New Jersey State Study

New JerseyThis New Jersey State Study includes geography, history, fun facts, activities, and a map of New Jersey.  Join us.

Geography

New Jersey is located on the eastern coast of North America, north of Delaware and South of New York.  Most of the state is located on the coastal plain and is low-lying and flat. The northwest corner is hilly and borders the Appalachian Mountains.

There are six regions within the state, Gateway, Skylands, Shore,Delaware River, Greater Atlantic, and Southern Shore.  The northern counties, especially Gateway region, are bedroom communities for New York City, which is located just north.  316px-New_Jersey_Counties_OutlineNew Jersey is crossed and bordered with rivers including the Hudson, Delaware, and Hackensack, among others.  The climate in New Jersey is tempered by the Atlantic ocean, but they have hot summers and cold winters with snow.  The northwestern hill region is considerably colder than the coastal regions.

A bridge over the Passaic River, New Jersey. Photo by Merle Allen Photography, CC license, Wikimedia.

History

The Dutch were the first to lay claim to New Jersey in 1614, but were soon taken over by the English in 1667.  The English named the land New Jersey after the little island in the English channel that remained loyal to the king during the English Civil War and sheltered Charles II in exile.  New Jersey was mostly colonized by people from other American Colonies, rather than those who came directly from Europe.  Most of them were seeking religious freedom, which New Jersey offered.

This is Monksville Reservoir. Photo by Luke Gordon, CC license, Wikimedia.

During the Revolutionary War New Jersey was crossed and recrossed many times by the armies, its land being looted and its people harassed.  The famous and important battles of Trenton and Princeton were fought and won there by the American Revolutionaries.  Both the Revolution and the Constitution were popular in New Jersey.

Washington Crossing the Delaware into New Jersey to attack the Hessian garrison at Trenton.

In 1804 New Jersey became the last northern state to abolish slavery and slowly phase it out of existence.  New Jersey supported the Civil War on the northern side with 80,000 soldiers.

Thomas Edison

During the Industrial Revolution New Jersey became an important industrial center and was also the home of Thomas Edison, the wizard of Menlo Park, making New Jersey a center of research and invention as well. New Jersey’s industrial might was put to work during WWII building ships, vehicles, and armaments for the American war effort.

Today New Jersey still functions as an industrial capital and also as a bedroom community for New York, just across the Delaware River.  The Delaware River region is close to the Metropolitan area of Philadelphia and many of its residents work in that big city.

Fabulous Facts

  • New Jersey has one of the highest tax rates in the nation.
  • New Jersey produces cranberries, blueberries, spinach, bell peppers, and head lettuce in profusion.
  • New Jersey relies heavily on nuclear power for its energy making an environmentally clean state compared to other heavily industrial areas.
  • Tourism is big business in New Jersey with people attracted to Atlantic city and the beautiful Jersey Shore for vacation time.
  • Oak trees dominate the northern forests of New Jersey and Pine dominates the southern portion.
  • New Jersey has the highest population density of any state in the United States.
  • More cars are stolen in Newark than in LA and New York put together.
  • The Miss America pageant was started in Atlantic City in 1921.
  • The first official baseball game was played in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1846.
  • The New Jersey motto is Liberty and Prosperity.
New Jersey State flag

Explorations

  • Make a poster showing off the State of New Jersey.  Include a map (you can use the printable one from just below), the state flag, the state motto, the nickname, the state flower, the state bird and other state symbols, New Jersey landmarks, and captioned images of New Jersey that you like.
  • New Jersey is famous for its hot dogs.  Try one New Jersey style.
  • Do a report about someone famous from New Jersey: Walt Whitman, Thomas Edison, Alexander Hamilton, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, James Fenimore Cooper, Joyce Kilmer, Molly Pitcher, Clara Barton, or Vince Lombardy.
  • Read a book set in New Jersey: Onion John by Joseph Krumgold, The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan,  or Tithe by Holly Black.

 

Map of New Jersey Exploration

Print, label, and color this New Jersey Map.  Make it into a landscape map, showing natural features of New Jersey. Include the rivers, the Jersey Shore, the Great Falls on the Passaic River, the Pine Barrens, and the foothills of the Appalachians in the northwest corner of the state.

Additional Layers

  • New Jersey has extremely strict gun laws, treating even BB guns as firearms and not recognizing any out of state gun licenses within their borders.  It is very hard to own a gun in New Jersey if you are a law abiding citizen.  New Jersey’s violent crime rate is also about double that of the national average.  Some say this is because law abiding citizens can’t own guns and some say it would be much worse if guns were more available.  What do you think?
  • New Jersey has 108 toxic waste dumps, more than any other state and in a small geographical area.  Learn about toxic waste and what the problems are.  What do you think is the best way to deal with it?
  • Atlantic City was dying by the middle of the 20th century, people preferring to vacation at newer hot spots, when gambling was made legal in Atlantic City.  Atlantic City is now thriving as a gaming destination to rival Las Vegas.  What do you think of gambling?  Do some research and weigh the pros and cons.  Do you think it should be legal?

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