Ocean City is a city in Cape May County, New Jersey, United States. It is the county's largest city by area and is the principal city of the Ocean City Metropolitan Statistical Area which encompasses all of Cape May County. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 11,701, reflecting a decline of 3,677 (-23.9%) from the 15,378 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn declined by 134 (-0.9%) from the 15,512 counted in the 1990 Census. In summer months, with an influx of tourists and second homeowners, there are estimated to be 115,000 to 130,000 within the city's borders.
Ocean City originated as a borough by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on May 3, 1884, from portions of Upper Township, based on results from a referendum on April 30, 1884, and was reincorporated as a borough on March 31, 1890. Ocean City was incorporated as a city, its current government form, on March 25, 1897.
Known as a family-oriented seaside resort, Ocean City has prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages within its limits since its founding in 1879, offering miles of guarded beaches, a boardwalk that stretches for 2.5 miles (4.0 km), and a quaint downtown shopping and dining district.
The Travel Channel rated Ocean City as the Best Family Beach of 2005. It was ranked the third best beach in New Jersey in the 2008 Top 10 Beaches Contest sponsored by the New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium. In the 2009 Top 10 Beaches Contest, Ocean City ranked first.
From early June through Labor Day, Ocean City requires individuals age 12 and up to purchase a beach tag to access its beaches. For the 2013 season, a one-day pass costs $5, a weekly pass is $10, and a seasonal pass for the full summer season are $25 (though, if purchased before Memorial Day, seasonal tags are $20.)
The island, a stretch of dunes and swamps running for seven miles, had been used by local Native Americans who were brought there by its abundance of fish during the summer months. Originally purchased by the Somers family, the island had once been named Peck's Beach, believed to have been given the name for a whaler named John Peck who had a camp on the island.
On September 10, 1879, four Methodist ministers, Ezra B. Lake, James Lake, S. Wesley Lake, and William Burrell, chose the island as a suitable spot to establish a Christian retreat and camp meeting on the order of Ocean Grove. They met under a tall cedar tree, which stands today in the lobby of the Ocean City Tabernacle. Having chosen the name “Ocean City”, the founders incorporated the “Ocean City Association”, laid out street and lots for cottages, hotel and businesses. The Ocean City Tabernacle was built between Wesley and Asbury Avenues and between 5th and 6th Streets. Camp meetings were held by the following summer. As a result of its religious origins, the sale or public drinking of alcoholic beverages in Ocean City was prohibited.
The first bridge was built to the island in 1883, and the first railroad soon followed. The first school began in 1881. The boardwalk grew and was relocated several times. The ship Sindia joined other shipwrecks on the beach on December 15, 1901, on its way to New York City from Kobe, Japan, but has since sunk below the sand. A salvage attempt to retrieve treasures believed to have been on the ship was most recently launched in the 1970s, all of which have been unsuccessful. A large fire in 1927 changed the town significantly.
Ocean City Boardwalk, looking south
The Ocean City boardwalk is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the resort. It is also one of the most well-known boardwalks in the world. It is 2½ miles long and runs north from 23rd Street to St. James Place. The boardwalk is marked with mile markers for people who are exercising.
The boardwalk was first built in 1880 from the Second Street wharf to Fourth Street and West Avenue. In 1885, plans to extend the boardwalk along the entire beach were made as the city's first amusement house, a pavilion on the beach at 11th street called "The Excursion" opened. A second amusement park, the "I.G. Adams pavilion", at Ninth Street and the boardwalk, opened soon after but was destroyed by fire in 1893. Following a second catastrophic fire in 1927, the boardwalk and its businesses were rebuilt 300 feet (91 m) closer to the ocean on concrete pilings, with parking created for cars in the space where the buildings and boardwalk once stood. The Ocean City Music Pier opened one year later.
In 1965, the Wonderland Amusement Park opened on the boardwalk at 6th Street, which is still open to this day and known as "Gillian's Wonderland Pier". Only one major coaster operates there, which is the Runaway Train, a steel twister. Another amusement park, Playland's Castaway Cove, is also located on the boardwalk at 10th street. Two major roller coasters operate there, which are the Python, a looping coaster, and the Flitzer, a wild mouse coaster. A new major shuttle coaster at Castaway Cove, Storm, is expected to be finished in summer 2013. Two kiddie rides were removed from the park in early 2013 due to the construction of Storm.
In 2007 controversy emerged about the city's proposed use of ipê, a type of wood, to re-deck parts of the boardwalk. Environmental activists protested against the city's use of the wood, but the plan went ahead.
Today, there are bike and surrey rentals available along many boardwalk cross streets, but bikes and surreys can only be ridden on the boardwalk before noon during the summer. Attractions along the boardwalk include two family amusement parks with rides and games, an arcade, the Music Pier, a water park and various themed miniature golf courses. The Ocean City boardwalk has a wide variety of dining options, from sit-down restaurants to funnel cake.
There were 5,890 households of which 14.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.6% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 47.6% were non-families. 42.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 21.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 1.98 and the average family size was 2.68.
In the city, 14.4% of the population were under the age of 18, 6.4% from 18 to 24, 16.7% from 25 to 44, 32.9% from 45 to 64, and 29.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 53.6 years. For every 100 females there were 88.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.4 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $55,202 (with a margin of error of +/- $6,710) and the median family income was $79,196 (+/- $11,239). Males had a median income of $48,475 (+/- $5,919) versus $41,154 (+/- $12,032) for females. The per capita income for the city was $40,864 (+/- $3,899). About 5.1% of families and 6.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.3% of those under age 18 and 5.8% of those age 65 or over.
There were 7,464 households out of which 16.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.9% were married couples living together, 9.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 46.3% were non-families. 40.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.02 and the average family size was 2.71.
In the city, the population was spread out with 16.4% under age 18, 5.6% from 18 to 24, 23.8% from 25 to 44, 28.3% from 45 to 64, and 25.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 48 years. For every 100 females there were 86.4 males. For every 100 women age 18 and over, there were 82.8 men.
The median income for a household in the city was $44,158, and the median income for a family was $61,731. Males had a median income of $42,224 versus $31,282 for females. The per capita income for the city was $33,217. About 4.3% of families and 6.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.0% of those under age 18 and 6.5% of those age 65 or over.
The City of Ocean City was incorporated on March 25, 1897. Since July 1, 1978, the city has operated under the Faulkner Act (Mayor-Council) system of municipal government.
The mayor, the chief executive of the community, is chosen for a four-year term at the municipal election in May and serves part-time for a yearly salary. The mayor neither presides over, nor has a vote on the council. The mayor has veto power over ordinances, but such vetoes can be overridden by a vote of two-thirds of the Council.
City council is the legislative body and has seven members. Four members represent individual wards and three are elected at large. Each council person serves a staggered four-year term.
As of 2013[update], the mayor is Jay Gillian. Members of the city council are Council President Tony Wilson (Third Ward), Council Vice President Michael Allegretto (At Large), Michael DeVlieger (First Ward), Peter J. Guinosso (Fourth Ward), Keith Hartzell (At Large), Antwan L. McClellan (Second Ward) and Scott Ping (At Large).
Federal, state and county representation
Ocean City is located in the 2nd Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 1st state legislative district.
Cape May County is governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders consisting of five members, elected at-large in partisan elections to three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with one or two seats coming up for election each year; At an annual reorganization held each January, the freeholders select one member to serve as Director and another to serve as Vice-Director. As of 2013[update], Cape May County's Freeholders are Freeholder Director Gerald M. Thornton (Middle Township, term ends December 31, 2013), Freeholder Vice-Director Leonard C. Desiderio (Sea Isle City, 2015), Kristine Gabor (Upper Township, 2014) and Will Morey (Wildwood Crest, 2014), along with the vacant seat of M. Susan Sheppard expiring in 2013 that was vacated after Sheppard was sworn in as County Surrogate. The county's constitutional officers are Sheriff Gary Schafer (Ocean City, 2014), Surrogate M. Susan Sheppard (Ocean City, 2015) and County Clerk Rita Fulginiti (Ocean City, 2013).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 8,810 registered voters in Ocean City, of which 1,747 (19.8%) were registered as Democrats, 3,776 (42.9%) were registered as Republicans and 3,282 (37.3%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 5 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2008 presidential election, Republican John McCain received 56.0% of the vote here (3,949 cast), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama, who received 42.2% (2,982 votes), with 7,058 ballots cast among the city's 8,683 registered voters, for a turnout of 81.3%. In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 59.0% of the vote here (4,431 ballots cast), outpolling Democrat John Kerry, who received 39.2% (2,945 votes), with 7,516 ballots cast among the city's 10,310 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 72.9.
Josiah E. DuBois, Jr (1913–1983), Treasury Department official who played a major role in exposing State Department obstruction of efforts to provide American visa to Jews trying to escape Nazi Europe, summered in the home his father built, the DuBois estate, on Battersea Road in the Gardens. Despite efforts to preserve the home, it was demolished in May 2011 to make for subdivision of the property.
^Genovese, Peter. "Down the Shore 2011: South Jersey", Inside Jersey / The Star-Ledger, May 2011. Accessed January 19, 2012. "For those who swear by Seaside, Ocean City’s boardwalk will come as a shock. No boardwalk is better, or more relentlessly maintained; cups, straws and fast-food wrappers are quickly snatched up by cleanup crews.If you’re looking for a good time in “America’s Greatest Family Resort,” it’ll have to be alcohol-free. Ocean City is a dry town, which means no liquor stores and no bringing wine or beer to a restaurant."
^Gilfillian, Trudi. "Southern New Jersey boardwalk officials search for the right wood (or plastic)", The Press of Atlantic City, August 24, 2009. Accessed January 19, 2012. "But hardwoods such as ipe have their own downside, namely the controversy that can arise over their use. In Ocean City, officials opted this year to use pine to replace a block of Boardwalk after an order of tropical hardwood was delivered months late.... The city's initial decision to use tropical hardwood prompted public protests on the Boardwalk and outside City Hall. The Mayor's Office was flooded with messages from protesters."
^via Associated Press. "Booker is officially a U.S. senator after being sworn in", NJ.com, October 31, 2013. Accessed October 31, 2013. "Former Newark Mayor Cory Booker was sworn in as a Democratic senator from New Jersey today, taking the oath of office, exchanging hugs with Vice President Joe Biden and acknowledging the applause of friends and family members seated in the visitor's gallery that rings the chamber.... Booker, 44, was elected to fill out the term of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died earlier this year."
^Rudloff, Mary. "Audit: Ocean City school district owes Upper Township $815,000 - Township, Corbin City overpaid tuition for sending students to OCHS", Ocean City Sentinel, February 16, 2011. Accessed December 6, 2011. "At the Jan. 26 Ocean City Board of Education meeting, school Business Administrator Tom Grossi said the Upper Township and Corbin City school districts would be receiving sizable credits in the coming school budget, $815,324 and $54,669, respectively. Those adjustments come from the cost of educating their high school students in Ocean City. Sea Isle City, which sends its fourth graders through high school students to Ocean City, did not fare as well. The already financially tapped out district owes Ocean City an additional $69,992 for the 2009-10 school year."
^Campbell, Al. "St. Augustine School, Ocean City, to Close Next June", Cape May County Herald, November 29, 2007. Accessed October 17, 2012. " Emphasizing the need to strengthen and revitalize Catholic school education in South Jersey, Most Rev. Joseph A. Galante, Bishop of Camden, on Nov. 29 announced a reconfiguration of schools in nine clusters representing 35 elementary schools in the diocese. St. Augustine, Ocean City, which has 112 students currently enrolled, will close in June, 2008."
^About Ocean City Nor'easters, USL Premier Development League. Accessed October 17, 2012. "The Ocean City Nor’easters have taken a huge step forward in their attempts to improve the quality of the soccer product being played at Carey Stadium in the summer as they are now being operated by a nonprofit corporation, Ocean City Nor’easters Soccer, Inc."
^"NFL/ Eagles Camp '70", The Press of Atlantic City, August 4, 2007. Accessed August 5, 2007 "Punter Sav Rocca went home to his native Australia for a few weeks and spent some time in Ocean City with place-kicker David Akers, who owns a home there."
^Strauss, Robert. "Ode to Joi(sey)", The New York Times, April 27, 2003. Accessed October 9, 2007. "Mr. Dunn, who used to live in Port Republic, a remote town in the interior of South Jersey, now divides his time between Ocean City and his wife's hometown, Frostburg, Md."
^Princess Grace Exhibit, Ocean City Historical Museum Press Release dated July 12, 2005. "John Kelly, Grace's father, and family were famous summer residents of Ocean City. Grace spent many summers on the Ocean City beach before becoming Hollywood movie star."
^ abSugarman, Joe. The Other Ocean City, Baltimore Style, July/August 2003. Accessed May 2, 2007. "First of all, Ocean City, N.J., is dry, as in, NO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES ALLOWED. Not on the beach. Not at restaurants.... Now there's Cousin's, an excellent Italian eatery where Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell often dines (he owns a house in town)."