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Cape May NJ Brief History:
It was Henry Hudson, an English Sea Captain who first documented the peninsula that is now Cape May. It was 1609 and Captain Hudson was sailing his small yacht, the “Half Moon”, when he came upon a small peninsula situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware Bay. It wasn’t until 1620 that Dutch Captain Cornelius Jacobsen Mey came upon the same peninsula while exploring the Delaware River. Captain Mey named the area Cape Mey after himself; the spelling was later changed to Cape May.
Although Cape May catered to visitors since the 1600’s when Native American tribes summered here, it wasn’t until 1685 when a community formed. In 1688, Quakers formed the first government based on strict moral order and Quaker piety. At this time a large whaling industry was beginning and many families from New York and New England, as well as a few original Mayflower families, were migrating to the area.
When roads were laid in the late 1700’s, the tourism industry of Cape May started to flourish. Two railroads, the Reading and West Jersey, provided service to Cape Island. In 1761 Cape May officially became the first seashore resort in America and was considered among the top vacation resorts in the country. Incidentally, it is said that in the 1800’s the Reading & West Jersey weren’t the only “railroads” in town. The Underground Railroad, used to transport slaves from Confederate Delaware to Union New Jersey, went through Cape May as well. Rumors in Cape May tell of many homes with long tunnels and secret rooms dating back to the Civil War.
By the 1800’s several hundred beautiful Victorian mansions were built throughout the city, as well as numerous hotels to accommodate the masses.
Today Cape May is one of five cities in the United States that is officially designated as an Historic Landmark City. With the hundreds of Victorian homes converted to Bed and Breakfasts or year round residences, this designation requires that the city must retain all structures in their original form and must stay in the architectural guidelines of the Victorian Period.
Cape May’s streets are lined with houses ornamented in gingerbread trim, painted in the Victorian style and with wide, airy porches. With an estimated 80,000 visitors per weekend in summer, Cape May has remained a top Seashore Resort Town in the USA.