How Wildwood Became an Architectural Wonder

by Abby Montanez
wildwood architecture

Growing up, I would vacation in Wildwood every summer. This follows a long-standing tradition on my mom’s side, whose family paid the seaside town a yearly visit dating back to the ‘60s. The week-long trip would be to the same hotel they originally stayed at, the Pan American. This is just one of the areas famed “Doo Wop” structures. Even to this day, much of the architecture in Wildwood is rooted in the past and the future all at once. 

Wilbert Morey, of Morey’s Piers and 30 other notable local attractions, brought this retro style to the Jersey shore in the 1960s. It’s been said that he was inspired by the Googie modern motels in Miami Beach. Picture the Fontainebleau, for example. 

Googie architecture originated in Southern California after World War II when space-age fantasies were prominent. You might be more familiar with the style from the animated sitcom, “The Jetsons.” The bold, vibrant colors. The upswept roofs. Daring, geometric shapes. Over-the-top signage. 

In Wildwood, some buildings resemble the likes of flying saucers and boomerangs. There are candy-colored gas stations, motels and ice cream shops. As a kid, it felt like stepping back in time. As an adult, it’s a reminder that this New Jersey town is perhaps the best remaining example of Googie modernist architecture on the East Coast. 

While it’s been over a decade since I last visited, even then I could recall some of the older buildings that have given way to developments. It might not be all it was once in its heyday, but below are a few of my favorite photos that encapsulate this New Jersey treasure. 

Admiring the “Doo Wop” Architecture of Wildwood

1. Starlux Hotel

2. Wawa on Rio Grande

3. Gold Crest Hotel

4. Kohr Bros. Frozen Custard

5. Pan American Hotel

6. Aquarius Oceanfront Inn

7. Panoramic Motel & Apartments

8. Chateau Bleu Motel

9. Lollipop Motel

10. Royal Court Motel

Main image by David Mark 

About the Author/s

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Abby is The Digest's Managing Editor. She spends her time looking at dogs on Instagram and eating her way around Jersey City.

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