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West Cape May, New Jersey
Borough
Borough of West Cape May
Whilldin-Miller House
Whilldin-Miller House
West Cape May Borough highlighted in Cape May County. Inset map: Cape May County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
West Cape May Borough highlighted in Cape May County. Inset map: Cape May County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of West Cape May, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of West Cape May, New Jersey
West Cape May, New Jersey is located in Cape May County, New Jersey
West Cape May, New Jersey
West Cape May, New Jersey
Location in Cape May County, New Jersey
West Cape May, New Jersey is located in New Jersey
West Cape May, New Jersey
West Cape May, New Jersey
Location in New Jersey
West Cape May, New Jersey is located in the United States
West Cape May, New Jersey
West Cape May, 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 April 17, 1884
Named for Cape May / Cornelius Jacobsen May
Government
 • Type Walsh Act
 • Body Board of Commissioners
Area
 • Total 1.19 sq mi (3.07 km2)
 • Land 1.17 sq mi (3.04 km2)
 • Water 0.01 sq mi (0.03 km2)  1.09%
Area rank 489th of 565 in state
14th of 16 in county
Elevation
10 ft (3 m)
Population
 • Total 1,024
 • Estimate 
(2019)
1,001
 • Rank 533rd of 566 in state
13th of 16 in county
 • Density 878.8/sq mi (339.3/km2)
 • Density rank 399th of 566 in state
9th of 16 in county
Time zone UTC−05:00 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (Eastern (EDT))
ZIP Code
08204
Area code(s) 609
FIPS code 3400978530
GNIS feature ID 0885435

West Cape May is a Walsh Act borough 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 borough's population was 1,024, reflecting a decline of 71 (-6.5%) from the 1,095 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 69 (+6.7%) from the 1,026 counted in the 1990 Census.

West Cape May was incorporated as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 17, 1884, from portions of Lower Township, based on the results of a referendum held two days earlier. The borough was reincorporated on April 11, 1890, and again on May 4, 1897. The borough's name derives from Cape May, which was named for 1620 Dutch captain named Cornelius Jacobsen May who explored and charted the area between 1611 and 1614, and established a claim for the province of New Netherland.

During Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, West Cape May was hit by 9.53 inches (242 mm) of rain, the most of any place in the state.

West Cape May had been a dry town until May 2012, when a new store opened after the Board of Commissioners approved the sale of a liquor license for more than $600,000. In 2008, voters approved a referendum that allowed the issuance of a single license for retail liquor sales and another for sale of alcoholic beverages at a restaurant. The borough had been dry for 128 years, where alcohol cannot be sold, affirmed by the results of a referendum held in 1940, joining Cape May Point, Ocean City and Wildwood Crest among municipalities in Cape May restricting the sale of alcohol.

History

WestCapeMayMunicipalComplex
West Cape May Volunteer Fire Company

The borough's history goes back to the time of the Lenape Native Americans and several buildings date to the Colonial period. The area has a rich agricultural history which continues to be celebrated each year with a summer farmers' market, and strawberry, tomato and lima bean festivals. It has been known as the "Lima Bean Capital of the World." The Lima Bean Festival is an annual event held in West Cape May, New Jersey, the "Lima Bean Capital of the World", and is the world's only such celebration. It is held annually on the Saturday of Columbus Day weekend in Wilbraham Park.

West Cape May, once known as Eldredge, is one of the four jurisdictions that comprise Cape Island in Cape May County. West Cape May was incorporated as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 17, 1884, from portions of Lower Township, based on the results of a referendum held two days earlier. The borough was reincorporated on April 11, 1890, and again on May 4, 1897.

The Borough has reported ties to the Underground Railroad.

From 1881 to 1931, the Hastings Goldbeating Company was located in the Borough employing women to pound one-inch strips of gold into gossamer-thin sheets used for decorative arts. Women still did the "booking" of gold leaf sheets until 1961. A plaque indicating the location of the factory can be found on Goldbeaten Alley. It was this business, along with real estate speculation and subdivision of the land, that led to the Borough's incorporation in 1884.

Historic sites

The historic core of the Borough was placed on the National Register of Historic Places along with sections of the City of Cape May in 1976.

Whilldin-Miller House was added to the National Register of Historic Places on February 12, 2003. The original timber frame two-story house remaining in the rear was built by Joseph Whilldin about 1715, while the front portion of the house was built in 1860, making it one of the oldest remaining houses on Cape Island.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 1.175 square miles (3.044 km2), including 1.165 square miles (3.018 km2) of land and 0.010 square miles (0.026 km2) of water (0.86%).

The borough borders the Cape May County municipalities of Lower Township and Cape May City

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1890 757
1900 696 −8.1%
1910 844 21.3%
1920 967 14.6%
1930 1,048 8.4%
1940 934 −10.9%
1950 897 −4.0%
1960 1,030 14.8%
1970 1,005 −2.4%
1980 1,091 8.6%
1990 1,026 −6.0%
2000 1,095 6.7%
2010 1,024 −6.5%
2019 (est.) 1,001 −2.2%
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 1,024 people, 493 households, and 294 families residing in the borough. The population density was 878.8 per square mile (339.3/km2). There were 1,043 housing units at an average density of 895.1 per square mile (345.6/km2)*. The racial makeup of the borough was 85.84% (879) White, 8.69% (89) Black or African American, 0.78% (8) Native American, 0.20% (2) Asian, 0.00% (0) Pacific Islander, 3.13% (32) from other races, and 1.37% (14) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.98% (51) of the population.

There were 493 households out of which 14.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.0% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.4% were non-families. 36.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.08 and the average family size was 2.66.

In the borough, the population was spread out with 12.8% under the age of 18, 6.1% from 18 to 24, 13.5% from 25 to 44, 39.2% from 45 to 64, and 28.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 55.0 years. For every 100 females there were 93.2 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 88.0 males.

The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $48,281 (with a margin of error of +/- $6,924) and the median family income was $51,394 (+/- $3,176). Males had a median income of $42,361 (+/- $10,529) versus $43,860 (+/- $3,583) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $34,328 (+/- $4,010). About 8.4% of families and 6.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.0% of those under age 18 and 4.8% of those age 65 or over.

Census 2000

As of the 2000 United States Census there were 1,095 people, 507 households, and 302 families residing in the borough. The population density was 923.5 people per square mile (355.3/km2). There were 1,004 housing units at an average density of 846.8 per square mile (325.8/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 84.11% White, 14.52% African American, 0.37% Native American, 0.55% from other races, and 0.46% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.83% of the population.

There were 507 households, out of which 21.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.2% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.4% were non-families. 35.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.80.

In the borough the population was spread out, with 19.6% under the age of 18, 3.6% from 18 to 24, 23.7% from 25 to 44, 28.7% from 45 to 64, and 24.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.4 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $37,500, and the median income for a family was $47,031. Males had a median income of $36,375 versus $29,583 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $25,663. About 4.7% of families and 7.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.3% of those under age 18 and 8.9% of those age 65 or over.

African-Americans

African-Americans have been in West Cape May since the early 1800s. There is a West Cape May African-American Historical Society. Julie Lasky of The New York Times wrote that "until recently" the African-American community was "vibrant" but that by 2020 the percentage declined to 5%.

Transportation

Roads and highways

2018-10-09 09 16 29 View north along Cape May County Route 607 (Bayshore Road) just north of Cape May County Route 606 (Sunset Boulevard) in West Cape May, Cape May County, New Jersey
CR 607 in West Cape May

As of May 2010, the borough had a total of 11.87 miles (19.10 km) of roadways, of which 8.82 miles (14.19 km) were maintained by the municipality and 3.05 miles (4.91 km) by Cape May County.

No Interstate, U.S., state or major county highways serve West Cape May. The most significant roads in the borough are minor county routes, such as County Route 607.

Public transportation

NJ Transit offers bus service between Cape May and Atlantic City on the 552 route.

Education

WestCapeMayES
West Cape May Elementary School

The West Cape May School District serves students in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade at West Cape May Elementary School. As of the 2018–19 school year, the district, comprised of one school, had an enrollment of 99 students and 9.7 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 10.2:1. In the 2016–17 school year, the district had 98 students, making it the eighth-smallest district in the state.

For seventh through twelfth grades, public school students attend the schools of the Lower Cape May Regional School District, which serves students from Cape May, Lower Township and West Cape May, along with students from Cape May Point who attend as part of a sending/receiving relationship. As of the 2018–19 school year, the high school district, comprised of two schools, had an enrollment of 1,330 students and 118.7 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 11.2:1. Schools in the district (with 2018–19 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Richard M. Teitelman Middle School with 472 students in grades 7-8 and Lower Cape May Regional High School with 828 students in grades 9–12. The district's board of education has nine members, who are elected directly by voters to serve three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with three seats up for election each year. Seats on the board are allocated based on population, with West Cape May assigned one seat.

In 2013, the Lower Cape May Regional School District received a feasibility study that looked at ways to reconfigure the district, which had been established in 1956. The study considered Cape May City withdrawing from the regional district or the dissolution of the district, converting Lower Township's existing PreK-6 district to serve PreK-12, as the regional district's school facilities are located in the township. Cape May City and West Cape May could see annual savings approaching a combined $6 million from the dissolution.

Students are also eligible to attend Cape May County Technical High School in Cape May Court House, 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.

History

Previously a West Cape May High School existed. In an era of de jure educational segregation in the United States normally only white students were permitted to attend though the state made exceptions. Ordinarily black students attended a different industrial high school. The district maintained separate white and black elementary schools.

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