Cape May, city (1990 pop. 4,668), Cape May co., S N.J., on Cape May peninsula and the Atlantic Ocean; settled in the 1600s, inc. 1857. One of the nation's oldest beach resorts and a national historic landmark, it became known in the mid-19th cent. as the
; Lincoln, Grant, Arthur, Buchanan, Hayes, and Benjamin Harrison vacationed here. Its Victorian mansions and hotels are well known. The city is connected by ferry to Lewes, Del.
Cape May, the southern extremity of New Jersey, has a lighthouse on Cape May Point at the entrance to Delaware Bay. The cape is bisected by a canal, c.3 mi (4.8 km) above the point, built 1942–43 as a war emergency measure to provide an alternative to the hazardous route around the cape; the canal is part of the Intracoastal Waterway. In the past few decades erosion of the cape and saltwater entering groundwater have become major problems.