Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May is a small city situated at the southern edge of the Cape May Peninsula in the Cape May County in the US State of New Jersey. Cape May is also the state’s southernmost point, situated at the meeting point of the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Often referred to as one of the best beaches on the country’s Mid-Atlantic coast, Cape May is considered one of the oldest vacation resort destinations in the United States.

Geography Of Cape May

Aerial view of Cape May, New Jersey
Aerial view of Cape May, New Jersey. 

The city of Cape May covers a total area of 7.50 sq. km, of which 1.10 sq. km is occupied by water and 6.41 sq. km is occupied by land. This small coastal city is generally low-lying and forms a part of the Ocean City Metropolitan Statistical Area. The highest point of Cape May city is situated at the meeting point of the Jackson and the Washington Streets at an elevation of 4.3m. The city features more than 600 well-maintained Victorian-style houses spread over a vast area. The city of Cape May is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware Bay and the different municipalities of the Cape May County, including West Cape May Borough and Lower Township. Created in 2011, the Cape May Harbor borders the Lower Township and the adjacent Wildwood Crest borough and allows several fishing vessels to enter the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to this, the city of Cape May has about 50.90km of roadways, of which 10.69km is maintained by the Cape May County, while the municipality maintains the remaining 40.22km. From July 1, 2004, onwards, the city of Cape May is governed by a Council-Manager form of government following the Faulkner Act.

Climate Of Cape May

A boat on a beach in Cape May.
View of a boat with the "Cape May" sign on the beach in Cape May, New Jersey. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

According to the Köppen climate classification, the city of Cape May experiences a humid subtropical climate with hot and humid summers and extremely cold, wet, and windy winters. The warm summer season lasts from June to September, and July is the hottest month, with the average temperature ranging between 28.3°C to 20.5°C. A cooling afternoon sea breeze flows during the summer months on most days, but often periods of extreme heat and humidity can occur. The cold season lasts from December to March, and January is the coldest month, with the average temperature ranging between -1.1°C to 6.1°C. Cape May receives year-round precipitation, with February being the snowiest month along with high nor’easter activities.

Demography And Economy

Colorful historic Victorian-style houses line the beachfront in Cape May. 
Colorful historic Victorian-style houses line the beachfront in Cape May. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

As per the 2010 census, about 3,607 people live in the city of Cape May. The city’s population has decreased since the 2000 Census, which showed that the city of Cape May was home to 4,034 people. The city has a population density of 579.4 inhabitants per sq. km. There are also 1,457 households and 782 families that live in the city of Cape May. About 89.05% of Cape May’s population is considered White, of whom most are non-Hispanic. The Hispanic group accounts for 8.62% of Cape May’s population, African Americans at 4.85%, Native Americans at 0.30%, Asians at 0.67%, Pacific Islanders at 0.11%, Other races at 2.30%, and 2.72% from two or more races. The American Community Survey conducted in 2010 also revealed that the median income for a household in the city was $35,660, whereas the median income for a family was $50,846.

Visiting Cape May

The Washington Street Mall in Cape May
View of Washington Street Mall - a pedestrian shopping area in downtown Cape May. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

Cape May is a popular tourist destination and attracts many visitors, especially during the warm summer months. Many tourist attractions, lodgings, shops, historic hotels, and restaurants are located along the 1.6km long beach promenade, the Washington Street Mall, and many places throughout the city. Many well-known festivals like Cape May Music Festival, Cape May Jazz Festival, Cape May Food & Wine Festival, and Cape May New Jersey Film Festival are hosted here. Also found on the Cape May beaches are the Cape May diamonds, and collecting these diamonds is a popular pastime for the visitors, and there are many tourist shops that polish and sell these diamonds. The city’s Cove Beach hosts several hikers, sunbathers, swimmers, and surfers every day. The 0.98 sq. km Cape May Point State Park serves as a popular place for watching migratory birds and marine mammals. Located close to Cape May Point is the Cape May Bird Observatory. More than 400 avian species have been recorded in this area, making Cape May the top bird-watching area in the entire Northeastern United States. Besides tourism, commercial fishing and seafood processing are also crucial for the city’s economy.

Brief History Of Cape May

The landmark Congress Hall hotel in Cape May.
View of the landmark Congress Hall hotel, a historical seaside resort building in Cape May. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

The Kechemeche people belonging to the Lenni Lenape tribe of Native Americans originally inhabited the Cape May area. Around 1600, the European colonialists first encountered the native Kechemeche people. In later years, the New Englanders settled the area. The present Cape May area was initially formed on March 8, 1848, by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature as the borough of Cape Island. On March 10, 1851, the area was first reincorporated as “Cape Island City.” In 1869, the Cape Island was rechristened as “Cape May” in honor of the Dutch explorer Cornelius Jacobsen Mey who visited the area in 1623. On March 9, 1869, Cape Island City was reincorporated as “Cape May City.” From the mid-18th century onwards, Cape May City began hosting many vacationers from Philadelphia, and since then, it has been considered the oldest seaside resort in the United States. After the historic Congress Hall hotel was constructed in 1816, the Cape May area became very popular. By the 20th century, the area was considered one of the finest resorts in entire America. However, two devastating fires, one in 1869 and the other in 1878, destroyed large parts. During the Second World War, many United States Navy facilities were stationed here to protect the area from external threats. The entire Cape May City was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1976 as the Cape May Historic District due to its many well-maintained Victorian-style buildings.

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