Tourists who frequent Wildwood, NJ are familiar with the extravagant architectural style of the more than 200 hotels and motels. However, many of these tourists and/or first-time visitors are probably unaware of the history behind these unique building designs. While it was not until the 1990's that this architectural style was officially coined "Doo Wop", the designs first emerged during the 1950's. It was in light of the cultural flare of the 1950's that these eye catching building designs were defined. The 1950's post-war era was filled with optimism, increased wealth and leisure, as well as the combined influence of television and automobiles which all expanded enthusiasm and feasibility for travel. Not surprisingly, the popular 1950's and 1960's rhythm and blues music, which is often referred to as "Doo Wop", coincided with the positive outlook of this flourishing culture. While you may be familiar with Doo Wop artists such as Chubby Checker and Billy Haley and the Comets, you are less likely to know that these musical artists performed a number of important events at Wildwood clubs during the prime of their careers. Such events included the introduction of the ever-famous "Twist" at Wildwood's Rainbow Club in 1960, as well as the first performance of Billy Haley and the Comets' hit song, "Rock Around the Clock", which premiered at Wildwood's Hof Brau nightclub. Also, the first national broadcast of Dick Clark's American Bandstand aired from the Starlight Ballroom of the Wildwood Boardwalk. With such attractions and events, in combination with the vitality of the post-war era, Wildwood tourism flourished. As such, businesses needed to one up each other in order to remain popular among the tourists. This led to increasingly flashy buildings and signs, with loud colors and resort-style themes, intent on capturing the attention of visitors and motorists who frequented Wildwood.
With such a rich history, it is hard to imagine the Doo Wop style architecture of Wildwood businesses was neglected for much of the 1970's and 1980's. However, this unique architectural style was once again recognized in the 1990's when the Mid Atlantic Center for the Arts officially used the term "Doo Wop" to describe the unique building styles. In 1997, community leaders of Wildwood founded the Doo Wop Preservation League, which has worked extremely hard at fostering the restoration of Wildwood's Doo Wop architecture. Today visitors can observe the League's efforts, as Wildwood boasts the largest collection of the 1950's "Doo Wop" style buildings, in addition to offering the Doo Wop Museum. The League has also established guidelines for newer high rise districts, including areas such as Diamond Beach, requiring a continuity of this unique architectural style throughout Wildwood. If you are a first time visitor to Wildwood, you are sure to be captured by the bright colors, neon signs, and the one of a kind building designs.