- Cape May
city, Cape May county, at the southern tip of New Jersey, U.S. Originally called Cape Island, it was renamed in 1869 for the Dutch explorer Cornelius Jacobsen Mey, who visited there in 1623. It is the oldest beach resort in the nation, dating to the beginning of the 19th century; in the 1850s the Mount Vernon (later destroyed by fire), accommodating 2,000 guests, was the largest resort hotel in the United States. The city's concentration of more than 600 Victorian-style houses remains a major attraction. The beach promenade, more than 1 mile (1.6 km) long, replaced the original boardwalk, which was destroyed by storms in 1962. Cape May lighthouse (dating from 1744; reconstructed 1823 and 1859) and a U.S. Coast Guard base are near the city. The dunes in Cape May Point State Park, just to the south, provide vantage points for observing bird migrations along the Atlantic Flyway. Tourism is the mainstay of the economy, although commercial fishing and seafood processing are also important.Cape May Court House, the county seat (1745), is 18 miles (29 km) north-northeast and also has fine Victorian homes. The Wildwood resorts, with a 3-mile (5-km) boardwalk and sandy beaches, are on a barrier island to the northeast. Inc. 1851. Pop. (1990) 4,668; (2000) 4,034.county, extreme southern New Jersey, U.S. It consists of a low-lying peninsula bordered by Delaware Bay and West Creek to the west, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Tuckahoe River and Great Egg Harbor to the north. Offshore sandbars along the eastern coast create numerous bay inlets including Ludlam Bay and Great, Grassy, Jarvis, and Jenkins sounds. Recreational areas include Belleplain Forest, Cape May Point and Corson's Inlet state parks, and many beaches. There are pine and oak forests.Algonquian-speaking Delaware Indians ceded control of the area to European colonists in the 17th century. Many colonists from New England migrated to Cape May county when it was created in 1692. It was named for the Dutch explorer Cornelius Jacobsen May. The city of Cape May is one of the oldest beach resorts in the nation, dating to 1801. Extremely fashionable throughout the 19th century, it contains more than 600 Victorian-style buildings. Other communities include Ocean City and Cape May Court House, the county seat.Whaling was the primary industry in the 18th century. Tourism, commercial fishing, and farming are now the main economic activities. Area 255 square miles (661 square km). Pop. (2000) 102,326; (2007 est.) 96,422.
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