13 Mind-Blowing Facts About New Jersey You Won’t Believe

Written by Dayva Segal
Published: December 28, 2023
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Some people think of New Jersey as a suburban part of the tri-state area. However, it is so much more than a more affordable or spacious place for New Yorkers to live. It is a state that stands on its own with a rich history and unique qualities. Wondering what makes New Jersey so cool? Keep reading to find out.

Ellis Island and Liberty Island are actually in New Jersey

Statue of Liberty

While the Statue of Liberty is associated with New York City, it’s actually in New Jersey

©Matej Hudovernik/Shutterstock.com

Many American families have a story of coming to America from “the old country” and arriving at Ellis Island around the turn of the century. Once they passed the impressive Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island before arriving, they were often filled with hope at the prospect of their chance to create their American dream. Once they got off the boat, they went through immigration and off to new destinations in America.

Ellis Island was an immigration processing station from 1892-1954. Today, it is a museum about the history of American immigration and the special importance of Ellis Island. Liberty Island has been home to the Statue of Liberty since 1886 when it was gifted to the U.S. from France. Since then, it has become a symbol of American values.

Today, both islands are part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and the National Park Service. And despite what most people believe, they are both firmly in New Jersey’s waters!

New Jersey Has the Highest Population Density

Crowd of people walking street

New Jersey is the most densely populated state in America.


With nine out of 10 New Jersey residents living in what is classified as an urban area, it’s not a surprise that New Jersey has the highest population density of any state in the U.S. New Jersey is the only state in which at least a portion of every single county is located in a statistical metropolitan area. Despite this fact, it is the state with the 5th smallest land area in the nation.

Part of the reason for this density is the state’s proximity to New York City. Hudson County, the county right across the Hudson River from Manhattan, is the state’s smallest county by land area, but the most densely populated.

New Jersey Has Five Different Climates Despite Its Small Size

New Jersey Pine Barrens

The New Jersey Pine Barrens is one of five distinct climactic areas in the state.

©PTZ Pictures/Shutterstock.com

Even though New Jersey is the state with the 5th smallest area, it has five separate climate regions. According to Rutgers University, they are:

  • Northern: This region has colder temperatures, larger storms that originate in the Mississippi Valley, and smaller thunderstorms from Pennsylvania and New York.
  • Central: Contains urban areas which retain heat and create higher temperatures. For this reason, this area has the nickname “heat island.” When it is snowing in the Northern region, it is often raining in the Central region.
  • Pine Barrens: The porous soil in these pine and oak forests does not hold heat very well, so this region is colder and has a generally larger range of temperatures. The soil absorbs moisture very easily, so the area is dry, leading to the danger of wildfires.
  • Southwest: This area is close to the ocean, so it has a more moderate climate with more humidity. The growing season is about a month longer than that of the Northern region.
  • Coastal: Has less extreme temperature changes, but more extreme weather with Nor’easter storms in the winter and tropical storms and hurricanes in the summer and fall.

Thomas Edison Thought Up Many Important Inventions in New Jersey

Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Edison worked on many of his influential inventions at what is now Thomas Edison National Historic Park.

©Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock.com

Thomas Edison worked on many of his well-known innovations in the late 1800s. At the tender age of 24, he built a laboratory in Menlo Park, NJ. While he technically did not invent the first lightbulb, he did invent the world’s first incandescent bulb that could last for more than a few minutes before burning out at this facility. Later, he created a larger laboratory in West Orange, NJ which is now a National Historic Park. Other inventions at these facilities include:

  • The phonograph
  • A carbon microphone – which helped make Alexander Graham Bell’s invention, the telephone, more useful
  • The kinetoscope – a way to view a short motion picture through a hole
  • The kinetograph – the device that filmed these early movies
  • The kinetophone – a device that attempted to add sound to these films

Because of Edison’s contributions to society, particularly the lightbulb, New Jersey is home to the largest lightbulb. A 118-foot-tall monument stands in Edison, NJ, with a huge 14-foot-tall lightbulb at the top. Both the town name and the monument are in honor of Edison’s important accomplishments that changed the world.

The Most Revolutionary War Battles Were Fought in New Jersey

George Washington Crossing the Delaware - An oval, 1908 chromolitho reproduction of Emanuel Leutze's painting (1851) of Washington's December 26, 1776 surprise crossing in the Battle of Trenton

This painting depicts the journey of George Washington from New Jersey to Pennsylvania.

©Victorian Traditions/Shutterstock.com

According to the National Park Service, more than 200 battles took place in New Jersey during the American Revolutionary War—more than in any of the other 13 colonies. George Washington spent a large portion of his time leading the Revolutionary Army in the state. The famous painting of George Washington and his troops crossing the Delaware River depicts a journey that started in New Jersey. They were crossing the river into Pennsylvania.

The Revolutionary War was a dividing force for New Jersey residents at the time. Many were still loyal to the British crown, while others wanted freedom from British rule. Several key battles took place in the state including The Battle of Trenton and the Battle of Princeton.

Visitors to New Jersey can learn more about the state’s role in the war at Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area in Trenton, NJ.

The First Complete Dinosaur Skeleton Was Found in New Jersey

Hadrosaurus foulkii

This drawing shows what a hadrosaurus may have looked like.

©Audrey.m.horn, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

In 1838, a set of dinosaur bones was discovered in Haddonfield, NJ by farmer John Hopkins. However, it wasn’t until October of 1858 that they were fully excavated by William Parker Foulke. The dinosaur is Hadrosaurus foulkii, also known as the hadrosaurus. In 1868, it also became the first dinosaur skeleton to be mounted and displayed. This dinosaur is now the official state dinosaur of New Jersey.

However, some claim a Scelidosaurus found in 1858 in West Dorset, England was actually the first full dinosaur skeleton.

New Jersey is Home of the First Miss America Pageant

Miss Pageant Contest in Evening Ball Gown long ball dress with Diamond Crown, fashion make up hair style

Atlantic City, NJ hosted the first Miss America Pageant.

©JadeThaiCatwalk/iStock via Getty Images

The first Miss America Pageant took place on September 25, 1920, in Atlantic City. The event was originally a bid to bring more business to the city’s famous boardwalk and included men rolling beautiful women down the boardwalk in special chairs. The next year was the event’s first year as a beauty pageant. The first winner, 16-year-old Margaret Gorman from Washington, D.C., won $100.

The First Recorded Baseball Game Took Place in New Jersey

Baseball - Sport, Baseball - Ball, Batting - Sports Activity, Baseball Player, Sports Bat

New Jersey is home to the first recorded baseball game.

©PeopleImages/ via Getty Images

Baseball, America’s pastime, got an important start in “The Garden State.” The Elysian Fields, in Hoboken, NJ is said to be where the first recorded baseball game, ever, took place. There are reports of other possible games before this one. However, this is the first recorded game. This first recorded game was played on June 19, 1846, between the New York Nine and the Knickerbockers. The New York Nine were the winners. They pulverized the Knickerbockers with a score of 23-1.

New Jersey is Home of America’s First (and Longest) Boardwalk

Steel Pier - Atlantic City, New Jersey

Steel Pier is a famous section of the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

©AUDREY SCRIPP/iStock via Getty Images

Atlantic City, NJ is a well-known destination in the state. It is located on the infamous Jersey Shore. The city is known for gambling, nightlife, and beachy weather in the summer as well as its amazing boardwalk. This 5-mile boardwalk is so long that it actually runs into the next town over, Ventnor City.

Seaside businesses like hotels originally invented the Atlantic City boardwalk to keep patrons from bringing so much sand inside. It was originally a temporary 8-foot-wide boardwalk that was put up in summer and taken down in winter. However, after a few years, the city decided to build a permanent boardwalk. Businesses, came running, turning the boardwalk into the attraction it is today.

New Jersey Has America’s Oldest Operating Lighthouse

Sandy hook lighthouse

The Sandy Hook Lighthouse is the oldest American lighthouse still in operation today.


The Sandy Hook Lighthouse was first lit up on June 11, 1764. Today, more than 200 years later, it is still functioning. It helps to warn ships they are approaching land and helps to guide them into New York Harbor. 200 years after it was first lit, on June 11, 1964, the lighthouse was labeled as a National Historic Landmark.

It’s Illegal to Pump Your Own Gas in New Jersey

Refuel cars at the fuel pump. The driver hands, refuel and pump the car's gasoline with fuel at the petrol station. Car refueling at a gas station Gas station

You could get in trouble if you try to pump your own gas in New Jersey.


New Jersey remains the only state where you may not pump your own gas. It used to share that rule with Oregon, but that state changed its law in August of 2023, allowing Oregonians to pump their gas if they wish. In New Jersey, a gas station attendant must pump your gas for you. If a customer pumps their own gas or even handles the gas pump, a gas station owner may receive a fine of $250. If it happens more than once, the fine can go up to $500.

New Jersey’s ban originally went into effect in 1949, when full-service gas station owners worried that new self-serve stations would be more affordable, thus taking business away. They claimed that pumping your own gas was a fire hazard. At one time, 23 states had bans on pumping your own gas. Now, only New Jersey remains. However, this quirk has become an important part of the state’s culture, and over half of people in one poll said they don’t want the state to allow self-service gas stations.

New Jersey Has 43 Nesting Pairs of Peregrine Falcons

Peregrine falcons have made a comeback in New Jersey thanks to the efforts of restoration projects.

©Katiekk2/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

While peregrine falcons, the fastest bird in the world, are currently a species of least concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, they have a complicated history. In New Jersey, they used to be plentiful in areas near the Hudson River and Delaware River. However, the use of the harmful chemical DDT in the 1950s killed them off, nearly to extinction. They were labeled as endangered in 1964.

After DDT was banned in 1972, ecologists started a program to try to bring peregrine falcons back to the area. At first, they released captive-bred peregrines and created man-made nests for them. The population slowly increased. In 2003, scientists found a pair of falcons in a nest of their own creation.

In 2022, scientists documented 43 nesting pairs of peregrine falcons in the state. 26 of those pairs had offspring that year, resulting in 61 new peregrine falcons. Nine of these pairs were nesting naturally on cliffsides. The rest were using man-made nests, which have proven essential to their recovery in the wild.

You’ll Recognize Monopoly’s Streets from New Jersey

Hands of people playing monopoly and holding toy currency to make purchases in financial game

The game Monopoly uses a lot of street names and landmarks from Atlantic City, NJ.

©Denis Novikov/iStock via Getty Images

The street names in the popular board game Monopoly actually come from real Atlantic City, NJ street names. However, some of the original street names in the game changed over time or no longer exist. According to legend, the inventor of the game, Charles Darrow, modeled it after the city because it was one of his favorite places to visit on vacation.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © prospective56/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

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About the Author

Dayva is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering astrology, animals, and geography. She has over 12 years of experience as a writer, and graduated from Hofstra University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Music and a Minor in French. She has also completed course work in Core Strengths Coaching, Hypnotherapy, and Technical Communication. Dayva lives in the SF Bay Area with her cute but very shy cat, Tula.

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