The Summer City by the Sea: Cape May, New Jersey, an Illustrated History

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Rutgers University Press, 1995 - History - 142 pages
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Forty miles south of Atlantic City, just below the Mason Dixon line, lies Cape May, New Jersey: Long excluded from the provincial notion of "the Jersey Shore," Cape May rightfully stands alone, a venerable village as old as the Republic itself. In his illustrated celebration of the birth, demise and resurrection of the nation's oldest seaside resort, Emil Salvini leads the reader through the Cape's two hundred tumultuous years, which have forever earned it the moniker "Queen of the Seaside Resorts."
During its ironic beginning as a coastal getaway not for New Jerseyans but for Philadelphians, middle-class families would weather the arduous two-day journey to the site then known as Cape Island. For seven cents you could stay in Ellis Hughes's tavern/boardinghouse, which would later become Atlantic Hall, the town's first hotel. With the advent of the steamboat and the railroad, the Cape became the premier destination for vacationers from surrounding areas. It could boast about the visits of "The Great Compromiser" Henry Clay and President James Buchanan. It gloried in the exploits of town resident Henry Sawyer, a Civil War hero who miraculously survived a Confederate prison's Lottery of Death.
By the 1880s, however, traffic slowed and the city entered a period of decline. A combination of rival Atlantic City, the first motor cars, a relentless mosquito invasion, and an eerie set of unexplained firese took vacationers to other resorts. Subsequent attempts at modernization failed. This may have been a blessing in disguise, though, for as the author notes, "the failure of the venture to modernize the city saved the quaint wooden seaside village that is valued by so many today."
By the 1950s, far-seeing residents began to realize that the future of the Cape lay in the past and the preservation movement began. Preservation advocate Dr. Irving Tenenbaum and later, fundamentalist minister Carl McIntire, succeeded in re-stimulating interest in the resort, resulting in Cape May being designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

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Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 5
Chapter 7
Chapter 10
The Road Not Taken
Chapter 13
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Peace and Preservation
Putting More Christianity in the Patriots
Chapter 21

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About the author (1995)

Emil R. Salvini is the President of Wheal-Grace in Bellevile, New Jersey.

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