Ocean City, New Jersey

Ocean City, New Jersey
Ocean City, New Jersey
—  City  —
Ocean City seen from a top the giant ferris wheel on the Boardwalk
Ocean City highlighted in Cape May County. Inset map: Cape May County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Ocean City, New Jersey
Coordinates: 39°15′55″N 74°35′38″W / 39.26528°N 74.59389°W / 39.26528; -74.59389Coordinates: 39°15′55″N 74°35′38″W / 39.26528°N 74.59389°W / 39.26528; -74.59389
Country United States
State New Jersey
County Cape May
Incorporated May 3, 1884
 – Type Faulkner Act (Mayor-Council)
 – Mayor Jay A. Gillian
 – Administrator Michael Dattilo[1]
 – Total 11.1 sq mi (28.7 km2)
 – Land 6.9 sq mi (17.9 km2)
 – Water 4.2 sq mi (10.8 km2)
Elevation[2] 3 ft (1 m)
Population (2010)
 – Total 11,701
 – Density 1,695.8/sq mi (653.7/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 – Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP code 08226
Area code(s) 609
FIPS code 34-54360[3][4]
GNIS feature ID 0885332[5]
Website http://www.ocnj.us/
Kites on the beach
The sun rising over an Ocean City beach
Ocean City Music Pier
Historical populations
Census Pop.
1930 5,525
1940 4,672 −15.4%
1950 6,040 29.3%
1960 7,618 26.1%
1970 10,575 38.8%
1980 13,949 31.9%
1990 15,512 11.2%
2000 15,378 −0.9%
2010 11,701 −23.9%

Ocean City is a city in Cape May County, New Jersey, United States. It 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 population was 11,701.[6] 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.[7][8]

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.[9]

Known as a family-oriented seaside resort, Ocean City has prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages within its limits since its founding in 1879. Ocean City has miles of guarded beaches, a 2.5-mile boardwalk, and a quaint downtown shopping and dining district.

The Travel Channel rated Ocean City as the Best Family Beach of 2005.[10] 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.[11] In the 2009 Top 10 Beaches Contest, Ocean City ranked first.[12]

From early June through Labor Day, Ocean City requires individuals age 12 and up to purchase a beach tag to access its beaches.[13] For the 2010 season, access tags were on offer as follows: One-day pass: $5.00; Weeklong pass: $10.00; Seasonal pass: $25.00 (if purchased before Memorial Day, seasonal tags are $15.00.)[14]



Known first as Peck's Beach, a seven-mile stretch of sand dunes, meadows and cedar swamps, was probably named for John Peck, a whaler who used the island as a staging spot for his whaling operation. The island had served as a summer fishing camp for local Native Americans, a grazing land for cattle driven out from the mainland and an occasional hunting or picnic spot for mainland residents who would come out by boat. Original ownership of the land was by the Somers family. Several individuals had made their home on the island, most notable of which was Parker Miller who had served as an agent for marine insurance companies. He and his family lived in a home at about what is now the southwest corner of Seventh Street and Asbury Avenue.

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.[15] 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 is prohibited.[16]

From these beginnings Ocean City has grown into the city as it exists today. The first bridge was built to the island in 1883, while 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 failed salvage attempt was launched in the 1970s, but none have been tried since. It was assumed by treasure hunters that after sailing back from Asia large amounts of treasure and plunder from the Boxer Rebellion had been on board, although both crew and captain said otherwise.[17] 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. Where the buildings and boardwalk once stood, parking was created for automobiles, which were gaining in popularity at the time. 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". Another amusement park, Playland's Castaway Cove, is also located nearby.

In 2007 controversy emerged about the city's proposed use of ipê, a type of wood, to redeck parts of the boardwalk. Environmental activists immediately launched a campaign to stop the city's use of the wood, but Mayor Sal Perillo stood by the plan.


Ocean City is located at 39°15′55″N 74°35′38″W / 39.265371°N 74.593814°W / 39.265371; -74.593814 (39.265371, -74.593814).[18]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 11.1 square miles (29 km2), of which 6.9 square miles (18 km2) is land and 4.2 square miles (11 km2) (37.58%) is water.

Ocean City is a barrier island with bridge connections to Marmora (Upper Township) by the 34th Street (Roosevelt Boulevard) Bridge, Egg Harbor Township by the Ocean City-Longport Bridge, Somers Point by the 9th Street Bridge (NJ 52), and Strathmere (Upper Township) by the Corson's Inlet Bridge. The eastern side of Ocean City borders the Atlantic Ocean; the western side faces the Great Egg Harbor Bay, Beach Thoroughfare, Pecks Bay and Crook Horn Creek.


As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 15,378 people, 7,464 households, and 4,008 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,222.8 people per square mile (858.0/km2). There were 20,298 housing units at an average density of 2,934.0 per square mile (1,132.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 93.57% White, 4.31% African American, 0.12% Native American, 0.56% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 0.52% from other races, and 0.86% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.99% of the population.

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 females age 18 and over, there were 82.8 males.

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.


Local government

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.[19]

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 2011, the mayor is Jay Gillian. Members of the city council are Council President Michael Allegretto (at-large), Council Vice president Karen Bergman (Second Ward), Keith Hartzell (at-large), John G. Flood (Third Ward), John Kemenosh (First Ward), Scott Ping (at-large) and Roy Wagner (Fourth Ward).[20]

Federal, state and county representation

Ocean City is in the 2nd Congressional district and is part of New Jersey's 1st state legislative district.[21]

New Jersey's Second Congressional District is represented by Frank LoBiondo (R, Ventnor City). New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Frank Lautenberg (D, Cliffside Park) and Bob Menendez (D, Hoboken).

1st legislative district of the New Jersey Legislature, which is represented in the New Jersey Senate by Jeff Van Drew (D, Dennis Township) and in the Assembly by Nelson Albano (D, Vineland) and Matthew W. Milam (D, Vineland).[22] The Governor of New Jersey is Chris Christie (R, Mendham).[23] The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Kim Guadagno (R, Monmouth Beach).[24]

Cape May County is governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders consisting of five members, elected at-large to three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with one or two seats coming up for election each year. As of 2011, Cape May County's Freeholders are Freeholder Director Daniel Beyel (Upper Township, term expires December 31, 2011)[25], Leonard C. Desiderio (Sea Isle City, 2012)[26], Ralph E. Sheets, Jr. (2011)[27], M. Susan Sheppard (Ocean City, 2013)[28] and Gerald M. Thornton (2013).[29][30]


The Ocean City School District serves public school students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Schools in the district (with 2008-09 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics[31]) are Ocean City Primary School (K-3; 309 students), Ocean City Intermediate School (4-8; 454 students) and Ocean City High School (9-12; 1,345 students).

Students from Corbin City, Sea Isle City and Upper Township attend Ocean City High School for grades 9-12, as part of sending/receiving relationships.[32]

St. Augustine Regional School a K-8 coeducational Catholic school closed in June 2008.[33]


Ocean City Nor'easters of the USL Premier Development League play at Carey Stadium.


Media publications in Ocean City include its two newspapers, The Gazette and The Sentinel, in addition to its two other weekly prints, The Sandpaper and The Sure Guide. The city also has a lifestyle magazine known as Ocean City Magazine.

Noted residents

Noted current and former residents of Ocean City include:


  1. ^ Eric Avedissian (2011-05-25). "Reaction focuses on new options for West Avenue bicycle paths". Ocean City Sentinel. http://www.ocsentinel.com/article.php?article_id=3783. Retrieved 2011-08-08. 
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Ocean City, Geographic Names Information System, accessed November 12, 2007.
  3. ^ a b "American FactFinder". United States Census Bureau. http://factfinder.census.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  4. ^ A Cure for the Common Codes: New Jersey, Missouri Census Data Center. Accessed July 14, 2008.
  5. ^ "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. 2007-10-25. http://geonames.usgs.gov. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  6. ^ Census.gov
  7. ^ Julia Lawlor (2004-05-07). "Weekender". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E04E1D91E3DF934A35756C0A9629C8B63&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  8. ^ O.C. seeks new way to surf at beach, The Press of Atlantic City, February 9, 2007.
  9. ^ "The Story of New Jersey's Civil Boundaries: 1606-1968", John P. Snyder, Bureau of Geology and Topography; Trenton, New Jersey; 1969. p. 115.
  10. ^ Best Family Beach of 2005, Travel Channel, March 2005.
  11. ^ Urgo, Jacqueline L. (May 23, 2008). "Triumph for South Jersey". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2008-06-05. http://web.archive.org/web/20080605225601/http://www.philly.com/philly/hp/entertainment/19204259.html. Retrieved 2008-05-30. 
  12. ^ Ocean City wins No. 1 beach in New Jersey for '09, The Star-Ledger, May 19, 2009.
  13. ^ Ocean City Beaches, Ocean City, New Jersey. Accessed September 24, 2007.
  14. ^ OFFICIAL 2007 BEACH FEE INFORMATION, Ocean City, New Jersey. Accessed September 24, 2007.
  15. ^ Ocean City Tabernacle History, Ocean City Tabernacle. Accessed September 16, 2008.
  16. ^ History of Ocean City Ocean City Chamber of Commerce. Accessed 2010-06-01
  17. ^ The Sindia: The Mystery Continues, The Sindia. Accessed June 4, 2007.
  18. ^ "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 2011-02-12. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/gazetteer/gazette.html. Retrieved 2011-04-23. 
  19. ^ 2005 New Jersey Legislative District Data Book, Rutgers University Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, April 2005, p. 8.
  20. ^ City Council, City of Ocean City. Accessed March 27, 2011.
  21. ^ 2011 New Jersey Citizen's Guide to Government, New Jersey League of Women Voters, p. 62. Accessed May 31, 2011.
  22. ^ "Legislative Roster: 2010-2011 Session". New Jersey Legislature. http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/roster.asp. Retrieved 2010-02-08. 
  23. ^ "About the Governor". New Jersey. http://www.nj.gov/governor/about/. Retrieved 2010-01-21. 
  24. ^ "About the Lieutenant Governor". New Jersey. http://www.nj.gov/governor/lt/. Retrieved 2010-01-21. 
  25. ^ Daniel Beyel, Cape May County, New Jersey. Accessed January 6, 2011.
  26. ^ Leonard C. Desiderio, Cape May County, New Jersey. Accessed January 6, 2011.
  27. ^ Ralph E. Sheets, Jr., Cape May County, New Jersey. Accessed January 6, 2011.
  28. ^ M. Susan Sheppard, Cape May County, New Jersey. Accessed January 6, 2011.
  29. ^ Gerald M. Thornton, Cape May County, New Jersey. Accessed January 6, 2011.
  30. ^ Freeholders Home Page, Cape May County, New Jersey. Accessed January 3, 2011.
  31. ^ Data for the Ocean City School District, National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed March 28, 2011.
  32. ^ Ocean City High School 2010 Report Card Narrative, New Jersey Department of Education. Accessed March 28, 2011. "Ocean City High School is a comprehensive high school serving the communities of Ocean City, Upper Township, Sea Isle City, and Corbin City, with an enrollment of over 1,280 students."
  33. ^ Campbell, Al. "St. Augustine School, Ocean City, to Close Next June", Cape May County Herald, November 29, 2007. Accessed March 28, 2011.
  34. ^ "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."
  35. ^ Miller, Michael. "Pulitzer Prize poet will read works in O.C.", The Press of Atlantic City, June 22, 2007. Accessed August 14, 2007. "The late poet A.R. Ammons, formerly of Ocean City, Northfield and Millville, won the prestigious National Book Award."
  36. ^ "Catarcio, Maurice A.". Northeast Obits. http://www.northeastobits.com/archives.cfm?s=print&obit=15052. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  37. ^ Lawlor, Julia. " Weekender: Ocean City, N.J.", The New York Times, May 7, 2004. Accessed August 14, 2007. ""
  38. ^ Ocean City Directory, Press of Atlantic City, accessed March 17, 2007.
  39. ^ [Yates, Melissa. Pennsylvania People: Walter E. Diemer, Central Bucks School District. Accessed May 31, 2011.
  40. ^ Staff. "End of an era as DuBois estate falls", Shore News Today, May 24, 2011. Accessed May 31, 2011.
  41. ^ 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."
  42. ^ http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=AC&p_theme=ac&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_topdoc=1&p_text_direct-0=12BC4730B240DE40&p_field_direct-0=document_id&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&s_trackval=GooglePM "2009 Voter Guide / Governor's Race / Daggett travels long, lonely road"], The Press of Atlantic City, November 1, 2009. Accessed March 28, 2011. "Daggett and his lieutenant governor running mate, Frank Esposito, who grew up in Ocean City, are the only candidates with local ties."
  43. ^ Staff. "GAITLEY COMES HOME TO COACH ST. JOE'S", The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 20, 1991. Accessed March 28, 2011. "She grew up in Ocean City, N.J., played for a 1981 AIAW Final Four team at Villanova and served as an assistant coach at St. Joe's for three years..."
  44. ^ Heinzmann, David. "Andrew Golota charged with impersonating a cop.", Chicago Tribune, February 5, 2002. Accessed July 12, 2008. "Golota, who gave Ocean City, N.J., as his address, then acknowledged that the badge was honorary and given to him in recognition of charity work he had done, Boggs said."
  45. ^ 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."
  46. ^ Jackson, Vincent. "LOCAL BOYS MAKES NEWS / MTV NEWS ANSHORMAN KURT LODER ONCE CALLED OCEAN CITY HIS HOME", The Press of Atlantic City, August 23, 1998. Accessed May 31, 2011. "A little known fact unites most current pop music stars. All were probably interviewed by Kurt Loder, the news anchor for MTV and former senior editor at Rolling Stone magazine, at some point during their careers. There's virtually no living influential pop musician Loder didn't interview during his 20 years with the nation's premiere chronicles of pop culture. And his interest in music was cultivated during his years living in Ocean City from age 3 to 18."
  47. ^ a b Sugarman, 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.... When the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce decided to throw a film festival for the first time this June, it included only G-rated films. Smoking is permitted on the boardwalk— but in designated areas only. Heck, Jimmy Stewart used to vacation here.... Now there’s Cousin’s, an excellent Italian eatery where Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell often dines (he owns a house in town)."
  48. ^ Ocean City, N.J.: This family-oriented resort thrives on its virtuous origins., The Baltimore Sun, accessed December 17, 2006. "In his best-selling book, "Unto the Sons," Ocean City native and journalist Gay Talese provides a vivid account of growing up on Marconi Street, the stretch of Simpson Street between 9th and 12th streets that, in the early 1900s, was Ocean City's Little Italy.
  49. ^ Chun, Gary C. W. "Canned Heat veteran courts guitar stardom", Honolulu Star-Bulletin, February 1, 2002. Accessed June 4, 2007. "TROUT GREW UP on the island of Ocean City, off the Jersey shore."

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