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Motel - Moon Motel, Howell
c. 1960


It should come as no surprise that motels like the Moon Motel in Howell and the Satellite Motel in Wildwood feature “space age” motifs. The world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik I, was launched on October 4, 1957. “While the Sputnik launch was a single event, it marked the start of the space age and the U.S.-U.S.S.R space race.”(1)

According to one source, the Moon Motel may have borrowed its theme from a nearby amusement park. The sign in front of the motel, with its rockets, crescent moon, and satellite orbiting the earth, is “a stunning example of motel signage that may easily be classed among the top ten in the nation.”(2)

(1) NASA web site (see link below).

(2) Andy Wood (see “sjsu.edu” link, below).




Sign for the Moon Motel, Howell, New Jersey. Photograph © Jenny Wood and Andy Wood (see link below).

Although many of New Jersey’s Doo-Wop motels have miraculously survived since their construction in the 1950s and 1960s, many have also been lost – some quite recently. These Doo Wop motels have fans who hope to save them from demolition. One such group is the Doo-Wop Preservation League, located (appropriately) in Wildwood. The League “is a non-profit organization “whose educational mission is to foster awareness and appreciation of the popular culture and imagery of the 1950’s and 1960’s and to promote the preservation of the largest collection of ‘Doo Wop’ architecture found in America, here in Wildwood, NJ.”(3)

The web site of the Doo Wop Preservation League lists the following as characteristics of this mid-20th century architectural style: motels with glass walls that “bring to mind the jet-age airports of the period, with names like Satellite and Fantasy;” movement “expressed through forward thrusting, pointed building parts” (as seen at the Ebb Tide and Rio motels); “Tiki” features such as “thatched roofs, plastic palms, bean-pole torches and Kon-Tiki heads” (as seen at the Waikiki, Kona Kai, Ala Moana and others); the suggestion of exotic destinations (as at the Singapore Motel, with its pagoda roof); and the “patriotic style of Cold War culture” (as seen at the Saratoga Motel and the Sand Castle Restaurant). “Other trademark Doo Wop architectural elements include boomerang rooflines, jutting facades, and zig-zagging balconies and railings.”(4)

(3,4) DooWopUSA.org (see link below).

Links:
http://www2.sjsu.edu/faculty/wooda/motel/newjersey/
http://www.doowopusa.org/index.html
http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/sputnik/
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