100 Nifty Facts About New Jersey, USA

New Jersey is famous for its casinos, beaches, proximity to New York City, and as Albert Einstein’s and Thomas Edison’s place of residence.

Find out what else the “Garden State” is known for with these fun New Jersey facts! Also read these fun facts about Atlantic City, home of New Jersey and world’s most famous boardwalk!

General New Jersey Facts

  • New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States.
  • Because much of Greater New York City spills into Jersey, the state is often associated with the country’s largest city.
  • In fact, New Jersey’s 6 largest cities are all part of the New York City metropolitan area. They are (in order of population) Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, Lakewood, and Edison (named after Thomas Edison, who had a lab there).
  • At 8723 mi² (22,591 km²), New Jersey is the 4th smallest state in the country, slightly larger than Connecticut, but smaller than New Hampshire.
  • If it were a country, New Jersey would rank between Belize and El Salvador in terms of size.
  • In terms of population, New Jersey ranks 11th in the country, with close to 9.3 million residents. That puts it between Michigan and Virginia.
The skyline of Jersey City viewed from across Hudson River at night
Jersey City, with the Statue of Liberty visible on the left
  • Because of its small size but large population, New Jersey has the highest population density of any state: 1263 people per mi2 (488 per km2). Only Washington D.C. has a higher density (10 times higher, to be precise!)
  • Trenton is the capital city of New Jersey. With only 91,000 people, it is the 10th largest city in the state.
  • Believe it or not, Trenton was once the capital of the United States! The honor only lasted for less than two months in 1784.
  • New Jersey is home to three federally-recognized Native American tribes. They are the Ramapough Lenape, Powhatan Renape, and the Lenni Lenape.
  • New Jersey is the only state in the country with all its counties classified as metropolitan areas.
  • The state’s abbreviation is NJ.
Aerial view of Trenton, New Jersey, including the capitol building and Delaware River
The New Jersey State House (capitol building) in Trenton
  • New Jersey was named after the isle of Jersey in the English Channel, off the coast of France. It is a sovereign state of the United Kingdom. One of the first colonists in New Jersey was from Jersey isle.
  • Residents of New Jersey are called New Jerseyites or New Jerseyans.
  • New Jerseyites are famous for their accent, although the state actually has numerous distinct accents.
  • The official nickname for New Jersey is “Garden State”. The name was first used to advertise farmland in one part of the state, the Pine Barrens.
  • Some other nicknames used in the past have included Camden and Amboy State (after railway lines), Mosquito State (after a plague of mosquitoes in NYC from swamps in New Jersey in the 1880s), Pathway of the Revolution (many battles were fought there), Jersey Blue State (after blue uniforms in the Civil War), and Clam State.
Some buildings across from Princeton University, New Jersey
Buildings around Princeton University, 4th oldest in the country
  • For many years, New Jersey has lacked tourism slogans, or just gone with “Garden State.” However, many cities and towns have their own, such as “The world takes, Trenton makes” and “Let there be light” in Edison.
  • The official state motto of New Jersey is “Liberty and prosperity.”
  • Violets are found growing on New Jersey lawns, fields, and meadows, so it only makes sense that the violet is the official state flower.
  • The honeybee is the official state bug of New Jersey, while the horse is the official state mammal. The latter is also found on the state seal.
  • George Washington supposedly chose the state’s official colors, buff (a yellowish-beige) and blue, when he was stationed in New Jersey during the Revolutionary War.
The New Jersey state flag
The state flag of New Jersey
  • The New Jersey state flag features the state coat of arms on a buff background. The shield is emblazoned with three plows with a horse’s head above it. The goddesses of Liberty and Agriculture are represented by two women. At the bottom, a blue flag ribbon includes the year of independence, 1776, and the state motto.

Random Interesting Facts About New Jersey

  • New Jersey earns around $2.8 billion per year from gambling in casinos, second only to Nevada (home of the famous Las Vegas), which earns 7.8 billion.
  • The street names in Monopoly come from Atlantic City on the coast of New Jersey.
A row of closed shops along Atlantic City's boardwalk at night
Atlantic City Boardwalk
  • The largest is Stephens State Park, which protects a section of Morris Canal, once used to carry coal from Pennsylvania to New York harbor.
  • The most popular state park in New Jersey is Liberty State Park in Jersey City. The park was built for the country’s 200-year anniversary. It features views of the Manhattan skyline, a memorial for the Sept 11 terrorist attacks, and ferry service to the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island of New York State, which is just 1984 ft (605 m) offshore from the park.
Boardwalk in Liberty State Park, with buildings of Jersey City in background
Liberty State Park
  • Ellis Island, which is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument, belongs to both New Jersey and New York State. The two states claimed the island for years, until the U.S. Supreme Court decided that 83% of the island belonged to New Jersey in the 1998 New Jersey v. New York case.
  • The part of Ellis Island belonging to New York state is inland and surrounded by New Jersey’s part, making it a landlocked enclave of New York state within New Jersey. The Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration is in the New York part of the island.
  • Ellis Island was once the busiest immigration station in the country, with 12 million immigrants passing through it from 1892 to 1954. Most Statue of Liberty tours also stop at Ellis Island.
  • There is actually a bridge from New Jersey’s Liberty State Park to Ellis Island. It was built in 1986 to transport materials there. It is no longer strong enough to be used, but still hasn’t been torn down.
Ellis Island in the foreground, with the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island in the background
Ellis Island, in the foreground, is shared by New York and New Jersey
  • Yet another is Hangar No. 1, Lakehurst Naval Air Station, the site of the 1937 Hinderburg Disaster, when a German passenger airship caught fire while attempting to dock with its mooring vast. Led Zeppelin’s iconic self-titled album cover shows an image of the crash.
  • Still another is Holland Tunnel, below the Hudson River between New Jersey and Manhattan, which is the world’s first mechanically ventilated underwater tunnel.
Several lanes leading to a tunnel with the words Holland Tunnel above it, at night
Entrance to the Holland Tunnel in Jersey City
  • The nation’s densest system of railroads and highways is found in New Jersey.
  • Newark in North Jersey has been called the “Car Theft Capital of the World”.
  • New Jersey is home to the highest concentration of diners in the world, so it is also sometimes referred to as the “Diner Capital of the World”.
  • The state also has the world’s most shopping malls in one area, with 7 major shopping malls in a radius of 25 square miles.
  • New Jersey ranks 2nd in the nation in the production of blueberries, 3rd in spinach and cranberries, and 4th in lettuce, bell peppers, and peaches.
  • New Jersey is also one of the leading states when it comes to the manufacturing and development of fragrances and flavors.
Tower atop a hill in High Point State Park, New Jersey
High Point is literally the highest point in New Jersey
  • The state is home to 28 Fortune 500 companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Avis Budget Group, and Campbell Soup.
  • Several of New Jersey’s counties have been ranked among the highest-income counties in the country, including Somerset (7th), Morris (10th), Hunterdon (13th), Bergen (21st), and Monmouth (42nd).
  • On July 10, 1936, New Jersey recorded the highest temperature in the state’s history: 110°F (43.33°C) in Runyon. The lowest ever was -34°F (-36.7°C) in River Vale on January 5, 1904
  • On December 14, 1915, Rutherford, New Jersey set a record 32 inches of snowfall in 24 hours.
  • High Point in High Point State Park is New Jersey’s highest point, at 1803 feet (549.6 meters) above sea level. Atop the highest point stands the High Point Monument, for New Jersey’s veterans.
  • With New Jersey’s diverse geography, it’s only natural to find many kinds of different wildlife. The state is home to 485 birds, 450 species of vertebrate wildlife, 336 marine finned fish, 134 freshwater fish species, and 28 marine mammals.
A black and white photograph of Thomas Edison standing among some machines in his lab
Edison in his New Jersey laboratory
  • Many devices were invented by Thomas Edison, who was born in Ohio but lived in New Jersey, that changed the world. These include the electric light bulb, the motion picture camera, the telegraph, and the phonograph.
  • Besides Edison’s many inventions, other things invented in New Jersey include the traffic circle, boardwalks, the vacuum cleaner, the electric guitar, bubble wrap, M&Ms, taffy, TV dinners, and many more.
  • After migrating from Germany to the US in 1933, Albert Einstein lived in New Jersey for 22 years until his death, where he worked at Princeton University.
  • The world’s first patented drive-in theater was in Camden, New Jersey, developed in 1928 and patented in 1933.
  • The world’s first cell phone call was made by Motorola general manager Martin Cooper when he called from Manhattan to Bell Labs in New Jersey.
  • The world’s first color TV was presented by RCA at their plant in Camden, New Jersey in 1940.
  • The invented of the ice cream cone, Italian immigrant Italo Marcioni, lived in Hoboken, New Jersey, and would push his cart to sell ice cream across the Hudson River in Wall Street.
A mosaic of famous people from New Jersey
Famous New Jerseyites Frank Sinatra, Buzz Aldrin, Whitney Houston, Dennis Rodman, Jon Bon Jovi, and John Travolta
  • Some of the most well-known singers from New Jersey include Whitney Houston, Lauryn Hill, Queen Latifah, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Ice-T, Jon Bon Jovi, Glenn Danzig, and Halsey.
  • The bands Kool & the Gang, My Chemical Romance, The Shirelles, The Fugees, Sugarhill Gang, Catch-22, The Bouncing Souls, The Misfits, Yo La Tengo, and Gaslight Anthem were formed in New Jersey.
  • Famous actors and actresses from New Jersey include John Travolta, Michael Douglas, Jack Nicholson, Kevin Spacey, Joe Pesci, Danny DeVito, Paul Rudd, Meryl Streep, Tara Reid, Kirsten Dunst, Zoe Saldana, Christina Milan, and Vera Farmiga.
  • Other famous New Jerseyites include basketballer Dennis Rodman, astronaut Buzz Aldrin (second person to step on the moon), podcaster Joe Rogan, and baseball player Derek Jeter.
  • Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th president of the United States, was from New Jersey. He’s the only president who served 2 non-consecutive terms.
Black and white photograph of Grover Cleveland, the former US president
Grover Cleveland, the only US president who was born in New Jersey
  • Some movies filmed or set in New Jersey include Jersey Girl, Garden State, Clerks, Coneheads, Friday the 13th, and the original Babysitter’s Club TV series.
  • There are some bizarre old laws still in existence in New Jersey. For example, it’s against the law to sell a car on Sundays.
  • It’s also illegal to pump your own gas anywhere in the state.
  • Moreover, you legally can’t sell handcuffs to a minor in New Jersey, frown in Bernards township, swear in Raritan, or dance on Main Street in Caldwell.

Historical Facts About New Jersey

  • Native peoples first arrived in the area of New Jersey over 10,000 years ago.
  • There were up to 20,000 Lenape (Delaware Indians) in the area when Europeans first arrived.
  • In 1524, Giovanni de Verrazano of Florence sailed along the New Jersey coast for France.
A beach on Long Beach Island, New Jersey, with waves washing onto the shore
Long Beach Island, New Jersey
  • Henry Hudson, whom Hudson Bay in Canada is named after, followed in 1609. A few years later came the Dutch, who claimed the area.
  • In 1638, a Swedish colony was established along the Delaware River. The colony was later taken over by the Dutch.
  • Bergan, now known as Jersey City, became the state’s first permanent town in 1660.
  • In 1664, the Dutch lost control over the area to the British. The land was split between Lord John Berkley and Sir George Carteret, the latter of whom was from Jersey isle in the English Channel, hence the name Province of New Jersey was chosen.
  • The New Jersey Colony was divided into East and West colonies in 1676, which were then combined into one colony in 1702.
  • In 1721, William Trent established “Trent’s Town”. The village became known as Trenton, and eventually became the state’s capital city.
A painting of Washington crossing the river in a boat
Famous painting of the Washington Crossing in New Jersey
  • Lewis Morris became New Jersey’s first governor in 1738 – before that, governorship has been shared with New York.
  • In 1776, during the Revolutionary War, New Jersey declared itself an independent state. Many crucial battles were fought there, so it was sometimes called the “Crossroads of the Revolution.”
  • During the War, General George Washington famously led his troops across the Delaware River in Trenton, New Jersey. The site of the crossing is now a national historic park, and both New Jersey and Pennsylvania have a town named Washington Crossing nearby.
  • Also in 1776, the New Jersey Gazette, the state’s first newspaper, issued its first edition.
  • On December 12, 1787, New Jersey became the 3rd state to join the Union after the US Constitution was ratified.
  • In 1789, New Jersey was the first state to ratify the United States Bill of Rights.
A famous New Jersey waterfall called Great Falls of the Passaic River with a bridge going over it
Great Falls of the Passaic River
  • In the early 1800s, Paterson, New Jersey became one of the most important centers of the Industrial Revolution. The Great Falls of the Passaic River was a major source of power production, now a national historic park.
  • In 1858, the first totally intact dinosaur skeleton to be found in the world was uncovered in Haddonfield, New Jersey. It was a hadrosaur.
  • From November 1 to December 24, 1874, Trenton, NJ was the capital of the United States.
  • Roselle became the first town in the country to be lighted by electricity in 1883.
  • In 1884, Grover Cleveland of New Jersey became America’s 22nd President.
  • New Jersey’s Governor Woodrow Wilson was elected as president of the US in 1912.
Famous black and white photo of the Hindenburg Disaster
The Hindenburg Disaster in New Jersey
  • The very first Miss America pageant was held in September of 1921 on the boardwalk in Atlantic City.
  • The nation’s first drive-in movie theater opened in Camden in 1933.
  • On May 6, 1937, 35 people died when the LZ 129 Hindenburg crashed and burned in Manchester Township, New Jersey.
  • Atlantic City legalized gambling in 1978. The city’s first casino was the Resorts International Hotel.
  • In 1991, New York and New Jersey had to stop dumping sludge into the sea, after the Ocean Dumping Ban Act was enacted. New Jersey spent over $100 million in order to successfully do so.
  • New Jersey had its first female governor in 1993, Christine Todd Whitman.
A skyline of main resorts and casinos in Atlantic City
Casinos in Atlantic City today
  • In 2001, Shirley M Tilghman, a professor of molecular biology, became the first female president of Princeton University in New Jersey.
  • In 2005, New Jersey became the first state to award public funding for stem-cell research.
  • On February 17, 2007, the civil union of same-sex couples was officially recognized by New Jersey.
  • In 2007, a bill was signed in New Jersey to eliminate the death penalty.
  • In 2008, astronomer Alicia Soderberg at Princeton was the first to ever witness a star exploding, called a supernova.
  • In 2012, Hurricane Sandy struck the coast of New Jersey. It was the deadliest in the state’s history, killing 10, and leaving millions without power.
A damaged dock on a beach in New Jersey caused by Hurricane Sandy
Damage on the coast of New Jersey from Hurricane Sandy
  • In 2013, a scandal erupted when a huge traffic jam was intentionally created for political reasons by appointees of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The ensuring federal investigation went on for years, with two people being sentenced to prison, but the convictions were overturned in 2020.
  • In March 2022, the state lifted its COVID public health emergency, which had been in place for  two years.