Founded in 1879 by three brothers, Methodist ministers looking to create a wholesome year-round family resort, Ocean City, New Jersey is still a dry community that has maintained its reputation as a family-oriented place. With its well-kept 8 miles of beach, and more than two miles of boardwalk, including a late1920’s music pier on which summer concerts are given, Ocean City, New Jersey can find its population swelling to 150,000 during the summer months. The community sponsors many special events in the summer, including a hermit-crab beauty contest, a baseball card show, an antique car show, a sand-sculpting contest, and what is billed as the oldest baby parade in the country. In early spring the town braces itself for the summer season with a parade that features old cars, comic marchers, and in recent years as many as 575 basset hounds.
Ocean City, New Jersey’s historic district runs from Atlantic to Asbury Avenues. Between 3rd and 7th streets. Included within the district is the former lifesaving station. Built in 1885 through 1886, the building passed from the Life-Saving Service to the Coast Guard in 1915 and in 1945 was decommissioned and bought by a private party. There are hopes that the building can be saved, restored to its 1915 appearance, and converted into a museum that would concentrate on the history of the Life-Saving Service. Check at the Chamber of Commerce Information Center at 9th Street Causeway, New Jersey 52, for brochures describing a self-guided tour of the historic district. Open May-Labor Day, Mon-Sat, 9-5, Sun, 10-2; Labor Day-April, Mon.-Sat., 10-5, Sun, 10-2.
The Ocean City, New Jersey Historical Museum, housed in the Ocean City Community and Cultural Center, features artifacts, apparel, and other items related to the history and the natural history of Ocean City, New Jersey. Included among these are mementos of John Fulton Short, said to be America’s only matador. Of particular interest is the Sindia Room, with mementos of the four-masted bark that went aground on the Ocean City beach in 1901. The Sindia Pavillion marks the location of the wreck. The museum’s library contains many early deeds and other papers relating to Ocean City and Cape May County. Open May-October, Mon-Fri, 10-4, Sat 11-2; November-April, Mon.-Fri., 1-4, Sat., 11-2; groups by appointment. The Friends of the Ocean City Historical Museum sponsor various special events, including lectures and an annual antique and craft fair.
On the second floor of the same building is the Ocean City Arts Center (609-399-7628). The center’s gallery exhibits change roughly every month; the center also offers a variety of classes and other programs, including an annual fine arts boardwalk exhibit, which features as many as 200 artists.
Corson’s inlet state park is off the southern end of Ocean City, NJ. The park’s 300-odd acres offer opportunities for fishing, boating, and hiking. This is a popular park in the summer, although flies and poison ivy can be problems. The inlet is surrounded by the Cape May Wetlands Wildlife Management Area, more than 11,000 acres most of it salt marsh, with excellent opportunities for boating and bird watching.