Doo Wop motels

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The Doo Wop motels of the Wildwoods are about 150 motels,[1] built in the 1950s, in the New Jersey towns of Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, and North Wildwood. The architectural style now known as "Doo Wop" (after a musical style of the 1950s) was a pop-culture style, featuring bright ("garish") colors and large neon-lit signs. The motels are mostly small (20-30 rooms) and locally owned. They were built to serve families of moderate means vacationing in New Jersey. Once thought of as "cheap" or "tacky," as they have started to vanish they have gained respect. Enthusiasts have started a movement to preserve them as unique architectural style and as a piece of Americana.

The motels in the Wildwoods are "considered the largest collection of mid-20th century commercial resort architecture in the nation" and "irreplaceable icons of popular culture" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.[2] Described with adjectives such as "kitschy," "funky," and "exuberant," the National Trust praises their "neon-bright colors, funky signage and exotic architecture decked out with sawtooth angles, crazy overhangs, space-age "Jetson" ramps and lava rock siding."

One resident notes "garish, oversized plastic flamingos, pirate figures, Hawaiian tiki gods, and big artificial palm trees"[3]

The motels were built without heating or air conditioning. A Philadelphia architect states: "The most important part of the Doo-Wop style is the signage—neon signs in lollipop colors. The motels pick up the colors of the signs, and it is these signs and colors that make the buildings different. The only remotely similar place in the country is in Palm Springs, California, and that is more upscale than Wildwood."[4]

External links


  1. Doo-Wop league studies motel rooms, not music
  2. Doo Wop Motels, Wildwood, New Jersey, National Trust for Historic Preservations, one of their "11 Most Endangered Places
  3. It's a Wild World: New Jersey's Doo Wop Motels Turn Out the Lights, Preservation Online
  4. Preserving Doo-Wop, Architecture Week