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One of the original 13 states, New Jersey was named for the island of Jersey in the English Channel. Starting around 10,000 years ago, the Delaware Indians were the first people to inhabit the land now known as New Jersey. The first Europeans, mainly Swedes, Finns and the Dutch, started exploring the region in the 16th century and set up small trading colonies and settlements in what are the present-day towns of Hoboken and Jersey City. The British took control of the land a century later and sold it at low prices to settlers who were allowed a great deal of religious and political liberty. As a result, New Jersey has a greater degree of ethnic, cultural and religious diversity than many other former colonies.
The state of New Jersey played an important role during the Revolutionary War, primarily due to its strategic location between British-occupied New York City and the rebel capital of Philadelphia. The state was repeatedly invaded by the British and more than 100 large and small battles, including the decisive Battle of Trenton, were fought between the ruling British and rebel Americans. It is no surprise that New Jersey has been christened the “Crossroads of the American Revolution.”
In 1787, New Jersey became the third state to endorse the US Constitution and in 1790, the first one to sign the Bill of Rights.
During the early 1800s, New Jersey experienced a wave of industrialization that led to the development of Camden, Newark, Elizabeth, Passaic and Jersey City as important manufacturing hubs. The construction of new canals and railroads helped the growth of industry. Thousands of Europeans migrated to New Jersey to work in the factories. Most of the state’s population and the industries that employed them were mainly concentrated in the northern part of the state. South New Jersey relied largely on agriculture, growing crops that provided food to nearby urban areas.
The state has witnessed a number of historic moments since it first came into existence. It has also been home to many famous people, including scientist Albert Einstein, singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen, actors Meryl Streep and John Travolta, singer-actor Frank Sinatra, President Grover Cleveland, poet Philip Roth, and many others.
Today, New Jersey is a highly urbanized and populous state with one of the busiest and most extensive transportation systems in the world that funnels goods and people to New York City and other northern areas as well as to Philadelphia and other southern areas. It is renowned as the Garden State for the fertility of its land and is a leading producer of blueberries, cranberries and tomatoes. Its long and beautiful coastline has transformed the state into a popular tourist destination, with numerous resort towns including Atlantic City, Asbury Park and Cape May.
Read on to discover more interesting facts about New Jersey.
Source: United States Postal Service – Abbreviations
Source: Resident Population Data – 2010 Census
|Governor||Christopher S. Christie (Republican, to January 2014)|
|Entered the Union||December 18, 1787|
as the 3rd state
|Motto||Liberty and Prosperity|
|Nickname||The Garden State|
|Professional Sports Teams||New Jersey Devils (Hockey). Note: The New York Jets and the New York Giants football teams’ home stadium is in East Rutherford, New Jersey.|
(sports listing policy)
|Origin of Name||From the Channel Isle of Jersey|
|Historical Sites||The Edison National Historic Site in West Orange|
|Points of Interest||Delaware Water Gap, Liberty State Park, the New Jersey State Aquarium in Camden, and Atlantic City|
|Bordering States||New Jersey borders Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York.|
Follow these links to read articles about New Jersey from Encyclopedias and Almanacs:
Official State Links
- State of New Jersey: The Official State of New Jersey Web Site
This is the official website for the State of New Jersey.
- New Jersey State Library
Here is the homepage for the New Jersey State Library.
- The New Jersey State Museum
Here is the homepage for the New Jersey State Museum.
- New Jersey Public Records and Archives
Here is the homepage for the New Jersey State Archives.
- New Jersey Division of Parks and Forestry
Here is the homepage for New Jersey State Parks.
- Visit NJ
Here is the official state travel and tourism website for New Jersey.
- Hangout NJ: the Next Generation
Here is the New Jersey state site especially for kids.
Other State Links
- 50states.com: New Jersey
The site provides a wealth of information about New Jersey. It includes everything from the highest point to county profile to climate.
- Roadside America: New Jersey Attractions
Roadside America describes itself as an online guide to offbeat attractions. This site offers reviews of “weird sites along the highway” in New Jersey.
- Kids’ Guide: New Jersey’s Guide to Places and Events for Children & Families
Check this site for family vacation, travel and entertainment ideas in New Jersey.
Did You Know
- Modern paleontology, the science of studying dinosaur fossils, began in 1858 with the discovery of the first nearly-complete skeleton of a dinosaur in Haddonfield, New Jersey. The Hadrosaurus is the official New Jersey state dinosaur
- The honey bee, apis mellifera, is the New Jersey state bug.
- The state sea-shell is the knobbed whelk, (Busycon carica gmelin) because it is found on all beaches and bays of New Jersey.
Some Famous People from this State
- Jon Bon Jovi (born John Francis Bongiovi) musician, was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey in 1962.
- Aaron Burr, Vice President of the United States under Thomas Jefferson, was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1756.
- H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Commander in Chief, United States Central Command and recepient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
- Frank Sinatra, singer and actor.
- Bruce Springsteen, musician.