39 Interesting Facts About New Jersey

Last updated on March 13th, 2020

New Jersey is the 11th most populous and the 47th most extensive of the 50 states of the United States. It is in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the United States. The state attained statehood on December 18, 1787, becoming the 3rd state to join the union. Its three bordering states are Delaware, New York, and PennsylvaniaNew Hampshire (nicknamed: Garden State) has 21 counties. The state’s capital is Trenton. The postal abbreviation for New Jersey is NJ. With these facts about New Jersey, let us learn more about its history, geography, culture, people, economy and more.  

Interesting Facts About New Jersey

1. Some of the most prolific inventions of the 20th century happened right here in New Jersey. One was done by Thomas Edison when he introduced the world to his idea of an electric light bulb. At his laboratory in Menlo Park, Edison built his first high resistance, incandescent electric light. Edison was born in Ohio on February 11, 1847.[1]

2. New Jersey is the “diner capital of the world.” This is mainly because of certain conditions that helped flourish the dining culture in the state. First, due to the early development of the transportation system in the state, when people were out commuting, they needed some place to stop and feed themselves. The new and upcoming diners served this purpose very well. The geographic location of the state connecting Philadelphia and New York helped further the trend. And the rest is history! According to some sources, the state has the most diners in the world.[20]

New Jersey on the map
New Jersey (in red) on the map with neighboring states.

3. The world’s first dinosaur statue was discovered in Haddonfield, New Jersey in October 1858. It was the first complete dinosaur skeleton to be found and the first to be publicly displayed as well.[21]

4.The world’s largest light bulb which is 13 feet tall and weighs eight tons stands near Thomas Edison’s old lab in Edison, New Jersey. The light bulb was constructed in 1938 and it is encased by 153 individual pieces of Pyrex.[22]   

5. Thomas Edison filed more than 400 patents from his laboratory in Menlo Park. He used copper in almost all his electrical inventions; inside phones, motors, generators and electromagnets.[14,15]

6. The Holland Tunnel which connects Jersey City, New Jersey and Manhattan in New York City, New York is the first mechanically ventilated underwater tunnel in the world. After seven years of construction, the tunnel opened in 1927. At the time of its opening, the Holland Tunnel was the longest continuous underwater vehicular tunnel in the world. At its maximum depth, the tunnel lies roughly 93 feet beneath the Hudson River.[23,24]

7. New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the country. The state is home to the top four densely populated municipalities in the United States and seven of the top ten. Guttenberg is the fourteenth most densely populated place in the world.[10]

A submarine.

8. John Philip Holland started his work on the design of the submarine while he was working as a teacher in St. John’s Parochial School in Paterson, New Jersey. Initially, a 33 inch model of the submarine was tested at Coney Island, New York. The success of the test brought in another sponsorship fund of $4,000 to the inventor to further his design.[3]

9. In 1991, New Jersey terminated ocean dumping. To bring about the shift from ocean dumping to a more sustainable and environmental friendly way discarding the waste, the state had to spend more than a $100 million.

10. Standard time was devised in 1883 by William F. Allen of South Orange. Did you know that in 1850s, the Americans set their watches in as many as a hundred local times? The need for a standard time was felt because of the then-growing railroad industry. The need for a standard and reliable schedule for railways was felt and as a result in 1883 the U.S. was divided into four time zones, each with a standard time. William F. Allen was the secretary of the railroads’ General Time Convention and editor of The Traveller’s Official Guide.[4,5] 

11. New Jersey is also the leading state for the development and manufacturing of flavors and fragrances.[18]

Gold dome of the New Jersey State Capitol Building in Trenton on a beautiful spring day.
Gold dome of the New Jersey State Capitol Building in Trenton on a beautiful spring day.

12. The gold on the dome of the New Jersey’s state capitol was funded by the school kids from the state. The dome has 48,000 piece of gold leaf and each piece of gold leaf cost $1. New Jersey school kids raised the money through the “Dimes for the Dome” program.[6]

13. The lighthouse of the sandy hook is in service since June 11, 1764. The lighthouse completed 250 years of service in 2014 and a celebration was held to mark the historic occasion.[7]

14. The state is nicknamed the garden state. The state has more than 10,000 farms and produces more than 100 varieties of fruits and vegetables. The state is ranked nationally in the top 10 as a producer of items such as squash, bell peppers, tomatoes, blueberries, peaches and cranberries.[8,9]

an Old Telegraph.
An Old Telegraph.

15. The first public demonstration of the telegraph was made at Speedwell Ironworks in Morristown, New Jersey on January 11, 1838.[2]

16. At least 100 battles were fought in New Jersey during the Revolutionary War. This was primarily due to its location near the centre of the thirteen colonies and between New York and Philadelphia. All ten of New Jersey’s largest cities are within 30 miles of New York or Philadelphia.[11]

17. The world’s first boardwalk is built in Atlantic City in 1870. At 5.5 miles, it is the longest on Earth and the oldest in the United States.[12]

18. Cape May is the nation’s first sea side resort. It is named for the Dutch sea captain Cornelius Jacobsen Mey.[16]

A Peregrine Falcon
A Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) spreading it’s wings while perched on a stump. These birds are the fastest animals in the world.

19. The state is home to 26 known nesting pairs of peregrine falcons, the fastest animals on Earth. The peregrine falcon is the fastest animal on earth – catching speeds of over 200 miles per hour.[17]    

20. Stephen Grover Cleveland born Caldwell, New Jersey, who served as the 22nd and 24th president of the United States, is the only president in American history to serve two non-consecutive terms in office (1885–1889 and 1893–1897).

21. New Jersey is one of the thirteen original colonies.

22. The state’s name originates from the English Channel Island of Jersey.

23. New Jersey is also known as the “medicine chest of the world.”[13]

Flag of New Jersey

Flag of New Jersey

24. The state was nicknamed the “garden state” because of its fertile land. However, due to urban expansion and industrialization, the landscape of the state has changed considerably.

25. Italian Americans are the state’s largest ethnic group.

26. In 1776, crossing the Delaware River into Trenton, New Jersey; George Washington fought with, and ultimately defeated the British forces. This was one of the first major victories in the Revolutionary War.[25]

27. India Square, New Jersey, is home to the highest concentration of Asian Indians in the Western Hemisphere.[27] 

New Jersey on the map

Geography

28. The state has one of the busiest and most extensive transportation systems in the world.

29. More than two-fifths of the land is forested.

30. The state has 28 state parks and 11 state forests.

31. Lakes and ponds cover about 300 square miles of the state’s area. The Delaware is its major river and the state shares it with Pennsylvania. The Hudson River forms the boundary between New Jersey and New York.

32. Paterson has the second-highest density of any U.S. city behind only New York City. It is also known as the “silk city” for its dominant role in silk production during the latter half of the 19th century. By percentage, Paterson has the second-largest Muslim population in the United States.

33. Giovanni da Verrazzano was the first European to arrive in the region. Before the English took control of the region in 1664, Swedish, Finnish, and Dutch settled in the region and fought over land.[25]

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