The State of New Jersey
AT A GLANCE
Name: New Jersey was named after Jersey, an island in the English Channel.
Nickname: Garden State
Size: 7,790 sq. mi. (20, 175 sq km)
Population: 8,958,013 (2015 est)
Statehood: New Jersey became the third state on December 18, 1787.
Electoral votes: 15 (2016)
U.S. representatives: 13 (until 2016)
State tree: red oak
State flower: purple violet
State insect: honeybee
Highest point: High Point, 1,083 ft. (550 m)
New Jersey is one of the Mid-Atlantic states. It is the fourth-smallest state in the United States, bigger than only Rhode Island, Delaware, and Connecticut. New Jersey is located between New York and Pennsylvania. The Delaware River marks the state's western border, while the Hudson River separates New Jersey from New York in the northeast.
New Jersey has a 130-mile (209-km) coastline on the Atlantic Ocean. Salt marshes, shallow lagoons, and meadows cover much of the area near the coast. The land in the center of the state is fertile farmland. New Jersey has more than 800 lakes and ponds, and its many rivers provide power for the state's large cities, which include Newark, Paterson, Elizabeth, Trenton, and Camden.
About two-fifths of New Jersey is covered by forests. Most of the forested area is in the northwestern corner of New Jersey, in the Appalachian Mountains. The Delaware Water Gap, where the Delaware River cuts through the mountains, is one of the most scenic natural formations in the region. The grassy Appalachian Valley is the largest valley in the area and is ideal for grazing dairy cattle.
New Jersey has warmto-hot summers and cold winters, with more moderate temperatures along the coast. New Jersey's most valuable mineral resources are granite, traprock, sand, and gravel.
Facts and Firsts
- Cape May is the oldest seashore resort in the United States.
- Atlantic City has the longest boardwalk in the world. Built in 1896, it stretches for 4.5 miles (7.2 km) along the Atlantic coast.
- New Jersey is the only state to have all of its counties classified as metropolitan areas.
- New Jersey has the densest system of highways and railroads in the country.
- New Jersey is a leading state in chemical production, and chemicals are the state's leading manufactured product.
- Two-thirds of the world's eggplants are grown in New Jersey.
Before Europeans settled in New Jersey, the land was home to around 8,000 Native Americans, who came to be known as the Delaware. Italian navigator Giovanni da Verrazano, working for the king of France, reached New Jersey's coast in 1524. Henry Hudson explored New Jersey as part of his Hudson River expedition for the Netherlands in the early 1600s. The earliest settlers came from the Netherlands and Sweden to trade furs. Fearing competition from the Swedes, the Dutch quickly pushed them out, and New Jersey became part of the Dutch colony of New Netherland.
In 1664, the English drove out the Dutch and took control of New Netherland, which they renamed New York and New Jersey. The governor of New York also ruled New Jersey until 1738, when Lewis Morris became the first governor of the New Jersey colony.
Because of New Jersey's central location, Patriot and British forces engaged in almost 100 Revolutionary War conflicts there. The colony was the site of many key battles, including the battles of Trenton, Princeton, and Monmouth.
After the Revolutionary War, New Jersey quickly became one of the first industrialized states. By 1792, Paterson was an important center for the manufacture of textiles. In 1804, New Jersey began to pass legislation to gradually free its slaves, but there was significant pro-South sympathy in the state. It was one of only three states that voted against the reelection of President Abraham Lincoln in 1864.
In the late 1800s, the construction of new canals and railroads helped Camden, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Newark, Trenton, and Passaic to become major manufacturing centers. New Jersey became the home of many large industrial businesses. Thousands of European immigrants came to work in New Jersey factories.
New Jersey suffered through unemployment and economic hardship during the Great Depression. During World War II, however, the state's electronics and chemical industries grew as the state supplied communications equipment, ships, weapons, and ammunition for the country's military operations.
During the mid–20th century, many New Jersey residents left the industrial cities to live in the country. Many people who worked in the large cities of New York and Philadelphia also moved to New Jersey's suburbs, which quickly became overpopulated. The expanding population had a negative impact on the environment and strained the resources of the state government, which needed revenue to pay for roads, schools, and social assistance.
With about 89 percent of its residents living in urban areas, New Jersey has the highest population density of any state, with an average of 1,098 people per square mile. Its manufacturing centers produce electronics, paper and printed products, and processed food. New Jersey is one of the leading states in the production of chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
New Jersey's location between New York and Philadelphia brings business to the state, and its transportation system moves goods and people between those two cities and all over the world. New Jersey's airport in Newark is one of the busiest international airports in the world.
New Jersey is a leading agricultural state. The Garden State grows flowers that are sold all over the country, dairy farms produce milk and cheese, while produce farms grow a variety of fruits and vegetables, such as apples, asparagus, lettuce, and sweet corn.
Thousands of tourists visit the resorts along New Jersey's Atlantic coastline every year. Atlantic City is the most famous of these resort towns, where casinos, hotels, stores, and restaurants flourish.
Born in New Jersey
- Bud Abbott, comedian
- Charles Addams, cartoonist
- Jason Alexander, actor
- William “Count” Basie, bandleader
- Joan Bennett, actress
- Jon Bon Jovi, musician
- William J. Brennan Jr., jurist
- Aaron Burr, political leader
- Grover Cleveland, U.S. president
- James Fenimore Cooper, author
- Lou Costello, comedian
- Stephen Crane, author
- Allen Ginsberg, poet
- Jerry Lewis, comedian and actor
- Anne Morrow Lindbergh, author and aviator
- Norman Mailer, author
- Dorothy Parker, author
- Paul Robeson, singer and author
- Philip Roth, author
- H. Norman Schwarzkopf, general, U.S. Army
- Frank Sinatra, singer and actor
- Bruce Springsteen, musician
- Alfred Stieglitz, photographer
- Meryl Streep, actress
- William Carlos Williams, physician and poet