New Jersey is located in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the United States. It is bordered on the north by New York, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, on the southwest by Delaware, and on the west by Pennsylvania. Parts of New Jersey lie within the sprawling metropolitan areas of New York and Philadelphia.
Inhabited by Native Americans for more than 2,800 years, the first European settlements in the area were established by the Swedes and Dutch in the early 1600s. The State's name was taken from the largest of the English Channel Islands, Jersey. The English later seized control of the region, which was granted to Sir George Carteret and John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton as the colony of New Jersey. New Jersey was an important site during the American Revolutionary War; several decisive battles were fought there. The winter quarters of the revolutionary army were established twice by George Washington in Morristown, which was called the military capital of revolution. Later, working-class cities such as Paterson and Trenton helped to drive the Industrial Revolution in the nineteenth century. New Jersey's position at the center of the BosWash megalopolis, between Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., fueled its rapid growth through the suburban boom of the 1950s and beyond. As of 2008, New Jersey had more millionaire residents than any other state in the nation.
New Jersey can be thought of as five regions, based on natural geography and population. Northeastern New Jersey, the Gateway Region, lies within the New York metropolitan area, and some residents commute to the city to work. Northwestern New Jersey, or the "Skylands", is, compared to the northeast, more wooded, rural, and mountainous, but still a popular place to live. The "Shore" along the Atlantic Coast in the southeast has its own residence and lifestyle characteristics owing to the ocean. The southwest is within Metropolitan Philadelphia, and is included in the Delaware Valley. The fifth region is the Pine Barrens in the interior of the southern part and is covered rather extensively by mixed pine and oak forest, and as such has a much lower population density than much of the rest of the state.
New Jersey can also be broadly divided into three geographic regions: North Jersey, Central Jersey, and South Jersey. However, some people do not consider Central Jersey to exist at all, but still many believe it is a separate geographic and cultural area from the North and South.
Most of New Jersey has a temperate climate, with hot humid summers and cold winters. Southern areas of the state, including Cape May and Cumberland counties, are now considered to be in the humid subtropical climate zone. During the hurricane season, tropical cyclones can hit New Jersey, though it is uncommon for one to remain at hurricane strength so far to the north. During the winter months, nor'easters can dump heavy amounts of precipitation across the state. Because of its dense population and because most communities of northern New Jersey do not have the widespread reservoir system of neighboring Greater New York City, the slightest dry season leads to drought warnings; but because there are many streams and rivers close to these communities, the slightest above average rainfall causes frequent flooding as many parts of Northern New Jersey are part of a flood plain.
The Jersey Shore area includes:
- Asbury Park
- Atlantic City
- Bay Head
- Cape May
- Cliffwood Beach
- Forked River
- Island Beach State Park
- Long Beach Island
- Long Branch
- Monmouth Beach
- Ocean City
- Ocean Grove
- Point Pleasant Beach
- Red Bank
- Sandy Hook
- Sea Isle City
- Sea Bright
- Seaside Heights
- Seaside Park
- Spring Lake
- Stone Harbor
- Toms River
- Union Beach
- "The Wildwoods":
o Diamond Beach
o North Wildwood
o West Wildwood
o Wildwood Crest
Theme parks in New Jersey include:
- Bowcraft Amusement Park
- Land of Make Believe
- Morey's Piers
- Six Flags Great Adventure
- Mountain Creek Waterpark
- Clementon Amusement Park
Historic sites in New Jersey include:
- The Indian King Tavern
- Edison National Historic Site
- Ellis Island National Monument
- Emilio Carranza Crash Site and Monument
- Grover Cleveland's Birthplace
- Monmouth Battlefield State Park
- Morristown National Historical Park
o Ford Mansion
o Fort Nonsense
o Jockey Hollow
- Old Dutch Parsonage
- Princeton Battlefield
- St. Michael's Church and Churchyard, Trenton, NJ
- The USS New Jersey
- Wallace House
- Walt Whitman's Tomb and House
- Washington Crossing State Park
Museums in New Jersey include:
- The Liberty Science Center
- The Montclair Art Museum
- The Newark Museum
- The Thomas Edison Museum
Performing Arts centers in New Jersey include:
- New Jersey Performing Arts Center
- Paper Mill Playhouse
- Prudential Center
Camping and hiking areas in New Jersey include:
- The Appalachian Trail
- Camp Glen Gray
- South Mountain Reservation
Nudism areas in New Jersey include:
- Gunnison Beach
- Rock Lodge Club
In 1978, the New Jersey legislature approved casino gambling in Atlantic City. At that time, Las Vegas was the only mega-casino resort. By 1978, Atlantic City was in decline. It was no longer the seaside resort that it once was. With the institution of casino gambling, Atlantic City has come back as a resort city. The four-mile (6 km) long Boardwalk in Atlantic City was the world's first boardwalk and is still its largest.
New Jersey was recently rated one of the most excellent U.S. States to visit by Zagat's, second only to Ohio.
New Jersey has the largest grove of cherry blossom trees in the United States, in Newark's Branch Brook Park, eclipsing the more famous one in Washington D.C.
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 is home to the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world: Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure theme park in Jackson Township.
Diners are common in New Jersey. The state is home to many diner manufacturers and has more diners than any other state: over 600. There are more Diners in the state of New Jersey than any other place in the world.
New Jersey is one of only two states (along with Oregon) where self-service filling of gasoline is prohibited.
New Jersey is the only state without a state song. "I'm From New Jersey" is incorrectly listed on many websites as being the New Jersey State Song, but wasn't even a contender when in 1996 the New Jersey Arts Council submitted their suggestions to the New Jersey Legislature.
A long-circulated legend says a creature, the Jersey Devil or the Leeds Devil, terrorizes the population of the Pine Barrens. The New Jersey Devils are named for this mythical creature. New Jersey is also home to several other legends, such as the ghost of Annie's Road in Totowa and the haunted and demon-possessed Clinton Road in West Milford. Cooper Road in Middletown is assumed haunted by strange, ghostly people who jump out from behind trees at cars traveling down the unpaved, portion of the road. The unpaved section has no street lights and thus is very dangerous as it has sharp turns where the ghostly people, are assumed to jump in front of the cars from behind trees causing them to crash. There is also the Atco Ghost—the ghost of a little boy runs across the street late at night 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. However, on the popular television show MythBusters, the myth of Jimmy Hoffa being buried under Giants Stadium was debunked using ground penetrating radar.
The magazine Weird NJ (the creators of which later started Weird U.S.) was started to catalog and explore the ghosts, legends, and prevalence of otherwise "weird" things in the state.