Cape May Harbor lies at the southern tip of the Cape May Peninsula in New Jersey where the Atlantic Ocean meets Delaware Bay. It is about 3.5 nautical miles (6.2 kilometers or 4 miles direct) east-southeast of Cape May Terminal on west side of the peninsula. Cape May Harbor is about 126 nautical miles (204 kilometers or 127 miles direct) south-southwest of the Port of New York. While the resident population is just over 3600 people, the summer population in Cape May Harbor explodes to as many as 50 thousand.
Cape May Harbor is one of the United States' oldest vacation resorts. Part of the Ocean City metropolitan area, the Cape May Harbor economy. Fishing, both commercial and sport, is important to the Cape May Harbor economy as well. Eco-tourism is a growing industry, and there are four local wineries nearby that are popular with visitors.
Before Europeans came to Cape May Harbor, the indigenous Unalachtigo, a division of the Lenape, inhabited the area. Before the American Revolution, most of the Unalachtigo had migrated to the region that would become Ohio.
Between 1611 and 1614, Captain Cornelius Jacobsen Mey explored the Cape May Harbor area and established a claim for what he called New Netherland. Settlers from New England's New Haven Colony later settled Cape May Harbor. Cape Island city was incorporated in 1851, and it was renamed Cape May in 1869.
Philadelphia vacationers began arriving at the Cape May Harbor in the middle of the 1700s, making it the oldest seaside resort in the country. By the 19th Century, it was well-known as one of the best resorts in the United States.
A five-day fire in 1878 destroyed much of the town center. Replacement homes were in the Victorian style. Preservation efforts have helped establish its reputation for the well-maintained homes that make up the second biggest collection of Victorian homes in the country, after only San Francisco. In 1976, the entire city was designated a National Historic Landmark. Cape May Harbor is the only city in the United States that is entirely a historic district.
During World War II, there was a real threat from submarines patrolling the East Coast of the United States. The mouth of the Delaware Bay was a specific target, and many facilities were located at Cape May Harbor to protect America's coastal shipping.