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Sea Isle City, New Jersey
City
City of Sea Isle City
Fish Alley and Fire Department
Fish Alley and Fire Department
Sea Isle City highlighted in Cape May County. Inset map: Cape May County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Sea Isle City highlighted in Cape May County. Inset map: Cape May County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Sea Isle City, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Sea Isle City, New Jersey
Sea Isle City, New Jersey is located in Cape May County, New Jersey
Sea Isle City, New Jersey
Sea Isle City, New Jersey
Location in Cape May County, New Jersey
Sea Isle City, New Jersey is located in New Jersey
Sea Isle City, New Jersey
Sea Isle City, New Jersey
Location in New Jersey
Sea Isle City, New Jersey is located in the United States
Sea Isle City, New Jersey
Sea Isle 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 22, 1882
Government
 • Type Faulkner Act (mayor–council)
 • Body City Council
Area
 • Total 2.75 sq mi (7.13 km2)
 • Land 2.20 sq mi (5.71 km2)
 • Water 0.55 sq mi (1.42 km2)  19.93%
Area rank 361st of 565 in state
9th of 16 in county
Elevation
7 ft (2 m)
Population
 • Total 2,114
 • Estimate 
(2019)
2,029
 • Rank 483rd of 566 in state
11th of 16 in county
 • Density 974.5/sq mi (376.3/km2)
 • Density rank 385th of 566 in state
8th of 16 in county
Time zone UTC−05:00 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (Eastern (EDT))
ZIP Code
08243
Area code(s) 609 exchanges: 263, 427, 861
FIPS code 3400966390
GNIS feature ID 0885389

Sea Isle City is a city in Cape May County, New Jersey, United States. It is part of the Ocean City Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 2,114, reflecting a decline of 721 (-25.4%) from the 2,835 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 143 (+5.3%) from the 2,692 counted in the 1990 Census. Visitors raise the population to as much as 40,000 during the peak summer season from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Sea Isle City is located on Ludlam Island, which also contains the Strathmere section of Upper Township.

Sea Isle City was originally incorporated as a borough on May 22, 1882, from portions of Dennis Township, based on the results of a referendum held six days earlier. The borough was reincorporated on March 31, 1890. In March 1907, portions of Dennis Township and Upper Township were annexed to Sea Isle City. In April 1905, portions of Sea Isle City were annexed to Upper Township. On April 30, 1907, the area was reincorporated as the City of Sea Isle City, based on the results of a referendum held on April 20, 1907. The name derives from its location on the Atlantic Ocean.

History

Seaislecity-nj-usa
View from the beach

Sea Isle City was founded in 1882 by Charles K. Landis, who was also the founder of Vineland, New Jersey. The main street in town, Landis Avenue, is named for the town's founder. The oldest building in Sea Isle City is The Colonnade Inn, a Victorian building dating back to the 1800s. From 1885 until 1924, Sea Isle City was the location of Ludlam's Beach Lighthouse. The structure was moved to the corner of Landis Avenue and 35th Street (3414 Landis Ave), and was a private residence (rental) for many years. A non-profit group, The Friends of the Ludlam Beach Lighthouse, was unsuccessful in its efforts to raise enough money to save the building from demolition by moving it to a new location and restoring it. It was demolished on September 21, 2010, to make way for new town homes.

The oil tanker MV Sea Isle City was renamed for this city when it was reflagged and registered in the United States in 1987 during Operation Earnest Will. It was struck by a Silkworm missile off Kuwait on October 16, 1987, wounding 18 crew members and seriously damaging the ship.

Coastal storms

There have been many hurricanes and huge storms that have hit the small island of Sea Isle City, New Jersey. The storms of the 1890s, 1920s, and the 1944 Great Atlantic Hurricane have been some of the worst natural disasters to hit the coast of New Jersey. The Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962, a major Nor'easter that hit on March 6, 1962, tops all other storms that have hit the area in the recent past, with three days of continuous rain. Many people evacuated in time to save their lives, but came back to find their homes and assets destroyed. Eventually, the only way out of town was the causeway, and when that flooded, rescuers had to use helicopters to evacuate the rest of the town. It was categorized as a "100-year storm," in which almost every beach front home or property was destroyed or damaged.

About a week later when the storm had subsided, Sea Isle City citizens moved back into their homes and began the needed revisions. As a result of the storm, a "dune line" was formed, and this caused beach front businesses and homes to move back from the shoreline an average of one block.

Tourism

Sea Isle City has long been popular with summer visitors. In 2002, the printed message on its signature water tower was changed from "Welcome to Sea Isle City" to "Smile! You're in Sea Isle City". The "Sara the Turtle Festival" is one of the city's annual festivals, celebrating a fictional turtle named Sara. Aimed towards families with young children, the festival features live animal exhibits and face painting meant to educate children about the local environment. The city hosts a Polar bear plunge every February, holding the 19th annual event in 2013, featuring many participants dressed in costume.

In 1999, the city's only amusement park, Fun City, was closed and the land was sold for development of beach homes. In 2009, a new amusement park called Gillian's Funland was opened on JFK Boulevard by the bay as a public-private venture between Sea Isle City and neighboring Ocean City mayor Jay Gillian. Funland was permanently removed, however, following the 2013 summer season for financial reasons in part due to losses from Hurricane Sandy.

In 2011, Sea Isle City began a $14 million makeover to create a public corridor from the bay to the ocean. Plans included a new boathouse on the marina, installing a new playground and basketball courts on JFK Boulevard and erecting a pavilion and band shell at Excursion Park on the city's Promenade overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Sea Isle City became one of the first towns in New Jersey, along with Salem City and Egg Harbor City, to receive LED streetlights powered solely by wind and solar energy. The lights were installed at the Promenade at JFK Boulevard by the South Jersey Economic Development District and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city had a total area of 2.531 square miles (6.557 km2), including 2.169 square miles (5.618 km2) of land and 0.362 square miles (0.938 km2) of water (14.31%).

Sea Isle City is a beach town with most of its housing used for vacation rentals and second homes. It has a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) beachfront promenade starting at 29th street and ending on 57th street and several arcades, shops, restaurants and bars in the center of town. The epicenter of the town is 48th Street.

Sea Isle is not an "island city" as it shares its land on Ludlam Island with Strathmere. Neighboring Ocean City, however, is an island city as the entire land mass, surrounded by water, belongs to the town. Strathmere (located at the north end of Ludlam Island) is not part of Sea Isle City. It is part of Upper Township.

Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the city include Ludlam Beach and Townsends Inlet (located at the south end of Ludlam Iisland).

Sea Isle City borders Upper Township, Dennis Township, Middle Township, Avalon Borough, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Climate

Climate data for Sea Isle City, NJ
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 42
(5.6)
45
(7.2)
53
(11.7)
64
(17.8)
73
(22.8)
80
(26.7)
85
(29.4)
82
(27.8)
77
(25)
66
(18.9)
57
(13.9)
46
(7.8)
64.166
(17.87)
Average low °F (°C) 22
(-5.6)
24
(-4.4)
30
(-1.1)
39
(3.9)
47
(8.3)
58
(14.4)
64
(17.8)
62
(16.7)
54
(12.2)
43
(6.1)
34
(1.1)
26
(-3.3)
41.916
(5.5089)
Source: <Weather.com >

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 776
1900 340 −56.2%
1910 551 62.1%
1920 564 2.4%
1930 850 50.7%
1940 773 −9.1%
1950 993 28.5%
1960 1,393 40.3%
1970 1,712 22.9%
1980 2,644 54.4%
1990 2,692 1.8%
2000 2,835 5.3%
2010 2,114 −25.4%
2019 (est.) 2,029 −4.0%
Population sources:
1890-2000 1890-1920 1890
1890-1910 1910-1930
1930-1990 2000 2010

Census 2010

As of the census of 2010, there were 2,114 people, 1,041 households, and 646 families residing in the city. The population density was 974.5 per square mile (376.3/km2). There were 6,900 housing units at an average density of 3,180.8 per square mile (1,228.1/km2)*. The racial makeup of the city was 98.63% (2,085) White, 0.09% (2) Black or African American, 0.24% (5) Native American, 0.19% (4) Asian, 0.00% (0) Pacific Islander, 0.47% (10) from other races, and 0.38% (8) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.41% (51) of the population.

There were 1,041 households out of which 9.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.0% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.9% were non-families. 34.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 16.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.03 and the average family size was 2.54.

In the city, the population was spread out with 10.7% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 13.2% from 25 to 44, 37.6% from 45 to 64, and 32.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 58.1 years. For every 100 females there were 97.9 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 97.4 males.

The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $54,715 (with a margin of error of +/- $9,859) and the median family income was $80,219 (+/- $21,265). Males had a median income of $66,771 (+/- $34,710) versus $44,087 (+/- $6,534) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $47,174 (+/- $10,684). About 3.1% of families and 7.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including none of those under age 18 and 3.9% of those age 65 or over.

Census 2000

As of the 2000 United States Census there were 2,835 people, 1,370 households, and 794 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,287.3 people per square mile (497.5/km2). There were 6,622 housing units at an average density of 1, 162.2/km2 (3,006.9/sq mi). The racial makeup of the city was 97.88% White, 0.28% African American, 0.39% Native American, 0.35% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.07% from other races, and 0.99% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.06% of the population.

As of the 2000 Census, 30.5% of Sea Isle City residents were of Irish ancestry, the 34th-highest percentage of any municipality in the United States, and sixth-highest in New Jersey, among all places with more than 1,000 residents identifying their ancestry.

There were 1,370 households, out of which 15.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.2% were married couples living together, 6.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.0% were non-families. 37.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 18.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.07 and the average family size was 2.71.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 15.7% under the age of 18, 5.1% from 18 to 24, 20.8% from 25 to 44, 31.4% from 45 to 64, and 27.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 51 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $45,708, and the median income for a family was $62,847. Males had a median income of $42,713 versus $31,375 for females. The per capita income for the city was $28,754. About 6.4% of families and 7.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.7% of those under age 18 and 10.2% of those age 65 or over.

Transportation

2018-10-04 18 17 33 View north along Cape May County Route 619 (Landis Avenue) between 40th Street and 39th Street in Sea Isle City, Cape May County, New Jersey
CR 619 in Sea Isle City

Roads and highways

The city had a total of 33.06 miles (53.20 km) of roadways, of which 27.53 miles (44.31 km) were maintained by the municipality and 5.53 miles (8.90 km) by Cape May County.

Exit 17 on the southbound Garden State Parkway in Dennis Township provides access to Sea Isle City via Sea Isle Boulevard (County Route 625), which becomes JFK Boulevard. Landis Boulevard (County Route 619) follows the ocean and forms part of Ocean Drive, traversing 5 miles (8.0 km) across the city, from the Strathmere section of Upper Township in the north to Avalon in the south.

Turtle awareness is an important aspect in Sea Isle City. There are numerous signs in the city to watch for turtle crossings in order to prevent further endangerment of the species. One of the more common species of turtles located on the island is the diamondback terrapins. Due to recent coastal development natural turtle nesting areas have deteriorated. Therefore, the turtles create their nesting areas on highway embankments and are subject to being struck by a motor vehicle. From 1989 to 1995 there have been a total of 4,020 turtles killed in Cape May Peninsula.

Public transportation

NJ Transit offers the 315 inter-city bus route that runs through the town three times a day and shuttles people to and from Philadelphia, and the 319 route to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan. However, due to weight restrictions on the Townsend Inlet Bridge, New Jersey Transit 315/319 bus service only stops on Central Avenue and JFK Boulevard. Service was previously suspended due to summer traffic until a deal has been reached.

Sea Isle City used to have a trackless trolley service that operated along Landis Avenue. Since 2013, Atlantic City Jitney has served Sea Isle City with a route running along Landis Avenue from June through September.

Rail service was provided to the island by both the Atlantic City Railroad, a subsidiary of the Philadelphia and Reading Railway, and the West Jersey and Seashore Railroad, owned by the rival Pennsylvania Railroad. The Atlantic City Railroad's line was a continuation of its line to Ocean City, running across Corson's Inlet and through Strathmere. The West Jersey and Seashore Railroad tracks branched from the Cape May Line at Sea Isle Junction, and entered the city at 41st Street, from where it continued south to Stone Harbor. The train was in use from the early 1900s until the mid-1930s after the merger of the two railroads when the tracks were removed and the streets were paved due to increased use of cars.

Education

Cape May County Library Sea Isle City Branch
Cape May County Library Sea Isle City Branch

Resident public school students had been served by a school operated by the Sea Isle City School District until the end of the 2012 school year. Merger discussions with the Ocean City School District in 2008 ended after the Ocean City district indicated that it did not want to accept Sea Isle City's tenured teachers, which it would be required to do under state law. Sea Isle City had been spending as much as $35,000 per student and hoped to see savings through the merger, even after adding in transportation costs. The Sea Isle City district graduated its last eighth-grade class in June 2009 and with the 2010–11 school year, students from Sea Isle City started attending the Ocean City schools starting in fifth grade. As of June 30, 2012, Sea Isle City School District no longer operates any schools, in the face of an order by the commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education that was based on declining enrollment and budgetary issues.

All Sea Isle City students in public school for kindergarten through twelfth grade are served by the Ocean City School District. 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 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.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden operates Bishop McHugh Regional School, a Catholic K-8 school, in the Ocean View area, Dennis Township, which has a Cape May Courthouse postal address. It is the parish school of Sea Isle City Catholic Church and three other churches.

Cape May County Library operates Sea Isle City Branch Library.

Notable people

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

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

  • Richard M. Atwater (1844–1922), chemist and glassmaker, who served as mayor of Sea Isle City from 1913–1917.
  • Jeff Carter (born 1985), professional hockey player for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
  • Steve Corino (born 1973), professional wrestler who works for Ring of Honor.
  • Alexis Dziena (born 1984), actress.
  • Joe Flacco (born 1985), quarterback for the Denver Broncos.
  • Charles Lewis Fussell (1840-1909), landscape artist.
  • Chris Gheysens (born c. 1972), president and chief executive officer of Wawa Inc.
  • John C. Gibson (born 1934), former member of the New Jersey General Assembly.
  • Ann J. Land (c. 1933–2010), member of the Philadelphia City Council from 1980 to 1992.
  • Charles K. Landis (1833–1900), property developer in South Jersey, who was the founder and developer of Vineland and Sea Isle City.
  • Josh Mathews (born 1980), play-by-play commentator with WWE and later, Impact Wrestling.
  • John Stevens (born 1966), former defenseman who has coached in the NHL at various levels.

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