After rebuilding from the fire was complete, Cape May became an extravagant, luxury resort destination for families across the United States. The beachfront hotels offered many activities for families, including fishing, croquet, yachting, and lawn tennis. Those who vacationed here could also enjoy luxury dinner parties and lavish events. Cape May eventually became a popular spot for presidents like Abraham Lincoln, Chester Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, and others. This is why Cape May was known as the President’s Playground.
During World War I, the Hotel Cape May was used as a hospital for injured soldiers. Later, the Navy turned the hotel into a naval base which was later given to the Coast Guard in 1925.
As cars became popular and railroads began to lose their efficiency, Cape May needed a way for families and travelers to visit via automobiles. To make it more convenient and accessible, the Garden State Parkway was built. This allowed families to get to the area more quickly than before. The Parkway opened to the public in 1957. By 1976, the town of Cape May was named an official National Historic Landmark. Since then, the town has made a tremendous effort to preserve the remaining structures and ambiance of the vintage time.
In 2022, a coastal storm revealed the Cape May ghost tracks, old railroad tracks that trail along the beach under the sand. These tracks periodically reveal themselves after some storms, but there’s no way to tell when they will wash up. These tracks were originally used to collect sand and glass, and for various purposes during WWI. Eventually, the sand whipped around from storms covers the tracks up again.
**Excerpts of History and Photo Courtesy of Cape May Times