June 13, 2012

New Jersey – “The Garden State”

New Jersey


Just the Facts…

bird – eastern goldfinch
flower – violet
tree – northern red oak
capital – Trenton
union – 3rd state – December 18, 1787
population – almost 9 million





The Basics 

New Jersey was named after the Isle of Jersey, which is an island in the English Channel (which is the body of water in between England and France).  King Charles of England gave the land to his brother, James, who named it New Jersey to in honor of a friend, the governor of the Isle of Jersey.


New Jersey is the most densely populated state in America.   It is also one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse states in the country.  Much of northern New Jersey is considered to be part of the New York City metropolitan area, and much of southern New Jersey is considered to be part of greater Philadelphia.


New Jersey is in the Mid-Atlantic region of America, which is in between New England and the South.  The Atlantic Ocean is on its east, the Delaware River on its west, and the Delaware Bay on its south.


Its Claim to Fame

New Jersey is sometimes called “The Crossroads of the Revolution” because it saw a lot of action during the Revolutionary War – many important battles were fought in New Jersey and armies passed through numerous times.  George Washington crossed the Delaware River into New Jersey to surprise and defeat troops in Trenton.  In addition, the American army spent a few winters camped at Morristown.


Before becoming a state, New Jersey was central to the discussions of what our federal government should look like.  Its delegates to the Constitutional Convention wanted each state to have an equal say in the federal government, regardless of size.  Since it was so small, New Jersey was concerned about a few large states controlling everything at the federal level.  Not surprisingly, larger states wanted representation to be based on population (the more people a state has the more votes it gets).  Out of this argument came our two houses of Congress – the Senate gives all states equal say, while the House of Representatives is based on the population of each state.


What Makes it Tick

Before the Industrial Revolution, New Jersey was made up primarily of farms.  But, the soil was rocky and many crops failed.  When the Industrial Revolution occurred, the New Jersey landscape and economy changed forever (the Industrial Revolution was when people invented machines to make items that previously had to be made by hand).  Factories popped up along its many rivers, manufacturing everything from silk and other textiles to railroad cars.  During both World Wars, the shipyards along the New Jersey coast became a center for manufacturing ships and submarines.  Now, New Jersey leads the country in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals and personal care items.  Maybe your shampoo was made in New Jersey!  Or your toothpaste.  Or the medicine your mom gives you when you feel sick.


Thomas Edison had his workshop in New Jersey!   A street near his workshop became one of the first in the country to have electrical lights.  He also invented the phonograph, which played music from a disk that was similar to a record.  It was the first piece of equipment that allowed a person to listen to recorded music (think of it as the very first version of a CD player).


The ports of New Jersey are very busy, handling the largest amount of shipping on the eastern coast.  New Jersey ports handle more cars than anywhere else in America – many imported cars are brought to New Jersey by ship, unloaded and then transported by either railroad or truck to all the different car dealerships in the country.  Do you have an imported car, like a Honda or Toyota or Volkswagon?  Chances are it came to America by a ship that was unloaded in New Jersey!


If You Visited

If you visited New Jersey, you probably would eat in a diner.  New Jersey has more diners than any other state – over 600!  Traditionally, a diner is pre-fabricated building (like a mobile home) that is rectangular, with a stainless steel exterior and a counter inside.   Its look comes from the very first diners, which were old dining cars from trains.  Dining cars that were not used anymore were set up as temporary restaurants near the train station.  They served meals to all the railroad passengers.  Now, diners usually stay open very late and serve a wide variety of American food (mainly fried or grilled) and sometimes breakfast is served all day.


You might also spend some time at the “Shore,” eating salt water taffy and enjoying amusement park rides on the boardwalk.  New Jersey has 130 miles of white sand beaches.  Many towns along the Jersey Shore have boardwalks, which are raised wooden pathways along the beach.  They began as a very practical solution for limiting the amount of sand that was brought into buildings along the beach.  The boardwalk in Atlantic City is the longest in the world.  Many boardwalks have restaurants, amusement parks, games and rides.  Salt water taffy was invented in Atlantic City – its name is attributed to the fact that it was originally sold along the boardwalk by the ocean, since it does not contain any salt water!


Want to Know More? 

Do you live in New Jersey? Have you visited New Jersey recently?  We want to hear from you!!  Post a comment at the end of this page.

  • Where is your favorite thing about your state?
  • What is your favorite beach?
  • What is your favorite diner?
  • What other special or unique facts do you want to share about your home state?

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Our tour includes just a few things that are interesting and special about New Jersey.  Visit these websites to learn more great things about New Jersey: