How Did New Jersey Get Its Nickname?

did-new-jersey-its-nickname Credit: Robert Manella/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

New Jersey acquired the nickname "Garden State" following remarks made by Abraham Browning of Camden, N.J. during Jersey Day at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in 1876. Calling New Jersey the Garden State, Browning compared the state to an enormous barrel, filled with good things to eat, open at both ends, with Pennsylvanians grabbing from one end and New Yorkers from the other.

Widespread citation and recognition of Browning's remarks stems from the 1926 work by Alfred M. Heston "Jersey Waggon Jaunts."

Subsequently, references to the Garden State evolved to refer to New Jersey truck farms. These farms, from the early 20th century onward, provided floral and agricultural produce throughout the region, especially to the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. Many truck farms reached back in their advertising to allude to the role of small New Jersey farms in providing food to soldiers during the Revolutionary War.

Active promotion of the Garden State nickname intensified in 1954 when the state legislature voted to add the legend "Garden State" to the state's auto license plates. This decision was not supported by then-Governor Robert B. Meyner. Refusing to sign the legislation, Meyner believed that the idea of referring to New Jersey as the Garden State short-changed the state's advancements in a wide range of industrial and commercial activities.