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Definition: New Jersey from Collins English Dictionary


1 a state of the eastern US, on the Atlantic and Delaware Bay: mostly low-lying, with a heavy industrial area in the northeast and many coastal resorts. Capital: Trenton. Pop: 8 638 396 (2003 est). Area: 19 479 sq km (7521 sq miles) Abbreviation: N.J. or with zip code NJ

Summary Article: New Jersey
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

State in the Middle Atlantic region of the USA, bordered to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, with the Hudson River forming a natural boundary to the northeast and north, beyond which lies New York State; the Delaware River borders to the south, and Delaware Bay and the state of Delaware lie beyond it; bordered to the west by Pennsylvania; area 19,210 sq km/7,417 sq mi; population (2010) 8,791,894; capital Trenton. It is named after an early landowner's birthplace, the English Channel Island of Jersey. Its nickname derives from its historical role as an important agricultural region serving New York. The fifth smallest US state, New Jersey lies largely in the Atlantic Coastal Plain, a region of rich soil. The Atlantic coastline is sandy and the Jersey shore extends for about 200 km/125 mi. Formerly a manufacturing and agricultural state, the New Jersey economy is dominated by tourism, finance, insurance, and construction. It is the leading US producer of chemicals; other important manufactured products are printed materials, photographic equipment, electronic and electrical equipment, cars, and aircraft parts. Agricultural products include vegetables, eggs, peaches, and blueberries. The largest city is Newark. Other cities and metropolitan areas include Jersey City, Paterson, Elizabeth, Edison, and Woodbridge Township. The region was originally home to the Delaware American Indians; it was colonized by the Dutch and then ceded to England before becoming one of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state saw much fighting during the American Revolution. New Jersey entered the Union in 1787 as the third US state.

Physical New Jersey has four main land regions: the Ridge and Valley region; the New Jersey highlands; the Piedmont; and the Atlantic Coastal Plain.

In the northwestern corner of New Jersey the Ridge and Valley region has the highest elevation, High Point, at 550 m/1,803 ft, on the New York border. The sandstone ridge of Kittatinny Mountain has a dramatic gorge, the Delaware Water Gap, through which the Delaware River flows. The valleys of the Ridge and Valley region have rolling grassland that are important to the dairy industry.

The central New Jersey highlands are a series of flat-topped ridges and narrow valleys. The Musconetcong and Pequest rivers intersect the region and there are many lakes. The largest is Lake Hopatcong; other major lakes include Greenwood Lake, Green Pond, and Culvers Lake.

East of the highlands and closest to New York City is the Piedmont region of New Jersey, sandstone plains eroded to reveal ridges of traprock (dark, igneous rock) with elevations that are known as the Watchung and Sourland mountains. Another traprock ridge, known as the Palisades, forms a cliff along the western edge of the Hudson River, opposite New York City. The two major rivers of the Piedmont region are the Raritan River and Passaic River. At Paterson the Passaic River forms a dramatic waterfall as it crosses the First Watchung Mountain. Other important rivers in the region are the Hackensack River and the Kill Van Kull.

The Atlantic Coastal Plain, covering three-fifths of the state in the southeast, is a region of gentle slopes and mainly rich soils. Within this area the fertile Greenland Belt is where most of New Jersey's market gardening and dairy farming takes place. Hills with thinner, sandier, and generally infertile soils lie between the Greenland Belt and the Atlantic Ocean. In the southeastern corner of this upland is a scrubby woodland area known as the Pine Barrens. The Atlantic coastline in New Jersey is sandy with barrier islands, shallow estuaries, and salt marshes.

New Jersey's climate is varied but generally summers are subject to tropical air and humidity and winters can be freezing with heavy snowfalls. Forests, which account for roughly 40% of New Jersey's land area, include such trees as hickory, red maple, hemlock, and white birch, and pines grow along the coast. New Jersey is densely populated and wildlife is restricted to deer and smaller mammals such as skunk, raccoon, fox, opossum, and chipmunk that live mainly in the state's woodlands. Reptiles such as turtles, snakes, frogs, and toads are widely found. In Delaware Bay pollution is a major problem for shellfish but in more northerly coastal waters bluefish, striped bass, and flounder are common In the northwest, bass, pickerel, catfish, and brook trout are found in freshwater streams and lakes. New Jersey's major ports include Newark, Elizabeth, Raritan, Paulsboro, Gloucester, Deepwater, and Camden.

Features New Jersey played an important role during the American Revolution and many of its historic sites relate to this period, particularly to the Battle of Trenton, George Washington, and the progress of the Continental Army. Architecture and sites from early Dutch colonial days have also been preserved. In Gibbstown, the C A Nothnagle Log House is the oldest log structure in the USA, built by early Finnish-Swedish settlers in the mid-1600s. Demarest House in River Edge dates from 1678 and features Bergen Dutch furnishings. Wortendyke Barn in Park Ridge is one of the last examples of the New World Dutch barns. Old Stone House Museum in Ramsey is a 1740 pre-Revolutionary Dutch household and has many 18th-century artefacts.

English colonial and federal period features are more common. The Belcher-Ogden Mansion in Elizabeth is the former residence of English royal governor Jonathan Belcher, and dates from 1680. Proprietary House, or the Royal Governor's Mansion, in Perth Amboy is the only remaining official governor's residence in the original Thirteen Colonies. It is the former residence of William Franklin, the son of Benjamin Franklin and the last royal governor of New Jersey. Burlington City Historic District in Burlington dates from 1677 and features the former homes of Johns Hopkins and Ulysses S Grant. There are 56 historic homes in Lawrenceville, but Bridgeton Historical District on the southern shore is New Jersey's largest historical district, with over 2,000 colonial, Victorian, and federalist buildings. Other restored historic towns include Clinton Historical Museum Village; Tuckerton Seaport; Moravian Hope Village; East Jersey Olde Towne Village in New Brunswick; Stage House Village Inn in Scotch Plains; Cold Spring Village in Cape May; Allaire Village in Farmingdale; Batsto Village in Batsto in the Delaware River Region; Waterloo in the northwest, a National Historic District in Salem; and the coastal village of Ocean Grove. Trenton is home to many historic houses including William Trent House, built in 1719 by the planner of Trenton. ‘Living history’ farms in New Jersey include Fosterfields Living History Farm; the Holcombe-Jimison Farmstead; Howell Living History Farm; Johnson's Corner Farm; and the New Sweden Farmstead.

American Revolutionary sites include Fort Lee Historic Park, Historic New Bridge Landing, Monmouth Battlefield State Park, and Fort Hancock in Sandy Hook. There are numerous military museums and museums of local history featuring the American Revolution. Old Barracks Museum in Trenton is the leading resource for an account of the Battle of Trenton. Morristown National Historical Park preserves the quarters the Continental Army used during two winters of the American Revolution. Fort Mott State Park and Finn's Point National Cemetery in Salem County are later military memorials. The Princeton Historical Society illuminates Princeton's myriad role during the American Revolution and later.

Other historic sites in New Jersey include the birthplace of US president Grover Cleveland in Caldwell; the Gethsemane Cemetery County Historic Site in Little Ferry, commemorating African Americans who played a role in late-19th-century civil-rights legislation; the Walt Whitman House and Cultural Museum in Camden; and the laboratory and home of inventor Thomas Alva Edison at Edison National Historic Site in West Orange.

Early industrial sites in New Jersey are numerous. The Great Falls National Historic Site in Paterson is where Alexander Hamilton planned an industrial city, referred to by poet William Carlos Williams in his work Paterson (1946–58). The Great American Wonder and Railroad Museum in Flemington is the world's largest model railroad exhibition. Boonton in the northwest is a pre-Revolutionary ironworks town featuring the New Jersey Firemen's Home and Museum dating from 1875. The American Labor Museum/Botto House National Landmark in Haledon is dedicated to the history and culture of working people in the USA.

Twentieth-century landmarks in New Jersey reflect its history as a vacation state as well as its popular culture. Atlantic City Boardwalk, built in 1870, was the world's first boardwalk (elevated wooded walkway), and features many landmark hotels and casinos. On Margate Beach, Lucy the Elephant, built in the late 1800s, is a National Historic Landmark.

There are also natural and scenic features in New Jersey. In the northwestern region, known as Skylands, there are many wineries. Important nature reserves and preservation areas include the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, the Raptor Trust in Millington, the Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge at both Barnegat and Brigantine, the Lakota Wolf Preserve, the Hutcheson Memorial Forest near New Brunswick, and Island Beach, a state park of 3,000 acres/1,200 hectares of natural barrier island ecosystem. The Statue of Liberty National Monument is shared with New York State; Liberty State Park is one of the best places to view the statue and gives access to Liberty Island and to the nearby Immigration Museum on Ellis Island. New Jersey has 36 state parks and 13 state forests.

Culture New Jersey is an urban and ethnically-mixed state and largely resembles a suburb of New York City in terms of its diverse social composition. Older New Jersey families may have Dutch, English, Scots, Swedish, German, or Irish roots, but many nationalities moved to the region during the 19th and 20th centuries, and the cosmopolitan nature of the city of New York and proximity to Ellis Island have meant that New Jersey has always attracted immigrants from all over the world. Many who work in New York live in New Jersey and commute to work, and there are extensive connections with New York. Princeton University, one of the USA's oldest and most prestigious universities and part of the Ivy League, is located in the town of Princeton, near Trenton. New Jersey is also an important state for tourism, and city vacationers taking weekend breaks in the northwestern region of Skylands, as well as those renting seaside summer cottages on the south shore, form a major part of New Jersey's cultural life.

Given its proximity to New York, New Jersey has good geographical access to all New York's cultural attractions. New Jersey has some important performing arts venues of its own, however, including the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in the Gateway Region. Other venues include the McCarter Theater Center in Princeton, Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, the John Harms Center for the Arts in Englewood, the Trenton War Memorial Auditorium, and the State Theatre in New Brunswick. The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra is based in Newark and performs around the state.

In visual arts, the Newark Museum has notable collections of Tibetan and African art. The Art Museum at Princeton University is a major exhibition and educational centre. The New Jersey State Museum in Trenton has collections ranging from American Indian artefacts to exhibits of contemporary art, in its archaeology/ethnology, cultural history, fine art, and natural history sections. The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University in New Brunswick houses the largest collection of Russian and Soviet art in the West. The Morris Museum in Morristown has a variety of exhibitions and features the work of New Jersey artists. The Noyes Museum of Art near Atlantic City is another exhibition centre focused on the cultural heritage of New Jersey, with a growing collection of US fine and folk art. The Wheaton Arts Museum of American Glass is in Millville.

New Jersey is home to several festivals, including the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival in Madison; Union City's passion play, running since 1915 at the Park Performing Arts Center; a range of arts festivals at the Historic Village of Waterloo, in Stanhope; the Cape May Jazz Festival; Red Bank's Riverfest; Camden's Cooper River Jazz Festival; Dr Ulysses S Wiggins Waterfront Park's Sunset Jazz concerts; Duke Gardens, Lambertville's Shad Fest, and many fairs and festivals in the tourist region of northwestern Skylands, also renowned for its wineries and antiques. Reflecting New Jersey's earliest cultural heritage, the Rankokus Indian Reservation of the Powhatan Renape Nation owns and operates its own museum of American Indian culture.

GovernmentNew Jersey's state constitution The state constitution was adopted in 1947, the third in its history.

Structure of state government The legislature is made up of a 40-member Senate and an 80-member Assembly, elected for four-year terms and two-year terms respectively. It is one of five US states which elects its state officials in odd-numbered years.

New Jersey grants unusual powers to the governor, and permits him or her to serve two consecutive four-year terms and be elected to a third after a lapse of four years. Republican Chris Christie took the governorship in January 2010. The governor is also able to appoint all other state officers, with the confirmation of the Senate. The governor appoints all judges in the state with the exception of municipal judges. In November 2005 voters passed an amendment to the state constitution, effective from the 2009 elections, to create a post of lieutenant governor.

New Jersey sends 12 representatives and 2 senators to the US Congress, and has 14 electoral votes in presidential elections.

The highest court in the state is the Supreme Court, headed by a chief justice and having six associate justices, all serving seven-year terms. New Jersey's 21 counties are governed by boards known as freeholders, elected for three years. Cities, towns, boroughs, townships, or villages are governed under the mayoral and city council form or by city managers or commissions.

Economy In spite of its former importance as a manufacturing and agricultural state, New Jersey's economy is primarily service-industry led and is dominated by tourism, finance, insurance, real estate, and construction. In industry, New Jersey is the USA's leading producer of chemicals, from industrial paint strippers to cosmetics and soap. Other important manufactured products include printed materials and publishing; food processing; photographic equipment; heating and refrigeration equipment; electronic and electrical communications equipment; car assembly and aircraft parts; and fine china and glassware. New Jersey's leading agricultural products are greenhouse products, eggs, and peaches; blueberries remain an important product but dairy farming is in decline. In fishing, a once-important oyster catch has declined owing to pollution and disease, but clam harvests remain good and rarer catches, such as squid, skate, Atlantic mackerel, and herring, command high prices.

Mining is limited to basalt, or traprock, used in construction, and sand, gravel, peat, and clays. Zinc mining has declined since the 1970s. Petroleum refining is confined to northern and southwestern New Jersey but neither natural gas nor oil is present in the state to any significant degree and petroleum is imported.

HistoryEarly settlement New Jersey's earliest inhabitants were the Algonquian-speaking Delaware people, forced to migrate to as white farmers encroached on their lands. New Jersey was first sighted in 1497 by Italian navigator Giovanni Caboto, which later provided grounds for English claims to the region as he had been commissioned by Henry VII. The first explorer was Italian Giovanni da Verrazzano in 1524. A Dutch-English expedition led by English explorer Henry Hudson followed in 1609, leading to the establishment of a Dutch trading post at Bergen in 1620 (now the location of Jersey City). Further trading posts were set up and smaller Swedish settlements were established in southern New Jersey.

In 1655 the Dutch colonial governor, Peter Stuyvesant, expelled this Swedish minority from the New Jersey region in order to expand the Dutch West India Company's colony, New Netherland, into that area. The naval power of the English, combined with claims based on Caboto's voyage, however, led to surrender by the Dutch in 1664. John Berkeley and George Carteret became joint co-owners of the former Dutch territory and Dutch attempts to reclaim the colony were thwarted.

In 1676 New Jersey was divided into eastern and western regions as a result of a sale to the Quaker Edward Billinge, and the two regions developed along distinct lines: in the west, English, Irish, Welsh, and Scottish Quakers lived in small villages with democratically governed farms, while in the east, vast estates with slaves covered large tracts of land.

Royal colony In 1702 east and west New Jersey were united into a single royal colony under Queen Anne of England and further Scots, Dutch, Irish, and German settlers poured in. After a series of unpopular taxes, including the Navigation Acts, the Sugar and Molasses Act, the Stamp Act, and the Townshend Acts, New Jersey was ready, along with many other of the Thirteen Colonies, to rebel. A provincial congress for New Jersey sent delegates to the First Continental Congress. In November 1774, following the example of the Boston Tea Party, patriots burned a cargo of tea in Greenwich.

American Revolution New Jersey declared independence on 2 July 1776, signing the Declaration of Independence at the Continental Congress soon after. George Washington secretly crossed the Delaware River and on 26 December triumphed against the British in the Battle of Trenton and again a week later at the Battle of Princeton. In June 1778 the Continental Army engaged the retreating British at the Battle of Monmouth. A draw with the British led to the court-martialling of American General Charles Lee by Washington. During the bitter winter of 1779–80 Washington's troops camped at Middlebrook and at Morristown. Many died of starvation and exposure. Washington led a final victory in New Jersey in June 1780 at the Battle of Springfield, bringing the major events of the Revolution in New Jersey to a close.

Early statehood At the Annapolis Convention in September 1786 New Jersey was instrumental in calling for a Constitutional Convention and proposed a national legislature in which all the states would have equal representation. This became the basis for representation in the US Senate, and New Jersey became the third state to ratify the US Constitution on 18 December 1787.

The Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, a group founded by Alexander Hamilton, promoted industrialization. Paterson, founded by Hamilton in 1791, was the first planned industrial city in the USA, and pioneered textile manufacturing and rail engineering.

Growth as a state Transport links rapidly developed during the 1830s, with turnpike companies building roads and with the construction of the Morris Canal and the Delaware and Raritan Canal. Modernization in farming and growing industrialization led to greater urbanization in the north, although southern New Jersey remained largely rural. Inventor John Stevens pioneered the first US steam locomotive in 1825, in Hoboken. His family's Camden and Amboy Railroad later grew into a monopoly that wielded great power over state politics. New Jersey became a leading industrial state, with important iron foundries in Camden and Trenton; silk manufacturing, railway engineering, and construction in Paterson; and production of leather luggage, shoes, tools, coaches, and jewellery in Newark. During the 1840s many unskilled Irish labourers, fleeing the potato famine, arrived in the state.

Industrialization and trusts New Jersey was loyal to the Union during the Civil War and enjoyed a major economic boom shortly afterwards. Immigrants from Ireland, Italy, and Eastern Europe arrived, increasing the demand for education and training, and seaside resorts sprang up. Major investors in the state included John D Rockefeller, who established oil refineries in Bayonne; soup manufacturers Joseph Campbell and Abraham Anderson; and inventor Thomas Alva Edison. The phenomenon of charter fees in New Jersey led to its nickname as the ‘mother of trusts’ and prompted a series of antitrust laws in other states. New Jersey's largest trusts were American Sugar Refining, Standard Oil, Amalgamated Copper, American Smelting and Refining, Consolidated Tobacco, US Steel, and International Mercantile Marine. Many were considered illegal in other states.

The 1850s saw the slow passage of social reforms, including compensation for accident and injuries, and a minimum-wage law. The Progressive era, which culminated in the election of Woodrow Wilson as governor in 1910, gradually undermined the abuses of the larger corporations. Wilson brought in antitrust laws, factory inspections, and many other regulations, and became president of the USA in 1913.

20th century During the late 1920s and 1930s, heavy industry and docklands activity declined. The Great Depression hit New Jersey hard, although New Deal programmes were instrumental in sustaining the state well into the late 1930s. In 1935 the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), known as the Wagner Act, recognized workers' rights to form unions and bargain collectively, and industrial working conditions generally improved. During World War II, New Jersey was a leading munitions supplier, as it had been in World War I, and also supplied many military aircraft and battleships.

During the 1940s the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike, coupled with extensive car use, changed eastern New Jersey into a virtual suburb of New York City. Inner cities soon decayed, bringing the social collapse of many poor, mainly African-American neighbourhoods. The civil-rights movement of the 1960s in New Jersey was largely motivated by anger at inner-city neglect, with race riots in Jersey City in 1964, in Newark, Plainfield, Englewood, and New Brunswick in 1967 and 1968, and Camden in 1971. In 1978 Atlantic City became home to the country's first gambling casino outside of Nevada, and New Jersey became a leading state for tourism. During the 1970s, conservation became a major priority for the heavily-polluted state, and state government had increasingly to intervene in the preservation of coastal areas and rivers.

In the following decades, Newark developed into an important centre for the insurance industry, and the state focused in particular on research and development in the communications and electronics industries.

21st century On 11 September 2001 Islamic fundamentalist terrorists hijacked four US domestic airplanes, including United Airlines Flight 93 which left Newark International Airport. All four planes crashed, including two into the World Trade Center, in New York. Of the almost 3,000 people killed in these attacks, 700 were residents of New Jersey.

In October 2012 New Jersey suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Sandy.

Famous peoplethe arts James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1851), author; Stephen Crane (1871–1900), writer; William Carlos Williams (1883–1963), poet; Dorothy Parker (1893–1967), writer; Paul Robeson (1898–1976), singer and actor; William Count Basie (1904–1984), band leader; Frank Sinatra (1915–1998), singer and actor; Norman Mailer (1923–2007), author; Allen Ginsberg (1926–1997), poet; Jerry Lewis (1926– ), comedian and film director; Philip Roth (1933– ), author; Jack Nicholson (1937– ), actor; Dionne Warwick (1941– ), singer; Bruce Springsteen (1949– ), rock musician; Meryl Streep (1949– ), actor; Ice-T (1958– ), rapper; Kevin Spacey (1959– ), actor; Jon Bon Jovi (1962– ), rock musician; Whitney Houston (1963–2012), singer; Lauryn Hill (1975– ), rapper and singer

science Donald Fletcher Holmes (1910–1980), inventor; Buzz Aldrin (1930– ), astronaut

society and education Alfred Kinsey (1894–1956), sexologist; William J Brennan (1906–1997), jurist

economics William Henry Vanderbilt (1821–1885), financier

politics and law Aaron Burr (1756–1836), vice-president; Zebulon Montgomery Pike (1779–1813), explorer and soldier; Norman Schwarzkopf (1934–2012), Gulf War general.


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