The Wildwoods is used as a collective term for the four communities located on Wildwood island that have "Wildwood" as part of the municipality name — the Borough of Wildwood Crest, City of Wildwood, Borough of West Wildwood and the City of North Wildwood — together with Diamond Beach, a portion of Lower Township situated on the island. The city, and the surrounding communities that share the name, derives its name from the wild flowers found in the area.
The Wildwoods began developing as a resort in the last decade of the 19th century. A building boom began in the 1950s, due partially to the construction and completion of the Garden State Parkway in 1955.
Wildwood is home to over 200 motels, built during the Doo-Wop era of the 1950s and 1960s, in an area recognized by the state of New Jersey, known as the Wildwoods Shore Resort Historic District. The term "doo-wop" was coined by Cape May's Mid-Atlantic Center For The Arts in the early 1990s to describe the unique, space-age architectural style, which is also referred to as the Googie or populuxe style.
A 1950s Doo Wop museum includes property from demolished motels such as neon signs and furniture. Neo-Doo Wop buildings in the area feature a neon lit Wawa and a 1950s styled Acme Supermarket.
Beach in Wildwood
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city had a total area of 1.65 square miles (4.28 km2), including 1.54 square miles (3.99 km2) of land and 0.11 square miles (0.29 km2) of water (6.79%).
Of the 2,251 households, 22.5% had children under the age of 18; 29.5% were married couples living together; 15.8% had a female householder with no husband present and 49.1% were non-families. Of all households, 40.7% were made up of individuals and 14.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.27 and the average family size was 3.03.
20.5% of the population were under the age of 18, 10.4% from 18 to 24, 28.2% from 25 to 44, 27.3% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38.0 years. For every 100 females, the population had 105.6 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 104.8 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $32,783 (with a margin of error of +/- $9,471) and the median family income was $45,125 (+/- $24,251). Males had a median income of $24,416 (+/- $1,945) versus $26,043 (+/- $7,007) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $25,118 (+/- $3,877). About 16.2% of families and 23.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 25.4% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over.
Among Wildwood's Hispanic community in 2000, 69.7% were from Puerto Rico, while an additional 17.0% were from Mexico.
There were 2,333 households, out of which 25.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 31.2% were married couples living together, 17.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 45.4% were non-families. 38.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 3.06.
In the city the population was spread out, with 25.7% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 27.7% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 14.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $23,981, and the median income for a family was $28,288. Males had a median income of $30,787 versus $23,320 for females. The per capita income for the city was $13,682. About 20.2% of families and 26.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 39.7% of those under age 18 and 21.9% of those age 65 or over.
An iconic sign lights up a liquor store in Wildwood, which has more than 60 active liquor licenses
Portions of the city—together with areas in North Wildwood, West Wildwood and Wildwood Crest—are part of a joint Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ), one of 32 zones covering 37 municipalities statewide. The four municipalities in The Wildwoods were selected in 2002 as one of a group of three zones added to participate in the program as part of a joint zone with. In addition to other benefits to encourage employment and investment within the Zone, shoppers can take advantage of a reduced 3.3125% sales tax rate (half of the 6+5⁄8% rate charged statewide) at eligible merchants. Established in September 2002, the city's Urban Enterprise Zone status expires in December 2023. The joint UEZ is overseen by the Enterprise Zone Development Corporation of the Wildwoods Board, which includes representatives from all four municipalities.
Wildwood has an unusually large number of liquor licenses for its population. State law normally provides for one consumption license (i.e., for a bar, restaurant) for every 3,000 residents, and one distribution license (i.e., for a liquor store) for every 7,500 residents. Because of a state law allowing a municipality to grandfather in liquor licenses that existed before 1948, Wildwood has a permanent population of 5,300, but has 61 active liquor licenses.
North facing view of Wildwood
Wildwood is a resort city that is very popular with vacationers and tourists mostly from New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and even nearby parts of Canada (particularly Ontario and Quebec) during the summer months. The year-round population of Wildwood of over 5,300 grows to as many as 250,000 or more during the peak tourist season during the summer. Its most notable features are its beach and 1.8 miles (2.9 km) boardwalk, home to the Morey's Piers amusement complex and Raging Waters and Ocean Oasis waterparks owned by Morey's Piers. The boardwalk features a trolley called the "Tramcar", which runs from end to end. In June 2006, its Doo-Wop-style motels were placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's annual Eleven Most Endangered List, described as "irreplaceable icons of popular culture." In June, thousands of recently graduated high school seniors come to Wildwood for Senior Week. During Senior Week, the graduates stay in hotels and rent beach houses in Wildwood where they party and participate in underage drinking.
The Quebec motel, one of several hotels in Wildwood named to attract French Canadian tourists from Quebec
Wildwood is home to the New Jersey Firefighter's Convention, held annually every September since the 1970s. Known for its parade featuring fire company apparatus from across the state, it moved from Atlantic City due in part to rising crime and the disallowing of the parade on city streets. Wildwood is also home to an annual co-ed beach Ultimate Frisbee tournament drawing teams from all over the country that attracted 430 teams and over 5,000 players to its 19th annual event in 2011.
French Canadian tourists from Quebec visit Wildwood during the summer. There are motels in the Wildwoods named to attract tourists from Quebec, including Chateau Bleu, Fleur de Lis, Le Voyageur, Royal Canadian, and Quebec. Several hotels in Wildwood have signs in both English and French. The French Canadian tourists primarily vacation in Wildwood in July when Canada takes a two-week construction holiday.
Shops on the boardwalk in Wildwood
The Wildwood Boardwalk features several amusement parks, water parks, an aquarium, and shops, most notably three piers collectively known as Morey's Piers. Due to the distance of the ocean from the boardwalk, the beach is home to many sporting events, concerts, and monster truck rallies in view of the boardwalk. Wildwood is the tenth most popular boardwalk in the United States. A stage is set off to the side of the boardwalk near Mariner's Landing Pier where several performances are held throughout the summer.
In 2008–09, a section of the boardwalk was rebuilt using ipe tropical hardwood, even though the town had made a commitment to use domestic black locust as a more environmentally friendly option. The black locust wood shipped by the supplier was deemed unacceptable and the commissioners decided to use ipe wood to ensure that the project could be completed in time for the upcoming season.
Boardwalk Chapel is a summertime Christian Gospel outreach on the boardwalk, sandwiched between a pizzeria and a gift shop. Visitors to the boardwalk are invited to attend any of its 77 consecutive evening services held during June, July and August.
Wildwood is governed by a three-member commission under the Walsh ActCommission form of municipal government. The city is one of 30 municipalities (of the 565) statewide that use this form of government. The governing body is comprised of three commissioners, who are elected at-large on a nonpartisan basis to serve concurrent four-year terms of office, with the vote taking place as part of the November general election. At a reorganization conducted after each election, the commission selects one of its members to serve as mayor and gives each commissioner an assigned department to oversee and manage. As part of the May 2009 election, voters approved a ballot question that shifted elections from May to November. The first election under the new cycle was held in November 2013, with prospective savings of $25,000 each election cited as the primary justification for the change.
The Wildwood Housing Authority oversees public housing in the city of Wildwood, providing affordable housing to low and moderate income families, senior citizens, and disabled people. The agency is governed by a seven-member board of commissioners, with six appointed by the Mayor and one appointed by the Department of Community Affairs. The housing authority owns two housing developments with a total of 170 units between them. Sandman Tower offers 100 one-bedroom apartments while Commissioners Court offers 70 apartments.
History of recall elections
Since the City of Wildwood has been incorporated on January 1, 1912, there have been three recall elections all of which were successful. The first was in 1938 when the State's first female Mayor Doris W. Bradway and Commissioner Frederick W. Murray were voted out of office. The second successful recall was in December 1984 when Mayor Earl B. Ostrander was recalled. The third successful recall was in December 2009 when Mayor Ernest Troiano Jr. and Commissioner William N. Davenport were recalled.
Federal, state and county representation
Wildwood Post Office
Wildwood City is located in the 2nd Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 1st state legislative district.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 2,791 registered voters in Wildwood City, of which 611 (21.9%) were registered as Democrats, 732 (26.2%) were registered as Republicans and 1,448 (51.9%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were no voters registered to other parties.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 61.3% of the vote (991 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 38.2% (617 votes), and other candidates with 0.6% (9 votes), among the 1,635 ballots cast by the city's 2,979 registered voters (18 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 54.9%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 54.4% of the vote (964 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain, who received 44.2% (783 votes), with 1,772 ballots cast among the city's 2,583 registered voters, for a turnout of 68.6%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 52.6% of the vote (949 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush, who received around 45.8% (825 votes), with 1,803 ballots cast among the city's 3,161 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 57.0.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 66.1% of the vote (622 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 32.6% (307 votes), and other candidates with 1.3% (12 votes), among the 976 ballots cast by the city's 2,828 registered voters (35 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 34.5%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 50.8% of the vote (540 ballots cast), ahead of both Democrat Jon Corzine with 41.7% (444 votes) and Independent Chris Daggett with 4.5% (48 votes), with 1,064 ballots cast among the city's 2,908 registered voters, yielding a 36.6% turnout.
There is one Catholic school on the island, Wildwood Catholic Academy (PreK-12) in North Wildwood, which operates under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden. There was previously a Catholic elementary school in Wildwood, St. Ann's School, which operated until 2010, when it merged into Cape Trinity Regional School (PreK – 8) in North Wildwood. Upon its creation Cape Trinity Catholic Regional School operated separately from Wildwood Catholic High School but shared a common building. On April 17, 2020, the Diocese of Camden announced that both of its Wildwood schools would permanently close at the end of the school year, which is June 30, 2020. However, both schools avoided closure after agreeing to merge. Additionally As of 2020[update] Bishop McHugh Regional School in Dennis Township takes students from Wildwood.
Route 47 northbound in Wildwood
Roads and highways
The city had a total of 32.38 miles (52.11 km) of roadways, of which 29.93 miles (48.17 km) were maintained by the municipality, 2.37 miles (3.81 km) by Cape May County and 0.08 miles (0.13 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Parking in the beach and downtown areas of Wildwood is regulated by on-street parking meters and paid parking lots. Parking meters in Wildwood are in effect from May 15 to October 31. Wildwood has 24 paid parking lots in the beach area that are privately owned and charge varying rates based on demand. Among these lots is a 719-space lot operated by the Wildwoods Convention Center. There is also a public parking lot along Schellenger Avenue in the downtown area. In 2018, Wildwood began offering paid parking on the beach for vehicles with four-wheel drive at Baker Avenue, with space for 1,000 vehicles.
The Great American Trolley Company operates trolley service in Wildwood during the summer months. There are two trolley routes that provide service to the boardwalk at Schellenger Avenue in Wildwood during the evening hours, with one route serving Wildwood and Wildwood Crest daily and the other route serving North Wildwood on Fridays and Saturdays. Another trolley route runs from North Wildwood and Wildwood to shopping centers in Rio Grande, operating Mondays through Fridays. The Great American Trolley Company also runs trolley service to the Irish Fall Festival in North Wildwood, with a route connecting Wildwood Crest and Wildwood to the festival site during the weekend of the festival.
The Tramcar is a trackless train service running along the entire length of the Wildwoods boardwalk from Cresse Avenue in Wildwood to 16th Avenue in North Wildwood during the summer season.
According to the Köppen climate classification system, Wildwood, New Jersey has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) with hot, moderately humid summers, cool winters and year-around precipitation. Cfa climates are characterized by all months having an average mean temperature > 32.0 °F (> 0.0 °C), at least four months with an average mean temperature ≥ 50.0 °F (≥ 10.0 °C), at least one month with an average mean temperature ≥ 71.6 °F (≥ 22.0 °C) and no significant precipitation difference between seasons. During the summer months in Wildwood, a cooling afternoon sea breeze is present on most days, but episodes of extreme heat and humidity can occur with heat index values ≥ 95 °F (≥ 35 °C). The Atlantic Hurricane Season lasts from June 1st to November 30th, which can bring storms, most typically between August and late October. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy destroyed much of the Wildwood Boardwalk, which has since been restored. 
During the winter months, episodes of extreme cold and wind can occur with wind chill values < 0 °F (< -18 °C). The plant hardiness zone at Wildwood Beach is 7b with an average annual extreme minimum air temperature of 6.7 °F (-14.1 °C). The average seasonal (Nov-Apr) snowfall total is between 12 and 18 inches (31 and 46 cm), and the average snowiest month is February which corresponds with the annual peak in nor'easter activity.
Climate data for Wildwood Beach, NJ (1981-2010 Averages)
In the 1987 movie Wall Street, when Charlie Sheen's character tells Daryl Hannah's character she could have bought a beach house for four hundred thousand dollars (the value of a painting they were looking at) she sardonically replies, "Sure you could, in Wildwood, New Jersey".
WWE Raw came to the Wildwood Convention Center late summer of 2005. WWE SmackDown came to the Wildwood Convention Center late summer of 2006. WWE Raw broke an attendance record at the Wildwood convention center on August 10, 2007.
A CKY song entitled "The Boardwalk Body" was written about a body found under the boardwalk on one of lead singer Deron Miller's childhood trips to Wildwood.
^Kocieniewski, David. "And the Sand Won't Burn Your Feet", The New York Times, April 22, 2007. Accessed September 4, 2011. "About 20 miles north in Wildwood, where the streets on a March weekend were so deserted that the traffic lights were operating in blink mode, the seasonal desolation is a kind of spectacle unto itself. While the town often swells to 250,000 people on summer weekends, in springtime it offers a case study in depopulation for photographers, painters and travelers who crave solitude."
^Ogden, Karen; and Bubser, Diana. "The Jersey Shore", Courier-Post, June 15, 2010. Accessed July 2, 2012. "The Wildwoods consists of North Wildwood, Wildwood City, West Wildwood and Wildwood Crest and the area is known for its 2 1/2-mile-long boardwalk."
^Lange, Linda via Scripps Howard News Service. "Wildwoods preserve family fun of the 1950s", Reading Eagle, October 5, 2008. Accessed July 2, 2012. "This barrier beach south of Atlantic City was once an enclave for wealthy Victorian holiday-makers who stayed in traditional hotels. It evolved into a haven for everyone in the postwar years, particularly after the southern portion of the Garden State Parkway opened in 1955."
^Strauss, Robert. "Cradle of Rock? Two Towns Stake Their Claims", The New York Times, July 10, 2007. Accessed July 10, 2007. "It was Saturday night during Memorial Day weekend in 1954, and more than 500 people were jammed into the HofBrau Hotel here to hear his band, the Comets, kick off the summer. 'We had just recorded this song in April,' he said, 'and that night we introduced it to the crowd. I guess that was the first real night of rock 'n' roll.' The song was 'Rock Around the Clock,' by Bill Haley and His Comets, considered by many to be the first rock-'n'-roll hit, and the first song with the word 'rock' in the title to hit the top of the Billboard charts."
^Fancher, Emily. "Doo Wop" architecture lures tourists back to seaside townArchived July 2, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, Columbia News Service, June 10, 2002. Accessed June 17, 2007. "Just about everything in Wildwood, N.J. has been touched by 'Doo Wop'. The term describes the distinctively kitschy flair of the town's 200 motels, which were built in the 1950s and '60s. Reflecting the popular cultural themes of the era, the motels have Hawaiian and Polynesian designs, Space Age accents or rock 'n' roll details."
^Urban Enterprise Zone Program, City of Wildwood. Accessed November 19, 2019. "The Enterprise Zone Development Corporation of the Wildwoods Board is comprised of business owners, elected officials and employees representing the City of Wildwood, City of North Wildwood, the Borough of West Wildwood, and the Borough of Wildwood Crest."
^"ABC Frequently Asked Questions.", New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Accessed November 11, 2013. "Question #13: How many liquor stores and restaurants are allowed in each municipality?... A municipality may issue one consumption license for every 3,000 of its population. As to distribution licenses, which allow the sale of alcohol for off-premises consumption, a municipality may issue one license for every 7,500 of its population."
^"About Wildwood". City of Wildwood. Accessed February 4, 2014. "During the off season Wildwood has a population over 5,400 according to the 2000 census, but the number of people visiting increases that number to approximately 250,000 or more during peak vacation time."
^Urgo, Jacqueline L. "Triumph for South Jersey", The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 23, 2008. Accessed October 29, 2015. "Neighboring Wildwood Crest came in second, followed by Ocean City, North Wildwood, Cape May, Asbury Park in Monmouth County, Avalon, Point Pleasant Beach in northern Ocean County, Beach Haven in southern Ocean County and Stone Harbor."
^Spoto, MaryAnn. "Surfers fighting to save dwindling free beaches", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, May 20, 2015. Accessed October 30, 2015. "New Jersey has five free guarded ocean beaches – Atlantic City, Wildwood, North Wildwood, Wildwood Crest and the Strathmere section of Upper Township."
^The Beach, New Jersey Wildwoods. Accessed August 25, 2015. "The Wildwoods' free beaches offer plenty of room for a variety of summertime activities — everything from surfing to boogie-boarding to body surfing to tossing a Frisbee to reading in the shade."
^Suit, Lauren. "Wildwood Ultimate returns for 19th beach tournament", Shore News Today, July 28, 2011. Accessed September 4, 2011. "Adlis said they started with 12 teams the first year, last year the count reached 400, this year they expect about 430 teams with approximately 5,000 participants from throughout the country and a few international teams."
^About, National Marbles Tournament. Accessed March 23, 2020.
^"A look at the USBL", The Record, May 29, 1985. Accessed December 22, 2020. "Wildwood Aces (Wildwood Convention Hall) Pete Monska's club received a big boost this week when it signed Villanova's Gary McLain, the point guard who made the national champion Wildcats go."
^Biography of Bob Menendez, United States Senate, January 26, 2015. "Menendez, who started his political career in Union City, moved in September from Paramus to one of Harrison's new apartment buildings near the town's PATH station.."
^Gilfillian, Trudi. "Cape Trinity Catholic School opens in Wildwood Catholic building", The Press of Atlantic City, September 8, 2010. Accessed May 18, 2011. "Wildwood Catholic High School, which once occupied the entire building, will make use of parts of the second and all of the third floor, while Cape Trinity students will use the first and parts of the second floor. Both schools will share a first-floor cafeteria, but not at the same time.... The school hosts students who previously attended St. Ann's in Wildwood and Star of the Sea in Cape May, which includes students who once attended St. Raymond's in Lower Township."
^Schaad Jr., Jacob. "In another time: Three actors, three different takes on Wildwood life", Shore News Today, January 4, 2011. Accessed November 11, 2013. " According to his biography, Willis first worked at a clothing store at the corner of Pacific and Garfield Avenues in Wildwood during the summer and then as a bartender one night a week at the popular Red Garter nightclub in North Wildwood. After a few weeks he headed for New York City where, so the story goes, he was spotted by a movie person and signed to a contract."
^Suit, Lauren . "Senna sees 'Randyland' the shot in the arm that Pacific Avenue needs", Shore News Today. August 3, 2011. Accessed October 18, 2012. "Senna wrote two autobiographies and is nearing completion on a documentary film about himself has also enjoyed his 30 minutes of fame when word of his collection drew producers from the A&E hit reality show Hoarders."
^Argos, Greg. "Wildwood Acts As Home To New Major Motion Picture". KYW-TV, April 13, 2016. Accessed May 3, 2016. "The movie, called Wetlands, will star Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Heather Graham and Christopher McDonald. Location manager Alex Starke says Wildwood is not just the perfect place for filming."
^Joseph R. ApplegateArchived February 5, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, Blacks at MIT History Project. Accessed February 8, 2016. "Born in 1925, Professor Applegate grew up in Wildwood, NJ, where his parents ran a small boarding house frequented by black entertainers such as Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong."
^Saxon, Wolfgang. "Joy Hancock Dies; Last WAVES Chief", The New York Times, August 25, 1986. Accessed October 28, 2019. "Born in Wildwood, N.J., Miss Bright briefly belonged to the Naval Reserve in New Jersey and then stayed on as a civilian employee at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station."
^Schaad Jr., Jacob. "In Another Time: A story of terror and murder started with a Wildwood birth", Shore News Today, November 9, 2013. Accessed November 11, 2013. "Ernest Ingenito was born in Wildwood on May 27, 1924.... His parents frequently traveled between Wildwood and Philadelphia and by the time he was 13 they had separated.... Subsequent crimes sent him to reformatories until he was paroled and sent back to his mother in Wildwood."
^Janson, Donald. "A Resort Seeks End To Turmoil", The New York Times, December 25, 1984. Accessed November 18, 2017. "The recall campaign also focused attention on a long-running feud between Mr. Ostrander and Assemblyman Guy F. Muziani, who had been Mayor of Wildwood for 11 years - when the voters elected commissioners and the commissioners selected one from their ranks to be Mayor - until the new form of government was implemented.