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Wildwood Crest, New Jersey
Borough
Borough of Wildwood Crest
Wildwood Crest arch
Wildwood Crest arch
Wildwood Crest Borough highlighted in Cape May County. Inset map: Cape May County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Wildwood Crest Borough highlighted in Cape May County. Inset map: Cape May County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Wildwood Crest, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Wildwood Crest, New Jersey
Wildwood Crest, New Jersey is located in Cape May County, New Jersey
Wildwood Crest, New Jersey
Wildwood Crest, New Jersey
Location in Cape May County, New Jersey
Wildwood Crest, New Jersey is located in New Jersey
Wildwood Crest, New Jersey
Wildwood Crest, New Jersey
Location in New Jersey
Wildwood Crest, New Jersey is located in the United States
Wildwood Crest, New Jersey
Wildwood Crest, 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 6, 1910
Government
 • Type Walsh Act
 • Body Board of Commissioners
Area
 • Total 1.48 sq mi (3.84 km2)
 • Land 1.30 sq mi (3.36 km2)
 • Water 0.19 sq mi (0.48 km2)  12.50%
Area rank 452nd of 565 in state
13th of 16 in county
Elevation
3 ft (0.9 m)
Population
 • Total 3,270
 • Estimate 
(2019)
3,048
 • Rank 442nd of 566 in state
9th of 16 in county
 • Density 2,884.0/sq mi (1,113.5/km2)
 • Density rank 221st of 566 in state
2nd of 16 in county
Time zone UTC−05:00 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (Eastern (EDT))
ZIP Code
08260
Area code(s) 609
FIPS code 3400981200
GNIS feature ID 0885445

Wildwood Crest is a 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 3,270, reflecting a decline of 710 (−17.8%) from the 3,980 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 349 (+9.6%) from the 3,631 counted in the 1990 Census.

Wildwood Crest was incorporated as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 6, 1910, from portions of Lower Township. The area of the borough was first developed by Philip Baker in the 1910s as a southern extension to the resort of Wildwood. The borough's name comes from Wildwood, which in turn was named for the area's wild flowers.

It is a dry town, where alcohol cannot be sold, affirmed by the results of a referendum held in 1940. Wildwood Crest joins Cape May Point and Ocean City among municipalities in Cape May restricting the sale of alcohol. Adjoining Wildwood allows the sale of alcohol, including at bars on its boardwalk.

The borough was ranked the second-best beach in New Jersey in the 2008 Top 10 Beaches Contest sponsored by the New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium. Wildwood Crest is one of five municipalities in the state that offer free public access to oceanfront beaches monitored by lifeguards, joining Atlantic City, North Wildwood, Wildwood and Upper Township's Strathmere section.

History

Caribbean Motel
The Caribbean Motel, an architectural landmark of the "Doo Wop" era.

The motels of Wildwood Crest are characterized by a distinctive "Doo Wop" or Googie style of architecture. Collectively, Wildwood and Wildwood Crest contain the nation's largest collection of mid-century "Doo Wop" resort architecture.

The term "Doo Wop" was coined by the Mid-Atlantic Center For The Arts in the early 1990s to describe the unique, space-age architectural style that was common in the 1950s and 1960s. Post World War II America was an optimistic, confident, and enthusiastic society. The new age style of architecture evolved into a showcase of colorful, flashy, modernistic architecture that captured the spirit of the times; it incorporated modern, sweeping angles, bright colors, starbursts, boomerang shapes, plastic palm trees, and angular wall and roof styles. "Doo Wop" was a celebration of the architecture, design, music, and pop culture of the 1950s and 1960s. During the 1950s, the economy had grown to unprecedented levels. Americans achieved a level of prosperity they had never known before. In response to this unprecedented growth, hundreds of motels were constructed in Wildwood and Wildwood Crest with the distinct "Doo Wop" style of architecture. The first motel to reflect this style was the Ebb Tide Motel, constructed in 1957, which was designed and built by Will and Lou Morey, who specialized in such designs.

Several "Doo Wop" motels, such as the Caribbean Motel, are registered on the National Register of Historic Places. In recent years, historic "Doo Wop" motels have been demolished to make way for the construction of condominiums, leading to organized efforts to preserve the remaining examples.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 1.309 square miles (3.390 km2), including 1.134 square miles (2.937 km2) of land and 0.175 square miles (0.454 km2) of water (13.38%).

Part of the borough's beachfront has been closed off for the protection of native birds such as the piping plover. These small birds have this area all to themselves so that their eggs may be protected from beachgoers. There is a nature trail one may take through the dunes to explore this sheltered area of the beach.

Wildwood Crest borders the Diamond Beach section of Lower Township to the south, the City of Wildwood to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Sunset, Wildwood Crest, New Jersey
The back bay of Wildwood Crest at sunset.
Wildwood Crest NJ library
Public library

Wildwood Crest and its neighboring towns of Wildwood, North Wildwood, and West Wildwood make up "The Wildwoods" resort, a popular vacation destination for those living in all parts of New Jersey as well as the Philadelphia and New York City metropolitan areas. Many vacationers and tourists have come from as far away as, New England and Canada and have made The Wildwoods a vacation hotspot, due to the area's mild summer climate. Unlike its sister communities of Wildwood and North Wildwood, Wildwood Crest is generally set apart from the all-hours excitement that the resort area is known for. Many vacationers will find some of the quietest and most undisturbed beach space.

In recent years, condominiums have replaced many of the motels the area was known for, such as The Grand, The Ocean Breeze, El Coronado, and The Arcadia. Some restaurants have been torn down and replaced with condominiums, including The Captain's Table, The Surfside, and Duffenetti's. These changes in housing have significantly changed the demographics of this area, from being a more family oriented one-vacation-per-summer place (for the middle class) to being a weekend retreat for wealthier families.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 103
1920 161 56.3%
1930 738 358.4%
1940 661 −10.4%
1950 1,772 168.1%
1960 3,011 69.9%
1970 3,483 15.7%
1980 4,149 19.1%
1990 3,631 −12.5%
2000 3,980 9.6%
2010 3,270 −17.8%
Est. 2019 3,048 −6.8%
Population sources:
1900-2000 1900--1920
1900-1910 1910-1930
1930-1990 2000 2010

Census 2010

As of the census of 2010, there were 3,270 people, 1,532 households, and 918 families residing in the borough. The population density was 2,884.0 per square mile (1,113.5/km2). There were 5,569 housing units at an average density of 4,911.6 per square mile (1,896.4/km2)*. The racial makeup of the borough was 93.18% (3,047) White, 1.68% (55) Black or African American, 0.15% (5) Native American, 1.01% (33) Asian, 0.00% (0) Pacific Islander, 1.80% (59) from other races, and 2.17% (71) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.63% (184) of the population.

There were 1,532 households out of which 18.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.1% were non-families. 35.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 18.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.13 and the average family size was 2.73.

In the borough, the population was spread out with 16.6% under the age of 18, 6.7% from 18 to 24, 19.6% from 25 to 44, 30.7% from 45 to 64, and 26.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 49.8 years. For every 100 females there were 96.2 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 92.9 males.

The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $46,111 (with a margin of error of +/- $13,652) and the median family income was $67,917 (+/- $15,113). Males had a median income of $49,567 (+/- $20,496) versus $54,250 (+/- $12,982) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $40,032 (+/- $8,687). About 8.1% of families and 11.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.2% of those under age 18 and 5.2% of those age 65 or over.

Census 2000

As of the 2000 United States Census there were 3,980 people, 1,833 households, and 1,114 families residing in the borough. The population density was 3,453.9 people per square mile (1,336.2/km2). There were 4,862 housing units at an average density of 4,219.3 per square mile (1,632.4/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 94.87% White, 1.23% African American, 0.10% Native American, 0.48% Asian, 2.21% from other races, and 1.11% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.22% of the population.

There were 1,833 households, out of which 20.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.7% were married couples living together, 11.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.2% were non-families. 34.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 18.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.76.

In the borough the population was spread out, with 18.2% under the age of 18, 5.9% from 18 to 24, 23.8% from 25 to 44, 26.6% from 45 to 64, and 25.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 47 years. For every 100 females, there were 87.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.4 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $36,579, and the median income for a family was $47,462. Males had a median income of $42,727 versus $27,500 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $23,741. About 4.4% of families and 6.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.1% of those under age 18 and 6.9% of those age 65 or over.

Parks and recreation

Battle of Turtle Gut Inlet Memorial Park
The Battle of Turtle Gut Inlet memorial in Wildwood Crest to the seamen and officers of the Brigantine Nancy

The borough is bordered on the bay side by Sunset Lake. This was once connected to the Atlantic Ocean by Turtle Gut Inlet, which was closed in 1922. The Sunset Lake and Turtle Gut Park is located at New Jersey and Miami Avenues. A nearby memorial commemorates the Battle of Turtle Gut Inlet fought on June 29, 1776. This was the only American Revolutionary War battle fought in Cape May County.

Transportation

2018-10-09 09 40 13 View south along Cape May County Route 621 (Pacific Avenue) at Rambler Road in Wildwood Crest, Cape May County, New Jersey
CR 621 in Wildwood Crest

Roads and highways

The borough has a total of 31.88 miles (51.31 km) of roadways, of which 29.83 miles (48.01 km) were maintained by the municipality and 2.05 miles (3.30 km) by Cape May County.

County Route 621 (Pacific Avenue / New Jersey Avenue) runs for 2.0 miles (3.2 km) through the borough, from Lower Township to the south to Wildwood in the north.

Parking in the beach area of Wildwood Crest is regulated by parking meters between mid-May and mid-September.

Public transportation

NJ Transit provides bus service to Philadelphia on the 313 and 315 routes, with seasonal service to Philadelphia on the 316 route and to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan on the 319 route.

The Great American Trolley Company operates trolley service in Wildwood Crest during the summer months. The company runs a trolley route that provides service from Wildwood Crest to the boardwalk at Schellenger Avenue in Wildwood daily during the evening hours. The Great American Trolley Company also runs trolley service to the Irish Fall Festival in North Wildwood, with a route connecting Wildwood Crest to the festival site during the weekend of the festival.

Landmarks

  • Crest Fishing Pier
  • Sunset Lake

Economy

Portions of the borough—together with areas in North Wildwood, West Wildwood and Wildwood—are part of a joint Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ), one of 32 zones covering 37 municipalities statewide. The four municipalities in The Wildwoods were selected in 2002 as one of a group of three zones added to participate in the program as part of a joint zone with. In addition to other benefits to encourage employment and investment within the Zone, shoppers can take advantage of a reduced 3.3125% sales tax rate (half of the 6+58% rate charged statewide) at eligible merchants. Established in September 2002, the borough's Urban Enterprise Zone status expires in December 2023. The joint UEZ is overseen by the Enterprise Zone Development Corporation of the Wildwoods Board, which includes representatives from all four municipalities.

Notable motels in Wildwood Crest include the Caribbean Motel, built in 1957 in the Doo-Wop style and added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 24, 2005.

Education

WildwoodCrestMemorialESNJ
Wildwood Crest Memorial School

The Wildwood Crest School District serves public school students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade at Crest Memorial School. As of the 2019–20 school year, the district, comprised of one school, had an enrollment of 275 students and 34.4 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 8.0:1.

Wildwood Crest NJ library
Harold Fox Memorial Library, Wildwood Crest

For ninth through twelfth grades, public school students from Wildwood Crest attend Wildwood High School in Wildwood as part of a sending/receiving relationship with the Wildwood Public School District, together with students from North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest. As of the 2019–20 school year, the high school had an enrollment of 245 students and 29.9 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 8.2:1.

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.

Wildwood Catholic Academy in North Wildwood (prior to 2020 it was two separate schools: Cape Trinity Catholic elementary school and Wildwood Catholic High School) operates under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden.

Cape May County Library operates the Wildwood Crest Library.

Notable people

See also (related category): People from Wildwood Crest, New Jersey

People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Wildwood Crest include:

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