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“Lesson in Early WWII Coastal Defense Strategy”

World War II Lookout Tower
Ranked #10 of 58 things to do in Cape May
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Owner description: Fire Control Tower No. 23 is New Jersey’s last remaining restorable World War II tower, part of the immense Harbor Defense of the Delaware system known as Fort Miles, playing a major part in coastal defenses. Built in 1942, the tower was one of 15 towers that helped aim batteries of coastal artillery, stretching from North Wildwood, N.J. to Bethany Beach, DE. Four were in Cape May County, N.J.—the towers located in North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest were torn down and a third tower is located inside Cape May’s Grand Hotel, Beach and Philadelphia avenues. Fire Control Tower No. 23 is on land now part of the Cape May Point State Park. The tower was listed on the New Jersey Register of Historic Places on May 29, 2003 and on the National Register on Nov. 17, 2003. The Tower was restored in 2008-09 by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities (MAC). The project included: building spiral staircases in the Tower so that the public can safely climb to the top; construction of a wooden walkway from the street to the Tower, and a deck around its base, to preserve the fragile dune environment; replacing the missing windows and doors; recreating historical details, such as the original wooden ladders, and outfitting the watch room and viewing platform at the top; installing interpretive panels along the walkway and at every level in the Tower; introducing lighting and safety alarms; and upgrading the existing parking lot across Sunset Boulevard and connecting it with a cross-walk to the Tower. Robert Russell of Holt Morgan Russell was the restoration architect. This project was funded by three agencies that awarded MAC grants totalling $1.3 million: the New Jersey Historic Trust, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. The 3rd level of the Tower features a "Wall of Honor" with then-and-now photographs of over 100 area World War II veterans. In 2012, an "All Veterans Memorial" was erected on the deck at the base of the Tower. The boardwalk, lined with interpretive panels, the All Veterans Memorial on the deck at the base of the Tower and the entry level are all fully accessible
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities
Reviewed May 9, 2014

The restored tower was one of 15 built in 1942 to defend against naval invasion of Delaware Bay, including chemical, gunpowder, and shipbuilding facilities in Wilmington and Philadelphia. Near the front entrance a map of the tower system and nearby gun installations illustrates how the towers offered a method of triangulating naval targets almost 20 miles away. We were told at the door that the the admission fee was $12 per adult, not $6 as advertised, so we left the tower unclimbed.

1  Thank D N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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165 - 169 of 245 reviews

Reviewed May 2, 2014

We went on a tour of the lookout tower. Great view from top. The men were very informative. Cost was reasonable. Your can get a combined tour discount too.

Thank manny y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 21, 2014

Love the world war two info. A little place in cape May has a part in the big WW II. Lots of info and great people working there sharing their experience. Down the road (couple 100 feet) shopping and snacks and miniature golf.

1  Thank james c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 28, 2014

We visited the WW II Control Tower while riding our bikes out to Sunset Beach. It was a worthwhile stop for both my wife & myself whose two fathers both served in World War II, one in the navy & one in the army, and both recently deceased. The tower serves as a memorial to these veterans, members of that great generation who stepped forward during wartime to serve their country. Few of us will ever get to experience the things our father's did: stand on the deck of a rolling navy minesweeper or feel the 'kick' of a M-1 Garand rifle when its fired. The fire control tower gives us the chance to stand in the same place that some of these vets did during wartime. The photos and plaques arranged on the the walls serve as a reminder of their service.
The Fire Control Tower is more that just a 'room with a view'. It is a living memorial to our veterans.

1  Thank Tom-Sandy B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 11, 2014

The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts (MAC) renovated this tower several years ago and it's a great place to go. For years we went to Cape May and rode our bikes or drove past the abandoned tower wondering what it was like inside. It's a very easy climb with wide stairs. There is a volunteer at the top of the tower that will explain the equipment and answer any questions you may have. You get a beautiful view of Cape May Point and the Atlantic Ocean from the top of the tower.

You can stop at each level and read the displays. Along the walk up are plaques honoring those that have served our country.

There is plenty of parking across the street and a fee to enter. MAC members can enter for free if they show their membership card. There are no bathrooms other than a port-a-potty in the parking lot.

Even if you stopped to read all the displays and talked to the volunteer up on top, you don't need more than 45 minutes at this site.

2  Thank Meghanizer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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