15 Surprising Non-Turnpike Things to Know About New Jersey
Living humbly in the shadow of New York City, the state of New Jersey has drawn something of a raw deal when it comes to reputation. But the Garden State has its share of wonders, achievements, and claims to general grandeur… and we’re not just talking about the Turnpike.
1. NEW JERSEY IS PRACTICALLY ONE BIG CITY
If the urban magnitude of the Big Apple enthralls you, Jersey also has a lot to offer. It’s the most densely populated state in America, and is the only state in which every county classifies as a metropolitan area.
2. THE STATE IS A PREMIER PRODUCER OF MANY FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Healthy eaters will find New Jersey to be a treasure trove of nutritious produce. The state stands as America’s third leading supplier of cranberries, spinach, and bell peppers. It ranks number four in peach supply and number five for blueberries and eggplant.
3. AND IT IS THE HOME OF THE TOMATO PIE
If your tastes skew closer to pizza than they do to berries, Jersey still has you covered. Tomato pie—a turn-of-the-20th century revision of Sicilian-style pizza composed of Focaccia dough, Romano cheese, and tomato sauce—is often credited to Philadelphia and Upstate New York, but the two oldest proprietors of the delicacy operate out of Trenton, New Jersey.
4. PLUS, IT’S THE DINER CAPITAL OF THE WORLD
In fact, it hardly matters what kind of food you prefer, or what time of day you crave it. The great state of New Jersey boasts more 24-hour diners than any other place on the planet.
5. JERSEY HAS A HEFTY NUMBER OF MALLS, TOO
If you’re in the mood for the ultimate shopping spree, New Jersey might beat even Manhattan. The state claims seven major shopping malls in a single 25-square-mile radius (an unparalleled proximity), and all to a mighty impressive end. Paramus, home to four major malls, averages $5 billion in annual retail revenue, which trumps any other single ZIP code nationwide.
6. THE STATE INSPIRED A NUMBER OF IMPORTANT INVENTIONS
Ohio-born Thomas Edison must have found something of a muse in Menlo Park, New Jersey. It was there that he invented the light bulb, the phonograph, and the motion picture projector. Edison’s laboratory is preserved today as an historical museum.
7. NEW JERSEY IS AN IMPRESSIVELY NOISY PLACE
In 2014, New Jersey became home to two vociferous world records: One for the most train whistles blown at the same time, which was set by 1,127 citizens in the city of Chatham, and one for most shofars sounded in unison, set by 1,043 proud Whippany locals.
8. IT BOASTS THE LONGEST BOARDWALK IN THE WORLD
Atlantic City might be known best for its lively nightlife scene, but a simple beachside stroll isn’t out of the question for visitors. At 5.75 miles long, the city’s boardwalk is the longest of its kind in the world. It holds this superlative even after the 1944 hurricane that lopped it down from its original 7-mile length!
9. AND THE TALLEST WATER TOWER
Record-breaking length is clearly a big piece of New Jersey’s charm. The Union Water Sphere is the tallest water tower on Earth at 212 feet high.
10. IT’S GOT A BEAUTIFUL MILLION-ACRE WOODLAND
Southern New Jersey’s magnificent coastal plain Pine Barrens puts to rest any standing misconceptions about the state’s aesthetics. Thanks to earning designation as a biosphere reserve, the 1.1 million-acre patch of beauty maintains its pristine natural condition.
11. AND ONE FUNNY LOOKING ROCK
Not quite as majestic but nonetheless a heck of a sight, the tremendous glacial erratic (that is, a rock that is notably distinct in size from those in its surrounding area) known as Tripod Boulder sits happily in the woods of Kinnelon, NJ. The 20-by-10-by-8-foot hunk of gneiss is perched atop three much smaller stones that clearly got the raw end of the deal.
12. THE STATE HAS ALWAYS BEEN ON THE CUTTING EDGE OF CINEMA
Camden, New Jersey, hosted the world’s very first drive-in movie theater back in 1933. Today, Jersey City is proud home to the country’s largest dome theater.
13. NEW JERSEY CELEBRATES A MIGHTY UNIQUE PRESIDENT
Not only was Grover Cleveland the only President of the United States to hold office for two nonconsecutive terms, he was also the only POTUS to hail from New Jersey. The city of Caldwell pays due honor to our 22nd (and 24th) Commander in Chief, preserving his birthplace as a national museum open to visitors.
14. IT ALSO CELEBRATES ONE LUCKY UTENSIL
No place on Earth offers the spoon as much due reverence as Paterson, New Jersey does. The city features the world’s largest collection of spoons, with more than 5,400 on display.
15. WITHOUT NEW JERSEY, WE WOULDN’T HAVE BASEBALL
New Jersey might not exactly be a kingpin of the professional baseball circuit, but it should at least get credit for the institution of the sport. On June 19, 1846, the first organized baseball game was played in the Hudson River-adjacent city of Hoboken.