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Wildwood is a city in Cape May County, New Jersey, United States. It is part of the Ocean City Metropolitan Statistical Area and is a popular summer resort destination along the Jersey Shore. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's year-round population was 5,325, reflecting a decline of 111 (-2.0%) from the 5,436 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 952 (+21.2%) from the 4,484 counted in the 1990 Census. With visitors, the population can swell to 250,000 during the summer months. Wildwood was the first city in New Jersey to have a female mayor, Doris W. Bradway, who was ousted in a 1938 recall election.
The Wildwoods is used as a collective term for the four communities located on Wildwood island that have "Wildwood" as part of the municipality name — the Borough of Wildwood Crest, City of Wildwood, Borough of West Wildwood and the City of North Wildwood — together with Diamond Beach, a portion of Lower Township situated on the island. The city, and the surrounding communities that share the name, derives its name from the wild flowers found in the area.
Wildwood was originally incorporated as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on May 1, 1895, from portions of Middle Township, based on the results of a referendum held the previous day. On January 1, 1912, Wildwood was incorporated as a city, replacing both Wildwood borough and Holly Beach City.
The Wildwoods began developing as a resort in the last decade of the 19th century. A building boom began in the 1950s, due partially to the construction and completion of the Garden State Parkway in 1955.
"Rock Around the Clock", often credited as the first rock and roll record, was first performed on Memorial Day weekend in 1954 at the HofBrau Hotel in Wildwood by Bill Haley & His Comets. The song's status as one of the first rock and roll hits has given rise to the city's claim as "the birthplace of rock and roll".
Wildwood is home to over 200 motels, built during the Doo-Wop era of the 1950s and 1960s, in an area recognized by the state of New Jersey, known as the Wildwoods Shore Resort Historic District. The term "doo-wop" was coined by Cape May's Mid-Atlantic Center For The Arts in the early 1990s to describe the unique, space-age architectural style, which is also referred to as the Googie or populuxe style.
The motels are unique in appearance, with Vegas-like neon signs and fantastic architecture. New construction in the area has seen the demolition of several motels to make room for larger condominiums.
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