50 Facts About New Jersey State That Might Surprise You

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Aerial view of a coastal city with buildings along a sandy beach
Aerial view of Atlantic City along the Atlantic Coast in New Jersey

New Jersey is a state everyone has heard of, but most people don't know much about it. It's often considered an extension of New York, but there are plenty of things to set this state apart from its neighbors.

Did you know New Jersey was the host to the first-ever Miss America Pageant? Or how about New Jersey being a temporary home to George Washington during the Revolutionary War?

Keep reading if you're interested in learning more about New Jersey state. Here are 50 facts about New Jersey that might surprise you.

  • 50 New Jersey facts

50 New Jersey State Facts

  1. Fun Facts About New Jersey
    1. Washington spent a lot of the American Revolution here
    2. The Atlantic City Boardwalk was groundbreaking
    3. It's Bruce Springsteen's home
    4. Salt water taffy was invented in NJ
    5. It's the unofficial diner capital in America
    6. The first Miss America Pageant was held here
    7. New Jersey is called the "Garden State"
    8. Paleontologists found the first complete dinosaur skeleton
    9. Edison worked in Menlo Park
    10. Thomas Edison moved to New Jersey
    11. The first submarine ride was in the Passaic River
    12. It's home to the first mechanically ventilated underwater tunnel
    13. Union Watersphere is the tallest water tower
    14. New Jersey is the second most densely populated state
    15. The Hudson River Waterfront is over 18 miles
  2. Interesting Facts About New Jersey
    1. Lambert Castle Museum is a symbol of art and industry
    2. George Washington crossed the Delaware River
    3. George Washington lived in New Jersey
    4. NJ hosted many Revolutionary War developments
    5. Visit the world's largest light bulb
    6. Monopoly took its street names from Atlantic City
    7. Hoboken hosted the first baseball game
    8. Cape May is the oldest seaside resort
    9. There's a state dance
    10. Trenton is the capital
  3. Weird Facts About New Jersey
    1. Blueberries are a symbol
    2. The motto is in English
    3. Edison perfected the projector
    4. Look for the common blue violet
    5. The Jersey Shore is more than a show
  4. New Jersey History Facts
    1. The flag was designed in the 1800s
    2. New Jersey was the third state
    3. The Pine Barrens is the last of its kind
    4. Ellis Island is in New Jersey
    5. The goldfinch has become historic
  5. Cool Facts About New Jersey
    1. Check out the red oaks
    2. Some New Jerseyans consider themselves New Yorkers
    3. Children funded part of the capitol
    4. President Cleveland was from New Jersey
    5. Most residents live in cities
  6. Creepy Facts About New Jersey
    1. You might spot the Jersey Devil
    2. There's an annual zombie walk
    3. It's where the Hindenburg disaster happened
    4. Friday the 13th was filmed in the state
    5. Westfield is a spooky haven
  7. Important Facts About New Jersey
    1. The state name comes from England
    2. You can visit "Silk City"
    3. Giovanni da Verrazzano was the first European
    4. There are five different climates
    5. It's one of the smallest states

Show all

Fun Facts About New Jersey

Tall buildings behind a gold sand beach with breaking waves in the foreground
Atlantic City in New Jersey has a famous boardwalk

Washington spent a lot of the American Revolution here

One of the first fact about New Jersey that will impress your friends is that George Washington spent a lot of time in the state. During the Revolutionary War, he set up two army camps in the future state.

Morristown was the winter encampment for not just Washington, but also the army he was leading against British forces. There are still homes standing that once hosted this historic US figure.

appalachianview/Depositphotos.com
Lamp posts, benches and colorful buildings along a wooden boardwalk
The longest boardwalk in the US is the famous Atlantic City Boardwalk

The Atlantic City Boardwalk was groundbreaking

Atlantic City is one of the most popular vacation destinations on the east coast. While there are plenty of things to see in the city, one of the most popular attractions is the boardwalk.

Measuring over five miles, it's the longest boardwalk in the country. It was also the first of its kind. The first stretch was opened in 1870, making it the first public boardwalk in the country.

It's Bruce Springsteen's home

Before he became one of the most popular musicians in America, Bruce Springsteen was just a boy from New Jersey. He was born in the state in 1949.

Unlike many rockstars, he's continued to call New Jersey home since then. His humble roots and love for his state have been an inspiration for a lot of his music.

Salt water taffy was invented in NJ

Taffy is a chewy type of candy that comes in a large variety of flavors. Salt water taffy isn't much different than the normal variety, though it's often sold on the coast.

Salt water taffy was invented in Atlantic City in 1883. A candy shop flooded which soaked the taffy sold there. The owner joked about selling salt water taffy, and the name became popular.

Dpimborough/Depositphotos.com
The exterior of an art deco style diner with a Tick Tock Diner signage on top
Tick Tock Diner, one of the oldest and most famous diners in New Jersey

It's the unofficial diner capital in America

Diners are a popular place to grab a meal. While you can find these establishments all over the country, New Jersey has the most diners per capita of anywhere else in the US.

There are over 500 diners currently open and operating in the state. With that many options, there's no wonder it's the unofficial diner capital of not just the United States, but the world.

The first Miss America Pageant was held here

Beauty pageants have been around for many years. Though many have fallen away, the Miss America Pageant has become one of the most famous in the country.

The first Miss America Pageant was held in 1921 in Atlantic City. Though now it's considered a scholarship event, it was originally created to draw tourists to the city over Labor Day weekend.

KatGail/Depositphotos.com
A yellow and white New Jersey plate on top of a rose plant
A New Jersey license plate with its nickname "Garden State"

New Jersey is called the "Garden State"

One of the most interesting New Jersey facts is that it's also called the "Garden State." This New Jersey state nickname can be seen on license plates and signs around the state.

The nickname can be traced to the 1800s when much of the territory was used for farmland. Now there might be less farmland, but the moniker has stuck!

Paleontologists found the first complete dinosaur skeleton

Though many people don't know the name William Parker Foulke, he played an important role in paleontology. Thanks to him, the first full dinosaur skeleton in the country was found.

Since the dinosaur was found in Haddonfield, New Jersey, the skeleton was nicknamed Haddy. The town and Foulke also gave this species its scientific name Hadrosaurus Foulkii.

Edison worked in Menlo Park

Thomas Edison has become a more controversial figure in the past few years due to his questionable collaboration tactics. However, no one can deny that he was one of the greatest inventors to come from America.

At his Menlo Park office, Edison worked on some of his greatest inventions. He perfected Bell's telephone design, worked on recording human voices, and even did his research that led to the modern lightbulb.

Thomas Edison moved to New Jersey

In 1847, Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio. Though that might be his hometown, Edison is perhaps more associated with New Jersey.

After first leaving the Midwest for New York, he later moved to this neighboring state. Menlo Park saw Edison make some of his biggest strides in inventing, but even after leaving this city, he still remained an NJ resident.

sepavone/Depositphotos.com
A swing bridge and buildings along the banks of a river reflected over it
The Bridge Street Bridge and Newark buildings reflected over the Passaic River

The first submarine ride was in the Passaic River

The submarine can be dated to the 1500s when a mathematician first came up with the idea of this underwater vehicle. The very first model was built in 1620.

However, these submarines were primitive. The very first modern submarine was built in 1878. This prototype was called the Holland I and was launched in New Jersey's Passaic River.

It's home to the first mechanically ventilated underwater tunnel

Though bridges and boats are still the typical ways people cross bodies of water, underwater tunnels are another popular option. However, it can be difficult to ensure that oxygen levels are within a safe range.

The very first ventilated underwater bridge helped solve this problem. The Holland Tunnel was built to guarantee safe air quality for anyone who chooses this route to travel between Manhattan and New Jersey.

Union Watersphere is the tallest water tower

If you're looking for fun facts for New Jersey, you won't be disappointed to learn that you can find the world's tallest water tower in the state.

The Union Watersphere is 212 feet tall and is now not only a symbol for the town of Union, but for New Jersey as a whole. The water tower has become such a popular attraction that you can even find a museum dedicated to it all the way in Texas.

New Jersey is the second most densely populated state

Of all the highly populated states across the US, New Jersey has the honor of being the second most densely populated. There are, on average, over 1200 New Jersey residents living on every square mile in the state.

The Hudson River Waterfront is over 18 miles

The Hudson River Waterfront Walkway may seem like a pretty but generally unremarkable walking path. That is, until you learn more about its history.

The walkway stretches over 18 miles, which is already impressive. However, it's also part of the East Coast Greenway. This project aims to create over 3000 miles of walking path along the east coast to cut down on vehicle use.

Interesting Facts About New Jersey

Aerial shot of 3 bridges connecting a city along one side of a river to the other
Aerial shot of Delaware River and Trenton, the capital of New Jersey

Lambert Castle Museum is a symbol of art and industry

Built in 1892, Lambert Castle was once the home of a silk mill owner. Through the years, the mansion has undergone many renovations, both before and after its original owners passed away.

Due to the extensive collection of art, industry artifacts, and other items, the building became a National Historic Place in 1975. There's even a collection of 400 spoons on the property!

George Washington crossed the Delaware River

You don't have to be a history buff to know about Washington's famed crossing of the Delaware River. The river touches not just Delaware, but also Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey.

This last state is actually where Washington crossed with his troops on Christmas night in 1776. An event that has been immortalized in the now-famous 1851 painting by Emanuel Leutze.

George Washington lived in New Jersey

The Revolutionary War saw many soldiers displaced from their homes, even when they weren't fighting. For example, during the winter months, battles died down compared to the warmer times of year.

During the the winter of 1776, rather than return to his home in Virginia, Washington stayed with his troops. He spent that winter in New Jersey as it allowed him to keep an eye on British forces.

NJ hosted many Revolutionary War developments

Fans of New Jersey facts and history love to say that the state was the crossroads of the Revolutionary War. Due to its central location among the battles, it saw many soldiers pass through.

Numerous battles were fought in this territory. Both the red and blue coats saw victories here, including General George Washington who spent much of the war in the area.

Visit the world's largest light bulb

Since Thomas Edison made New Jersey his home, the state has happily honored the inventor in many ways. He's been dubbed the "Wizard of Menlo Park," for example.

Perhaps the most interesting way the state has commemorated Edison is by constructing the world's largest lightbulb in a town named after him. The bulb is 13 feet tall and made of Pyrex.

One of the interesting facts about New Jersey state involves Atlantic City
Places on the Monopoly board were based on streets in Atlantic City

Monopoly took its street names from Atlantic City

Monopoly is one of the most popular board games around the world. Many have joked that arguments have started because of a Monopoly game.

Did you know, however, that the fictional city that makes up the Monopoly board is based on a real place? Atlantic City inspired the names you'll see on the board of the original version of the game.

A skyscraper among buildings on the coast of a city along a river
The first baseball game was held in Hoboken in 1846

Hoboken hosted the first baseball game

Baseball is America's pastime. Based on the British games cricket and rounders, this sport has become synonymous with North American culture.

In 1846, Hoboken, New Jersey hosted the very first official baseball game. Though it had likely been played in the decade leading up to that game, that day put the sport on the map.

Cape May is the oldest seaside resort

The Atlantic Coastal Plain is one of the most interesting regions of the United States. Once home to farmland due to its fertile soil, it was an extremely important way for the country to provide food to its citizens.

The New Jersey portion of the plain is also home to multiple seaside resorts due to its proximity to the ocean. Cape May is a prime example of this. Built in 1692, the city is known for being the oldest seaside resort in the country.

There's a state dance

While there are some typical New Jersey state symbols, there are others that might surprise you. Did you know that there's an official state dance?

The square dance might be most commonly associated with southern states, but it's well-loved by New Jersey residents as well. It's been a symbol since 1983.

A grassy lawn with leafless trees in front of a building complex on a sunny day
The New Jersey State House Capitol Building in Trenton, the state capital

Trenton is the capital

You can't claim to know information about New Jersey without knowing what the New Jersey state capital is. Trenton may not be the most populated city in the state, but it's still the heart of its government.

This decision is in part to pay homage to the founding fathers. In 1783, Congress fell in love with this New Jersey city so much that it was the country's capital for a while.

Weird Facts About New Jersey

Houses and a tree in front of a red and whites lighthouse on a clear day
Lighthouse on Cape May, one of the seaside destinations along the Jersey Shore

Blueberries are a symbol

Though Maine produces the vast majority of blueberries grown in the United States it's not the only place that has claimed them as a symbol. Since 2003, the blueberry has been the official New Jersey state fruit.

The decision was made after a lengthy debate between choosing the blueberry or the tomato. The state even has its own tomato variety specifically grown in the area. However, the blueberry won.

The motto is in English

Like every other state in the US, there's an official New Jersey state motto. "Liberty and Prosperity" can be seen on the state seal and in official state government documents.

New Jersey is one of the few states that has an English motto. Many other places in the country have chosen phrases in Latin or French.

Edison perfected the projector

Thanks to the motion picture projector, you're able to enjoy going to the movies. It was a giant leap that brought entertainment from the stage to film.

The first projector was invented in 1780 in France. While this new technology was innovative, it was still flawed. It wasn't until 1888 when Edison and his lab assistant invented a machine capable of projecting motion pictures.

Look for the common blue violet

The New Jersey state flower can be found all over the east coast. The common blue violet is easily recognized by its small size and blue-purple coloring.

The flower was a favorite among gardening clubs in the state. When it was discovered New Jersey didn't have a state flower, they lobbied for this violet to get the honor. They succeeded in 1971.

appalachianview/Depositphotos.com
Boats moored along a harbor line with colorful houses
Houses and boats along the coast of Point Pleasant Beach on Jersey Shore

The Jersey Shore is more than a show

New Jersey is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, making it a popular spot for beach vacations. For many years, the Jersey Shore was visited by millions of people every year.

That popularity increased after the 2009 premiere of the Jersey Shore television show. However, the area is much more family-oriented than that program might lead you to believe.

New Jersey History Facts

An island with buildings and trees and a city across the surrounding body of water
Aerial view of Ellis Island with the New York skyline in the background

The flag was designed in the 1800s

When you look at any official documents about New Jersey state information, you'll see the official coat of arms. You'll also see the design on the New Jersey state flag.

Like many flag designs, all the elements in the New Jersey coat of arms are symbolic. Liberty, prosperity, and the state's agricultural roots are all represented in this flag that was originally designed in 1896.

New Jersey was the third state

New Jersey was one of the original 13 colonies, so it's not a surprise that it was one of the first territories in the United States of America. It was, in fact, the third state to join the Union.

While the area was a territory in the new country since the end of the Revolutionary War, it didn't become an official state until 1787. In December of that year, New Jersey approved the Constitution and gained statehood.

The Pine Barrens is the last of its kind

At one point, the Atlantic coastal pine barrens were a unique forest ecosystem that stretched from North Carolina into Canada. Unfortunately, most of this land has been destroyed due to deforestation.

New Jersey is home to one of the last remaining portions of this forest. The only other examples of this ecosystem can be found in Long Island and Massachusetts.

Ellis Island is in New Jersey

Ellis Island was a major port of entry for immigrants during the 60 years it was open. 12 million people went through this Jersey City in search of a better life.

During World War II, immigration declined and other ports were able to handle the job of processing new future citizens. Though it's been closed for over 50 years, the island has become a national landmark.

A yellow and black bird perched on a branch of a tree
The goldfinch has been New Jersey's state bird since 1935

The goldfinch has become historic

Since 1935, the goldfinch has been the New Jersey state bird. This cheery, yellow bird can be seen all over the state.

It was named a state symbol due to the way it's helped the state's ecosystem over the years. If it weren't for the goldfinch, ragweed would grow wild in the state, suffocating the other plant life.

Cool Facts About New Jersey

Buildings in a city along a river against a clear sky
Buildings in Hoboken skyline along the Hudson River

Check out the red oaks

The New Jersey state tree was chosen for its symbolism. The red oak is strong and beautiful, and it's known to live a long time.

This type of oak isn't just found on the east coast, but they do bring extra beauty to the state. In 1950 the New Jersey governor officially made it the state tree.

Red oak trees on a grassy plain on a clear day
The red oak has been the state tree of New Jersey since 1950

Some New Jerseyans consider themselves New Yorkers

One of the funniest and most interesting facts about NJ is that some people in the state consider themselves practically New Yorkers. Though that mostly applies to residents of cities like Hoboken that share the Hudson River with NYC.

Since New York City is just a short ferry ride or drive away from parts of the state, many people commute for work. This fact has been used in numerous television shows and movies.

Leafless trees in the foreground of a white Renaissance building with a golden dome
The 1792-built New Jersey State House is the 3rd oldest building in United States

Children funded part of the capitol

With parts of its structure dating back to 1792, the New Jersey capitol building is the third-oldest in the country. The building has undergone some renovations throughout its history, however.

In fact, part of the capitol building was funded by school children. As part of a civic fundraiser, money was raised to help fund the New Jersey state building's dome in 1996.

President Cleveland was from New Jersey

President Grover Cleveland gained notoriety as being the only US president to serve two non-consecutive terms. His first term began in 1885 and his second began in 1893.

He's also one of the only presidents to have called New Jersey home, the other being Woodrow Wilson. He was born and died in the state having moved back after retiring from politics.

Most residents live in cities

Across the state of New Jersey, there are 52 cities. Most of New Jersey's population of just over 9 million live in these cities. The largest is Newark, with a population of 311 thousand, followed closely by Jersey City, with a population of 292 thousand.

Creepy Facts About New Jersey

brianloganphoto/Depositphotos.com
Buildings, benches, and plants along a wooden boardwalk
One of the creepy facts about New Jersey state is held in Asbury Park, New Jersey

You might spot the Jersey Devil

In South Jersey there's a legend that dates back over 100 years. Locals claim a creature with wings and hooves who looks like it's part bat, part horse, and part goat roam the Pine Barrens.

This creature has been dubbed the Jersey Devil. Though there are different origin stories, the most popular claims that it was the 13th child born to Deborah Leeds in 1735.

luvemak/Depositphotos.com
Kids and adults dressed as zombies
The New Jersey Zombie Walk is annually held in Asbury Park

There's an annual zombie walk

For most of the year, Asbury Park is a fairly run-of-the-mill beach town in New Jersey. However, it's become a hit destination around October.

Since 2008 the annual "Zombie Walk" has been held every Halloween season. Hundreds of people dress up as zombies and go for a fun and perhaps spooky walk through town.

It's where the Hindenburg disaster happened

This may not be one of the most fun facts on New Jersey but it's one of the most historic. In 1937, the Hindenburg aircraft burst into flames which killed 35 people and risked the lives of nearly 60 others.

The Hindenburg remains a topic of fascination because even now no one knows what caused the disaster. However, some assume the aircraft was purposefully compromised while others believe the paint or engineering were faulty.

Friday the 13th was filmed in the state

Since its release in 1980, Friday the 13th has been one of the most popular films in the horror genre. It's inspired numerous sequels and movie tropes that are still used today.

Most movies are filmed in Hollywood, but Friday the 13th was actually filmed in Warren County, New Jersey. Camp Crystal Lake, the setting for the film, was, in reality, a local boy scout camp.

scukrov/Depositphotos.com
Parked cars and trees along a street lined with colorful buildings
Buildings and cars along Elm Street in the supposedly haunted Westfield, New Jersey

Westfield is a spooky haven

Westfield, New Jersey may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of the word "spooky" but this town might surprise you. Whether you like crime, paranormal, or pop culture, there's a spooky fact about this town for you.

As recently as 2017, supposed hauntings have been recorded in the town. One family, in fact, made headlines when they reported receiving letters that suggested their home was haunted. A house in the town also inspired the design of the Addams Family Mansion.

Important Facts About New Jersey

A blue footbridge connecting the sides of a gorge in front of a frozen waterfall
The Great Falls and Passaic River during winter

The state name comes from England

If you look at the names of all the US states, you'll notice a few tendencies. Many states are named after Native American words or phrases while others were named by settlers.

New Jersey's name would fall into the latter category. As an original British Colony, it gets its name from the English. The state was named after the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel.

A steel footbridge and a waterfall emptying into a river surrounded by greenery
The Great Falls in Patterson helped the silk industry boom

You can visit "Silk City"

Many people who visit Paterson, New Jersey, don't know about its important industrial history. During the 1800s, the city was called "Silk City."

The city was built nearby a waterfall which was harnessed to power the town. Due to this reliable power source, the silk industry was able to boom in the city. This reputation as the premier silk production area in the country lasted until 1913.

Giovanni da Verrazzano was the first European

Though the British officially settled New Jersey, they weren't the first Europeans to set foot in the territory. That honor goes to a much less talked about explorer.

Giovanni de Verrazano was an Italian explorer who traveled to North America in 1524, including New Jersey. Colonists wouldn't arrive in the area until 1609.

There are five different climates

It might surprise you to find out that New Jersey has an incredibly varied climate. Within its borders, you can experience the Northern, Central, Pine Barrens, Southwest, and Coastal climates.

This effectively divides the state into five main regions. That's an impressive feat considering the entire state is just 166 miles long and 65 miles wide.

It's one of the smallest states

New Jersey's territory only covers around 7350 square miles. Though that might seem like a large number, it's actually not.

It's the fifth smallest state in the country and the fourth smallest in the continental US. When you consider that the largest state is Alaska which covers over 570 thousand square miles, Jersey's small size shows!

In Summary

Did this list of New Jersey facts succeed in surprising you? Did you already know a few of them?

I bet it's inspired you to start planning a trip to this part of the country as soon as possible. In the meantime, you'll be able to impress your friends and family with all the new trivia you've learned.

Whether you're a history buff or you're just interested in learning interesting facts, New Jersey has something to offer you. Go ahead and continue your research so you're prepared when you finally get to visit!

This article was edited by Henry Grahame.

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Written by Gabrielle T

ggtraveler1213 WRITER Hi! I'm a lover of all things travel and culture. I'm originally from the USA, but I've lived in Italy for over a decade! I'm always ready to pack my bags, get my passport, and head out on an adventure!


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