The seaside resorts of Southern New Jersey evoke another age.
I’ve spent the last two years documenting the midcentury modern motels of the Wildwoods, a group of shore towns on a 5-mile island in southern New Jersey. Built in the 1950s and ’60s and virtually unchanged, they form the largest concentration of postwar resort architecture in the U.S. As a native of the Jersey Shore, I’ve always been interested in the coast’s history and buildings, and when I happened upon the Wildwoods one winter, I felt like I’d traveled back in time. The motels represent the way American families used to vacation – with the rise of car culture and a new landscaped highway sparking a massive migration to the area. More than 300 motels were built, influenced by European modernism and Miami Beach, though in the last 20 years, half have been knocked down. Come summer, they’re still packed with people, but for nine months of the year they have no choice but to close. This is when I shoot; with all distractions stripped away, their character can really shine through. Each motel is different, decorated to set itself apart and attract motorists, with bright colors, neon signs and the iconography of exotic, faraway destinations. I love that so many are able to continue on and thrive, as time capsules of summers past.”
“The Yankee Clipper Motel is one of this subset of motels down there that are identified as historic buildings. It was built in the early 1960s and still holds a lot of its original detail.”
Photographer Tyler Haughey is a New Jersey native living in Brooklyn. See more of his work at tylerhaughey.com and on Instagram at @tylerhaughey.