The Lollipop Motel roadside sign is an appealing one to tourists on their drives through North Wildwood, up or down Atlantic Avenue—two faces of beaming children—a blonde girl and a brunette boy—held up by pointed, retro red beams and surrounded by red and blue stars. In between them stands a rather large lollipop bearing the given word in black capital letters imprinted in the yellow center, while a blue banner depicting the word “motel” in large, white block letters hangs below. Although recently renovated, the sign could be characterized as one of unique and unusual attraction if found in many other parts of the country today, not in typical, modern fashion for the average motel. In fact, having been around for nearly 50 years, the Lollipop Motel, in entirety, appears to be yanked out of an antiqued Wildwoods 1950’s and 60’s postcard and dropped on the present day island, with its bright, candy-colored doors and wild and retro architecture. In actuality, this type of attention-grabbing architecture and color palette is more than just a play on building design. It is what the Wildwoods is perhaps most famously known for throughout the island’s history. It is Doo Wop.
Like the Lollipop, a number of Doo Wop themed motels and hotels dot Atlantic and Ocean Avenues, beginning in North Wildwood and continuing down through the rest of the island. But Wildwood Crest, also known as the Doo Wop District, is the central heart of where most of this mid-century preservation resides. According to the website of the Doo Wop Preservation League, a non-profit organization whose educational mission is to foster awareness and appreciation of the popular culture and imagery of the 1950’s and 60’s, the Wildwoods Island is the largest Doo Wop architectural resort found in the United States. But the Doo Wop history of the island is more than just fond, heartfelt memorabilia and nostalgia—it is a living tradition.
Bold neon signs, sharp angular elements and flashy themed imagery of Wildwood 1950’s architecture reflected the culture of the post-war American people at the time. Society was newly upbeat, enthusiastic and adventurous, and with beginnings of the automobile being publicly broadcasted on TV, people had the urge to take advantage of their newfound leisure time and explore and venture to places that reflected the positivism of their fresh attitudes. The Wildwoods had everything people were looking for and more—a seaside boardwalk with amusements, nightclubs and restaurants. And with Wildwood also booking some of the biggest acts in music for the times, people flocked from all over to be on the island by the sea.
Crowds were drawn to the Wildwoods to take part in the hip, brash culture of the Doo Wop craze back then, and crowds are still drawn to the Wildwoods today for that same reason. The Wildwoods still offers the same enjoyment and appeal to tourists, reminiscing on, preserving and embracing the appreciation of the Doo Wop style.
Although some of these buildings have been knocked down, rebuilt upon and replaced, many of them still stand in their original structures and are mirror images of what they were when they were first built. Many have also been renovated and refurbished to bring the accommodations offered by the motels up-to-date, without losing the backdrop of the historical, old time feel of the Wildwoods. Not only is Doo Wop a founding part of the island’s past, its influence lives on in the present appeal of the island and will have a strong, definitive presence in the future of the charming, seaside resort.