Why Wildwood Crest A Dry Town
[Note: the full video is at the bottom of this article]
The Crest’s beginning dates back to the early 1900s. You see, The Baker Brothers, who founded the Wildwood Beach Improvement Company which turned Five-Mile Island into a resort town, was looking to expand.
At this time the island that we call “The Wildwoods” didn’t exist. While we do plan on doing a full video about this history the bullet points are that there used to be two islands.
Five-Mile Island, which used to run from Anglesea to today’s Rambler Road and Two Mile Island which is the area where the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge is located today.
In the middle of these two pieces of land was an inlet like sort of like the Hereford inlet which is located between North Wildwood and Stone Harbor.
That inlet was called Turtle Gut Inlet.
This is the inlet where the first privateer battle of the American Revolutionary War took place. If you want to learn more about that check out our video called “The Interesting History of Shipwreck Shoals.”
In 1906 The Baker Brothers were able to started building the first four streets of the crest which makes up of Morning Glory, Buttercup, Lavender and Heather Roads.
The inlet was a big determent to want to build further south as that land would flood.
From 1910 through the 1920s, the Crest would see a massive growth.
The Crest’s beach had widened so much that they were able to fit in another street East. This would be today’s Atlantic Avenue, though years later it would once again grow creating Ocean Avenue. The cross street that would be the ‘end’ of the crest in that day was Rambler Road.
By 1922 though, this space wasn’t enough so the county had agreed to fill in the inlet thus connecting the two islands.
This created an interesting situation though. The connected islands would form one long seven mile island but would be under different municipalities. (think of this like Wildwood and north Wildwood being two different cities on one island but having different city services.
The parts of the island that were on the Two Mile land was Lower Township and the new section would be a part of Borough of Wildwood Crest.
This dividing line can be seen today between Jefferson and Richmond Ave.
By the time the islands were connected there were two liquor licenses for Wildwood Crest. One at Billy’s Docks (207 West Sweet Briar Road) and another Crest Liquor Store (5909 New Jersey Ave).
On November 5th, 1940, a vote on prohibiting the sale of alcohol in the Borough was held.
In this referendum, it didn’t mention why they wanted it banned but rather posed the question if you think our city needs alcohol sales when then are other parts of the island that already have it.
The city residents felt that alcohol sales weren’t needed in the crest. In a vote, 319 residents voted to ban alcohol sales while only 117 voted for it.
With only a population of only 661 residents at the time, it passed.
Many thought that this law would only last the length of World War II but 80+ years later, it still stands.
There have been times where the law was questioned.
Back a few years back the city wanted to bring back alcohol and needed 212 signatures from the local taxpayers to put it on the ballot.
If passed, they could have brought back the two license that were available in 1940 plus allow a consumption license for hotels with over 100 rooms.
The main reason why this new vote was brought up was due to the new Business Zone that the crest wants to build.
Currently they are in the process of building a downtown section on New Jersey Avenue, a project that they hope will become a downtown hub for shops, restaurants and more.
They believe having a liquor license in that area could bring more traffic to the Crest.
This means that there is a possibility that one day we could see liquor in the Crest again.
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