One thing that people use every day was invented in New Jersey. Can you guess what we’re describing? The light bulb! There have been other important inventions, too, including: FM Radio, the motion picture camera, and transistors.
Can you find New Jersey on a US map? The state is bordered by Pennsylvania and New York to the north, Pennsylvania to the west, Delaware and Delaware Bay to the south, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, and Long Island (a part of New York) to the east.
New Jersey is the fourth smallest US state in size, followed by Rhode Island, Delaware and a third state. Can you guess which one? The answer is at the end of this blog. New Jersey is also the most densely populated state in the country, which means it’s the most crowded. It averages 1,195.5 people for every square mile. How many people do you think live in the state?
What really happened
- For at least 12,000 years, people have lived in the New Jersey area. Thousands of years later, the Lenape, Munsee (or Minsi) and other Native American tribes lived on the land.
- The first Europeans arrived in the region in 1524. This included Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano. Swedish, Finnish and Dutch colonists came later and built settlements. They fought over the land until 1664 when England took control of the region. New Jersey became one of 13 American colonies ruled by the British.
- The colonists wanted to be free of British rule, which led to the American Revolution in 1775. More Revolutionary War battles were fought in New Jersey than in any other state.
- In 1776, George Washington crossed the Delaware River into Trenton, New Jersey where he defeated British forces. As one of the first major victories, this battle was a turning point in the war. That same year, Morristown, New Jersey became the winter encampment for Washington and his army.
- In 1787, New Jersey became the third US state and the first to sign the Bill of Rights.
- Thomas Edison worked on some of his greatest inventions in Menlo Park, New Jersey. During his amazing career, he perfected Bell’s telephone design, worked on recording human voices, and even did research that led to the modern lightbulb. He was nicknamed the “Wizard of Menlo Park”.
- In 1858 in Haddonfield, New Jersey, William Parker Foulke, who was a paleontologist (a person who studies plants and animals that lived millions of years ago), discovered the first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton. The skeleton was nicknamed Haddy.
- The country’s first public boardwalk opened in Atlantic City in 1870. Today it spans over five miles, the longest boardwalk in the US.
- During the 1800s, the factories in Paterson, New Jersey made a variety of things, including silk, which became their most important product. Until 1913, Paterson earned the reputation of being the premier silk product area and was called “Silk City”.
- In 1937, a German airship called the Hindenburg flew across the Atlantic Ocean to Lakehurst, New Jersey. But before landing, it burst into flames and was destroyed. Of its 97 passengers, 35 did not survive.
Stuff you should know
- A mathematician in the 1500s came up with the idea of an underwater vehicle or submarine. Although the first model was built in the 1620s, the first modern submarine was built in 1878. It was named the Holland and was launched in New Jersey’s Passaic River.
- The state was named in honor of British colonist George Carteret. He was previously the governor of the Isle of Jersey, a British island in the English Channel located between the United Kingdom and France.
- New Jersey was nicknamed the Garden State in 1876 because of the huge amount of food grown there during that time.
- New Jersey can be divided into four different geographical regions:
- Atlantic Coastal Plain (southern region): Low hills, pine forests, salt marshes, and Barrier Islands.
- Piedmont (northeast of the Coastal Plains): Rolling hills, narrow valleys, and where the Hudson, Passaic, Ramapo and Raritan rivers cross.
- New England Upland or Highlands (western region): Flat-topped rock ridges and lakes.
- Appalachian Ridge and Valley (northwest corner): Mountainous area.
Crazy, funny or weird
- The world’s largest light bulb is in Edison, New Jersey, a city named after the famous inventor, Thomas Edison. The bulb is 13 feet tall and made of Pyrex.
- More than 100 years ago, people in South Jersey claimed a creature with wings and hooves who looked like it was part bat, part horse, and part goat roamed the Pine Barrens area. This creature was dubbed the Jersey Devil.
- During the Halloween season, the beach town of Asbury Park holds its annual “Zombie Walk” where people dress up as zombies and walk through town. (Mo wonders…He has never seen a zombie. What do they look like? What do they wear? What or whom do they eat?)
Tell me more
- The state’s other nicknames are the Clam State and the Diner Capital of the World. New Jersey has more than 500 diners.
- Salt water taffy was invented in Atlantic City (which borders the Atlantic Ocean) in 1883. It’s candy. It’s chewy. It tastes oh so good! ( The candy really isn’t made with salt water. A local candy shop flooded. The taffy sold there was soaked in ocean water, which is salty. The owner joked about selling salt water taffy and the name stuck!)
- Ever play “Monopoly”? It’s one of the world’s most popular board games. The street names in the game are named after real streets in Atlantic City.
- The first professional basketball game was played in Trenton in 1896 between the Trenton YMCA and the Brooklyn YMCA. Players were paid $15 each.
- New Jersey is one of the few states that has an English motto (Liberty and Prosperity). Many other places in the country have chosen phrases in Latin or French.
Did you guess which state is the third smallest in size in this country? It’s Connecticut!
Do you live in New Jersey or have you ever visited the state? Maybe you’ve joined the Zombie Walk. Either way, tell us something about the state – its history, land or people – and we’ll post it on Mo’s social media pages along with your first name, age, and state where you live. Email your comments to: email@example.com.