is a city at the southern tip of Cape May Peninsula in Cape May County, New Jersey, where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean.
by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 8, 1848, from portions of Lower Township. It was reincorporated as
It is part of the Ocean City Metropolitan Statistical Area. It has a population of 4,034 year-round residents (as of the United States 2000 Census). Cape May is also home to approximately 100,000 seasonal residents. The town is named for 1620 Dutch captain named Cornelius Jacobsen Mey who explored and charted the area between 1611-1614, and established a claim for the province of New Netherland. It was later settled by New Englanders from the New Haven Colony.
Due in part to its award-winning beaches (Cape May was recognized as one of America's top 10 beaches by the Travel Channel), designation as the top birding location on the East Coast, Cape May's many Victorian structures and the island's rich history, Cape May is a seaside resort that draws visitors from all over the world. It was ranked the fifth best beach in New Jersey in the 2008 Top 10 Beaches Contest sponsored by the New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium.
Cape May began hosting vacationers from Philadelphia in the mid 1700s and is recognized by the United States government as the country's oldest seaside resort. Cape May became increasingly popular in the 18th century and was considered one of the finest resorts in America by the 19th century. It is noted for its large number of well-maintained Victorian houses — the second largest collection of Victorian-era homes in the nation after San Francisco. In 1976, the entire city of Cape May was officially designated a National Historic Landmark. It is the only city in the United States wholly designated as such. That designation is intended to ensure the architectural preservation of these buildings.
The Cape May area is also a world-famous location for the observation of migrating birds, especially in fall. With over 400 bird species having been recorded in this area and hundreds of local birders, Cape May is arguably the top bird-watching area in the entire Northeastern United States. The Cape May Bird Observatory is based nearby at Cape May Point.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.8 square miles (7.3 km
) of it (11.43%) is water. Cape May is generally low-lying and its highest point is at 14 feet above sea level, at Washington and Jackson Streets.
Cape May borders West Cape May Borough, Lower Township, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Delaware Bay. The Cape May-Lewes Ferry provides transportation across the Delaware Bay to Lewes, Delaware.
Cape May Harbor, which borders Lower Township and nearby Wildwood Crest allows fishing vessels to enter from the Atlantic Ocean.