Despite its small size, New Jersey is the most urbanized state in the United States. Many residents commute to New York or Philadelphia, making the state’s transportation system one of the world’s busiest. The state has one of the highest concentrations of Italian, Japanese, and other Asian and Latino immigrants. The state is home to one of the world’s largest container ports. Its population is diverse and reflects its diverse communities.
The state’s climate is influenced by the state’s geography. Its oceanic location allows it to experience the harsh winters brought by polar vortexes. It also experiences blizzards and flooding from the noreaster that rage across the northeast. While hurricanes are relatively rare in New Jersey, they have impacted the state in the past. In 1903, Hurricane Sandy hit the state with top winds of 90 mph, and it was the worst storm in history to hit the state.
The history of New Jersey is largely shaped by its colonial past. As early as 1609, when Henry Hudson set sail from Newark Bay to explore the coasts of the eastern Atlantic, small trading colonies began to develop in the towns of today’s Jersey City and Hoboken. Other towns, including Bergen, were established by settlers from Sweden, Finland, and the Netherlands. They formed the state’s first permanent European settlement.
One of the most iconic landmarks in New Jersey is Fort Lee, which sits atop cliffs overlooking the Hudson River. Fort Lee was a crucial location in the American Revolution, as General Washington and the Continental Army were forced to retreat across the Jerseys in November 1776. Today, the Fort Lee Visitor Center is a great place for history buffs to learn about the American Revolution. The two-story Visitor Center tells the story of the tumultuous fall campaign in New York which culminated in the Continental Army’s “Retreat to Victory” across the Jerseys.
As mentioned before, New Jersey has a history of organized crime. The state’s proximity to New York and Pennsylvania made it ideal for the transport of illegal spirits. It also has miles of coastline, which provided perfect conditions for mob families to thrive. It is also home to six major professional sports leagues, including two National Football League teams and a Major League Soccer team. And while the state is not famous for its music scene, it does have a thriving business and musical community.
The state has four distinct geographical regions. The northern part of the state is mountainous, with the Appalachian Mountains straddling the Ridge and Valley section. The state’s central Piedmont region is home to major cities and suburbs. In the south, the Atlantic Coastal Plain consists of two separate parts: the outer part, which includes the Hudson River, and the inner portion. The largest lake in the state is Lake Hopatcong, located in Hudson County.
Another landmark located in New Jersey is the Camp Merritt Memorial Monument. The monument marks the center of the camp, where more than a million U.S. soldiers embarked during World War I. In 1919, Bergen County Freeholders purchased the site to build a monument to commemorate the war. Today, the 65-foot granite obelisk contains a list of the names of 578 camps dead. Its architect was Robert Ingersoll Aitkin, the designer of the Washington Monument.
In Trenton, the turning point of the American Revolution took place, when George Washington’s troops surprised the British army in a spectacular route. The Newark Zoo provides fascinating behind-the-scenes tours, including encounters with select zoo residents. A trip to Trenton would be incomplete without a visit to the Thomas Edison National Historical Park. It is home to many models of airplanes and helicopters and hosts several public events throughout the year.
The Port Authority Trans-Hudson Train system connects Hudson County, NJ to New York City. This multi-billion-dollar light rail system offers underground and above-ground service, with a westbound extension that stretches to neighboring Newark, NJ. The service is widely accessible, with thirteen stops in Jersey City and eleven stations throughout the county. It is the first subway system in the United States and serves more than 10 million people per year.
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