk, looking south

The Ocean City boardwalk is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the resort. It is also one of the most well-known boardwalks in the world. long and runs north from 23rd Street to St. James Place, with mile markers for people who are exercising.

The boardwalk was first built in 1880 from the Second Street wharf to Fourth Street and West Avenue. In 1885, plans to extend the boardwalk along the entire beach were made as the city's first amusement house, a pavilion on the beach at 11th street called "The Excursion" opened. A second amusement park, the "I.G. Adams pavilion", at Ninth Street and the boardwalk, opened soon after but was destroyed by fire in 1893. Following a second catastrophic fire in 1927, the boardwalk and its businesses were rebuilt 300 feet (91 m) closer to the ocean on concrete pilings, with parking created for cars in the space where the buildings and boardwalk once stood. The Ocean City Music Pier partially opened one year later, with work completed in time for the 1929 season.

In 1965, the Wonderland Amusement Park opened on the boardwalk at 6th Street, which is now known as "Gillian's Wonderland Pier". Runaway Train, a steel twister, is the only major coaster that operates there. Playland's Castaway Cove, is located on the boardwalk at 10th Street. Two major roller coasters operated there, which were the Python, a looping coaster, and the Flitzer, a wild mouse coaster. A new major shuttle coaster at Castaway Cove, Storm, was planned to be finished in summer 2013. The two older coasters (Python and Flitzer) were removed and for the 2016 summer season, a new ride called "GaleForce" is under construction, which will be a high thrill roller coaster with three linear synchronous motor launches reaching speeds of 64 miles per hour (103 km/h) and a 125-foot (38 m) beyond vertical drop. The new "Wild Waves" ride will be a family-oriented coaster, with a height of 50 feet (15 m), that will wrap around the GaleForce coaster. The new "Whirlwind" ride is a figure eight kiddie coaster with spinning cars.

There is also a water park located on the boardwalk called "OC Waterpark", open during the summer months.

In 2007 controversy emerged about the city's proposed use of ipê, a type of wood, to re-deck parts of the boardwalk. Environmental activists protested against the city's use of the wood, but the plan went ahead.

Today, there are bike and surrey rentals available along many boardwalk cross streets, but bikes and surreys can only be ridden on the boardwalk before noon during the summer. Attractions along the boardwalk include two family amusement parks with rides and games, an arcade, the Music Pier, a water park and various themed miniature golf courses. The Ocean City boardwalk has a wide variety of dining options, from sit-down restaurants to funnel cake.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city had a total area of 10.797 square miles (27.964 km2), including 6.333 square miles (16.402 km2) of land and 4.464 square miles (11.562 km2) of water (41.35%).

Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the city include Peck Beach.

Ocean City is a barrier island with bridge connections to the Marmora section of Upper Township by the 34th Street (Roosevelt Boulevard) Bridge, Egg Harbor Township by the Ocean City-Longport Bridge, Somers Point by the 9th Street Bridge (Route 52), and the Strathmere section of Upper Township by the Corson's Inlet Bridge. The eastern side of Ocean City borders the Atlantic Ocean.

Climate

Climate data for Ocean City, NJ
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 42
(5.6)
44
(6.7)
50
(10)
58
(14.4)
67
(19.4)
76
(24.4)
81
(27.2)
80
(26.7)
75
(23.9)
65
(18.3)
56
(13.3)
46
(7.8)
61.666
(16.4811)
Average low °F (°C) 29
(-1.7)
31
(-0.6)
37
(2.8)
46
(7.8)
55
(12.8)
64
(17.8)
70
(21.1)
70
(21.1)
64
(17.8)
53
(11.7)
43
(6.1)
34
(1.1)
49.666
(9.8144)
Source: <Weather.com >

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 452
1900 1,307 189.2%
1910 1,950 49.2%
1920 2,512 28.8%
1930 5,525 119.9%
1940 4,672 −15.4%
1950 6,040 29.3%
1960 7,618 26.1%
1970 10,575 38.8%
1980 13,949 31.9%
1990 15,512 11.2%
2000 15,378 −0.9%
2010 11,701 −23.9%
2019 (est.) 10,971 −6.2%
Population sources:
1890-2000 1890-1920
1890 1890-1910 1910-1930
1930-1990 2000 2010

2010 Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 11,701 people, 5,890 households, and 3,086 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,847.7 per square mile (713.4/km2). There were 20,871 housing units at an average density of 3,295.7 per square mile (1,272.5/km2)*. The racial makeup of the city was 92.05% (10,771) White, 3.50% (410) Black or African American, 0.13% (15) Native American, 0.71% (83) Asian, 0.03% (3) Pacific Islander, 1.91% (224) from other races, and 1.67% (195) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.50% (643) of the population.

There were 5,890 households out of which 14.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.6% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47.6% were non-families. 42.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 21.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.98 and the average family size was 2.68.

In the city, the population was spread out with 14.4% under the age of 18, 6.4% from 18 to 24, 16.7% from 25 to 44, 32.9% from 45 to 64, and 29.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 53.6 years. For every 100 females there were 88.7 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 86.4 males.

The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $55,202 (with a margin of error of +/- $6,710) and the median family income was $79,196 (+/- $11,239). Males had a median income of $48,475 (+/- $5,919) versus $41,154 (+/- $12,032) for females. The per capita income for the city was $40,864 (+/- $3,899). About 5.1% of families and 6.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.3% of those under age 18 and 5.8% of those age 65 or over.

Transportation

2018-08-09 17 08 56 View south along New Jersey State Route 52 (Howard Stainton Memorial Causeway) in Ocean City, Cape May County, New Jersey
Route 52 southbound on the causeway between Somers Point and Ocean City
Ocean City Station
Ocean City Transportation Center, a former train station that is now a bus station used by NJ Transit

As of May 2010, the city had a total of 126.07 miles (202.89 km) of roadways, of which 114.85 miles (184.83 km) were maintained by the municipality, 9.31 miles (14.98 km) by Cape May County and 1.91 miles (3.07 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation. Ocean City has bridge connections to the Marmora section of Upper Township by the 34th Street (Roosevelt Boulevard) Bridge, Egg Harbor Township by the Ocean City-Longport Bridge, Somers Point by the 9th Street Bridge (Route 52), and the Strathmere section of Upper Township by the Corson's Inlet Bridge.

In 1883, the first drawbridge to the island opened at 34th Street, linking Ocean City with the rest of Cape May County. Financed by the Ocean City Association, the toll road was narrow, frequently under water, and built of shells, gravel, sand, and cedar poles; it was widened in 1909, replaced in 1914, and again replaced in 1964. The newer bridge at 34th street was refurbished in 2018. In 1914, a bridge connecting the island with Somers Point opened across the Great Egg Harbor Bay, which was replaced in 1932 and again in 2012. A road bridge connecting Ocean City and Strathmere opened in 1918, which was replaced in 1946 after being purchased by the county and made a part of Ocean Drive. The Ocean City Automobile Club built a bridge in the northern end of the island in 1928, connecting the island with Egg Harbor Township; the bridge was replaced in 2002.

NJ Transit provides bus service from the Ocean City Transportation Center to Atlantic City on the 507 and 509 routes. The agency also provides seasonal service from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan to Cape May via Ocean City and other coastal towns. The Great American Trolley Company operates trolley service in Ocean City during the summer months, with a route providing daily service on evenings from points between 59th Street and Battersea Road to the boardwalk.

Adjacent to the marshes of the Great Egg Harbor Bay is Ocean City Airport, officially known as Clarke Field. The airport was built in 1935 on what was previously a landfill, funded by the Works Progress Administration. The airport is still open to the public, operating at an annual loss of $150,000 for the city as of 2016.

Parking in the downtown and beach areas of Ocean City is regulated by on-street parking meters, metered parking lots, manned parking lots, and permit parking lots. Parking meters and fees for parking lots are in effect between early May and early October. In addition to public parking, there are also several private parking lots in Ocean City.

In 2009, the Ocean City metropolitan statistical area (MSA) ranked as the sixth-highest in the United States for percentage of commuters who walked to work (8.4 percent).

Former transportation lines

In 1880, one year after Ocean City was established as a Christian resort, regular steamboat service from Somers Point began. In 1883, the Lake Brothers opened a streetcar line. In 1884, the West Jersey and Seashore Railroad extended its rail line from Sea Isle to the Ocean City Tenth Street Station. The line was replaced by buses in 1932. From 1906 to 1981, the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines operated rail service from Tuckahoe to Ocean City; service stopped when the Crook Horn bridge became damaged in 1981, and was eventually removed in 1992. After that time, rail tracks in Ocean City were removed from 9th to 34th streets. From 1907 to 1946, the Atlantic City and Shore Railroad operated a line from Atlantic City to Ocean City, until the bridge across the Great Egg Harbor Bay burned.

Historic places

Locale

Preceded by
Longport
Beaches of New Jersey
Succeeded by
Strathmere


Economy

Ferris Wheel on the Boardwalk Ocean City New Jersey 2014 DSCF0737
Ferris Wheel on the Boardwalk

Beach

The concept of beach tags at the Jersey Shore was introduced in the late 1920s, but Ocean City did not establish them until 1976. Beach tags are a major source of revenue for the city, with the $4.1 million in revenue generated in the 2016 season, the most of any municipality in the state. In the 2017 budget, the projected $4.1 million in fees for beach tag and $3 million for parking were two of the city's biggest revenue sources, accounting for almost 9% of the city's annual budget of almost $80 million.

From early June through Labor Day, Ocean City requires individuals age 12 and up to purchase a beach tag to access its beaches. For the 2020 season (from June 1, 2020 through September 6, 2020), a one-day pass cost $5, a weekly pass was $10, and a seasonal pass for the full summer season will be $25. Additionally, there are free seasonal beach tags made available to military personnel. Beach tag revenue is used by the city to cover the costs of maintaining and cleaning the beaches. It is also used to provide lifeguards and patrol all down the coast.

Boardwalk

Ocean City NJ Boardwalk
Ocean City Boardwalk with the Music Pier in the background

Adjacent to the beach is a 2.45-mile (3.94 km) long boardwalk that which runs north from 23rd Street to St. James Place. The boardwalk was first built in 1880 from the Second Street wharf to Fourth Street and West Avenue. In 1885, plans to extend the boardwalk along the entire beach were made as the city's first amusement house, a pavilion on the beach at 11th street called "The Excursion" opened. A second amusement park, the "I.G. Adams pavilion", at Ninth Street and the boardwalk, opened soon after but was destroyed by fire in 1893. Following a second catastrophic fire in 1927, the boardwalk and its businesses were rebuilt 300 feet (91 m) closer to the ocean on concrete pilings, with parking created for cars in the space where the buildings and boardwalk once stood. The Ocean City Music Pier partially opened one year later, with work completed in time for the 1929 season.

In 2007 controversy emerged about the city's proposed use of ipê, a type of wood, to re-deck parts of the boardwalk. Environmental activists protested against the city's use of the wood, but the plan went ahead. In Fall 2013, the city began a $10 million project to rebuild the 85 year old boardwalk from 5th to 12th Streets. This replaced the concrete substructure from 1928 with wooden supports and pine decking, and included the removal of 12,000 cubic yards (9,200 m3) of sand. Originally intended to be a seven-year project, the work finished two years ahead of schedule in March 2018.

Attractions

In 1965, the Wonderland Amusement Park opened on the boardwalk at 6th Street, which is now known as Gillian's Wonderland Pier. Runaway Train, a steel twister, operated as the park's sole major roller coaster until its removal in 2018.

Playland's Castaway Cove, is located on the boardwalk at 10th Street. Two major roller coasters operated there, which were the Python, a looping coaster, and the Flitzer, a wild mouse coaster. A new major shuttle coaster at Castaway Cove, Storm, was planned to be finished in summer 2013.

The two older coasters (Python and Flitzer) were removed and for the 2016 summer season, a new ride called "GaleForce" was being built, which is a high thrill roller coaster with three linear synchronous motor launches reaching speeds of 64 miles per hour (103 km/h) and a 125-foot (38 m) beyond vertical drop. "GaleForce" officially opened to the public on May 26, 2017. The new "Wild Waves" ride is a family-oriented coaster, with a height of 50 feet (15 m), that wraps around the GaleForce coaster. The new "Whirlwind" ride is a figure eight kiddie coaster with spinning cars.

There is also a water park located on the boardwalk called "OC Waterpark", open during the summer months.

Mini golf is also an abundant activity on the Boardwalk in Ocean City, with numerous courses including: Goofy Golf, Congo Falls, and Haunted Golf.

Media

Media publications in Ocean City include its two newspapers, The Ocean City Sentinel and The Gazette. Ocean City also has a seasonal publication, The Ocean City Sure Guide, and a lifestyle magazine known as Ocean City Magazine. The city also has a daily blog that has update on the city as a whole, called OCNJDaily

Sports

Ocean City Nor'easters of USL League Two play at Carey Stadium.

Education

Ocean City High School
Ocean City High School

The Ocean City School District serves public school students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of the 2017–18 school year, the district, comprised of three schools, had an enrollment of 2,147 students and 180.1 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 11.1:1. Schools in the district (with 2017-18 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Ocean City Primary School (K-3; 348 students), Ocean City Intermediate School (4-8; 527 students) and Ocean City High School (9-12; 1,256 students).

Students from Corbin City, Longport, Sea Isle City and Upper Township attend Ocean City High School for ninth through twelfth grades as part of sending/receiving relationships with their respective school districts.

Students are also eligible to attend Cape May County Technical High School in the Cape May Court House area, which serves students from the entire county in its comprehensive and vocational programs, which are offered without charge to students who are county residents. Special needs students may be referred to Cape May County Special Services School District in the Cape May Court House area.

St. Augustine Regional School, a coeducational Catholic school for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, was closed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden in June 2008. Bishop McHugh Regional Catholic School in Dennis Township had students attending from Ocean City.

Notable people

See also (related category): People from Ocean City, New Jersey

People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Ocean City include:

  • Marla Adams (born 1938), television actress, best known for her roles on The Secret Storm and The Young and the Restless.
  • David Akers (born 1974), NFL kicker, owns a house on the beach at the south end of the island.
  • A. R. Ammons (1926–2001), author and poet, winner of the National Book Award.
  • Keith Andes (1920-2005), film, radio, musical theatre, stage and television actor.
  • Andy Boswell (1873-1936), Major League Baseball pitcher for the Washington Senators and New York Giants, who became an attorney and served in the New Jersey General Assembly.
  • Benjamin Burnley (born 1978), musician, singer, songwriter and record producer, best known as the founder and frontman of the rock band Breaking Benjamin.
  • Maurice Catarcio (1929–2005), former professional wrestler with the World Wrestling Federation and record holder in The Guinness Book of World Records.
  • Pat Croce (born 1954), former owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, owns a summer home in the Gardens section of the city.
  • Walter Diemer (1904–1998), inventor of bubble gum, owned a summer home at 21st Street and Wesley Avenue.
  • Josiah E. DuBois Jr. (1913–1983), Treasury Department official who played a major role in exposing State Department obstruction of efforts to provide American visa to Jews trying to escape Nazi Europe, summered in the home his father built, the DuBois estate, on Battersea Road in the Gardens. Despite efforts to preserve the home, it was demolished in May 2011 to make for subdivision of the property.
  • Stephen Dunn (1939–2021), poet.
  • Frank J. Esposito (born 1941), historian who was named by independent candidate Christopher Daggett as his ticket's candidate for Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey in 2009.
  • Preston Foster (born 1900), stage, film, radio, and television actor, whose career spanned four decades, from the 1920s to the 1960s.
  • Stephanie Gaitley (born 1960), head women's basketball coach at Fordham University.
  • Andrew Golota (born 1968), boxer.
  • Anne Heche (born 1969), actress, star of films such as Volcano and Psycho; moved to Ocean City at age 12
  • Daniel J. Hilferty (born c. 1957), President and CEO of Independence Blue Cross.
  • William J. Hughes (1932-2019), member of U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 to 1995, representing New Jersey's 2nd congressional district.
  • Grace Kelly (1929–1982), Academy Award-winning actress, and Princess of Monaco, was a summer resident of Ocean City at a house located at the intersection of 26th street and Wesley Avenue.
  • Kurt Loder (born 1945), former editor of Rolling Stone magazine and anchor for MTV News.
  • Michael Lombardi (born 1959), pro football executive, former General Manager of the Cleveland Browns.
  • Catherine McCabe, former Acting Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency who was chosen by governor Phil Murphy to serve as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.
  • Antwan McClellan, politician who has represented the 1st Legislative District in the New Jersey General Assembly since 2020.
  • Ed Rendell (born 1944), former Governor of Pennsylvania.
  • George Savitsky (1924-2012), offensive tackle who played in the National Football League for the Philadelphia Eagles.
  • Thomas J. Shusted (1926-2004), attorney and politician who served in the New Jersey General Assembly on two separate occasions, representing Legislative District 3D from 1970 to 1972 and the 6th Legislative District from 1978 to 1991.
  • James Stewart (1908–1997), actor, spent summers at his family's vacation home during his childhood.
  • Gay Talese (born 1932), author, grew up in the "Italian" section of the city and vacations there with his wife.
  • Walter Trout (born 1951), blues musician.
  • Roland Wiggins (1932–2019), music theorist and educator.

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