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Entries about theme parks

Cape May and the South Jersey Shore

Washington Crossing and Cape May then the playgrounds of Wildwood and Atlantic City

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After experiencing the big city bustle of New York we drove south and passed over the Delaware River on a steel truss bridge (very common on the US East Coast) at Washington Crossing.

The memorial on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River at Washington Crossing

The memorial on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River at Washington Crossing


Crossing the steel truss bridge (built in 1904) over the Delaware River at Washington Crossing

Crossing the steel truss bridge (built in 1904) over the Delaware River at Washington Crossing

Washington's Crossing (or Taylorsville as it was called then) was the site on Christmas Day 1776 of George Washington's famed crossing of the ice flow laden Delaware River during the American War of Independence. The following morning he led his army on a successful attack on the Hessian garrison six miles to the south east at Trenton. Prior to this the American Continental Army had suffered a series of defeats at the hands of the British and there were serious doubts whether it would survive the winter as a fighting force.

A monument recreating Washington's crossing of the Delaware River

A monument recreating Washington's crossing of the Delaware River


Looking back at McConkey's Ferry Inn and the truss bridge on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River at Washington Crossing

Looking back at McConkey's Ferry Inn and the truss bridge on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River at Washington Crossing


Other later historic buildings (and a nice bike!) at Washington Crossing

Other later historic buildings (and a nice bike!) at Washington Crossing

New Jersey's Atlantic Coast is more commonly referred to as the Jersey Shore and is a popular 217 mile (349 kilometre) long holiday riviera, traditionally with New Yorkers to the north and Philadelphians to the south (for Brits think of somewhere like Blackpool and the Sussex Coast and you wont be far wrong!). The plan for the day was to visit the southern part often referred to as the Southern Shore and Atlantic City.

Founded in 1620, Cape May is at the southern tip of New Jersey where Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean and is the only place in the state where the sun both rises and sets over water. Famed for its historic Victorian houses, Philadelphians began holidaying at Cape May in the mid 18th century and it's recognized as the USA's oldest seaside resort.

Downtown Cape May

Downtown Cape May


Victorian houses leading down to the beach at Cape May

Victorian houses leading down to the beach at Cape May

The Cape May Fire Department built a cute colonial style museum to permanently house for its pride and joy a 1928 American Lafrance fire engine but unfortunately it wasn't there the day we visited.

Cape May Fire Department Museum

Cape May Fire Department Museum


Inside the Fire Department Museum - minus its 1928 American Lafrance fire engine <img class='img' src='https://tp.daa.ms/img/emoticons/icon_sad.gif' width='15' height='15' alt=':(' title='' />

Inside the Fire Department Museum - minus its 1928 American Lafrance fire engine :(

Located at the tip of Cape May is the Lighthouse built in in 1859, it is 157 feet (48 metres) high with 217 steps to the top. On a clear day it has views to Wildwood to the north and Cape Henlopen a 17 mile (27 kilometre) ferry ride west across the bay in the US State of Delaware.

The Cape May Lighthouse

The Cape May Lighthouse


The final steps up to the Lighthouse's rotating lens

The final steps up to the Lighthouse's rotating lens

Cape May is also a well known bird migration spot and beside the car park by the Lighthouse there are a couple of class rooms and a row of five bright white bird houses perched about 15 feet above the ground and obviously very popular with the energetic Purple Martins that nest in them. On the beach near by is a World War II Bunker constructed in 1942 to house four 155mm coast artillery guns; when built it was on high ground 900 feet from the ocean covered in grass sod but since then coastal erosion has meant it is now on the beach and two 6" gun turrets a bit further out to sea have disappeared completely.

Purple Martin nesting boxes at Cape May

Purple Martin nesting boxes at Cape May


The view east from the Lighthouse with the WWII Gun Emplacement on the beach

The view east from the Lighthouse with the WWII Gun Emplacement on the beach


The WWII Gun Emplacement on the beach at Cape May

The WWII Gun Emplacement on the beach at Cape May

Carrying on with the World War II theme, close by there is Fire Control Tower No. 23; built in 1942 it was one of 15 lookout towers constructed as part of the coastal defence of Delaware Bay known as Fort Miles. The fort was never completed as by 1943 advances in amphibious warfare had made them obsolete. From the top of the tower looking west across Delaware Bay can be seen the wreck of SS Atlantus, the most famous of a dozen concrete liberty ships built in 1918 at the end of World War I. She was used to bring back American soldiers from France and then to transport coal in New England. The intention had been to use the SS Atlantus and a couple of sister ships as a dock for the Delaware Bay Ferry but she ran aground during a storm in 1926 and nobody was able to free her.

WWII Lookout Tower at Cape May

WWII Lookout Tower at Cape May


The wreck of the SS Atlantus (made from concrete) from the WWII Lookout Tower

The wreck of the SS Atlantus (made from concrete) from the WWII Lookout Tower

Having done the history and wildlife at Cape May we then drove up the southern Jersey Shore to the coastal resort of Wildwood with its famous Boardwalk originally built in 1890 following the success of the original boardwalk built a few years earlier in Atlantic City just up the coast. A "boardwalk" is a raised wooden walkway running parallel to the beach originally conceived as a way of preventing sand being trampled through hotel lobbies but then became magnets for holiday goers and shops in their own right.

Trams running along the Wildwood Boardwalk

Trams running along the Wildwood Boardwalk


Someone dressed up as a Yogurt Carton on the Wildwood Boardwalk

Someone dressed up as a Yogurt Carton on the Wildwood Boardwalk


Police cart outside an amusement arcade on the Wildwood Boardwalk

Police cart outside an amusement arcade on the Wildwood Boardwalk

The Boardwalk at Wildwood is 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometres) long and lined with amusement arcades, food outlets and gift shops with 1950s neon light lit "Doo-Wop" style motels just behind (several of which are now heritage-listed). There was also a classic style roller coaster on the beach at Wildwood called "The Great White" although at the time of our visit it was closed for refurbishment.

50's style burger restaurant on the Wildwood Boardwalk

50's style burger restaurant on the Wildwood Boardwalk


One of many t-shirt shops along the Boardwalk at Wildwood

One of many t-shirt shops along the Boardwalk at Wildwood


The 'Great White' classic style rollercoaster on the beach at Wildwood

The 'Great White' classic style rollercoaster on the beach at Wildwood

The big pull however are the three large amusement piers along the Boardwalk owned by the Morley family. These are incredibly popular, especially with teenagers who can buy day long passes giving them unlimited access to the amusement park rides and the two waterparks with their large water slides.

Entrance to Morey's 'Mariner's Landing' Amusement Pier at Wildwood

Entrance to Morey's 'Mariner's Landing' Amusement Pier at Wildwood


A blend of old and new amusements on the Mariner's Landing Pier

A blend of old and new amusements on the Mariner's Landing Pier


The Ghost Ship Ride on the Mariner's Landing Amusement Pier at Wildwood

The Ghost Ship Ride on the Mariner's Landing Amusement Pier at Wildwood


The waterslide at the Raging Waters Waterpark at the end of the Mariner's Landing Pier at Wildwood

The waterslide at the Raging Waters Waterpark at the end of the Mariner's Landing Pier at Wildwood

About an hour north along the coast is Atlantic City, the US East Coast's answer to Las Vegas. The city boomed as a holiday and gambling resort in the early 1900s because of its excellent rail links to Philadelphia along with some innovative marketing ploys from its hotel entrepreneurs.

The Expressway sweeping into Atlantic City beside Lakes Bay

The Expressway sweeping into Atlantic City beside Lakes Bay


Casinos clustered next to each other as we approach downtown Atlantic City

Casinos clustered next to each other as we approach downtown Atlantic City

Atlantic City declined after WWII with the advent of cheap jet flights to places such as Miami and the Bahamas but then attempted to revitalise itself by legalising casino gambling. Although on an overall smaller scale to Las Vegas, Atlantic City now has about a dozen mega large combined casino, entertainment and hotel themed 'resorts'.

The Golden Nugget (until recently the 'Trump Castle' ) hotel, casino and marina in Atlantic City

The Golden Nugget (until recently the 'Trump Castle' ) hotel, casino and marina in Atlantic City


Harrah's flagship hotel and casino in Atlantic City

Harrah's flagship hotel and casino in Atlantic City


Tropicana Casino and Resort Atlantic City

Tropicana Casino and Resort Atlantic City

In addition to having the first seaside boardwalk in 1870, Atlantic City has been the home (apart from 2006-2012 in Las Vegas) of the Miss America beauty pageant since it was founded in 1920 and was the inspiration for the original Monopoly Board Game in 1935 (the London version popular in the Commonwealth appeared slightly later).

View along Pacific Avenue in Atlantic City

View along Pacific Avenue in Atlantic City


the Roman facade of Caesars Atlantic City

the Roman facade of Caesars Atlantic City


Bally's Wild West Casino in Atlantic City

Bally's Wild West Casino in Atlantic City

An amusing billboard in Atlantic City advertising a dating agency website

An amusing billboard in Atlantic City advertising a dating agency website

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged beaches bridges birds boats lighthouses forts theme_parks war_memorials us_east_coast Comments (0)

The Jersey Shore after Hurricane Sandy

Punch drunk holiday coast desperately trying to get on its feet again after being hit hard by nature

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New Jersey is best known for the seaside resorts along its Atlantic Coast affectionately known as "the Shore". I'd seen Cape May the Southern Jersey Shore the previous week and it was now time for me to see the northern part of the Shore around Asbury Park and Ocean Grove popular with New Yorkers.

We began our trip to the northern shore with a visit to Ocean Grove which was founded as a summer camp for Methodists in 1869. Preachers and concerts are still held in its famous 6,250 seat Great Auditorium built in 1894 which has an 11,558 pipe organ centre stage, one of the 20 largest pipe organs in the world. A 4,000 foot square foot section of the roof was torn off in a single piece by Hurricane Sandy on 28th October 2012 but miraculously didn't damage any other part of the building or anything around it. The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy on the Jersey Shore was to become a growing theme of our visit.

The statue of Ellwood H Stokes and the Great Auditorium at Ocean Grove

The statue of Ellwood H Stokes and the Great Auditorium at Ocean Grove


Inside the Great Auditorium with its world famous pipe organ centre stage

Inside the Great Auditorium with its world famous pipe organ centre stage

Surrounding the Great Auditorium are 114 historic tents echoing back to when the summer camps first started. Packed away each winter they are re-erected and available for rent May to October - although there is a 10 year waiting list!

Some of the 114 historic tents surrounding the Great Auditorium at Ocean Grove

Some of the 114 historic tents surrounding the Great Auditorium at Ocean Grove


A close up of some of the historic tents surrounding the Great Auditorium

A close up of some of the historic tents surrounding the Great Auditorium

From Ocean Grove we walked over to nearby Asbury Park on the coast; at the northern end of the broadwalk there was a group of sorry looking buildings including an empty fairground carousel and casino. Their derelict condition predated Hurricane Sandy and was due to Asbury Park no longer being able to attract as many vacationers as it use to in its hehday of the 1940s and 1950s.

The Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carousel, Casino and Old Heating Plant at Asbury Park

The Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carousel, Casino and Old Heating Plant at Asbury Park


Close up of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carousel

Close up of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company Carousel


The derelict casino at Asbury Park

The derelict casino at Asbury Park

Making our way south along the boardwalk we reached Asbury Park's Grand Arcade and 3,600 seat Convention Hall built in the early 1920s. It was here on the 8th September 1934 that the luxury ocean liner SS Morro Castle came to rest on a sandbar a few yards off the Convention Hall after catching fire returning to New York from Havana, a disaster in which 137 died.

The broadwalk entrance to the Asbury Park Grand Arcade and Convention Hall

The broadwalk entrance to the Asbury Park Grand Arcade and Convention Hall


Inside the Grand Arcade at Asbury Park

Inside the Grand Arcade at Asbury Park


Monument to the victims of the SS Morro Castle disaster in 1934

Monument to the victims of the SS Morro Castle disaster in 1934


The end of the Convention Hall where the disaster happened

The end of the Convention Hall where the disaster happened

Moving on from the Grand Arcade there was a lovely beach and a freshly restored broadwalk after being damaged by Hurricane Sandy. Once known as the "Jewel of the Shore" there was little evidence of the amusement arcades, food outlets and gift shops I had anticipated lining the broadwalk after visiting the Southern Jersey Shore the previous week.

The beach at Asbury Park

The beach at Asbury Park


The broadwalk at Asbury Park

The broadwalk at Asbury Park

While the Southern Shore feels like an endless amusement arcade what Asbury Park is famous for are its music venues and for being the home of a genre of pre-Beatles rock and roll and pre-Motown rhythm and blues music known as Jersey Shore Sound that was in vogue from the late 1960s until the mid 1980s. Examples of major artists of the Jersey Shore Sound are local boy Bruce Springsteen and early music from Jon Bon Jovi. Most famous of Asbury Park's music venues is the unassuming Stone Pony where many of the exponents of the Jersey Sound began their musical careers.

The entrance to the Stone Pony music venue at Asbury Park

The entrance to the Stone Pony music venue at Asbury Park

While there had been evidence of damage by Hurricane Sandy in Ocean Grove and Asbury Park nothing could prepare me for the devastation that greeted us as we drove further south along the coast to Mantoloking which had been especially hard hit. Two dozen oceanfront houses completely disappeared from their foundations during the hurricane and more than 50 others had to be demolished (10% of the housing stock).

Houses damaged by Hurricane Sandy in Mantoloking

Houses damaged by Hurricane Sandy in Mantoloking


Only the ground floor remains of this house in Mantoloking

Only the ground floor remains of this house in Mantoloking


House destroyed by Hurricane Sandy at Mantoloking

House destroyed by Hurricane Sandy at Mantoloking


Only rumble remains of these two houses at Mantoloking

Only rumble remains of these two houses at Mantoloking

There were piles of rubble, security fencing and construction plant everywhere in Mantoloking and in many ways it reminded me of the earthquake redzone in Christchurch I'd seen earlier in my trip. 37 people lost their lives in New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy, having seen the biblical proportions of the damage in Mantoloking the death toll could have easily have been higher if the area had not been evacuated beforehand.

House on wheels following Hurricane Sandy

House on wheels following Hurricane Sandy


Looting checkpoint notice at Mantoloking

Looting checkpoint notice at Mantoloking


Another badly damaged house following Hurricane Sandy

Another badly damaged house following Hurricane Sandy


House on stilts following Hurricane Sandy

House on stilts following Hurricane Sandy

From Mantoloking we carried on south to the seaside resort of Seaside Heights (location for the MTV Show "Jersey Shore" which I can't say I've watched) with its amusement arcade lined broadwalk more akin to those I'd seen in Wildwood further south the previous week. However unlike the South Shore Seaside Heights was badly hit by Hurricane Sandy with much of its Casino Pier collapsing into the sea and currently being rebuilt and its Broadwalk either newly restored or currently being reconstructed after much of the sand underneath it was washed inshore.

The broadwalk at Seaside Heights

The broadwalk at Seaside Heights


Closed broadwalk while Casino Pier is rebuilt at Seaside Heights

Closed broadwalk while Casino Pier is rebuilt at Seaside Heights


Another view of the pier repairs underway at Seaside Heights

Another view of the pier repairs underway at Seaside Heights


Broadwalk repairs underway north of Seaside Heights

Broadwalk repairs underway north of Seaside Heights

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in USA Tagged beaches churches theme_parks natural_disasters us_east_coast Comments (0)

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