Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Disappearing Motels Of Wildwood, New Jersey

Summer Vacations

Untitled (Toledo & Atlantic)
Photo Credit: Mark Havens, 2005
Source: Aesthetica
I was one of the many Montrealers who used to take a week or two summer vacation in Wildwood, N.J., and at the very motels this photo essay shows are no longer prevalent: the first time being in 1976, the last time being in 1986. I have the memories and the photos to remind me.

Betsy Horan writes for New York Times Magazine: “If any single location can perfectly epitomize the nostalgic lazy, hazy days of summer — complete with the Mr. Softee jingle in the background — it might just be the Wildwoods, the three kitschy southern New Jersey shore towns that are home to the largest concentration of mid-century motels in the nation. In the Wildwoods’ 1950s and ’60s heyday, over 300 ‘Doo Wop motels’ were built there in that unmistakable style: flashy neon lights, kidney-shaped pools, asymmetrical design elements and a plethora of plastic palm trees (now designated the official tree of Wildwood).

‘The hotels were the backdrop of my summer,’ recalls Mark Havens, a Philadelphia-based photographer and assistant professor of industrial design at Philadelphia University. ‘We would always pile in the car and drive around and look at all the hotels in the same way families drive around and look at Christmas lights at holiday season,’ Havens says of his family’s yearly sojourn to Wildwood, which the artist has visited without fail for 44 years running. ‘Once they started to disappear, I realized just how much I took them for granted.’ ”

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