New Jersey is also called “The Garden State”. It was the 3rd state to join the US in 1787. Its capital city is Trenton, but its biggest city is Newark. The first European explorer to arrive in the region was an Italian in 1524. But, in 1664 England took control of the region. New Jersey became part of Britain’s 13 American colonies until its independence in 1787. New Jersey was nicknamed The Garden State in 1876 after how much food was grown there. However, today, the state is highly urbanized.
New Jersey is known for the resort town of Cape May, its beautiful beaches, and its large Italian-American population. It is home to Princeton University, one of the most prestigious universities in the country. Thomas Edison lived in New Jersey, and his famous Menlo Park laboratory still stands today!
The first-ever organized baseball game happened in New Jersey. It was played in Elysian Fields in Hoboken in 1846. The game was against the New York Nine and the Knickerbockers.
The game used modern rules and many historians think of it as the birth of baseball. The Elysian Fields were used due to the rise of real estate and the new rules in Manhattan to protect developments from broken windows!
The Elysian Fields were just a short ferry ride away from Manhattan. Its grassy field stretched all the way to the river’s edge. Perfect for baseball.
Bruce Springsteen, the famous American singer, songwriter, and musician, is from New Jersey.
He spent his childhood in Freehold, New Jersey, but in the summer of 1969, he relocated to the Jersey Shore. It was there he formed the group “Child” which later became known as “Steel Mill” alongside two friends.
Steel Mill tore up the Jersey Shore music scene and they were well-known locally. The band was dissolved in 1971 and in 1972, Springsteen formed a new band that became known as The E Street Band.
Today, the singer lives back in his home state New Jersey with his wife!
Cape May is said to be the oldest seaside resort in the US. While New Jersey is famed for its beautiful beaches, Cape May is a cut above the rest.
The town is incredibly picturesque and is a National Historic Landmark! It is filled with Victorian buildings and more seafood restaurants than you’d know what to do with.
While the beaches are beautiful, Cape May also has the South Cape May Meadows. It is a 200-acre protected area that is home to a range of wildlife.
Liberty State Park
Liberty State Park is one of New Jersey’s most popular state parks. It is in Hudson County and covers an area of 1,212 acres.
Over 4.7 million people visit every year. The park has a ferry service running to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, making it even more popular.
The park has incredible views of the Manhattan skyline and the Hudson River. It also has a state-of-the-art science center, the Liberty Science Center, on the grounds.
Thomas Edison, the famous American inventor, spent the last years of his life in West Orange, New Jersey. He moved to Menlo Park in 1876, although he was already living in Newark, New Jersey. It was in Menlo Park that he built his most well-known laboratory.
The inventor was often called “The Wizard Of Menlo Park” because that’s where he invented some of his most famous works. These were the electric light and the phonograph.
He invented the phonograph first in 1877 and the electric light a year later in 1878.
The whole of New Jersey is a metropolitan state. Aside from Rhode Island (which is much smaller), New Jersey is the only state where all of its counties are considered to be “urban”.
Despite its nickname as “The Garden State” today, New Jersey is highly urbanized. It has one of the highest population densities in the country. For every square mile, there are roughly 1,195.5 people.
The New Jersey transportation system (NJ Transit) is one of the most extensive (and busiest) in the world. It connects New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia.
Princeton University is a world-renowned research university. It was founded in 1746, making it the fourth-oldest college in the US.
It is currently ranked as THE number one university in the US, so getting accepted is not easy! In 2021, the college had 31,056 applicants, but only six percent were accepted.
The Ivy-League college sits on 600 acres in suburban New Jersey. The campus is beautiful with lots of green spaces, neo-gothic buildings, and trees.
Jersey Shore, Jerseylicious, and the Real Housewives of New Jersey are just a few of the state’s reality TV shows.
Jersey Shore is the most famous, airing in 2009. There were six seasons overall. The show followed the lives of eight housemates in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Its first season had an average of 2.7 million viewers!
New Jersey is known as the “Diner Capital Of The World”. It has more diners than any other state, and today there are over 500. Since there are an estimated 2,000 diners across the country, this means New Jersey has around one-quarter of the diners in the US!
Why does the Garden State have so many diners? Well, the great transportation system and location might be why. New Jersey is between New York and Philadelphia, and when people drove through, they needed to fuel up. Both their car AND their stomachs.
Atlantic City, which is often called A.C., is a coastal resort town in Atlantic County. Alongside Las Vegas, the town is known as a TOP US destination for gambling and casinos.
The famed Atlantic City Boardwalk is the oldest in America. It stretches along four miles of seafront and is lined with shops, casinos, restaurants, and hotels.
The city has over 27 million visitors every year and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US.
One of our favorite summer treats, saltwater taffy, was invented in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
It is extremely popular in New Jersey with locals and visitors.
The state has over 70 flavors of saltwater taffy across several stores. In 2013, one company reported selling 600,000 pounds of candy just in Atlantic City.
It supposedly gets its name from when a boardwalk candy store flooded with seawater in 1883. The owner (making the most of a bad situation) joked that all he had to sell was saltwater taffy. And, the name stuck.
The Lambert Castle Museum Spoon Exhibition
Did you know that New Jersey is… (wait for it)… home to the world’s largest spoon collection. The collection has over 5,400 spoons and they can be found at the Lambert Castle Museum.
The magnificent collection belonged to avid spoon collector Bertha Schaefer Koempel, who lived in the state as a girl. When she passed in 1966, she donated her collection to the Passaic County Historical Society.
Don’t make the mistake to think that these are ordinary spoons. Each is ornate and has different subjects like countries, states, or figures. For example, the Holland spoon depicts a windmill with real turning blades.
Bill of Rights
New Jersey was the first state to sign the bill of rights. The state signed it on November 20, 1798. 12 articles were proposed and New Jersey approved 11.
Before this, the state was the fourth American colony to take on a constitution that declared independence from Great Britain. It was a temporary charter adopted in 1776 that was in the state’s constitution for 68 years.
Beemerville Volcano (A.K.A Rutan Hill) is The Garden State’s only volcano. Luckily, the volcano has been dormant for over 400 million years, so there’s no need to worry about it erupting any time soon.
It has an elevation of 1020 feet and contains a rare volcanic rock (which is VERY exciting for geologists) called nepheline syenite. This rock is found worldwide, but in the US, you’ll only find it in New Jersey, Texas, and Arkansas.
Scientists and Engineers
Per square mile, New Jersey is home to more engineers and scientists than any other place in the world (those New Jerseyans are a smart bunch).
Of course, all these scientists and engineers need to work somewhere! The state is home to several world-leading science and technology companies.
Groups like Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Chromocell are based in New Jersey. Even the US Army Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center is there.
Fairfield, New Jersey is the “most Italian place in the US” according to census data. Over half of its 7,475 residents say that they have Italian ancestry.
Seven out of the 20 towns in the US that have the highest percentage of Italian-Americans are in New Jersey. According to the census data, New Jersey has 1.45 million residents (around 17 percent) with Italian ancestry.
Given this, it’s unsurprising that the popular TV service “The Sopranos” (based on a fictional Italian mobster) is based in New Jersey.