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Useful Notes / New Jersey

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21 counties, three (no two!) regions, two toll roads, one heart.

New Jersey is the fourth smallest state by land area in the U.S., but it is also the eleventh most populated and single most densely populated (usually).note  It borders the states of New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. It has a high level of ethnic and religious diversity, being home to Italians, Irish, Jews, Russians, Asians, Blacks, Hispanics (in all their flavors: Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Cubans, Mexicans, Salvadorans, Ecuadorians...), Arabs (in all their flavors: Lebanese, Palestinians, Syrians, Iraqis, Egyptians, Yemenis, Sudanese, Libyans, Moroccans...), Turks, Persians, Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Jamaicans, Haitians, Guyanese, Trinidadians, etc. in large numbers. Its landscape is also highly diverse, especially for a state of its size, being home to forests, mountains, swamps, cliffs, white sand beaches, and miles of rolling farmland. It is the location of several military facilities, including one of the largest in the country, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. It has the highest population density in the U.S., and combined with its system of public transit, it is easy to get (almost) anywhere.note  New Jersey is the second most affluent state in the U.S., possesses one of the most highly-regarded education systems in the country, and has the lowest poverty rate in the nation. There are affluent suburbs, bustling cities, and lush dairy farms all within a few miles of each other. In short, it's one of the most diverse states, filled to the brim with a plethora of different cultures and lifestyles.

But don't tell that to Hollywood (or New Yorkers).

"Joisey" is commonly believed to be the local pronunciation of New Jersey. In reality, this is only how it is pronounced by people who think they're being clever — saying "Joisey" to a New Jerseyan will earn you a boot up the ass. New Jerseyans, however, can use it any time they like — as evidenced by billboards for the 2010 New Jersey State Fair, which proudly proclaimed that the fair "puts the 'Joy' back in 'Joisey'". One of the easiest ways to tell if someone is from New Jersey or not: those who are (poorly) faking a New York accent say "Joisey", those from anywhere besides New Jersey (including actual New Yorkers) say "New Jersey", those from New Jersey simply say "Jersey".


Geographically, New Jersey can be divided into the following regions, only some of which are recognized by Hollywood. In general terms, New Jersey is divided into North Jersey and South Jersey, with the division following proximity to New York City or Philadelphia. This is an old situation—Benjamin Franklin himself noted that New Jersey (of which his son was the last colonial governor) was "a barrel tapped at both ends," and to this day, New Jerseyans recognize that their home is a "transit state" between the two largest cities on the East Coast (and between the nation's economic and political capitals, Philly being halfway between the two). As noted below, "Central Jersey" claims a semi-independent, neither-here-nor-there identity for itself, which is usually laughed off and ignored by the rest of the state.

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  • Newark: The largest city in New Jersey, and its most famous ghetto. Took over New York's role as Gangsterland after New York became cleaner — something that is Truth in Television. Time magazine did a cover story on it, calling it the most dangerous city in America. Also the site of the Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal, the largest seaport on the East Coast (and, as recently as 1985, the largest in the world), and Newark Liberty International Airport, one of the New York area's three airports. Sometimes, Camden or Asbury Park is used in this role. Often cited as the home of Lauryn Hill, even though she is actually from middle-class South Orange. The closer you live to Newark, the more likely you are to pronounce it "Nork", not "New-werk". If you are utterly lost, you will pronounce it "New-ark", which is in Delaware, not New Jersey. (By the way, the two largest towns that are actually pronounced "New-werk" are in Ohio and the San Francisco Bay Area.)
  • The New Jersey Turnpike and the Garden State Parkway: The state's main north-south highways, both of which are toll roads. With regards to the Turnpike, this trope and stereotype refers specifically to the "Chemical Coast," the industrial areas cluttered around the northern part of the Turnpike, centered on the cities of Newark and Elizabeth. This area is highly polluted, giving the whole stretch a distinctive smell (the phrase "15 Miles of Universal Fart" has been used to describe it). Stereotypes of this region often overlap with those of Newark. The Interstate Highway System took many of its design cues from the Turnpike.

    The Garden State Parkway extends much further south, serving as the main artery to the Shore extending all the way down to Cape May, as well as cutting through much of the heart of New Jersey's suburbia. In the summer, it often turns into the Garden State Parking Lot thanks to the dreaded phenomenon known as "Shore traffic".

    A run-into-the-ground joke aimed at New Jerseyans is the "You're from Jersey? What exit?" line. Neither the Turnpike nor the Parkway services every possible town in the state, but using this line to a real New Jerseyan just might earn you a boot up the ass. And a word of note: While the Parkway has more than ninety exits going up and down its length, the Turnpike has only thirty-two, and they become very spaced out once you're south of Elizabeth. And for some, "what exit" could also mean any of the multiple Interstates (78, 80, 95, 195, 280, 287, 295).

    That said, some exits are shorthand for certain locations in the state. Exit 63 on the Parkway, for instance, is synonymous with Long Beach Island, while Exit 82 means Seaside Heights. The Parkway has no official Exit 0, though that phrase is held by most to mean Cape May, at the end of the Parkway. Also, New Jerseyans are allowed to identify with their exit; the Turnpike exits are celebrated by Somerdalenote -based Flying Fish Brewing's "Exit Series" beers.
  • Hudson County: Located across the Hudson River from New York City and dubbed the "sixth borough", this is probably the most New York-like place in the state. Major cities include Jersey City, Hoboken, and Bayonne. The county with the highest population density in New Jersey; if combined with Essex County (which contains Newark and is the second-densest county in the state) into a single city, it would be the third-largest and third-densest on the East Coast (after New York and Philadelphia). One of the most culturally diverse counties in the U.S..
    • Jersey City: New Jersey's second-largest city. The city is very, very ethnically diverse, and hosts many ethnocultural parades and events. Consists largely of working-class neighborhoods, although the downtown/waterfront area has been gentrified into an affluent yuppie- and hipster-magnet in the past decade as Manhattan became too expensive (its location next to yuppie Hoboken furthers this stereotype), while the Greenville neighborhood could be best described as a chunk of Newark that broke off. The City is currently trying to figure out ways to encourage development outside the Waterfront, particularly in the Journal Square area (which is, at least until these plans are put in motion, roughly what NYC's Times Square was before Giuliani turned it into Disneyland), and while these plans are moving forward, they are meeting some unexpected problems (ranging from questioning of the City's priorities and methods to inquiries about whether the City's proposed policy for encouraging this development is legally OK under New Jersey's incredibly arcane laws regulating municipal government).

      The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are geographically located just off the coast of Jersey City in the Hudson River, causing many New Jerseyans to express the view that they are (or should be) property of Jersey City, and thus the State of New Jersey, not New York. However, most New Yorkers will angrily dismiss this idea if you mention it in their presence. The city government uses images of the Statue of Liberty on official documents and the "Welcome to Jersey City" signs.
      • Legally, the Supreme Court held that by the terms of the various legal instruments defining the terms of ownership of Liberty Island and Ellis Island, the original islands themselves belong to New York and are thus in New York City, but the water around them and thus any land reclaimed therefrom (which on Ellis Island is substantial; the federal government, not caring who the land belonged to, merrily expanded Ellis and built buildings that the NJ-NY border runs through several times) is New Jersey territory and thus are in Jersey City. In technical terms, the original islands are exclaves of New York in New Jersey, and therefore are exclaves of New York City in Jersey City and enclaves of New Jersey (and thus of Jersey City) owned by New York; thus Jersey City surrounds the Statue of Liberty but does not contain it. Confusing. But true.
    • Hoboken: The yuppie and hipster capital of New Jersey. Home of Stevens Institute of Technology, otherwise known as New Jersey's MIT. The "Elysian Fields" in the northeastern part of Hoboken by the Hudson (later a Maxwell House coffee factory, today just a neighborhood) were a popular ground for the nascent game of Baseball in the 1840s and 50s (as it was hard to get enough space to play in New York), with the "Knickerbocker Rules" that developed into the modern standard game first being applied here, giving Hoboken a strong claim for being the true home of the National Pastime.
  • Bergen County: New Jersey's most populous county. The part that most New Yorkers see coming over the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan. Often stereotyped largely as a land of rich Republican suburbanites (or, as the map on the Joisey page puts it, "Christie Country"note ), though in reality, it's only the northern and western parts that fit this stereotype — the south and east are Democratic strongholds, and on the whole, the county has voted Democratic during Presidential elections since 1996 and (narrowly) voted for Christie's rival, Jon Corzine, in the 2009 gubernatorial election. It's typically ranked in the top five counties in the nation with the highest property taxes; the fact that two other New Jersey counties are in front of it for the top spotnote  says something about the state.

    Despite being about 9% Jewish and having a sizable Muslim minority, and despite (or perhaps because) of its status as one of the New York area's premier shopping and retail centers, it is the last county in New Jersey, and one of the last counties in the nation, that still has blue laws on the books. All shops, with the exception of grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations and restaurants, are closed on Sundays. Most people have opted to keep it not due to religion, but in order to protest commercialization and in order to have one day of peace and quiet per week (because the amount of people who would drive to the shops combined with those who already drive to Giants and Jets home games in the fall would make traffic a nightmare). This is most pronounced in the town of Paramus, one of the largest shopping meccas in the country, home to the state's largest mall and sitting at the confluence of Routes 4 and 17 just ten miles from the George Washington Bridge. It has blue laws even more restrictive than the rest of the county, closing offices in addition to shops.
    • Koreatown: Southern Bergen County (specifically Fort Leenote , Leonia, and Palisades Park, at the New Jersey end of the George Washington Bridge) is home to the largest Korean enclave in the world outside Los Angeles and Korea itself. Much of the area is thoroughly bilingual, with road signs and even ballots offered in both English and Korean.note  It's telling that, when Girls' Generation and other K-pop groups arrived to tour in America, their first New York area stop was in Overpeck County Park, not in New York itself. It helps that the climate of the area is similar to that of Seoul.
  • The Meadowlands: A swampy area in northern Hudson, southern Bergen and eastern Essex Counties, at the terminus of the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers as they enter Newark Bay. Thanks to those two rivers, both of which are polluted to an ungodly level (some areas along the lower Passaic are still closed off due to dioxin pollution), as well as having been used as a landfill in the past (including rubble from London after World War II and from NYC's former Penn Station), the swamps of the Meadowlands are one of the main areas that gives New Jersey its reputation as a literal dump. It is the site of:
    • MetLife Stadium (formerly New Meadowlands Stadium), home of the New York Giants and Jetsnote , which replaced nearby Giants Stadium in 2010. The Super Bowl was held here in 2014, the first time the event was held in cold weather (all past Bowls were held in warm-weather cities or in domed stadiums); by good fortune, it was merely chilly on Super Sunday, although a major winter storm hit more or less the day after.
    • Meadowlands Arena (formerly Brendan Byrne Arena, Continental Airlines Arena, and Izod Center), former home of the New Jersey Nets, who have since moved to Brooklyn, and the New Jersey Devils, who have since moved to the Prudential Center in Newark. It was also used as a major concert arena. It closed in 2015, having become a money loser following its two main tenants leaving, but remains standing until a final decision on its fate is made.
    • The American Dream Meadowlands mega-mall, the largest shopping mall in the United States (edging out the Mall of America in Minnesota) and the third-largest outside of Asia, with attractions including a Ferris wheel, an indoor ski slope, two indoor amusement parks (one a waterpark based on DreamWorks Animation films, the other a Nickelodeon Universe park), a 26-screen movie theater, and a concert hall. It is notorious in New Jersey for the depths of the Development Hell that it experienced, with construction having started in 2004 only to be beset by the Great Recession, the bankruptcies of two successive developers, snow damage, and complaints from the New York Giants about the possibility of traffic jams from the mall hurting attendance on game days before it finally opened in late 2019. And then just as things seemed like they would turn around for this place, Coronavirus struck. Some residents say that this mall must have been built on an ancient Jimmy Hoffa burial ground to be cursed with such setbacks.
    • WWOR-TV 9, one of the NYC area'a major television stations. Prior to 1983, when it was WOR-TV, it was based in and licensed to New York City (also serving as a national superstation like WTBS and WGN at the time). But their owners, RKO General, were in a whole heap of trouble thanks to being as corrupt as (if not more than) than your average NJ politician. The state's then-Senator Bill Bradley had Congress pass a law that stated any TV station that relocated to a state without a VHF station would have its' license automatically renewed. Therefore RKO changed WOR's city of license to Secaucus on April 20, 1983. The station was required to move to NJ (though they didn't actually start broadcasting from there until three years later) and cover more of the state's events and politics. This didn't end up helping RKO, which put WOR up for sale in 1986, as the FCC prepared to strip it of its' remaining broadcasting licenses. MCA/Universal wound up the winner and renamed it to WWOR-TV in early 1987, and proceeded to pour money into the station, ramping up news coverage and turning it into a hotbed of production, being the home base for The Morton Downey Jr. Show, the first TV version of The Howard Stern Show, and other shows. (They also used footage of then-WWOR anchor Rolland Smith — the "Fighting the Frizzies" guy — to anchor news coverage of King Kong's rampage for their Kongfrontation theme park ride.) MCA/Uni was forced to spin WWOR off into its' own company in 1991 after Panasonic bought MCA (as FCC regulations say a foreign company can't own more than 25% of a TV station); WWOR was then acquired by United Television, a division of boat-maker Chris-Craft, the next year. A couple of years later it became a charter affiliate of the fledgling UPN (though they had lost their superstation feed around this time— as an aftereffect of not being able to carry UPN programming). A few years after that Fox bought the United stations and after The CW was announced, started their own replacement network, the infamous MyNetworkTV. After the death of NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg (who was vigilant about enforcing WWOR's coverage of NJ news, and was critical of Fox's continual budget cuts and shrinking of local programming at WWOR) in 2013, Fox cut the station's remaining newscast and created a [cheap knockoff of TMZ called Chasing New Jersey to fill the void. WWOR is pretty much an empty shell that carries all syndicated programming now. They now operate out of WNYW's studios and their facility in Secaucus was demolished in 2019.
    • A large number of dead mob hits. One of the (many) locations proposed to be Jimmy Hoffa's final resting place was under the stands of the old Giants Stadium.
  • Paterson: An old industrial center, the county seat of Passaic County, wedged between the Meadowlands on one hand and the Skylands on the other. Formerly the center of the American silk industry, giving it the nickname "the Silk City". Today it's a working-class multiethnic melting pot, with particularly large populations of Middle Eastern Muslims (mainly Palestinian, Lebanese, Turkish, Syrian, Egyptian, and Yemeni) and Hispanic Catholics (mostly Dominicans and Puerto Ricans). The Arab/Muslim population is particularly interesting, as Paterson has the second-highest proportion of Muslims and of Arabic speakers of any municipality in the U.S. (after Dearborn, Michigan, outside Detroit); as a result, Paterson has some of the best Arabic food in North America, and the Paterson schools get Muslim holidays off.
  • The Skylands: A region that consists roughly of Somerset, Hunterdon, Warren, Sussex, and Morris Counties, and the West Milford region of Passaic County. Overlaps with North and Central Jersey. Most of these areas are essentially farmland and wilderness (suburban development is limited mainly to eastern Morris and Somerset thanks to New Jersey's strong environmental lawsnote ), which is why they are conspicuously absent from most media portrayals of the state. If referenced at all, it will usually be the site of Summer Campy, the Horrible Camping Trip, or a ski resort. Oh, and speaking of camp, don't work as a counselor if you value your lifenote . Parts of Warren and Hunterdon are counted as part of the Lehigh Valley, so hence media from that area also carries some news from these areas as well.
    • Mountain Creek: Located in Vernon Township in Sussex County, this is the closest, and one of the largest, major ski resorts to New York City, and a popular winter destination for New Yorkers and New Jerseyans alikenote . It's also a popular summer destination, due to its waterpark, its assortment of other outdoor activities, and the fact that the mountains are typically a bit cooler in the summer than the low-lying city and suburbs. In Jersey lore, the summer resort is best known for being formerly known as Action Park, a real-life Amusement Park of Doom before it closed down under a tide of lawsuits, only reopening as Mountain Creek Waterpark after heavy renovations and safety upgrades. In a bid to nostalgia, the Action Park name was revived in 2014... only to be ditched again by the next season after an outcry over what was perceived by many locals to be an act of supreme tastelessness, considering that several guests had actually died under the Action Park era. Staff are now advised not to bring this up.
    • Hackettstown: The gateway to Warren County from Morris, and home of Centenary College. Best known to candy-loving little kids everywhere as the location of the Mars, Inc. factory that makes M&Ms, Snickers, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, and other chocolatey snacks. Unfortunately, due to the founding family's secrecy, they don't allow tours there, making it something of a real-life version of the Willy Wonka chocolate factory (only without the Oompa Loompas or the scary boat ride, we're guessing).
  • Central Jersey: To hear it from someone from the area, Central Jersey is a distinct region of the state consisting of the area drained by the Raritan River plus the area immediately around Trenton, covering area in Hunterdon, Mercer, Somerset, Middlesex, and Monmouth counties, and occasionally Union and Ocean counties. To hear it from someone from North or South Jersey, Central Jersey is a nonexistent entity that is really an extension of whichever side of Jersey the speaker isn't from (e.g. North Jersey residents consider it part of South Jersey, while South Jersey residents consider it part of North Jersey and NEITHER side wants to take credit for Trenton), and its residents all have an inferiority complex. (A good rule of thumb is when someone from Jersey City tells you you're in South Jersey, and someone from Cherry Hill tells you you're in North Jersey, despite both times being in the same place, then you're in Central) The site of the state capital, Trenton, as well as suburban sprawl ballooning out from both New York and Philly. If a story requires that the characters consult a brainy professor, this scene will often either take place at Princeton or, in a pinch, the main campus of Rutgers University in New Brunswick. (Never Rutgers Newark,note  or Montclair State University, and for good reason, as they're mostly regional commuter schools.) Also, much of the old Bell System, and then AT&T (the old AT&T, that is; the current AT&T is really SBC/Southwestern Bell using the AT&T name, and is even based in Dallas) was based in Central Jersey; Bell Labs (the inventor of the transistor and the laser) was headquartered in Murray Hill (still occupied by Nokia, which bought Alcatel-Lucent; Lucent was the original Bell Labs, spun off by AT&T in 1996) with a major complex in Holmdel. Their long-distance operations were based in Basking Ridge for many years before moving to Bedminster (still in use by the modern AT&T), and various other facilities were scattered throughout this area. The reason was they needed to move away from the congested, chaotic environment of New York, and the state next door had plenty of land to use (one area in Chester was utilized as testing for outdoor telephone equipment, for instance).

    In addition to the above counties, many people in Central Jersey count the northernmost part of Ocean County as part of Central Jersey. This is mainly because this sliver of land includes the community of Jackson Township, home of Six Flags Great Adventure (see below), as well as the beach town of Point Pleasant. South Jerseyans, naturally, consider it to be in South Jersey. A few people split the difference and say South Central New Jersey, but in their hearts, they know that they'll have to wait for the Lions to win the Super Bowl before most of New Jersey accepts such a thing.
    • Trenton: As noted, the state capital, and also the seat of Mercer County. Situated directly on the Delaware immediately across from Morrisville, Pennsylvania (making Trenton one of only two state capitals directly on a state border—the other is Carson City, Nevada, which borders California—and also one of the few cases where the city in New Jersey is bigger than the one outside it). Almost exactly halfway between New York and Philadelphia, it is a prime example of the confusion of Central Jersey, being one of the few places with essentially equal numbers of New York and Philadelphia sports fans (Beware the day the Giants play the Eagles!). It's also a fine example of the New Jersey melting pot, with a large Black community, as well as many Hispanics (especially Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and Guatemalans) and a sizeable community of Haitians (the courts even have a number of Haitian Creole interpreters on retainer), and although White flight hit the city hard, the White community remains sizeable (although a substantial number of those technically live in Hamilton Township even though they have Trenton addresses—Mercer County political geography is confusing even by New Jersey standards). It's also a prime example of the rise and fall of New Jersey industry; its position between NYC and Philly originally made it a prime location for manufacturing (the city's motto is still "Trenton Makes, the World Takes"), industry has declined substantially. State government is now the main industry and keeps the city limping on life support. Unfortunately, towards the middle of the 2010s, the city suffered major urban decay and turned into one of the heroin capitals of the east coast (along with the Newark/Elizabeth city), giving the city's motto a whole new meaning with open air drug markets being disturbingly common. Drug addicts living in south or central Jersey venture here for their fix, resulting in an unfortunate bit of profiling on behalf of the police and locals where they assume any white teenager/young adult driving in the city (specifically Trenton, Ewing, the parts of Hamilton directly bordering them, and the highways coming into the city) is there to buy drugs, and as such are pulled over as a matter of course. A fun fact Trentonians like to talk about: Trenton was also briefly the capital of the U.S. from November to December 1784.
    • Education: As noted, Central Jersey is home to New Jersey's major educational institutions, Princeton University and Rutgers University. Two of the oldest universities in the country, the two are just down Route 27 from each other and are only two stops apart on New Jersey Transit (from New Brunswick, you take the train to Princeton Junction and then the Dinky to Princeton proper), and there's something of a quiet rivalry between the two (with Princeton treating Rutgers as uncouth proles not to be given the time of day, and Rutgers treating Princeton as a bunch of rich snobbish assholes); they played the first-ever game of American Football in 1869, using rules that looked more like the bastard child of soccer and rugby than the modern game. (Rutgers won, by the way.) We would be remiss if we didn't note the nigh-universal consensus that Princeton, which has taken extensive steps to isolate itself in an effort to make it "nicer" is generally considered to only technically be part of New Jersey—and never mind that the Governor's official mansion, Drumthwacket, is in Princeton Borough. Also present, but usually ignored, is The College of New Jersey right outside Trenton, a public university that took Princeton's old name and is mainly focused on giving New Jersey's best and brightest a top-notch education at a reasonable price. The region's other universities are all local institutions, like Rider University, Monmouth University,note  and Thomas Edison State University.
    • Little India: A quick note: north-central Middlesex County, particularly Edison and Iselin,note  but also Carteret and Avenel, is heavily populated by Indian-Americans and others from the Subcontinent. The community formed as a result of the research and medical industries in the area (immediately northeast of New Brunswick, with its university and pharmaceutical and chemical companies—did we mention that Johnson & Johnson is headquartered in New Brunswick?), with Indian students and immigrant researchers who came in the 1970s-90s settling down and forming a community; today, Edison in particular is nearly 30% Indian. Since Indians tend to speak English, there isn't as much an issue of ballots being provided in... well... there's another problem (lots of languages in India), although Middlesex County does have ballots with Gujarati. That said, the main street in Iselin is noted to always smell of curry, Indian languages are commonly spoken, and the Metropark station (the New Jersey Transit rail and Amtrak station around there) is usually festooned with ads (some written entirely in Hindi) for Indian television shows or other India-related products/services and will always have at least one Indian person on the platform during working hours. Always.
    • The Amboys: Sitting on either side of the Raritan at its mouth, Perth Amboy and South Amboy are the old centers of colonial Middlesex County. Perth Amboy in particular was the colonial capital for 90 years (from 1686 to 1776), although it had to share the dignity with Burlington from 1702 on. It was later overshadowed by other cities (most particularly New Brunswick), but today the Amboys are home to a thriving Hispanic community: nearly 79% of residents of Perth Amboy identified as Hispanic or Latino in the 2020 Census, and immigration keeps the population rising. The Amboys are a particularly strong center of the Puerto Rican community in New Jersey, with a large Puerto Rican population and a large stock of Puerto Rican businesses and politicians.
  • The Jersey Shore: New Jersey's coastline, and a major summer destination for New Yorkers, Pennsylvanians, and New Jerseyans alike. Generally considered to consist the portions of Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic, and Cape May Counties that face the Atlantic Ocean.note  It used to have a reputation for being dirty due to the infamous "syringe tide" in the late '80s, when used syringes and other medical waste started washing up on the shore from the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island (in short, it wasn't even New Jersey's fault!). Now, thanks to MTV, it's has a reputation for being covered in another kind of trash, once again imported from out of state. The Shore (outside of the Cape May peninsula, which was largely untouched) was among the hardest-hit areas on the East Coast in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, with many towns seeing homes washed away and their boardwalks destroyed in whole or in part. Locals affectionately call tourists either "Bennies", an acronym for Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, and New York, or "Shoobies" (originally meaning a person, usually from Pennsylvania, who came to the beach with lunch packed in a shoe box), depending on where you visit.

    Towns and destinations along the Shore, from north to south, include...
    • Middletown: The largest municipality in Monmouth County. It and its neighboring communities of Keansburg, Leonardo, Red Bank and Highlands are perhaps best known for their association with Kevin Smith and The View Askewniverse. Locals here do not have a specific name for tourists, possibly because they are the very northernmost end of the shore and are as much commuter towns for New York as they are tourist spots. Home to Phil Murphy (Governor of N.J. 2018-present).
    • Long Branch: First made its name for itself as a major theatre hub alongside Hollywood in California. President Garfield, after being shot by an assassin, died of complications from the bullet here on September 19, 1881. Six other presidents (Grant, Hayes, Arthur, Harrison, McKinley,note  and Wilson) have also visited the town, leading to Seven Presidents Park being dedicated in their honor. The rise of Hollywood as a film capital, the Garden State Parkway causing the rise of downshore resort towns, nearby racial riots, and a destructive fire in 1987 sparked the decline of Long Branch throughout the latter half of the 20th century. Still, it remains a popular beachside resort. Locals here call tourists "bennies".
    • Asbury Park: A famous hub of rock music, with a long list of bands past and present having ties to the city; the New Jersey Music Hall of Fame is located here, as is the Bamboozle Music Festival. Bruce Springsteen in particular is associated with the city, with his debut album titled Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., and his music being part of a Rock & Roll/R&B fusion known as the "Jersey Shore sound". The city spent much of the mid-late 20th century on a long decline, its boardwalk facing competition from Six Flags just half an hour away and its downtown being hollowed out by suburbanization, with the kicker being a brutal race riot in 1970 whose effects can still be seen in certain areas. It's since enjoyed a boom as the Shore's gay mecca, with LGBT people priced out of gentrified New York taking advantage of the city's cheap housing, rejuvenating large parts of the city in the process. Also, from 2010 until 2012 (screw you Saint Paul) it held the Guinness world record for the largest zombie walk in the world. Locals here call tourists "bennies".
    • Ocean Grove: Directly south of Asbury Park, Ocean Grove was developed as a religious seaside resort in 1869. By the early 20th century, Ocean Grove became known as the "Queen of Religious Resorts". The neighborhood is also known for its large quantities of Victorian architecture. The most famous landmark in Ocean Grove is the historic Great Auditorium. Built in 1894, it has become famous for hosting concerts from such acts as Ray Charles, Tony Bennett, and The Beach Boys. Although the town began to decline in the 1960s, Ocean Grove has recently had a resurgence due to the restoration of old hotels and rising property values, alongside an increasingly prominent gay community (we can only imagine that the founders of the resort are turning in their graves). In 1977, a Supreme Court case arose as to the constitutionality of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association acting as the local government as it is a religious group of the United Methodist Church and was preventing vehicles being driven and parked within Ocean Grove on Sundays. When it was revealed that you had to be a good and upstanding member of the UMC in order to be a voting member of the OGCMA, which was deemed unconstitutional, the Sunday blue law was no longer allowed to be enforced.[1] Eventually Ocean Grove's municipal powers, police, and court was dissolved, and the area became an unincorporated community located within Neptune Township, though the property, except for the streets, is still owned by the OGCMA. Locals here call tourists "bennies".
    • Belmar: Despite being a minor community, it does have high historical value in the state. Belmar is home to the first first-aid squad in the country, the "E Street" that Bruce Springsteen's band took its name from, and Tony Soprano's boat. Today, it is unusually popular because I-195 runs there directly from Trenton (which is practically due west of Belmar), meaning many from that part of the state—and most especially N.J. state employees—end up there. (It's also popular with people from Philadelphia's northern suburbs in nearby Bucks County, PA) . Locals here call tourists "bennies".
    • Point Pleasant: Actually two towns; Point Pleasant proper (mainly an upper-class residential community) and Point Pleasant Beach, the tourist town. Boaters know it as the northern terminus of the Intracoastal Waterway. A short-lived supernatural Teen Drama called Point Pleasant took place here... allegedly; the show creators' poor research of what the town and the Shore in general were actually like made it a deep well of snark for New Jerseyans. Locals here call tourists "bennies".
    • Jackson: Mainly famous for NJ's (and the NYC and Philly metro areas') premier theme park, Six Flags Great Adventure, which has a wild animal preserve on the ground open for tourists and a number of world-class roller coasters, including the massive wooden beast El Toro and the tallest and (second) fastest coaster in the world, Kingda Ka (you can view the skylines of both New York and Philadelphia from its peak). Also has your standard array of Six Flags stuff: DC Comics themed rides, Looney Tunes themed play area, Hurricane Harbor water park, etc. A famous bit of Jersey trivia holds that Jackson Township contains the geographic center of New Jersey, which is more or less true (there's some argument based on how you make your measurements, but every proposed center is, if not in Jackson Township, then very nearby).
    • Brick Township: A suburban town of about 75,000 that's best known for frequently making the list of America's top five safest cities, often at or near the top spot. Definitely not to be confused with Brick City, a popular nickname for Newark, a place that is on the exact opposite list.
    • Toms River: Another suburban community with safe streets. Holds the world's second-largest Halloween parade. The Toms River East Little League baseball team won the Little League World Series in 1998, an accomplishment that was commemorated in the town naming its main thoroughfare the Little League World Champions Boulevard. And absolutely none of this matters to most New Jerseyans, who chiefly know the town for one thing: being the last stop between the Parkway and...
    • Seaside Heights: Yes, that Seaside. MTV's Jersey Shore took place here, and the town is typically regarded as one of the trashier locales on the Shore, occasionally nicknamed "Sleazeside". Not like they're complaining; they love the tourist money. Got hammered good by Sandy, which took out part of the pier and flung the rollercoaster into the ocean, leaving behind one of the most iconic shots of the hurricane's aftermath. Locals here call tourists "bennies".
    • Long Beach Island: Often called "LBI", this is a land of vacation homes commonly seen as one of the more family-friendly places on the Shore. The value of beachfront property can run in the millions of dollars on the northern part of the island, though the southern part is more middle-class, commercialized, and diverse; a common saying, popularized in The '70s, is that "the haves turn right (south) and the have mores turn left (north)". At various points, most recently 1962, severe storms have cut the island into two or more pieces, making one think that building levees and sea walls would be an idea with unanimous support; however, opposition from homeowners fearful that the sea walls would devalue their property meant that LBI had an incomplete sea wall system when Sandy hit, leaving it one of the most devastated areas on the Shore. On a lighter note, the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop got their start here in 1959, and their original store in Ship Bottom continues to operate (despite the company now being headquartered in Cocoa Beach, FL). Locals here call tourists "bennies" and/or "shoobies".
    • Atlantic City: The East Coast's Las Vegas. Atlantic City was recognized as a prime spot for a tourist town as early as the 1850s; the extension of the railroads from Philadelphia turned it into a playground for any Philadelphian who had even a little bit of disposable income. (British people: it may help to think of AC in this period as being rather like what Brighton was to London in the same period—the town by the sea easily accessible by rail from the metropolis on an estuary about 50 miles away.) By the turn of the 20th century, the rest of the East Coast had gotten in on the fun. The Miss America Beauty Contest was held here from 1920 until 2005. AC was also a major hub of the Mafia during the Prohibition era, as seen in Boardwalk Empire. Like many old resort towns, it was gutted by the rise of the automobile, cheap air travel, and suburbia, a situation that came to a head in 1964 when it hosted the Democratic National Convention. While the convention was a success, the nation got to see just how rotten Atlantic City had become, with many of its once-renowned hotels being converted into cheap apartments and nursing homes in order to stay afloat. The New Jersey state government attempted to rectify this in 1976 by legalizing casino gambling in the city; while this has undoubtedly led to the restoration of the boardwalk and the seaside, the rest of the city continues to decay as it had before. Even then, the opening of competing casinos in Connecticut and Pennsylvania has begun to cut in on this; four out of the city's twelve casinos closed during 2014. On a lighter note, it's the birthplace of the sweet confection known as saltwater taffy. Locals here call tourists "shoobies" (when they're not calling them "the asshole who cussed me out on the casino floor before throwing up and passing out").
    • Ocean City: Located on an island in northern Cape May County, OC is considered one of, if not the, best family-friendly resort towns in the country. Originally founded as a Christian retreat after the Civil War, it's still a dry town so residents have to buy liquor on the mainland. The city's biggest attraction is it's 2 1/2 mile boardwalk containing shops, restaurants, mini golf, amusement parks, and a waterpark. Its Always Sunny filmed an episode here which the final cut the city government understandably doesn't approve of. Locals here call tourists "shoobies".
    • The Wildwoods: A collection of five towns on an island off the Cape May peninsula that are often just collectively referred to as "Wildwood". Known for their classic Googie architecture from The '50s and The '60s, and sometimes cited as the "birthplace" of Rock & Roll — "Rock Around the Clock" was first performed here in 1954. Typically ranked as having the best beaches on the Shore (sorry), making the long drive that much more agonizing for New Yorkers. The Wildwoods have historically been quite restrictive when it comes to alcohol, leading to a reputation for family-friendliness; it was only in 2006 when North Wildwood legalized sales of alcohol on its boardwalk, and 2010 when the main town of Wildwood followed suit. Locals here call tourists "shoobies".
    • Cape May: The southern tip of the state of New Jersey, like a giant wang peeing on Delaware. The entire peninsula is known as one of the best birdwatching sites in North America, especially during migration times. Also the site of the United States Coast Guard's basic training camp. Fun fact: Cape May, the county seat at the southern end of the peninsula, is at the same latitude as Washington, D.C.: the Cape May waterfront is 114 miles east of Adams-Morgan, Columbia Heights, and the U Street Metro station as the crow flies. Locals here call tourists "shoobies".
  • South Jersey: With the exception of the Shore, this area, like the Highlands, is rarely seen in the media, due to the fact that it's more closely associated with Philadelphia than New York City. Often shown as being poorer than the rest of the state, with the suburbs being more working-class. This is partially Truth in Television, but not exactly — a visit to Cherry Hill, Mount Laurel, Evesham, Haddonfield, Moorestown, or Medford would quickly discredit this assumption (and ironically are all next to each other in some way, due to some weird borders). Home to two towns named Haddonfield note  note  and Voorhees, which are served (along with Gibbsboro) by the same freeway exit; note, however, that Haddonfield is a bit more comfortable. If producers need a Gangsterland, then Camden (in terms of crime rate, imagine a Fun Size Detroit)note  is often used in place of Newark.

    Residents are known to react even worse to the standard New Jersey jokes. The Turnpike has very few exits to the southern half of the state (and the Parkway has none outside of the Shore), and the near-absence of chemical and industrial plants outside of the immediate vicinity of Philadelphia results in little pollution. Plus, there are still many, many thriving farms in the area (it's home to the regionally-famous Jersey tomato, the also-regionally-famous Jersey asparagus, much if not most of New Jersey's large cranberry industry, and a substantial blueberry crop, as well as a number of decent wineries), as it is relatively undeveloped outside of the Shore and the Delaware Valley, lending some credence to the state nickname that so many seem to think is ironic — "The Garden State".

    Definitions of South Jersey will vary depending on who you ask. Some will define the region as everything south of Interstate 195, which runs from just south of Bordentown in Burlington County to Belmar in Monmouth; this definition is popular among Central Jersey partisans, as it gives some room for the unique identity they claim. (The same Central Jersey people say North Jersey starts at about Interstate 78, specifically the part that runs from just north of Newark Airport to Philipsburg in Warren County.) Others will draw a line starting just south of Trenton and ending just north of Atlantic City, and classify South Jersey as everything south of that line. Many in Monmouth County will make the cutoff for South Jersey anything south of Toms River in Ocean Countynote , while many people in South Jersey will make the cutoff at Howell Township in Monmouth County instead, a definition that follows county lines more neatly. A few people go so far as to count everything south of Newark as South Jersey, a definition that includes New Brunswick and even Elizabeth. Needless to say, the distinction causes a lot of arguments within the state.
    • Camden, directly across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. From the late 1960s, it has been, as noted, a bit of a Wretched Hive, with rampant crime, corruption, and general abject poverty. It wasn't always so, of course; Camden was once a prosperous working-to-middle-class industrial city, home to RCA Victor (whose factories once consumed the Camden waterfront and have now been either demolished and turned into parking for Downtown Camden's few attractions, or refurbished into lofts and office space) and Campbell's Soup Company (which retains its HQ in town in a heavily-secured complex off 11th St., but closed down its factory decades ago). The city made the news in 2012 for breaking its own absurdly-high murder rate record; however, on the other hand, it made news in 2014 when the implementation of new policing methods (including—and this is shocking—getting out of squad cars, walking beats, and getting to know the good citizens as people) apparently caused a sharp drop in crime (breaking up former open drug markets and seemingly leading to the lowest murder rate in years) and certain areas being cautiously scouted for potential redevelopment (the eventual hope, apparently, is to eventually turn it into Philadelphia's answer to Jersey City. Good luck with that). As of this writing (April 2018), there are office buildings rising on the Camden waterfront and the local satellite campus of Rutgers is buying a lot of (very cheap) land, so watch this space.
  • The Pine Barrens: Firmly straddling the blurry dividing line between Central and South Jersey is a region composed of hundreds of square miles of primeval pine forest, growing from a white sandy soil. Home to ghost towns, cranberry bogs, blueberry farms, and uncounted miles of dirt roads, the Barrens are a zone of complete wilderness that is unusual in any Eastern state, let alone the most densely populated state in America. A great majority of the state's stories of ghosts and pirates are set in or have ties to the Pine Barrens, and the Jersey Devil calls them its home, making it an out-of-New England branch of Lovecraft Country. (Mysterious Real Life phenomena such the unidentified booming noises which have rattled the area on a regular basis for decades just add to the mystique.) For someone whose only exposure to New Jersey is Chemical Alley and Newark, discovering that there is a part of the state where you can drive for an hour and see virtually nothing but pine trees can be somewhat disconcerting.

New Jersey facts

Some random facts about life in New Jersey.
    Jersey Girls Don't Pump Gas 
New Jersey is the only state where it is illegal to pump your own fuel at the gas station, having banned it in 1949 due to safety concerns and to protect jobs. For decades (since 1951 to be exact), Oregon had joined Jersey in this status, but it lifted its ban in rural counties in 2018 and statewide in 2023.note  While in most of the country, gas station attendants have been relegated to the realm of nostalgia, in Jersey full-service gas stations are still a fact of life. Most New Jerseyans take this as a point of pride, with bumper stickers bearing the above slogan being a common sight on women's cars. This can occasionally lead to snickers from New Jerseyans when movies and shows (such as the Friday the 13th (2009) remake) portray characters from New Jersey pumping their own gas.

Contrary to popular belief, this barely affects the price of gasoline in the state. New Jersey has some of the cheapest gas in the nation, though much of that has to do with it being home to several major oil refineries, which reduces the distance gasoline has to take to get from the boats to the pumps. (That smell is good for sumthin', huh?) People entering New York are often told to fill up at one of the many gas stations on the New Jersey side of the border before they cross. (Or the other way around if you don't have 20 minutes to wait for the one pump jockey at a 30-pump station to get to your car and start the pump).
    The White Picket Fence State 
Very large tracts of New Jersey consist of suburban development. For a state of nearly nine million people that stands as the most densely populated state in the nation, the fact that only two cities, Newark and Jersey City, have more than 250,000note , is indicative of the state's patterns of development. It's not unrealistic to say that most of modern New Jersey is an entire state built out of suburbia.

On the other hand, a major reason New Jersey's "urban" population seems small is that the state has a strong tradition, enshrined in state law, of local government: your average New Jersey municipality is only a few square miles in area. For an idea, Newark itself is only about 12 square miles, and Jersey City is a little over 14 square miles,note  compared to the dozens or hundreds of square miles typically covered by major cities (for instance, New York City is 300 square miles and Chicago is about 230 square miles; even relatively small San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Miami cover about 50 square miles of land each). If you mashed together the solid urban corridor running from Paterson and Fort Lee in the north to Bayonne and Elizabeth in the south, you would have a single municipality with a population of nearly 1.9 million and an area of about 180 square miles, roughly equivalent to that of Queens—or more to the point, only a little bit larger than Philadelphia in both land area and population.note 

In other words, New Jersey is home to the second-largest and third-densest city on the East Coast, it's just that it's divided into five counties and 141 separate municipalities... because Jersey likes "towns" and "local rule". This tradition goes back to the The Gay '90s, when the arrival of commuter rail led to the development of northern New Jersey's first suburbs, and conflict between new suburbanites and the "old guard" of farmers in the region (short version: the suburbanites wanted schools and infrastructure in their bedroom communities and local control over them, and the farmers didn't want to spend the tax dollars for it) led to the passage of new laws in 1894 that made it much easier for small communities to break away from townships and form "boroughs". Bergen County alone (where this trend was most concentrated) has seventy separate municipalities as a result of the "boroughitis" that swept the state in 1894 and '95, and throughout the state, there exist many towns formed under the borough system that are completely surrounded by the townships they seceded from. This in turn made it hard for New Jersey's major urban centers to do what most other cities in the U.S. did: annex territory into the cities. This created problems for NJ's cities down the road (as it left them particularly vulnerable to white flight and other problems that caused narrowing of the tax base). Add this to the fact that New Jersey municipalities are forbidden from raising revenue through any means other than property taxesnote  and you have a recipe for urban decline.

Despite all that fancy chat, this is the stereotype that's most common among people who are actually from the state. New Jersey suburbs are often viewed as being particularly wealthy (four of the top 20 highest-median-income U.S. counties are in New Jersey), possessing good schools (or at least, good-looking schools with impressive athletics departments), covered in shopping malls, and being inhabited by mobsters (there's a reason The Sopranos took place here). Also, there is an under-reported problem with gangs and drug dealing in schools, particularly in Bergen County. Make no mistake — no matter what Jay and Silent Bob may suggest, Gangbangers and drug dealers are not to be scoffed at even if they're white.

This suburban trend has long colored New Jersey's politics. In The '70s and The '80s, New Jersey was a solidly Republican state, with the large and growing numbers of suburbanites voting against the largely Democratic cities that they had moved out of. Ronald Reagan won New Jersey by a greater margin than he had won nationally during both of his electoral landslides, taking 60% of the vote in 1984. In The '90s, though, the state began to swing to the left, the pivotal year being 1992 when New Jersey served as a key swing state that ultimately went to the Democrats. Much of this has been attributed to the rise of the fiscally moderate, socially liberal "New Democrats" a la Bill Clinton within the Democratic Party, and to the growing dominance of the Christian Right within the Republican Party; New Jersey's conservatives had long been of the more center-right, business-oriented, "Rockefeller Republican" variety rather than the "movement conservatism" of the post-Reagan Republican Party.note  Today, New Jersey is a Democratic stronghold, especially in Presidential elections and in the "belt" running between New York City and Philadelphia, though the northwest and the Shore (outside Atlantic City and Asbury Park) vote reliably Republican, and the state overall is willing to elect center-right moderates as their governor (two recent examples being Christine Todd Whitman and Chris Christie—although Christie's name has become mud even in Republican circles on account of his hard fiscal line on police pensions, the abuse-of-office scandals associated with his 2013 reelection campaign, and his willingness to carry water for Donald Trump). Speaking of the Donald, New Jersey Republicans tend to look warily on him, tending to be moderate suburbanites who mostly care about tax rates and don't really support his reactionary social cultural views (though the western areas of the state plus certain parts of the Shore are filled with rednecks who definitely fit the Trump supporter stereotype). South Jersey Republicans generally like him better than their northern counterparts, but they also tend to be cautious towards him because of his numerous misadventures in the Atlantic City casino industry. Trump's presidency proved to be a disaster for the New Jersey GOP, as all but one of their twelve congressional seats voted for Democrats in the 2018 midterms, and their Democratic senator Bob Menendez cruised towards re-election despite his own corruption scandals. They've since rebounded from their nadir, successfully convincing a very conservative House Democrat in the state's most Republican-trending swing district to join their ranks, easily re-elected him in 2020 and saw their most popular statewide politican come within striking distance of regaining the state's most Democratic-trending swing district. And in 2021, they very nearly ousted Governor Murphy in a race nobody was expecting to be close and even defeated Senate President Steve Sweeney with a little-known candidate who raised and spent almost no money.

In recent decades, suburban sprawl has grown to the point where the state government considers it a threat to New Jersey's environmental integrity. Whereas the smokestacks of the Chemical Coast only stink up the Chemical Coast, out-of-control sprawl can lead to soil erosion and, with it, flooding and landslides, and is now starting to push into the state's water supply in the Skylands. Consequently, in 2004 the state passed the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act in order to contain the growth of New York's exurbs.

    It Doesn't Smell Like a Garden 
The (in)famous "Jersey stench" has been described by different people as smelling like burning rubber, rotten eggs, burnt coffee and "something that I don't know what it is, but it just stinks!" In reality, it isn't nearly as bad as New Yorkers like to pretend it is, especially after the Clean Air Act was passed and the capping of landfills became common practice. It's primarily found in one area of northeastern New Jersey where most of the state's industry is concentrated... which just so happens to be the part of the state that New Yorkers go through on their way in. It also doesn't help that the Supreme Court literally forbade New Jersey from doing anything about other states using it as a landfill.note  West of the Watchung Mountains or south of Elizabeth, the only nasty thing you might smell on the road is dead skunk. Still, the smell of the Turnpike is well-known enough that an insurance company has launched a "Jersey Doesn't Stink" campaign dedicated to combating negative stereotypes of the state.

At least one part of the stereotype is somewhat Truth in Television: New Jersey has the dubious distinction of being home to more Superfund sites (sites that are contaminated with radioactive or otherwise chemically toxic hazardous materials in need of cleanup) than any other state. Keep in mind that New Jersey is the fourth-smallest state by land area. The reason, basically, is that New Jersey is the state that has been heavily industrialized for the longest amount of time; being between New York and Philadelphia put it smack in the middle of a perfect corridor for rail transportation, plus there's the sea access up by Newark, and therefore factories and other industrial facilities—often very dirty ones—sprouted up in that line, and have been for nearly 200 years. This leads to a famous joke:
Q: Why does New Jersey have the most Superfund sites and Washington, D.C. have the most lawyers?

As any lawyer in New Jersey can tell you though, those Superfund sites are a pile of lawsuits just waiting to happen. A good number of New Jersey law firms make good money representing clients in environmental law cases—thanks to the Superfund sites and New Jersey's own strict environmental laws (talk to someone in the know about the Spill Act; they'll either praise it to high heaven or curse it as the work of the Devil himself), one of the few states where you can do so.

Yes, diners. The Great American Greasy Spoon is practically a religion in New Jersey. No, seriously, you go to eat at a diner "after church" on Sundays, even if you aren't religious (or even Christian) and for you "church" consists of "sleeping off a hangover". Each town—remember that business about New Jersey liking towns?—has at least one diner; in "large cities," it's every neighborhood, but that's the same idea. If you value your life (or at least your hearing or the absence of boots from your rectum) don't tell a native New Jerseyan that Denny's, IHOP, or (God forbid) Waffle House is a diner — a diner must be a small, independent business, owned and operated by an immigrant, his son, his grandson, or his great-grandson.note  Said immigrant is preferably Greek, although a Russian or an Ashkenazi Jew will do in a pinch. If the owner is Greek, there should be some element of Greek kitsch in the decor; all-out faux-marble columns and pediments aren't necessary, but at least put a meandering border or some olive branches somewhere. Furthermore, it must generally be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ready to serve customers whether they're heading to work or school in the morning, coming home from such in the late afternoon, or heading to and from the club late at night.note 

The menu must be diverse. Classic Americana like burgers and fries are standard (sometimes in epic proportions), as well as some dishes regarded as classic "diner food" (for instance, French onion soup is all but ubiquitous). Also critical are breakfast dishes like pancakes, waffles, French toast, bacon, and eggs, served at all hours of the day. Foods unique to Jersey diners include creamed chipped beef on toast and something including pork roll. We should note here that pork roll may also be known as Taylor Ham after one particular brand (specifically of the originators Taylor Provisions, of Trenton); generally speaking, "pork roll" is the term used in South Jersey, while North Jersey calls it Taylor Ham and Central Jersey is, as usual, a mixed bag.note  Finally, the place must serve some obscure ethnic food of whatever ethnicity the owner is; gyros and souvlaki are common at Greek-run diners, while matzo ball soup and bagels with cream cheese and lox are common at historically Jewish-run ones.

If the diner doesn't meet these criteria... it's not a diner.
    Unique/weird chains of grocery and convenience stores 
Each half of the state has their own funnily-named 7-Eleven equivalent. As a general rule, the north has QuickChek and the south has Wawa. The former is Jersey-born (with its first store in Dunellen and current HQ in Whitehouse Station); the latter began in Philadelphia's southwestern suburbs in Delaware County, PA,note  the immediate predecessor but quickly crossed the river and became deeply entrenched in South Jersey. One popular definition of Central Jersey is that it's the part of the state where the two stores compete, with the southernmost QuickCheks being in Toms River and Trenton and Wawas commonly found as far north as Woodbridge and Bridgewater (though isolated Wawas can be spotted all the way in Lodi and Parsippany). And if you can't find either of them, you'll go to a Krauszer's (a Middlesex County-based chain, but with stores from Trenton up through to Paterson), a Heritage's (a Gloucester County chain, with some stores in Camden, Salem, and Cumberland), a 7-Eleven (although compared to other places, they're somewhat uncommon), a local store/deli/bodega (particularly common in the cities; Newark and Jersey City particularly have a lot of them), or a gas station mini-mart (and again, depending on where you are, it might be an Amoco-turned-BP, or a Texaco-turned-Shell). Also, the Maryland-based Royal Farms has begun invading South Jersey, encroaching on Wawa's turf (attracting the fascination of, not least because RoFo has fried chickennote ).

For groceries, it's pretty wild:
  • ShopRite: A cooperative chain started in the late '40s, and who have since grown to encompass stores from as far north as Connecticut and Upstate New York, as far west as the Poconos, and as far south as Baltimore, though New Jersey is their headquarters and contains the largest amount of stores. Due to the aforementioned co-op structure, ShopRites tend to not look alike and can be tiny and old, or huge and new. A large number of them have Jewish owners and concomitantly large kosher-goods sections (up to and including full on-site kosher butcher's counters separate from the "standard" butcher and closed for Shabbat). They're fairly common and their famous for their twice-a-year Can Can sales (where all canned products are on sale, typically on a buy-one-get-one-free or buy-one-get-one-half-off basis).
  • Stop & Shop:: A New England-based chain that was in the area back in the '70s, left in 1980 (though their discount chain sister, Bradlees, managed to survive until 2000 — after having gone bankrupt twice), and returned in 2000 in two fell swoops — first, their parent company, Netherlands-based Royal Ahold, converted their area Edwards Super Food Stores to the S&S namenote , and then they bought out almost all area locations of Grand Union when they went into bankruptcy (having struggled for years). You can easily spot an S&S by their generic store designs and purple "fruit bowl" logo. They aren't in South Jersey, however (the few stores they had in the area were sold off and have become ShopRites; these stores were previously "Super G", the trade name of the Maryland-based Giant Food, used in the Philadelphia area to avoid confusion with another chain called Giant out of Pennsylvania...all of which became Ahold-owned in the early 2000s).
  • Acme Markets: Started in Philadelphia in 1891, they have mainly grown to encompass Philly, South Jersey, and Delaware, but have been struggling in recent years thanks to repeated corporate mergers and sell-offs (resulting in bad management, poor treatment of stores, and sky-high prices). They've been trying to stabilize a bit since then, but it's been a bit shaky (including their reentry into North Jersey in 2015, after having slowly withdrawn from the area over the last few years). Despite the name, they are not related to the company Wile E. Coyote orders stuff from. For more on the history of the chain, check out Acme Style.
  • A&P: One of the oldest grocery chains in the country, along with nameplates SuperFresh (used in South Jersey and Philly), The Food Emporium (their upsacle arm), and Pathmark. It was around until 2015, when years of declining sales, poor upkeep, high prices, and shoddy management led to their demise; many of their stores went to Acme (marking their re-expansion into North Jersey), and other operators have since bought the SuperFresh, Food Emporium, and Pathmark names.note 

Also in play are various chains that target the affluent or organic crowds, including Kings (recently purchased by the owners of Acme after poor performance amid the COVID-19 pandemic), Whole Foods, and Wegmans (which originated in Rochester, NY, and have a massive following of loyal customers).

And God forbid you buy groceries at Walmart — you're just asking for trouble.

    A wretched hive of scum and villainy 
Senators!? Rabbis!? Black Market Kidney Sales!? (mwah! mwah!) CORRUPTIOOO~OOO~OOON, Corruption!!! ...CORRUPTION!!!
Jon Stewart (who grew up in Mercer County and is thus quite familiar with Jersey corruption)

Let's put some things into context:

  1. New Jersey has always been a major trading state — it's square in the middle of the original 13 colonies, it is wedged between Philadelphia and New York City, and even today is home to one of the largest portsnote  and airportsnote  in the U.S., plus quite a few smaller ones. Because of all that money changing hands, you can expect crime and corruption.
  2. Because of the love of "local rule" and "towns," there are a plethora of local governments across the state (585 municipalities in 21 counties, to be exact, and that's not counting the scads of school districts, fire districts, sewer districts, and other such institutions), each one handing out contracts. For comparison, this puts New Jersey at #19 among all U.S. states, ahead of Arkansas and behind North Carolina, despite being #46 in land area. This creates a lot of opportunity for corruption, since small local governments can't afford oversight and don't have the press going after them in the same way that a big-city pol might.
  3. The state government in Trenton. Although the central government of the State of New Jersey is actually surprisingly clean and exercises a surprising amount of oversight over local government (through its Department of Community Affairs, tasked with enforcing New Jersey's incredibly complex—even arcane—web of laws relating to municipal government), it can't catch everything, and often has more important business anyway, especially given the way funding priorities work. Moreover, although graft and bribery of state officialsnote  is actually rather rare, other, more sophisticated shady dealings at the highest level of the government—often involving the governor, his staff, and the senior leadership of the Legislature—are depressingly common. This is in large part a function of the government being in Trenton: Trenton, a small city on the boundary between the New York and Philadelphia spheres of influencenote , is not big enough to warrant a serious media market of its own that would go after the pols, and too far away from the big cities to warrant serious coverage by their news outlets.
  4. Combining the above, historically, was a lack of prohibition on "double dipping" among politicians, that is, holding more than one elected office (what the French—who are most famous for it—call cumul des mandats). Many members of the state legislature were also municipal officials; many were mayors. This led to them having the power and motive to influence state funding to go to their towns, which they then can use to reward patronage jobs and favorable deals for political donors. However, in 2007, Governor Jon Corzine signed legislation banning the practice in no uncertain terms, albeit with a Grandfather Clause for the 19 officials who held two offices at that time; as of 2015, only four remain.
  5. New Jersey is home to The Mafia. If The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire aren't enough to convince you of the state's long and rich history of mob hits and "legitimate buss-a-ness," just ask New Jersey residents themselves. It's a well-known secret that the mob exists more plentifully in New Jersey than any other state these days; it's just an accepted fact of life, given that the Five Families, the New Jersey Mafia and the Philly Mob have crews that divvied up the rackets in the state. In fact, much of northern Jersey is under the New York mob's control, while Philly controls Atlantic City and south Jersey, and the New Jersey mob has practically everything in between. They've been there since The Roaring '20s and just never left, outlasting the mob in Chicago and New York City. Ask any New Jersey resident, and they'll tell you Jimmy Hoffa is buried in the Pine Barrens, duh — and if he's not there, then he was buried underneath the stands of the old Giants Stadium.
  6. Even before the glory days of organized crime, there was rampant corruption through the Garden State. Money has been passed around in the world of New Jersey politics more freely than a cold since the time of Lincoln. It was home to Thomas Edison.

And yet, despite all this, corruption isn't quite as rampant as in Illinois, New York, California, or several other states. So what makes New Jersey synonymous with corruption?

Quality over quantity, my friend.

Just as Florida is famous for "news of the weird" stories, New Jersey has been host to some of the most outlandish, absurd, and downright magnificent acts of corruption and anti-corruption stings to ever grace U.S. shores.

  • Boardwalk Empire is based on the life of Nucky Johnson, who really was the Treasurer of Atlantic City and one of the more influential mobsters during Prohibition, though not nearly as overt as Al Capone. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • American Hustle is based on real-life events that transpired in New Jersey in the late '70s, and ended up with the conviction of, among others, an NJ state senator and the mayor of Camden.
  • In 1985, David Friedland, a member of the NJ Senate, faked his own drowning by using scuba gear, a literal Briefcase Full of Money buried on a beach, and a quiet escape to the Maldives in an act that can only be described as "James Bond-esque".
  • In 2009, the mayors of three New Jersey cities, the deputy mayor of Jersey City, two NJ state assemblymen, and five rabbis, among many others, were found guilty of running a black-market kidney trafficking ring. (Don't worry too much, they weren't leaving anybody in bathtubs full of ice; legitimately donated kidneys were stolen and sent to Israel to be sold on the black market. The price for organs in Israel is high for reasons too complicated to explain here.)
  • In 2013, staff members of Governor Chris Christie, in conjunction with members of the NJ Port Authority, closed part of the most-heavily-traveled bridge in the U.S., just because the (Democratic!) mayor of Fort Lee, the town where said bridge crosses into New Jersey, refused to endorse Christie in the 2013 gubernatorial election—an election Christie was bound to win anyway. The resultant traffic jammed up the bridge completely, and may have indirectly led to the death of a senior citizen (for lack of EMS vehicles being able to respond in time).
    • The funniest part of this is that Christie had made his name as United States Attorney (i.e. chief federal prosecutor) for the District of New Jersey prosecuting high-profile corruption cases, supposedly trying to clean out NJ government. To some degree, he even succeeded; all but the most partisan Democrats accept that NJ today is cleaner today than it was before Christie's crusade. Of course, then his staff turns around and does this... which to be fair, isn't exactly the kind of "corruption" he was fighting (kickbacks and sweetheart deals) but rather simple abuse of power for purely political gain. The reason Christie wanted endorsements from Democrats was to get a massive Landslide Election win in a solidly "blue" state in order to bolster his prospects to become the GOP nominee for President in 2016. It backfired, of course — "Bridgegate" pretty much torpedoed Christie's chances of winning the election for President (though he still tried but dropped out of the race after the New Hampshire primaries), and also set up the whole NJ GOP for massive defeat in the 2017 state elections even before the Donald Trump presidency made the Republican brand difficult to defend in the heavily Democratic state.

Famous New Jerseyans

For some reason, New Jersey has a very high output of famous people. All part of the plan... wait, you did not just read that, did you? Oh crap, they know! Release the Jersey Devil — they must be silenced before they tell the world!

Okay, seriously, it probably has something to do with the fact that the state sits right across the Hudson from New York City, the second-largest film production center on the continent and the capital of the American TV industry, as well as a major center of the music, fashion, art, and advertising worlds. If that wasn't enough, Philadelphia is another major city whose suburbs sprawl across the other side of the state. It's a very large and accessible pool of talent to draw from, not to mention that many people who work in New York have homes in the suburbs to commute from.

    Famous New Jerseyans 


Internet Personalities

Jurists New Jersey, being one of the original 13 states, has provided its fair share of Supreme Court justices and other notable judges.

  • William J. Brennan Jr.: Appointed by Dwight D. Eisenhower even though he was a Democrat. Retired under George H. W. Bush. Hyper-liberal Irish Catholic. Best friends with Thurgood Marshall. Bane of first-year law students across the country for his perpetual dissents on civil procedure. Newark born and bred. Still refused to back New Jersey when it tried to do something about the stench.
  • Antonin Scalia: Arch-conservative/"originalist" Italian Catholic from Trenton. Appointed by Ronald Reagan; stayed there until he died suddenly in his sleep in 2016. Got into well-publicized and snarky fights with Brennan while both were on the bench. Gave a reporter the Sicilian finger.
  • Samuel Alito: Also a conservative/"originalist" Italian Catholic from Trenton (well, Hamilton Township, but who's counting?). He and Scalia were sometimes nicknamed "Scalito", though Alito's shown a bit more of a libertarian streak on the bench (unsurprising for those who know about his support for constitutionally-based gay rights while at Princeton). Appointed by George W. Bush. Wrote the majority opinion for Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the 2022 decision that overturned Roe v. Wade.

Musicians and Bands

  • 1910 Fruitgum Company (Linden)
  • The Ad Libs (Bayonne)
  • Akon (born in St. Louis, Missouri, but raised in Union City, Newark and Jersey City)
  • Blues Traveler (Princeton)
  • Bon Jovi (Sayreville)
  • The Bouncing Souls (New Brunswick)
  • Cash Cash (Roseland)
  • City High (Willingboro)
  • George Clinton (born in Kannapolis, North Carolina, but raised in Plainfield)
  • Cognitive (Jobbstown)
  • The Dillinger Escape Plan (Morris Plains)
  • Dramarama (Wayne)
  • Bill Evans (Plainfield)
  • Donald Fagen of Steely Dan (Passaic, later moved to South Brunswick. Fagen went to study at Bard College in New York, where he met Walter Becker, a native of Queens, and formed Steely Dan. He later relocated there.)
  • Fetty Wap (Paterson)
  • Fit for an Autopsy (Jersey City, though several members are from Long Island and/or Massachusetts)
  • Fountains of Wayne (bassist Adam Schlessinger was from Montclair; the band gets its name from a lawn ornament store in Wayne)
  • Franke and the Knockouts (New Brunswick)
  • Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons (Belleville)
  • The Front Bottoms (Bergen County)
  • Funebrarum (Clifton, though most of the current lineup lives over on the West Coast)
  • The Fugees (South Orange). All three of its members were from Essex County:
    • Lauryn Hill (South Orange)
    • Wyclef Jean (born in Haiti, but moved to Newark via Brooklyn as a child; later lived in South Orange and North Caldwell)
    • Pras (born in Brooklyn but raised in Irvington)
  • The Gaslight Anthem (New Brunswick)(Who would've guessed that a band popular with college students started in a college town?)
  • Lesley Gore ("the sweetie pie from Tenafly"; born in Brooklyn, New York, but raised in Tenafly)
  • Christina Grimmie (Marlton)
  • Halsey (Clark)
  • Hammer Fight (Atlantic City)
  • Debbie Harry of Blondie (born in Miami, Florida, but raised in Hawthorne; attended Centennial College in Hackettstown)
  • Whitney Houston (born in Newark, raised in East Orange)
  • Ice-T (born in Newark, but moved to Los Angeles after his parents' deaths)
  • ill niño (Union City)
  • The Isley Brothers (Teaneck)
  • The Jonas Brothers (Wyckoff)
  • Shaune Kelley (Red Bank)
  • The Knickerbockers (Bergenfield)
  • Looking Glass (New Brunswick) (A One-Hit Wonder responsible for 1975's "Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)")
  • Lorna Shore (Warren County, though Andrew O'Connor lives in Connecticut and Mike "Moke" Yager lives in Boston)
  • Christina Milian (born in Jersey City, but raised in Waldorf, Maryland)
  • The Misfits (Lodi)
  • Monster Magnet (Red Bank)
  • Mortal Decay (Audubon)
  • My Chemical Romance (members were raised in Belleville, but based in Jersey City)
  • Ricky Nelson (Born in Teaneck and spent his first 18 months in Englewood and Tenafly before his family relocated to California. His father Ozzie was born in Jersey City, grew up in Ridgefield Park, and graduated from Rutgers).
  • The Number Twelve Looks Like You (Fair Lawn)
  • Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (born in South Korea, but raised in Englewood)
  • Overkill (Old Bridge Township)
  • Charlie Puth (Rumson)
  • The Rascals (Garfield)
  • Redman (Newark)
  • Erik Rutan (Red Bank, though he currently resides in Florida)
  • Saves the Day (Princeton)
  • Senses Fail (Ridgewood)
  • Shades Apart (Bridgewater)
  • Paul Simon of Simon & Garfunkel (born in Newark, but raised in New York City)
  • Frank Sinatra (Hoboken)
  • Skid Row (Toms River)
  • The Smithereens (Carteret)
  • Southside Johnny & the Asbury Dukes (Ocean Grove)
  • Spin Doctors (vocalist Chris Barron was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, then moved to various locations while his father was serving in the US Army before settling in Princeton)
  • Bruce Springsteen (a true Monmouth County boy: born in Long Branch; raised in Freehold Borough; launched his career in various Monmouth shore towns, but especially Asbury Park; currently lives in Colts Neck)
  • Symphony X (Middletown)
  • Trixter (Paramus)
  • Voltaire (though he was born in Havana)
  • Yo La Tengo (Hoboken)
  • Waking the Cadaver (Jersey Shore)
  • Zakk Wylde (Bayonne)


  • Cory Booker (born in D.C., raised in Harrington Park; Mayor of Newark 2006-2013; U.S. Senator from NJ 2013-present; ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020)
  • Chris Christie (born in Newark, raised in Livingston, resided in Mendham). Governor of NJ 2010-18; ran an abortive campaign for President in 2016. Notable for giving a scathing speech about Barack Obama at the 2012 Republican National Convention, but dropping all partisanship after Hurricane Sandy hit—and crying in the speech thanking the Administration for its help, causing many GOP commentators to turn on him; apparently they think he was supposed to screw over his own state in order to keep trashing the other party, but this move garnered him significant support in his own state. He then squandered this goodwill by trying to secure endorsements he really didn't need from Democratic politicians (which led to the aforementioned Bridgegate) and then spending so much time out of state for the presidential campaign that it became a statewide joke.
  • Grover Cleveland (born in Caldwell, but raised in Fayetteville, New York)
  • Jon Corzine (born in Illinois, raised in Hoboken, former Goldman Sachs executive who became U.S. Senator in 2000 then elected Governor in 2005)
  • Thomas Kean (born in New York City, but raised in Livingston). He had several ancestors in New Jersey politics; he was a former governor and head of the 9/11 Commission and also served as the president of Madison's Drew University.
  • Tom Kean Jr. (born in Livingston, resides in Westfield). Son of the aforementioned Thomas Kean, he serves as the Senate Minority Leader. Left the Senate in 2021 to run for Congress after very nearly ousting a Democratic incumbent in 2020.
  • Bob Menendez (born in New York City, raised in Union City, and currently living in Paramus, former congressman who became U.S. Senator after Jon Corzine was elected governor)
  • Jim McGreevey (Jersey City, then Metuchen). Notable for how he became the first known LGBT governor in the USnote  under the worst possible circumstances: namely, he come out as gay in the same speech in which he admitted that the clearly-unqualified Israeli man he had appointed as his homeland-security adviser was also his lover, and also declared that he would be resigning the governorship, all while his wife stood beside him in shock. (See what we meant earlier about corruption?)
  • Phil Murphy (born in Massachusetts, raised in Middletown, current governor of New Jersey)
  • Richard Codey (born in Orange, but raised in West Orange, where a hockey arena is named for him. Currently lives in Roseland. Long-time State Senate President notable mostly for having been Governor after Jim McGreevey resigned, after which he wrote a mildly humorous political memoir entitled Me, Governor?)
  • Kim Guadagno (born in Iowa, moved to Monmouth Beach after marrying her husband; first Lieutenant Governor of NJ after the whole McGreevey debacle convinced everyone that having the Senate President take over as governor was just confusing; other than that, mostly notable for being the Republican sacrificial lamb in the 2017 gubernatorial election and for the cute letter her husband (a respected jurist on the Appellate Division) sent her when he reached his mandatory retirement at age 70.)
  • Garret Hobart (born and raised in Long Branch; made his career in Paterson; Vice President during William McKinley's first term, his death in 1899 gave an opening for Theodore Roosevelt)
  • Woodrow Wilson (born in Virginia, and first moved to New Jersey as a transfer student to Princeton; later became President of Princeton and then Governor of NJ)
  • Jeff Van Drew (born in New York City, lives in Dennis Township; former State Senator who was elected to congress as a Democrat, but switched to the Republican Party during the Trump impeachment hearings)

Professional Wrestling


  • Joe Flacco (NFL quarterback and MVP of Super Bowl XLVII; born and raised in Audubon)
  • Kyrie Irving (Former No. 1 overall pick and multiple-time NBA All-Star; born in Australia, but grew up in West Orange)
  • Carl Lewis (multiple Olympic gold medalist in the sprints and long jump; born in Birmingham, Alabama, but raised in Willingboro)
  • Carli Lloyd (all-time women's soccer great; born and raised in Delran, next door to Willingboro)
  • Shaquille O'Neal (born in Newark, but raised in multiple locations outside the state as an Army brat)
  • Dennis Rodman (born in Trenton, but raised in Dallas)
  • Karl-Anthony Towns (Former No. 1 overall pick and multiple-time NBA All-Star; born in Edison, raised in Metuchen and Piscataway)
  • Mike Trout (Three-time American League MVP; born in Vineland, raised in Millville)



  • Buzz Aldrin (born and raised in Essex County)
  • Gary Brolsma (the "Numa Numa" guy, from Saddle Brook)
  • Tyler Clementi (born in Buffalo, New York, but raised in Ridgewood, and he attended Rutgers University in New Brunswick when he killed himself)
  • George "geohot" Hotz (a.k.a. "the man who unlocked the iPhone and PS3") (Glen Rock)
  • Phil Ivey (poker player born in Riverside, CA, but raised in Roselle)
  • Dharun Ravi (from West Windsor, the plaintiff charged in the Tyler Clementi suicide case)
  • Hal Turner (Jersey City, then Ridgefield Park, then North Bergen)
  • Brad Leone (born and raised Sussex County, specifically near Vernon; his far-North-Jersey accent is practically a co-star of his show and anything else he appears in ("wourder"). Still lives in NJ—presumably somewhere closer to NYC; his house features in occasional Bon Appétit productions when something needs smoking)
  • Also, Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein both adopted New Jersey as their homes: Einstein lived in Princeton, where he taught, and as for Edison? Well, there's a reason that the town just northeast of New Brunswick is called Edison (although he spent more time in West Orange)...
As you can see, We Are Everywhere.

So there you have it. The TV Tropes tour of the Garden State. Hopefully your gas tank isn't too far in the red from not trusting Jersey pump jockeys, you should be able to make it to the Sloatsburg rest stop on the New York Thruway on that... Now to send those Bennies back where they came from...

Alternative Title(s): Joisey