THE STORY OF THE FAMOUS IRON PIER
Victorian Cape May was known for its grand hotels, ornate cottages, and the finest beach on the Atlantic coast. Standing proudly upon the beach at Decatur was the legendary Iron Pier. It was lined with old-fashioned amusements and vintage shops of all varieties, leading towards a majestic opera house, one thousand feet out over the ocean. A lower deck was available for fishermen. The pier featured a unique hexagon steamship terminal with the ability to dock six ships at once.
The Iron Pier was built in 1884, on the site of Victor Denizot’s old wooden pier, which had been lost to a violent storm earlier that January. Five years earlier, two hundred feet of Denizot’s pier were burned in the Great Inferno of 1878, and another five hundred and fifty feet were ripped off in a powerful storm.
Strength and durability were key when the Cape May Ocean Pier Company hired the Phoenix Bridge Company to build the pier. Their strategy was successful and for 25 years, the pier withstood storms and fire to bring great joy to the hundreds of thousands of people who visited it. The story of the Iron Pier ends abruptly in 1909, when it was hit and fatally damaged by one of the barges filled with the giant rocks used to create Cold Spring Inlet.