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Old October 4th, 2007, 06:49 PM   #1
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Wildwood Crest, New Jersey: the Motel District

The Motel District is a neighborhood in Wildwood Crest that is in between Atlantic Avenue and the beaches on the ocean, from the boundary with Wildwood to the borth all the way down the coast until the southern end of development. The Motel District was formally formed in 1954 after approval was given to allow motels in the area, so that the district could help keep the tax rate in the borough from increasing more and more for residents.

The Doo Wop architecture of the Wildwoods are remnants of the glory days of the island. The Wildwoods exploded in popularity was post-war families left the many cities of Eastern Pennsylvania, Downstate New York, Northern New Jersey, and other places in the Mid-Atlantic, and travelled to the Jersey Shore for long weekends. It was on the island that the first national telecast of "American Bandstand" was done, on August 5, 1957, from the Starlight Ballroom on the Wildwood Boardwalk. It was also on the island where the "Twist" by Chubby Checker was performed for the first time in 1960, at the Rainbow Club in Wildwood, as spread across the country through the Summer.

In addition to having unique architectural styles, the Doo Wop motels of Wildwood Crest and the other Wildwoods maintained an ambience that is synonymous with the era. Many of these motels have kidney-shaped pools and fake palm trees, which were the style in the late 1950's and early 1960's. The fake palm trees were first introduced to the area by the owners of the Caribbean Motel. At first the butt of many jokes, the fake palm trees caught on with several other motels, and now they have become part of the Wildwoods' Doo Wop culture. The fake palm tree, Palmus plasticus wildwoodii, is affectionately known as the official tree of the Wildwoods.

In it's heyday, there are over 100 motels in the district east of Atlantic Avenue and along Ocean Avenue. The number of motels is now around 50, as increasing land values have enticed motel owners to sell their proerties and then developers put up condos in their places. The Doo Wop Preservation League has helped to prevent the demolition of more motels, and the Motel District now is listed in the National Register of Historic Places to allow for the preservation and upkeep of motels still standing.

Looking at the Atlantic Ocean from the sand dunes.

Looking up the beach at the northern end of the Motel District and at Morey's Piers in Wildwood.

The beach at twilight.

A construction photo of The Grand at Diamond Beach, going up in place of a few Doo Wop motels at Rochester & Atlantic Avenues, across the street from the Pier 6600 Motel.

The moon shines on the beach as a lone lifeguard stand sits at the shore.

Buildings in the Motel District from the open space at the Wildwood Crest Gazebo at Rambler Road & Ocean Avenue.

The Aztec Motel at Lavender Road & Atlantic Avenue.

The American Safari Motel, at Lavender Road & Ocean Avenue.

The Bel Air Motel at Morning Glory Road & Ocean Avenue. It was built in 1957.

The Caribbean Motel at Buttercup Road & Ocean Avenue. It was built in 1958.

The Attache Resort Motel, at Heather Road & Ocean Avenue.

The Crusader Oceanfront Resort, at Cardinal Road & Ocean Avenue. The Crusader was built in 1968, and stands out since it is not in the typical sun-sea-sand-surf design like other motels.

The Ocean Holiday Motor Inn, at Rosemary Road & Ocean Avenue.

The Jolly Roger Motel, at Palm Road and Ocean Avenue. The Jolly Roger was built in 1959.

The Admiral West Motel at Rambler Road & Ocean Avenue. The Admiral West Motel was built across Ocean Avenue from the Admiral Motel.

The Royal Hawaiian Motor Hotel on Orchid Road at the ocean. The motel was built in 1969.

The Beach Colony Motel, at Stockton Road & Ocean Avenue.

The Blue Marlin Motel at Toledo & Atlantic Avenues.

The Ala Kai Motel at Toledo & Atlantic Avenues. It was built in 1963.

The VillaNova Motel on Atlantic Avenue. It was built in 1964.

The Beau Rivage Motel at Trenton & Atlantic Avenues.

The Pier 6600 Motel at Rochester & Atlantic Avenues.

The Pyramid Motel, at St. Paul & Atlantic Avenues.

The Carriage Stop Motel, at St. Paul & Atlantic Avenues. The motel was built in 1959 and is typical of the Phonee Colonee doo wop architecture.

The Town House Motel, at St. Paul & Atlantic Avenues, across Atlantic Avenue from the Carriage Stop.

The Madrid Motel on Miami Avenue.

The neon sign for the Coliseum Ocean Resort on Miami Avenue. The motel is right on the beach, facing out towards the ocean, and the neon sign faces northwest towards Atlantic Avenue.

The Biscayne Motel at Louisville & Atlantic Avenues.

The Imperial 500 neon sign directing visitors to the front office on the other side of the building.

The Imperial 500 Motel, at Forget Me Not Road & Ocean Avenue. The Imperial 500 was built in 1964.

Looking down Ocean Avenue at several motels, including the Armada, Ocean Holiday, and Bristol.

The Fleur De Lis Motel at Sweetbriar Road & Ocean Avenue.

The Park Lane Motel on Ocean Avenue.

The American Safari Motel at night. The place was originally known as the Safari Motel.

The Bel Air Motel at night. The Bel Air was designed to resemble the car of the same name.

The Caribbean Motel at night. The Caribbean Motel is considered to be the best example of Doo Wop architecture in the Wildwoods, and is the subject of study by many architectural historians. The building is considered to be such a perfect example of Doo Wop architecture that it is listed in the Historic American Buildings Survey.

Looking up Ocean Avenue at several motels.

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Old October 4th, 2007, 07:09 PM   #2
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Jersey kitsch at its finest. I realize the significance of this district. Most folks don't get it unfortunately.
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