A Walking Tour of Cape May, New Jerseyby Doug Gelbert
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There is no better way to see America than on foot. And there is no better way to appreciate what you are looking at than with a walking tour. Whether you are preparing for a road trip or just out to look at your own town in a new way, a downloadable walking tour from walkthetown.com is ready to explore when you are. Each walking tour describes historical and architectural landmarks and provides pictures to help out when those pesky street addresses are missing. Every tour also includes a quick primer on identifying architectural styles seen on American streets. This walking tour of Cape May, New Jersey examines the most enduring seashore resort in America. The entire town has been named a National Historic Landmark City, one of only five so honored in America. In 1620, the same year the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts, Dutch Sea captain Cornelius Jacobsen Mey sailed itno the Delaware Bay aboard his ship “Blijde Boodschap (Good Tidings).” Mey and his crew xurveyed the Delaware River and traded for furs with the local Indians. He also named the prominent peninsula at the southern tip of what would become New Jersey after himself. Decades later the spelling would be changed to Cape May. Wealthy Philadelphians began building summer getaways around Cape May in 1761 and it became the first seashore resort in America. By the early 1800s the largest hotels in the world were being built along the wide, white Cape May sand beaches. Presidents James Buchanan and Franklin Pierce vacationed here. Abraham Lincoln was a visitor before being elected 16th President of the United States. On November 9, 1878, at seven o’clock in the morning, fire broke out in a hotel attic near the center of town. Winds at over 50 miles per hour allowed th efire to jump over roads from one block to the next. The fire department did not have enough water – as a bucket brigade stretching from the ocean to the water was their main supply. Sadly a request for more funds to buy more fire-fighting equipment had been denied only a few months earlier. The fire (hereafter referred to as the “Great Fire”) raged for over eleven hours. When dawn broke the following day, 44 acres of downtown Cape May were destroyed. Although other resorts at the time were built in a more modern fashion – Cape May officials decided to rebuild in the same traditional Victorian style of the hotels that the fire had destroyed. This decision has reverberated ever since - Cape May has the greatest number of picturesque Victorian structures in America and in 1976 the enitre town was officially designated a National Historic Landmark City, one of only five in the nation. Our tour will start...
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