The Wildwoods have a rich history that many don’t even realize is there. In this blog, we are highlighting some pieces of the puzzle that we think may surprise even the annual Wildwoods beach bums!
- “Wildwood” got its name for a good reason: before the Baker brothers purchased and began developing the island in the early 1890s, the island was a wild and overgrown island, inaccessible to all but a few Native Americans and bold colonial pioneers. It was more of a forest than a beach. Members of the Ketchemeche Tribe, or Lenni Lenape, had called the island “five miles of health and happiness.”
- The Wildwoods was so popular, it had nicknames: Among other references, around the 1950’s and 1960’s, it was known as both the “Little Las Vegas” and the “Playground of the Stars”.
- There’s a reason you feel like you are stepping back in time in the Wildwoods: The retro motels, quaint cool diners, and lit-up signs were a part of the “Doo-wop architecture” that was so popular in the 1950s.
- The Wildwoods played a huge part in Rock’n’Roll history: Bill Haley & His Comets first performed “Rock Around the Clock“, often credited as the first rock and roll record, on Memorial Day weekend in 1954 at the HofBrau Hotel in Wildwood. The song’s status has given rise to the city’s claim as “the birthplace of rock and roll” (yet another nickname!).
- The Wildwoods were a musical mecca for huge stars of the time: From Louis Prima to Little Richard, Tony Bennett to Diana Ross and the Supremes, big names frequented Wildwood’s night clubs like the Riptide, the Surf Club, the Bolero and the Manor Supper Club. Chubby Checker made his debut in Wildwood at the Rainbow Club, meaning that there’s a good chance our town was the birthplace of the dance move “The Twist”.
- You can literally look back and watch the Wildwoods’ past: Well, at least to 2 decades ago. Check out these cool videos from the ‘90s of the boardwalk! See anything that looks the same?
Is there a fun fact we missed? Tell us about it on Facebook or in a comment!