Inhabited by Native Americans for more than 2,800 years, the first European settlements in the area were established by the Swedes and Dutch in the early 1600s. The English later seized control of the region, naming it the Province of New Jersey, which was granted to Sir George Carteret and John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton as a colony. The name was taken from the largest of the English Channel Islands, Jersey. New Jersey was an important site during the American Revolutionary War; several decisive battles were fought there. The winter quarters of the revolutionary army were established twice by George Washington in Morristown, which was called the military capital of revolution. Later, people who worked in factories in cities such as Paterson and Trenton helped to drive the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century. New Jersey's position at the center of the Northeast Corridor, between Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., fueled its rapid growth through the suburban boom of the 1950s and beyond.
New Jersey can be thought of as five regions, based on natural geography and population. Northeastern New Jersey, the Gateway Region, lies within the New York metropolitan area, and some residents commute to the city to work. Northwestern New Jersey, or the "Skylands", is, compared to the northeast, more wooded, rural, and mountainous, but still a popular place to live. The "Shore" along the Atlantic Coast in the southeast has its own residence and lifestyle characteristics owing to the ocean. The southwest is within Metropolitan Philadelphia, and is included in the Delaware Valley. The fifth region is the Pine Barrens in the interior of the southern part and is covered rather extensively by mixed pine and oak forest, and as such has a much lower population density than much of the rest of the state.
New Jersey also can be broadly divided into three geographic regions: North Jersey, Central Jersey, and South Jersey. Some people do not consider Central Jersey a region in its own right, but many believe it is a separate geographic and cultural area from the North and South.
The federal Office of Management and Budget divides New Jersey's counties into seven Metropolitan Statistical Areas, including sixteen counties in the New York City or Philadelphia metro areas. Four counties have independent metro areas, and Warren County joins another Pennsylvania-based metro area. (See Metropolitan Statistical Areas of New Jersey for details.)
It is also at the center of the Boston to Washington megalopolis.
Additionally, the New Jersey Commerce, Economic Growth, & Tourism Commission divides the state into six distinct regions to facilitate the state's tourism industry. The regions are:
Areas managed by the National Park Service include:
Prominent geographic features include:
The summers are typically hot and humid with statewide average high temperatures of 82 - 88°F (28 - 31°C) and lows of 60 - 70°F (15 - 21°C). Temperatures exceeding 90°F (32°C) occur on average 18-25 days each summer, but temperatures below 0°F (-18°C) or above 100°F (38°C) are uncommon. The winters are cold with temperatures approaching the freezing point in most of the state, and will dip below freezing in the northwestern highlands.
Average yearly precipitation ranges from 43 to 51 inches (1,120 - 1,320 mm), fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. Average snowfall per winter season range from 10 - 15 inches (25 - 38 cm) in the south and near the seacoast, 15 - 30 inches (38 - 78 cm) in the northeast and central part of the state, to about 40 - 50 inches (1 - 1,27 m) in the northwestern highlands. On average, 25 to 30 thunderstorms occur every year, most during the summer.
During winter and early spring, New Jersey could experiences nor'easters, which cause blizzards and flooding in northeastern parts of the United States. New Jersey could also have drought for weeks. Hurricanes and tropical storms (such as Hurricane Floyd in 1999) are uncommon.
|Average high and low temperatures in various cities of New Jersey °C (°F)|
Around 180 million years ago, during the Jurassic Period, New Jersey bordered North Africa. The pressure of the collision between North America and Africa gave rise to the Appalachian Mountains. Around 18,000 years ago, the Ice Age resulted in glaciers that reached New Jersey. As the glaciers retreated, they left behind Lake Passaic, as well as many rivers, swamps, and gorges.
New Jersey was originally settled by Native Americans, with the Lenni-Lenape being dominant at the time Europeans arrived. The Lenape were loosely organized groups that practiced small-scale agriculture (mainly based on corn) in order to increase their largely mobile hunter-gatherer society in the region surrounding the Delaware River, the lower Hudson River, and western Long Island Sound. The Lenape society was divided into matrilinear clans that were based upon common female ancestors. These clans were organized into three distinct phratries identified by their animal sign: Turtle, Turkey, and Wolf. They first encountered the Dutch in the early 1600s, and their primary relationship with the Europeans was through fur trade.
Much of New Jersey was claimed by the Dutch. The Dutch colony of New Netherland consisted of parts of modern New York (New Amsterdam) and New Jersey. Although the European principle of land ownership was not recognized by the Lenape, Dutch policy required formal purchase of all land settled upon, and the first such purchase was of Manhattan, by Peter Minuit.
The entire region became a territory of England in 1664, when an English fleet under the command of Colonel Richard Nicolls sailed into what is today New York Harbor and took over the colony, against extremely low resistance.
During the English Civil War the Channel Isle of Jersey remained loyal to the Crown and gave sanctuary to the King. It was from the Royal Square in St. Helier that Charles II of England was first proclaimed King in 1649, following the execution of his father, Charles I. The North American lands were divided by Charles II, who gave his brother, the Duke of York (later King James II) the region between New England and Maryland as a proprietary colony (as opposed to a royal colony). James then granted the land between the Hudson River and the Delaware River (the land that would become New Jersey) to two friends who had remained loyal through the English Civil War: Sir George Carteret and Lord Berkeley of Stratton. The area was named, the Province of New Jersey.
Settlement for the first 10 years of English rule was in the Hudson River region and came primarily from New England. On March 18, 1673, Berkeley sold his half of the colony to Quakers in England (with William Penn acting as trustee for a time), who settled the Delaware Valley region as a Quaker colony. New Jersey was governed very briefly as two distinct provinces, East and West Jersey, for 28 years between 1674 and 1702. In 1702, the two provinces were reunited under a royal, rather than a proprietary, governor. Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury became the first governor of the colony as a royal colony. Lord Cornbury was an ineffective and corrupt ruler, taking bribes and speculating on land, so in 1708 he was recalled to England. New Jersey was then ruled by the governors of New York, but this infuriated the settlers of New Jersey, who accused those governors of favoritism to New York. Judge Lewis Morris led the case for a separate governor, and was appointed governor by King George II in 1738.
New Jersey was one of the Thirteen Colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution. The New Jersey Constitution of 1776 was passed July 2, 1776, just two days before the Second Continental Congress declared American Independence from Britain. It was an act of the Provincial Congress, which made itself into the state Legislature. To reassure neutrals, it provided that it would become void if New Jersey reached reconciliation with Great Britain.
During the American Revolutionary War, British and American armies crossed New Jersey numerous times and several pivotal battles took place in the state. Because of this, New Jersey today is often referred to as "The Crossroads of the Revolution."
On December 25, 1776, the Continental Army under George Washington crossed the Delaware River and engaged the unprepared Hessian troops in the Battle of Trenton. Slightly more than a week after victory at Trenton, on January 3, 1777, the American forces gained an important victory by stopping Cornwallis's charges at the Second Battle of Trenton. By evading Cornwallis's army, Washington made a surprise attack on Princeton, and successfully defeated the British forces there.
Later, American forces under Washington met the forces under General Henry Clinton at the Battle of Monmouth in an indecisive engagement. Washington attempted to take the British column by surprise; when the British army attempted to flank the Americans, the Americans retreated in disorder. The ranks were later reorganized and withstood the British charges.
In the summer of 1783, the Continental Congress met in Nassau Hall at Princeton University, making Princeton the nation's capital for four months. It was there that the Continental Congress learned of the signing of the Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended the war.
New Jersey was the third state to ratify the United States Constitution, which was overwhelmingly popular in New Jersey, as it prevented New York and Pennsylvania from charging and keeping tariffs on goods imported from Europe. In November 20, 1789, the state became the first in the newly-formed Union to ratify the Bill of Rights.
The 1776 New Jersey State Constitution gave the vote to "all inhabitants" who had a certain level of wealth. This included both women and blacks; although not married women, who could not own property. Both sides, in several elections, claimed that the other side had had unqualified women vote, and mocked them for use of "petticoat electors" (entitled to vote or not); on the other hand, both parties passed Voting Rights Acts. In 1807, the legislature passed a bill interpreting the constitution to mean universal white male suffrage, excluding paupers. (This was less revolutionary than it sounds: the "constitution" was itself only an act of the legislature.)
In 1844, the second state constitution was ratified and brought into effect. Counties thereby became districts for the State Senate, and some realignment of boundaries (including the creation of Mercer County) immediately followed. This provision was retained in the 1947 Constitution, but was overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1962 by the decision Baker v. Carr. While the Governorship was stronger than under the 1776 constitution, the constitution of 1844 created many offices that were not responsible to him, or to the people, and it gave him a three-year term, but he could not succeed himself.
Unlike the Revolutionary War, no Civil War battles took place within the state. However, throughout the course of the Civil War, over 80,000 enlisted in the Northern army to defeat the Southern Confederacy.
New Jersey was one of the few states to reject President Abraham Lincoln twice in national elections, and sided with Stephen Douglas and George B. McClellan during their campaigns. McClellan later became governor. During the war, the state was led first by Republican Governor Charles Smith Olden, then by Democrat Joel Parker.
In the Industrial Revolution, cities like Paterson grew and prospered. Previously, the economy had been largely agrarian, which was problematically subject to crop failures and poor soil. This caused a shift to a more industrialized economy, one based on manufactured commodities such as textiles and silk. Inventor Thomas Edison also became an important figure of the Industrial Revolution, having been granted 1,093 patents, many of which for inventions he developed while working in New Jersey. Transportation was greatly improved as locomotion and steamboats were introduced to New Jersey.
Iron mining was also a prevalent industry during the middle to late 1800s. Mines such as Mt. Hope, Mine Hill and the Rockaway Valley Mines created a thriving industry, which spawned new towns and was one of the driving forces behind the need for the Morris Canal.
New Jersey prospered through the Roaring Twenties. The first Miss America Pageant was held in 1921, the first drive in movie was shown in Camden in 1933, and in 1927 the Holland Tunnel opened. During the Great Depression of the nineteen thirties, the state offered begging licenses to unemployed residents, the zeppelin Hindenburg went up in flames over Lakehurst, and the SS Morro Castle beached itself on the Jersey Shore after going up in flames while at sea.
In 1951, the New Jersey Turnpike opened, permitting fast travel by car or truck from the northern cities to southern New Jersey and Philadelphia area.
In the 1960s, residents of a few New Jersey cities rioted. Because many of the rioters had dark skin, these events were often referred to as race riots. The first race riots in New Jersey occurred in Jersey City on August 2, 1964. Several others ensued in 1967, in Newark and Plainfield. Camden rioted in 1971.
As of 2006, New Jersey is the eleventh-most populous state, but the most densely populated, at 1,174 residents per square mile (453 per km²), although the density varies widely across the state. It is also the second wealthiest state in the United States according to the United States Census Bureau.
New Jersey is one of the most religiously and ethnically diverse states in the country. It has the second largest Jewish population by percentage after New York; the second largest Muslim population by percent (after Michigan); the third highest Asian population by percent, the third highest Italian-American population by percent of any state according to the 2000 Census; and a large percentage of the population is Black, White American, Hispanic American, Arab American, and Asian American. It has the second highest Indian American population of any state by absolute numbers.
Newark and Camden are two of the poorest cities in America, but New Jersey as a whole has the second highest median household income among the states. This is largely because so much of New Jersey consists of suburbs, most of them affluent, of New York City and Philadelphia. New Jersey is also the most densely populated state in the nation, and the only state that has had every one of its counties deemed "urban" as defined by the Census Bureau's Combined Statistical Area.
The state has very sizable enclaves of different language speaking communities. Some of these include (by ranking)
The dominant race, ethnicity, or ancestry by county, according to the 2000 Census, is the following:
6.7% of its population was reported as under age 5, 24.8% under 18, and 13.2% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 51.5% of the population.
|Refused to identify||5|
(no denomination stated)
(by religion only)
|Assemblies of God||*|
|Church of Christ||*|
|Church of God||*|
|Seventh Day Adventist||*|
The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that New Jersey's total state product in 2006 was $434 billion. Its per capita personal income in 2004 was $41,636, 2nd in the U.S. and 126% of the national average of $33,041. Its median household income is the highest in the nation with $55,146. It is ranked 2nd in the nation by the number of places with per capita incomes above national average with 76.4%. Nine of New Jersey's counties are in the wealthiest 100 of the country. New Jersey faces a deficit that could be as large as 3 billion for the fiscal year that starts July 1, 2008.
New Jersey has seven tax brackets for determining income tax rates. The rates range from 1.4 to 8.97%. The standard sales tax rate is 7%, applicable to all retail sales unless specifically exempt by law. Exemptions include most food items for at-home preparation, medicines, clothing (except fur items), footwear, and disposable paper products for use in the home. Approximately 30 New Jersey municipalities are designated as Urban Enterprise Zones and shoppers are charged a 3½% tax rate, half of the rate charged outside the UEZs. Sections of Elizabeth and Jersey City are examples of communities that are subject to the lower sales tax rate. All real property located in the state is subject to property tax unless specifically exempted by statute. New Jersey does not assess an intangible personal property tax, but it does impose an inheritance tax.
New Jersey's economy is centered on the pharmaceutical industry, chemical development, telecommunications, food processing, electric equipment, printing and publishing, and tourism. New Jersey's agricultural outputs are nursery stock, horses, vegetables, fruits and nuts, seafood, and dairy products.
Although New Jersey is home to many energy-intensive industries, its energy consumption is only 2.7% of the U.S. total, and its carbon dioxide emissions are only 0.8% of the U.S. total. Its comparatively low greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to nuclear power. According to the Energy Information Administration, nuclear power dominates New Jersey’s electricity market, typically supplying more than one-half of State generation. New Jersey has three nuclear power plants, including the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station, which came online in 1969 and is the oldest operating nuclear plant in the country.
New Jersey has a strong scientific economy. New Jersey is home to major pharmaceutical firms such as Johnson and Johnson, Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis, Pfizer, Merck, Wyeth, Hoffman-LaRoche, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Schering-Plough. New Jersey is home to major telecommunications firms such as Verizon Wireless, Avaya, Alcatel-Lucent and AT&T Communications. Furthermore, New Jersey draws upon its large and well-educated labor pool which also supports the myriad of industries that exist today.
New Jersey is the ultimate bedroom community since the state is right next to New York City and Philadelphia. Thus, there is a strong service economy in New Jersey serving residents who work in New York City or Philadelphia. Some of these industries include retail sales, education and real estate. Newark Liberty International Airport is ranked seventh among the nation's busiest airports and among the top 20 busiest airports in the world.
Shipping is a strong industry in New Jersey because of the state's strategic location. The Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal was the world's first container port and is one of the world's largest container ports. New Jersey also has a strong presence in chemical development, refining and food processing operations.
Several New Jersey counties such as Somerset (7), Morris (10), Hunterdon (13), Bergen (21), Monmouth (42) counties are ranked among the highest-income counties in the United States. Four others are also in the top 100.
As a result, New Jersey runs into deficits frequently and has one of the highest tax burdens in the nation. Factors for this include the large federal tax liability which is not adjusted for New Jersey's higher cost of living and Medicaid funding formulas. Incomes tend to be higher in New Jersey as shown by the study which puts people in higher tax brackets especially vulnerable to the alternative minimum tax, however such higher salaries are negated by the high taxes when you include the high property and state/local income taxes and the low rate of return by the federal government which may cause those high taxes.
Despite more than three centuries of development almost half of New Jersey is still wooded. The chief tree of the northern forests is the oak. A large part of the southern section is in pine. Jersey oak has been used extensively in shipbuilding.
The mineral resources in New Jersey are small. The state, however, does rank high in smelting and refining minerals from other states. Some mining activity does still take place in the area in and around the Franklin Furnace, which was long a center of zinc production (see New Jersey Zinc Company).
The New Jersey Turnpike is one of the best-known and most-trafficked roadways in the United States. This toll road carries interstate traffic between Delaware and New York, and the East Coast in general. Commonly referred to as simply "the Turnpike," it is known for its numerous rest-areas named after prominent New Jerseyans as diverse as inventor Thomas Edison; United States Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton; United States Presidents Grover Cleveland and Woodrow Wilson; writers James Fenimore Cooper, Joyce Kilmer, and Walt Whitman; patriot Molly Pitcher; Red Cross advocate Clara Barton; and football coach Vince Lombardi.
The Garden State Parkway, or simply "the Parkway," carries more in-state traffic and runs from the town of Montvale along New Jersey's northern border to its southernmost tip at Cape May for . It is the trunk that connects the New York metropolitan area to Atlantic City and it consistently one of the safest roads in the nation.
New Jersey is connected to New York City via various bridges and tunnels. The George Washington Bridge carries one of the heaviest loads of traffic in the world from New Jersey to the Washington Heights neighborhood in Upper Manhattan in New York City. The Lincoln Tunnel connects to Midtown Manhattan and the Holland Tunnel connects to Lower Manhattan. These are the three major Hudson River crossings that see heavy vehicular traffic. New Jersey is also connected to Staten Island by three bridges. From the southernmost to northernmost; the Outerbridge Crossing, Goethals Bridge, and Bayonne Bridge. The Goethals Bridge also provides a route from New Jersey to Brooklyn, New York.
Other expressways in New Jersey include the Atlantic City Expressway, the Palisades Interstate Parkway, Interstate 76, Interstate 78, Interstate 80, Interstate 195, Interstate 280, Interstate 287, and Interstate 295. Other major roadways include U.S. 1, U.S. 9, U.S. Route 1/9. Non-major roadways include Interstate 676 and U.S. Route 46.
New Jersey has interstate compacts with all three neighboring states. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Delaware River Port Authority (with Pennsylvania), and the Delaware River and Bay Authority (with Delaware) operate most of the major transportation routes into and out of New Jersey. Bridge tolls are collected in one direction only — it is free to cross into New Jersey, but motorists must pay when exiting the state. Exceptions to this are the Dingman's Ferry Bridge and the Delaware River-Turnpike Toll Bridge where tolls are charged both ways. The Washington Crossing and Scudders Falls (on I-95) bridges near Trenton, as well as Trenton's Calhoun Street and Bridge Street ("Trenton Makes") bridges, are toll-free.
Two smaller commercial airports, Atlantic City International Airport and Trenton-Mercer Airport, also operate in other parts of New Jersey. Teterboro Airport, in Bergen County, is a general aviation airport popular with private and corporate aircraft, due to its proximity to New York City. Millville Municipal Airport, in Cumberland County, is a general aviation airport popular with private and corporate aircraft, due to its proximity to the shore.
The New Jersey Transit Corporation (N. J. Transit) operates extensive rail and bus service throughout the state. N. J. Transit is a state-run corporation that began with the consolidation of several private bus companies in North Jersey. In the early 1980s, it acquired the commuter train operations of Conrail that connect towns in northern and central New Jersey to New York City. NJ Transit has eleven lines that run throughout different parts of the state. Most of the trains start at various points in the state and most end at either Pennsylvania Station, in New York City, or Hoboken Terminal in Hoboken. NJ Transit began service between Atlantic City and Lindenwold in 1989 and extended it to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the 1990s.
N. J. Transit also operates three light rail systems in the state. The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail connects Bayonne to North Bergen, with planned expansion into Bergen County communities. The Newark Light Rail is the only subway system entirely in the state, but it is only partially underground. Its Main Line connects Newark Penn Station in Downtown Newark with outer parts of the city, ending at Grove Street station in Bloomfield. The Broad Street Line of the subway, the first component of the Newark-Elizabeth Rail Link, connects Newark Broad Street Station to Newark Penn Station. The last of the three light rail lines is the River Line which connects Trenton and Camden.
The PATH is a subway and above-ground railway which links Hoboken, Jersey City, Harrison and Newark with New York City. The PATH operates four lines that connect various points in North Jersey and New York. The lines all terminate in Hudson County, Essex County or Manhattan in New York City.
The PATCO High Speedline links Camden County and Philadelphia. PATCO operates a single elevated and subway line that runs from Lindenwold to Center City Philadelphia. PATCO operates stations in Lindenwold, Voorhees, Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Haddon Township, Collingswood, and Camden, along with four stations in Philadelphia.
Amtrak also operates numerous long-distance passenger trains in New Jersey to and from neighboring states and around the country. In addition to the Newark Airport connection, other major Amtrak railway stations include Trenton Rail Station, Metropark, and the grand historic Newark Penn Station.
Some private bus carriers still remain in New Jersey. Most of these carriers operate with state funding to offset losses and state owned buses are provided to these carriers of which Coach USA companies make up the bulk. Other carriers include private charter and tour bus operators that take gamblers from other parts of New Jersey, New York City, Philadelphia, and Delaware to the casino resorts of Atlantic City.
On the Delaware Bay, the Delaware River and Bay Authority operates the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. The Delaware River and Bay Authority also operates ferries between Fort Mott in New Jersey and Fort Delaware and Fort DuPont in Delaware. The Delaware River Port Authority operates the RiverLink Ferry between the Camden waterfront and Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
On the Hudson River, New York Waterway has numerous ferry terminals in Belford, Jersey City, Hoboken and Weehawken. The stops are at Port Liberte, Liberty Harbor, Colgate/Exchange Place in Jersey City, Belford, Port Imperial and Lincoln Harbor in Weehawken, Hoboken Terminal (Hoboken South) and 14th Street (Hoboken North) in Hoboken. These ferries run to one or several of the Manhattan stops at Wall Street, the World Financial Center or Midtown at 39th St. Liberty Landing in Jersey City has ferries from Portside in Paulus Hook and Liberty Landing in Liberty State Park. The Circle Line ferry has service from Liberty State Park to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Although there is a bridge from Ellis Island to Jersey City, it was built for renovations on the building on the island and is considered unsafe for public use. SeaStreak offers services from the Raritan Bayshore to Manhattan and during the Met's season Shea Stadium. The ferries on the Bayshore leave from Atlantic Highlands and two terminals in Highlands. New York Water Taxi also has seasonal service from Paulus Hook to Wall Street. Ferry service from Keyport and Perth Amboy have been proposed and ferry service from Elizabeth has been discussed with a proposed light rail connection to Newark Airport and Downtown Elizabeth.
New Jersey is one of the few states that has no Lieutenant Governor. The first Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey will take office in January 2010 and will be elected conjointly with the Governor of New Jersey. The position was created as the result of a Constitutional amendment to the New Jersey State Constitution passed by the voters on November 8, 2005 and effective as of January 17, 2006.
The current version of the New Jersey State Constitution was adopted in 1947. It provides for a bicameral New Jersey Legislature, consisting of an upper house Senate of 40 members and a lower house General Assembly of 80 members. Each of the 40 legislative districts elects one State Senator and two Assembly members. Assembly members are elected for a two-year term in all odd-numbered years; State Senators are elected in the years ending in 1, 3, and 7 and thus serve either four- or two-year terms.
New Jersey is one of only five states that elects its state officials in odd numbered years (The others are Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Virginia). New Jersey holds elections for these offices every 4 years in the years following federal Presidential election years. Thus, the last year when New Jersey elected a Governor was 2005; the next gubernatorial election will occur in 2009, with future gubernatorial elections to take place in 2013, 2017, 2021, etc.
Most of the day-to-day work in the New Jersey courts is carried out in the Municipal Courts, where simple traffic tickets, minor criminal offenses, and small civil matters are heard. More serious criminal and civil cases are handled by the Superior Court for each county.
New Jersey is unusual in that it still has separate courts of law and equity, like its neighbor Delaware but unlike most other U.S. states. The New Jersey Superior Court is divided into Law and Chancery Divisions at the trial level.
Depending on the county, the executive and legislative functions may be performed by the Board of Chosen Freeholders or split into separate branches of government. In some counties, members of the Board of Chosen Freeholders perform both legislative and executive functions on a commission basis, with each Freeholder assigned responsibility for a department or group of departments. In other counties (Atlantic, Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Mercer), there is a directly-elected County Executive who performs the executive functions while the Board of Chosen Freeholders retains a legislative and oversight role. In counties without an Executive, a County Administrator (or County Manager) may be hired to perform day-to-day administration of county functions.
Toms River, Short Hills, Murray Hill, and many other locations in New Jersey are not municipalities but rather neighborhoods, with no exact boundaries; often the cluster of houses, the traditional neighborhood, the postal district, and the Census designated place will differ.
The Federal Government has often failed to understand that a New Jersey township is just another municipality, and some municipalities have changed forms to become the Township of Borough of Verona or the Township of South Orange Village to receive more federal aid.
Starting in the 1900s, largely driven by reform-minded goals, a series of six modern forms of government was implemented. This began with the Walsh Act, enacted in 1911 by the New Jersey Legislature, which provided for a 3- or 5-member commission elected on a non-partisan basis. This was followed by the 1923 Municipal Manager Law, which offered a non-partisan council, provided for a weak mayor elected by and from the members of the council, and introduced Council-Manager government with an (ideally apolitical) appointed manager responsible for day-to-day administration of municipal affairs.
The Faulkner Act, originally enacted in 1950 and substantially amended in 1981, offers four basic plans: Mayor-Council, Council-Manager, Small Municipality, and Mayor-Council-Administrator. The act provides many choices for communities with a preference for a strong executive and professional management of municipal affairs and offers great flexibility in allowing municipalities to select the characteristics of its government: the number of seats on the Council; seats selected at-large, by wards, or through a combination of both; staggered or concurrent terms of office; and a mayor chosen by the Council or elected directly by voters. Most large municipalities and a majority of New Jersey's residents are governed by municipalities with Faulkner Act charters. Municipalities can also formulate their own unique form of government and operate under a Special Charter with the approval of the New Jersey Legislature.
While municipalities retain their names derived from types of government, they may have changed to one of the modern forms of government, or further in the past to one of the other traditional forms, leading to municipalities with formal names quite baffling to the general public. For example, though there are four municipalities that are officially named villages, Loch Arbour is the only one remaining with the village form of government. The three other villages—Ridgefield Park (now with a Walsh Act form), Ridgewood (now with a Faulkner Act Council-Manager charter), and most confusingly, South Orange (now the Township of South Orange Village)—have all migrated to other non-village forms.
In federal elections, the state leans heavily towards the national Democratic Party. It was, however, a Republican stronghold for years in the past, having given comfortable margins of victory to the Republican candidate in the close elections of 1948, 1968, and 1976. New Jersey was a crucial swing state in the elections of 1960, 1968, and 1992. The last elected Republican to hold a Senate seat from New Jersey was Clifford P. Case in 1979. (Nicholas F. Brady was appointed a U.S. Senator by Governor Thomas Kean in 1982 after Harrison A. Williams resigned the Senate seat following the Abscam investigations.)
The state's Democratic strongholds include Mercer County around Trenton and Princeton; Essex County and Hudson County, the state's two most urban counties, around the state's two largest cities, Newark and Jersey City; Camden County and most of the other urban communities just outside of Philadelphia and New York; and more suburban northern counties in New York's orbit, such as Union County and Middlesex County.
The more suburban northwestern and southeastern counties of the state are reliably Republican: Republicans have backing along the coast in Ocean County and in the mountainous northwestern part of the state, especially Sussex County, Morris County, and Warren County. Somerset County and Hunterdon County, other suburban counties in the region, are also Republican in local elections but can be competitive in national races. In the 2004 General Election, President George W. Bush received about 52% in Somerset and 60% in Hunterdon, while up in rural Republican Sussex County, Bush won with 64% of the vote.
About half of the counties in New Jersey, however, are considered swing counties, but some go more one way than others. For an example, Bergen County, which leans Republican in the northern half of the county, is mostly Democratic in the more populated southern parts, causing it to usually vote slightly Democratic (same with Passaic County, with a highly populated Hispanic Democratic south and a rural, Republican north), other "swing" counties like Cape May County tend to go Republican, as they also have population in conservative areas.
To be eligible to vote in a U.S. election, all New Jerseyans are required to start their residency in the state 30 days prior to an election and register 29 days prior.
In April 2004, New Jersey enacted a domestic partnership law, which is available to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples aged 62 and over. During 2006, the New Jersey Supreme Court voted 4 to 3 that state lawmakers must provide the rights and benefits of marriage to gay and lesbian couples. Moreover, effective February 19, 2007, New Jersey became the third state in U.S. (the other two being Connecticut and Vermont) to offer civil unions to same-sex couples, conferring over 850 rights, privileges and responsibilities of marriage; legislators declined, however, to use the term "marriage" for same-sex unions. Thus, three separate government-recognized relationships are now in effect in the Garden State: domestic partnerships, civil unions, and marriage.
New Jersey also has some of the most stringent gun-control laws in the U.S. These include bans on assault firearms, hollow nose bullets and even slingshots. No gun offense in New Jersey is graded less than a felony. BB guns and black powder guns are all treated as modern firearms. Visitors to the state should beware of bringing any firearms into the state. New Jersey recognizes no out of state gun licenses and aggressively enforces its own gun laws.
For its overall population and nation-leading density, New Jersey has a relative paucity of classic large cities. As of the United States 2000 Census, only four municipalities had populations in excess of 100,000. With the 2004 Census estimate, Woodbridge has surpassed Edison in population, as both joined the 100,000 club. The 2006 Census estimate states that both Edison and Woodbridge Township have dropped below the 100,000 mark.
1 Mantoloking, New Jersey $114,017 |
2 Saddle River, New Jersey $85,934
3 Far Hills, New Jersey $81,535
4 Essex Fells, New Jersey $77,434
5 Alpine, New Jersey $76,995
698 New Hanover Township, New Jersey $12,140 |
699 Lakewood CDP, New Jersey $11,802
700 Bridgeton, New Jersey $10,917
701 Fort Dix, New Jersey $10,543
702 Camden, New Jersey $9,815
Although some problems exist in certain inner city neighborhoods, New Jersey overall is considered to have one of the best public education systems in the United States. 54% of high school graduates continue on to college, which is tied with Massachusetts for the second highest rate in the nation (North Dakota holds first place at 59%). New Jersey also has the highest average scores for advanced placement testing in public schools in the nation. Secretary of Education Rick Rosenberg, appointed by Governor Jon Corzine, has created the Education Advancement Initiative (EAI) to increase College admission rates by 10% for New Jersey's high school students, decrease dropout rates by 15%, and increase the amount of money devoted to schools by 10%. Rosenberg was since forced to retract this plan when publicly criticized for taking the money out of healthcare to fund this initiative. New Jersey is ranked first in the nation in funding K-12 education but is ranked last in higher-education funding. New Jersey is home to more scientists and engineers per square mile than anywhere else in the world.
Three of the state's four major professional sports teams play at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford. The Nets play in the Izod Center, and the Giants and Jets play in Giants Stadium. The Meadowlands and its sports venues are widely considered to be outdated by today's professional sports standards. This led to the Devils move away from the Meadowlands to the new Prudential Center in Newark at the start of the 2007-08 seasons. The Nets also have plans to leave the Meadowlands for Brooklyn as soon as the Barclays Center is completed for them. The Giants and Jets though announced in 2005 that they will be staying in the Meadowlands, and a new stadium for both teams should be ready by the 2010 season. The new stadium is part of the Xanadu Project taking shape at the sports complex. The Xanadu Project, when completed in 2008, will be the largest retail and entertainment complex in New Jersey.
The sports complex is also home to the Meadowlands Racetrack one of three major horse racing tracks in the state. The Meadowlands Racetrack along with Freehold Raceway in Freehold are two of the major harness racing tracks in North America. Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport, is also a popular spot for thoroughbred racing in New Jersey and the northeast. It hosted the Breeders' Cup in 2007, and its turf course was renovated in preparation.
Rutgers, which fields 24 teams from various sports, is nationally known for its excellent football and women's basketball programs. The university is planning a large expansion to the on-campus Rutgers Stadium to accommodate the rising number of fans, and the teams play in Piscataway, which is adjacent to the New Brunswick campus. The university also fields rising basketball and baseball programs. Rutgers' fan base is mostly derived from the western parts of the state and Middlesex County, not to mention its alumni base, which is the largest in the state.
Seton Hall, unlike Rutgers, does not field a football team. However, their basketball team has been one of the most storied programs in the Big East, and they play their home games at the state-of-the-art Prudential Center, located in downtown Newark. The Pirates, while lacking as large of an alumni base as the state university, have a large well of support in the predominantly Roman Catholic areas of the northern part of the state and the Jersey Shore.
|State animal|| Horse|
|State bird|| American Goldfinch|
|State freshwater fish|| Brook trout|
|State dance||Square dance|
|State insect|| European honey bee|
|State flower|| Common meadow violet|
|State motto||"Liberty and Prosperity"|
|State tree|| Northern Red Oak|
(Quercus borealis maxima)
(syn. Quercus rubra)
|State dinosaur||Hadrosaurus foulkii|
|State color||Buff and Jersey Blue|
|State ship||A. J. Meerwald|
|State fruit|| Northern highbush blueberry |
|State vegetable|| Jersey tomato|
|State shell|| Knobbed whelk|
(Busycon carica gmelin)
|State memorial tree|| Dogwood |
|State slogan||Come See For Yourself|