New Jersey

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State of New Jersey
State flag of New Jersey State seal of New Jersey
(Flag of New Jersey) (Seal of New Jersey)
State nickname: The Garden State
Map of the U.S. with New Jersey highlighted
Other U.S. States
Capital Trenton
Largest city Newark
Governor Richard Codey (D) Acting
Senators Jon Corzine (D)

Frank Lautenberg (D)

Official language(s) None defined
Area 22,608 km² (47th)
 - Land 19,231 km²
 - Water 3,378 km² (14.9%)
Population (2000)
 - Population 8,414,350 (9th)
 - Density 438 /km² (1st)
Admission into Union
 - Date December 18, 1787
 - Order 3rd
Time zone Eastern: UTC-5/-4
Latitude 38°55'N to 41°21'23"N
Longitude 73°53'39"W to 75°35'W
Width 110 km
Length 240 km
 - Highest point 550 m
 - Mean 75 m
 - Lowest point 0 m
 - ISO 3166-2 US-NJ
Web site

New Jersey is the fourth smallest and most densely populated state of the United States of America; the U.S. postal abbreviation is NJ. The state is named after the island of Jersey in the English Channel.



Main article: History of New Jersey

Once inhabited by the tribes of the Lenape Indians, New Jersey was settled by the Dutch in the early 1630s, who formed a settlement at present-day Jersey City. At the time, much of what is now New Jersey was claimed as part of the Dutch colony of New Netherland, which also included parts of present-day New York State and had its capital at New Amsterdam, now known as New York City. Some of southwestern New Jersey also was settled by the Swedes in the mid-1600s as part of the Swedish colony of New Sweden, which included parts of Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania. These territories were taken by the Dutch in 1654 and incorporated into New Netherlands.

Main article: Province of New Jersey

The entire region became a territory of Britain in 1664 when a British fleet under the command of Colonel Richard Nicolls sailed into what is today New York Harbor and took over the colony. They met minimal resistance, perhaps because of the unpopularity of the Dutch colonial governor, Peter Stuyvesant. The newly taken lands were divided by King Charles II of England, 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 been loyal through the English Civil War: Sir George Carteret and Lord Berkeley of Stratton.

During the English Civil War the Channel Isle of Jersey remained loyal to The English 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 of England in 1649, following the execution of his father, Charles I of England. In 1663 in recognition of his loyalty to the English Crown Sir George Carteret, Jersey's Royalist Governor, was gifted a large tract of land in North America henceforth known as New Jersey.

Settlement for the first 10 years of English rule was in the Hudson River region and came primarily from New England. The first permanent English settlement was Elizabethtown, now Elizabeth. On March 18, 1673 Berkeley sold his half of New Jersey 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 as two distinct provinces, West Jersey and East Jersey, for the 28 years between 1674 and 1702. In 1702, the two provinces were united under a royal, rather than a proprietary, governor.

Revolutionary War era

New Jersey was one of the thirteen colonies that revolted against British rule in the American Revolution.

During the War for Independence, British and American armies crossed New Jersey several times. Today, New Jersey is often referred to as "The Crossroads of the Revolution".

In December, 1776, the Continental Army under George Washington crossed the Delaware River and engaged Hessian troops in the Battle of Trenton. The river crossing has become an iconic moment in the early history of the United States of America, having been immortalized in Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze's painting Washington Crossing the Delaware.

This image was also chosen to represent the State of New Jersey on the reverse side of the 1999 New Jersey State Quarter released by the United States Mint.

Slightly more than a week after victory at Trenton, on January 3, 1777, the American forces scored an important victory over the British under Charles Cornwallis at the Battle of Princeton.

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.

On November 20, 1789, the state became the first in the newly-formed Union to ratify the Bill of Rights.

Ironically, on February 15, 1804 New Jersey became the last northern state to abolish slavery by enacting legislation that slowly phased out slavery. However, by the close of the Civil War, about a dozen African-Americans in New Jersey were still apprenticed freedmen and New Jersey initially refused to ratify the Constitutional Amendments banning slavery and granting rights to America's Black population.

Women's suffrage

The New Jersey Constitution of 1776 gives the vote to "all inhabitants of this Colony, of full age, who are worth fifty pounds proclamation money." This included blacks, spinsters, and widows. (Married women could not own property under the common law.) It used to be held that this was an accident of hasty drafting: the British were at Staten Island when the constitution was proclaimed, and it declares itself temporary, void if there was reconciliation with Great Britain. Klinghoffer and Elkis ("The Petticoat Electors: Women’s Suffrage in New Jersey, 1776–1807." Journal of the Early Republic 12, no. 2 (1992): 159–193.) show that it was a considered decision, and enforced by later law.

Both sides in elections mocked the other for relying on "petticoat electors"; both accused each other of letting unqualified women (including married women) vote. A Federalist legislature passed a voting rights act which applied only to those counties where the Federalists were strong; a Democratic legislature extended it to the entire state. In 1807, as a side-effect of a reconciliation within the Democratic Party, the legislature reinterpreted the constitution (which had been an ordinary act of the Provincial Congress) to mean universal white male suffrage, with no property requirement; but they disenfranchised paupers, to keep down the Irish.

Law and government

The state capital of New Jersey is Trenton. Richard Codey (Democrat) is the acting governor, because he is (and concurrently serves as) President of the State Senate. Former Governor James E. McGreevey resigned on November 15, 2004, and New Jersey (like Arizona, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, West Virginia, and Wyoming) has no position of Lieutenant Governor. However, there is a measure that New Jersey voters will have a say on that will create the Lieutenant Governor position in 2005 should it pass. It is expected that Codey will serve as acting governor until January 2006. The New Jersey governor is considered one of the most powerful governorships in the nation, as it is the only state-wide elected office in the state and appoints many government officials. Additionally, an acting governor is even more powerful as he simultaneously serves as president of the senate, thus directing the entire legislative and executive process. The state's two U.S. Senators are Frank R. Lautenberg (Democrat) and Jon Corzine (Democrat). New Jersey has 13 Congressional Districts.

New Jersey is a politically competitive state; the Governorship has alternated between the parties since the election of Richard J. Hughes in 1961; the legislature has also switched hands, and one house was evenly divided in 1999–2001. Three of the last four gubernatorial elections have been close. The Congressional seats have also been as evenly divided as thirteen seats can be.

In national elections, the state now tends to lean 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. In national elections, the state gave large victories to Democrats in the 1990's, while in the 2004 presidential election, Kerry defeated Bush by about 6%. The last elected Republican to hold a Senate seat from New Jersey was Clifford P. Case in 1979. (Nicholas 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. Brady served eight months.)

The state's Democratic strongholds include Mercer County around the cities of 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; as well as in Camden County and most of the other urban communities just outside of Philadelphia and New York City. More suburban northern counties in the orbit of New York, such as Union and Middlesex, also trend Democratic.

The more suburban northwestern and southeastern counties of the state are reliably Republican: Republicans have strong 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 and Hunterdon counties, more suburban counties in the region, are also Republican in local elections, but can be competitive in national races. In the 2004 General Election, Bush received about 51% in Somerset and 56% 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 tend to go Republican, as they also have population in conservative areas.

New Jersey State Constitution

The constitution was adopted in 1947. It provides for a bicameral Legislature consisting of a Senate of 40 members and an Assembly of 80 members. Each of the 40 legislative districts elects one Senator and two Assembly members. Assembly members are elected by the people for a two year term in all odd-numbered years; Senators are elected in the years ending in 1, 3, and 7 and thus serve either four or two year terms.

The New Jersey Supreme Court [1] consists of a chief justice and six associate justices. All are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of a majority of the membership of the state senate. Justices serve an initial seven-year term, after which they can be reappointed to serve until age 70.


New Jersey is broadly divided into three geographic regions: they are North Jersey, Central Jersey, and South Jersey. North Jersey is within New York City's general sphere of influence, with many of its residents commuting into the city for work. Central Jersey is a largely suburban area, while South Jersey is within Philadelphia's general sphere of influence. Such geographic definitions are broad, however, and there is often dispute over where one region begins and another ends.

High Point Mountain, in Montague Township, Sussex County is the highest elevation in the state.

New York Harbor, with views of Jersey City, in North Jersey, and its Gold Coast featuring Goldman Sachs Tower.
New York Harbor, with views of Jersey City, in North Jersey, and its Gold Coast featuring Goldman Sachs Tower.

New Jersey is bordered on the north and northeast by New York, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the south by Delaware, and on the west by Pennsylvania (the latter two across the Delaware River.) Prominent geographic features include:


The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that New Jersey's total state product in 2003 was $397 billion. Per capita personal income in 2003 was $39,577, 3rd in the United States of America. Women in New Jersey earn the highest per capita income as stated in a 2002 article in the Newark Star-Ledger.

Its agricultural outputs are nursery stock, horses, vegetables, fruits and nuts, seafood, and dairy products. In particular, cranberries and eggplant are two of the state's largest crops. Hammonton in the southern part of the state is known as the blueberry capital of the world. Its industrial outputs are pharmaceutical and chemical products, food processing, electric equipment, printing and publishing, and tourism. New Jersey's economy has a large base of industry and chemical manufacturing. Additionally, New Jersey is home to the largest petroleum containment system in the world, outside of the Middle East. Although the state is certainly not defined by these activities, their existence and visibility to those passing through the state along some of its major highways does contribute to many jokes about pollution and ironic plays on the state's nickname, the "Garden State." In terms of quantity and quality, New Jersey ranks ninth in the union, in the number of manufactured goods that come from this state's factories.

New Jersey is also a leader in the number of businesses that have their headquarters or do business here. 50 Fortune 500 companies alone have headquarters or do business in Morris County alone. Nearly 100 Fortune 500 companies have headquarters or conduct business in New Jersey. This allows New Jersey to have the largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the world. Paramus is long noted for having one of the highest business per person ratio in the nation, because of the huge number of shops in that town and the surrounding area. Several New Jersey counties such as Essex, Morris, Middlesex, Union, and Bergen counties have been ranked in the World Almanac 2002, as being among the top 15 highest per person per capita income areas in the country. New Jersey has the nation's most diverse economy, with its major industries being agriculture, tourism, nursery products, electronics, manufacturing equipment, pharmacuticals, etc. It is for this reason, New Jersey is able to weather severe economic declines in the national economy and it is why New Jersey's unemployment rate is well below the national average. New Jersey's location between Philadephia and New York City, has allowed New Jersey to grow and thrive since the time of its creation as a state in 1702. Another of New Jersey's great strengths is its large and well-educated labor pool that allow the myriad of industries to exist today. The Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal is the world's largest container ports. Newark Liberty International Airport is ranked as number 7 in the top ten list of the nation's busiest airports and among the top 20 busiest airports in the world.

Six Flags Great Adventure is one of the largest theme parks in the world. It is home to the largest wild safari out of Africa and is now home to the world's tallest and fastest coaster, Kingda Ka. As of 2001, New Jersey makes $30 billion each year from tourism as stated in the Star-Ledger's article The Best Of New Jersey. New Jersey is one of the top ten most visited states in the nation.


Historical populations

1790 184,139
1800 211,149
1810 245,562
1820 277,575
1830 320,823
1840 373,306
1850 489,555
1860 672,035
1870 906,096
1880 1,131,116
1890 1,444,933
1900 1,883,669
1910 2,537,167
1920 3,155,900
1930 4,041,334
1940 4,160,165
1950 4,835,329
1960 6,066,782
1970 7,168,164
1980 7,364,823
1990 7,730,188
2000 8,414,350

As of 2004, the population of New Jersey was estimated to be 8,698,879. There are 1.6 million foreign-born living in the state (accounting for 19.2% of the state population). New Jersey is the tenth most populous state, but the most densely populated, at 1,134.4 residents per square mile. [2].

Race, ethnicity, and ancestry

The racial makeup of New Jersey is:

New Jersey has the 15th largest percentage of minority residents of any state and the 2nd highest percentage in the North.

Race/ethnicity citation with state percentages: [3](Adobe PDF)

Diversity index citation with state percentages: [4](Microsoft Excel) It also has the second largest percentage of Jews (after New York), the second largest percentage of Muslims (after Michigan). New Jersey is the third most Italian-American state in the nation, according to the 2000 Census, and has large percentages of Blacks, Hispanics, Arabs, and Asians.

Ancestry citation with state percentages: [5](Adobe PDF)

The five largest ancestry groups in New Jersey are: Italian (17.9%), Irish (15.9%), African American (13.6%), German (12.6%), Polish (6.9%).

Newark and Camden are two of the poorest cities in America, but New Jersey as a whole has the highest median household income in the nation, as well as the second highest per capita income, after Connecticut. This is largely due to the fact that so much of New Jersey is comprised 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 first and only state that has had every one of its 21 counties deemed "urban," as opposed to rural.

The dominant race, ethnicity, or ancestry by region and county, according to the 2000 Census, are the following:

  • New Jersey
    • Italian - Bergen, Morris, Somerset, Ocean, Monmouth counties
    • Irish - Sussex
    • Black - Essex, Union, Mercer
    • German - Warren, Hunterdon
    • Polish/Slavic - Middlesex
    • Puerto Rican/Hispanic - Hudson, Passaic
    • Turkish - Passaic, Hudson, Bergen

Ancestry citation with county maps: [6] (Adobe PDF) Specific ancestry maps by county, place, and census tract available at: [7]

6.7% of its population were reported as under 5, 24.8% under 18, and 13.2% were 65 or older. Females made up approximately 51.5% of the population.


The religious affiliations of adults of New Jersey are:

(disputed )



New Jersey has long been an important area for both rock and rap music. Some prominent musicians with connections to New Jersey are:

  • Musician Bruce Springsteen, who has sung of New Jersey life on his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. and in many of his most popular songs, including "Atlantic City," "Born to Run," "Darlington County," "Freehold," "Jersey Girl" (written by Tom Waits), "Jungleland," "Spirit in the Night," and others. Fellow musician Jon Bon Jovi has also written many songs about New Jersey and even named one of his albums after it (see New Jersey). Both reside in New Jersey today.
  • Frank Sinatra, born December 12, 1915, the only child of working-class Italian-American immigrants, in a tenement at 415 Monroe St. in Hoboken. He sang with a neighborhood vocal group, the Hoboken Four, and appeared in neighborhood theater amateur shows before he became an entertainment legend and Academy Award winning actor.
  • Whitney Houston is from the city of Newark, New Jersey, is best known for her cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" which set new records for sales and weeks at number one. Houston has sold well over 180 million records internationally.
  • Bob Dylan's song "Hurricane" is about the accusation and trial of Rubin Carter which took place in Paterson. Dylan's view is that Carter was innocent. (In 1985 United States District Court judge H. Lee Sarokin ruled that Carter had not received a fair trial, saying that the prosecution had been "based on racism rather than reason, and concealment rather than disclosure.")
  • Asbury Park, home of The Stone Pony, where Springsteen and Bon Jovi frequented early in their careers, which is still considered by many to be a "Mecca" for up-and-coming musicians.
  • Former Fugee Lauryn Hill, a South Orange resident and hip-hop's best-selling solo female artist. Her 1998 debut album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, sold 10 million copies internationally.
  • Hip-hop's longest running radio show, founded by two Jerseyans, Special K (Kevin Bonners) and Teddy Ted (Ted Whiting) of Hackensack, who began on New York's WHBI in 1982 and now appear on WPAT-AM.
  • Musical artists Fountains of Wayne [8], a group of New Jerseyians who took the name of a semi-famous lawn and garden store [9] on Route 46 in Wayne, New Jersey (also featured on an episode of The Sopranos).
  • The band Snowball 37 [10], a group of brothers who were inspired by a Kevin Smith reference, is based out of Jersey City.
  • Punk music is also an important alternative style in New Jersey, perhaps starting with the band that essentially invented horror punk, The Misfits from Lodi, in the 90's, The Bouncing Souls and Catch 22 were also prominent figures in New Jersey punk, strongly influenced by New Brunswick's Sticks and Stones.
  • The DeLeo brothers of Stone Temple Pilots are both from New Jersey. The brothers, Dean and Robert, are the guitarist and bassist for the band.
  • Pete Yorn is another New Jersey artist. He has two albums out: musicforthemorningafter (2001) and Day I Forgot (2003).
  • Spin Doctors began as Trucking Company in 1989 with Chris Barron (lead singer) and Eric Schenkman and were high school friends of the aformentioned Blues Traveler frontman John Popper at Princeton High School.
  • Legendary rock band Queen (touring with Bad Company frontman Paul Rodgers) chose a New Jersey venue-the Continental Airlines Arena- to perform their first USA concert in 23 years at on October 16, 2005. The crowd surprised them with a strong reaction and plentiful participation, even in what were thought to be the lesser-known songs.
  • The three members of the Fugees were from South Orange, NJ.

TV and film

Motion pictures and televisions shows also have been set in New Jersey. The popular television drama The Sopranos depicts the life of a New Jersey organized crime family and is filmed on location at various places throughout the state.

Although not credited, at least one scene from The Godfather (1972) was filmed in New Jersey. The scene with Clemenza's famous line, "Leave the gun. Take the cannolis," was filmed in the marsh along the Hudson River in Jersey City, just west of the Statue of Liberty, in what is now Liberty State Park.

The 2004 Sundance Film Festival favorite Garden State (starring Zach Braff and Natalie Portman) was shot on location in Morris Township. Also, the popular animated series Aqua Teen Hunger Force and not so popular Megas XLR take place primarily in New Jersey.

Director Kevin Smith sets many of his films in New Jersey, particularly his "New Jersey Trilogy" of Clerks., Mallrats and Chasing Amy. The 2004 movie Jersey Girl is also based in New Jersey. Clerks. also had a short-lived animated series spin-off with the same name. It took place in the same locations as the movie.

2001's A Beautiful Mind had several scenes shot at Princeton University. The movie is a biopic of the mathematician John Nash, who currently lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Actor Jack Nicholson grew up on the Jersey shore, and went to Manasquan High School in Monmouth County.

The 2004 stoner film Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle took place in New Jersey. Several locations seen in the movie include Princeton University, Newark, New Brunswick, and a fictional White Castle in Cherry Hill.

Although supposedly set in New York, the 2003 movie School of Rock was filmed primarily in Edison and Mahwah, perhaps due to the significance these towns have on rock music.

The 1988 comedy film Big starring Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, Robert Loggia, Jon Lovitz, and Mercedes Ruehl was also filmed in Bergen County, New Jersey.

Bruce Willis grew up in Penns Grove, New Jersey.

The movie War of the Worlds was filmed in many locations in New Jersey, including Bayonne and Newark, NJ.

The infamous radio show broadcast starring Orson Welles, The War of the Worlds was set in Grover's Mill (a section of West Windsor Township) and other locations around New Jersey.

Urban legends

A long circulated legend says a creature, the Jersey Devil or the Leeds Devil, terrorizes the population of the Pine Barrens (New Jersey). New Jersey is also home to several other urban legends, such as the ghost of Annie's Road in Totowa, Midgetville in Edgewater, Albino Village in Clifton, the haunted and demon-possessed Clinton Road in West Milford, and the Witch of Igoe Road in Marlboro. There is also the popular attraction of the Atco Ghost where the ghost of a little boy runs across the street late at night chasing a basketball located on Burnt Mill Road in Atco. It is also rumored that Jimmy Hoffa, the late leader of the Teamsters union, is buried beneath Giants Stadium or the New Jersey Turnpike.

Camp NoBeBoSco in Blairstown was the location of the original Friday the 13th movie (some believe the series of films to be set in New Jersey, although this is never confirmed onscreen), which was partially based on real murders that have occurred near the campground, in the state's rural northwest. Such horror stories were the inspiration behind the now nationally-famous Weird NJ magazine and website.


Diner Freehold NJ
Diner Freehold NJ

The properties in the United States version of the board game Monopoly are named after the streets of Atlantic City.

Diners are considered very common in New Jersey, and it's thought that nearly all medium-sized and larger towns have one. New Jersey is home to many diner manufacturers.


Current issue New Jersey license plate.
Current issue New Jersey license plate.

The New Jersey Turnpike is one of the best-known and most-trafficked roadways in the USA. This toll road carries interstate traffic between Delaware and New York. Commonly referred to as simply "the Turnpike," it is also known for its numerous rest-areas named after prominent New Jerseyans as varied as inventor Thomas Edison; United States Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton; U.S. 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 just "the Parkway," and "The Garden State Parking Lot" on Fridays during the summer, carries more in-state traffic, and runs from the town of Montvale along New Jersey's northern border with New York to the southernmost tip of the state at Cape May. It is true that some New Jersey residents who live near the Parkway or the Turnpike (a majority of the state population) locate their hometowns according to their respective highway exits, though very few New Jerseyans living anywhere else in the state will do so. It also acts as the trunk that connects the New York metropolitan area to Atlantic City.

Other expressways in New Jersey include the Atlantic City Expressway, Palisades Interstate Parkway, Interstate 76, Interstate 78, and Interstate 80.

The New Jersey Transit Corporation (NJ Transit) operates extensive rail and bus service throughout the state. NJ 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. In 1989, NJ Transit began service between Atlantic City and Lindenwold, extending it to Philadelphia in the 1990s.

New Jersey has interstate compacts with all three neighboring states. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, 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. Tolls for the bridges are charged in one direction—it is free to get into New Jersey, but people have to pay to get out. The Scudders Falls bridge on I-95 near Trenton is still free as of this writing.

Newark Liberty International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the United States. Run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who runs the other two major airports in the New York City region: John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, it is one of the main airports serving the New York City area. Continental Airlines is Newark's largest tenant, operating an entire terminal at Newark which they use as a hub. United Airlines and FedEx operate cargo hubs. The airport has its own railroad station on New Jersey Transit's Northeast Corridor Line which is also served by Amtrak.

Cities, towns, boroughs, villages, and townships

New Jersey has 566 municipalities; until recently, 567. Unlike other states, all of its municipalities are incorporated entities, with fixed boundaries, and no local government can simply absorb land from another.

Types of government

When the types of government were devised in the nineteenth century, the intention was that cities would be large built-up areas, with progressively smaller boroughs, towns, and villages; the rural areas in between would be relatively large townships. This is still often true, although Shrewsbury Township, New Jersey has been divided until it is less than a square mile, and consists of a single housing development. Some townships -- notably Middletown, Brick, Hamilton, and Dover (which includes Toms River) -- have, without changing their boundaries, become large stretches of suburbia, as populous as (if often more spread out than) cities, often focused around shopping centers and highways rather than traditional downtowns and main streets.

As with Toms River, many locations in New Jersey are simply 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 the Borough of Verona or the Township of South Orange Village to receive more Federal aid. The Census Bureau also has a hard time every ten years.

Forms of government

New Jersey Local Government Flag of New Jersey
Traditional forms of municipal government
Borough Township
City Town Village
Modern forms of municipal government
Walsh Act/Commission
1923 Municipal Manager
Faulkner Act forms of municipal government
Mayor-Council Council-Manager
Small Municipality

The five types of municipality differ mostly in name. Originally each type had its own form of government, but more modern forms are available to any municipality, even though the original type is retained in its formal name. This is the only difference between boroughs and cities or townships: only boroughs can have the "borough form" of government.

Starting in the 1900s, largely driven by reform-minded goals, a series of six modern forms of government were implemented. This began with the Walsh Act, enacted in 1911, 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, a weak mayor elected by and from among 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 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.

While municipalities retain their type of government, they may have changed to one of the modern forms 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 with the Village type of government, Loch Arbour is New Jersey's 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.


New Jersey is broken up into 21 counties, most of which are vestiges of the colonial area, and the remainder partitioned from existing counties in the 1800s. New Jersey is the only state in the nation where elected county officials are called "Freeholders," serving together on a Board of Chosen Freeholders in each county. The number of freeholders in each county is determined by referendum, and cannot exceed nine members.

Depending on the county, the executive and legislative functions may be performed by the Board of Chosen Freeholders or split into separate components. 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.

Lists of municipalities

Map of New Jersey showing major roads and cities
Map of New Jersey showing major roads and cities

Major cities (and their populations):

Large cities (+ 100,000 pop.)

  • Newark: 273,546 (Census Estimate 2003: 278,000)
  • Jersey City: 240,055 (Census Estimate 2003: 242,000)
  • Paterson: 149,222 (Census Estimate 2003: 152,000)
  • Elizabeth: 120,568 (Census Estimate 2003: 124,000)
  • Edison 97,687 (Census Estimate 2003: 101,000)
  • Woodbridge: 97,203 (Census Estimate 2003: 108,000)

Towns and small cities (60,000–99,999 pop.)

Other (59,999 -)

The following communities are college towns or other notable places in New Jersey with under 60,000 people.

Wealth of cities by per capita income:

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
6 Millburn, New Jersey $76,796
7 Rumson, New Jersey $73,692
8 Harding Township, New Jersey $72,689
9 Teterboro, New Jersey $72,613
10 Bernardsville, New Jersey $69,854

693 Newark, New Jersey $13,009
694 Laurel Lake, New Jersey $12,965
695 Passaic, New Jersey $12,874
696 Seabrook Farms, New Jersey $12,499
697 McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey $12,364
698 New Hanover Township, New Jersey $12,140
699 Lakewood, 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. In addition, 54% of high school graduates continue on to college or university, 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.

New Jersey is home to more scientists and engineers than any other state. [11]

Colleges and universities

Institution Name, Location

In addition to the above institutions, there are 19 community colleges, serving the 21 counties in the state.

Institution Name, Location

Professional sports teams

Miscellaneous information

The USS New Jersey, one of the most decorated vessels in the United States Navy, was named in honor of this state and is now a tourist attraction in Camden, New Jersey.

See also

External links

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