Strange, Fascinating and True Facts About New Jersey

Just a hop, skip and a jump from the hallowed shores of Manhattan, New Jersey boasts a variety of attractions and has contributed widely used innovations that challenge its rather unfortunate designation as the “armpit of America.” Indeed, its extensive list of contributions to the world includes a great number of historical “firsts:” the first drive-in theatre; the first boardwalk; the first American brewery; along with the first organized baseball, professional basketball and college football games. And that doesn’t even cover all the novel inventions bestowed upon the world courtesy of New Jersey’s most famous adopted son, Thomas Edison, who, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, went on to discover the phonograph, lightbulb and motion picture in his Menlo Park, NJ, laboratory. The reality, then, is not that New Jersey somehow pales in comparison to the oft-overrated NY; it’s that perhaps it just hasn’t yet mastered how to toot properly its own horn. Here are five reasons to reconsider New Jersey as the intriguing place it really is:

It has a volcano!

Wantage Township, New Jersey, is home to the Beemerville volcano, a now 440 million-year extinct spewer of lava on which modern New Jerseyites have built homes right up to the peak. Although really just a grassy hill, New Jersey’s historic volcano still draws people looking for nepheline syenite, a rare type of igneous rock.

It’s more densely populated than India!

New Jersey is the most densely populated state in America and, with 1,211.3 residents per square mile, it surpasses some of the world’s most densely populated countries, including India (with 1,202 people per square mile), Israel (with 1,036 people per square mile) and China (with 397 people per square mile). But humans aren’t the only animal crowding NJ’s land; there are more horses per square mile in New Jersey than any other U.S. state. It’s a somewhat bizarre fact since all 21 of New Jersey’s counties are classified as metropolitan areas.

45% of NJ land is covered by forests!

While densely populated in its cities, New Jersey still maintains over 21 million acres of forest cover, making its overall population density even more impressive!

Self-Service Gas Stations are Banned in New Jersey!

It’s illegal to pump your own gas in New Jersey thanks to the Retail Gasoline Dispensing Safety Act and Regulations, which was passed in 1949. According to lawmakers at the time, dispensing gas is better left to the professionals, but many actually just wanted to forestall competition with stations offering self-service for a reduced price. By signing the act into law, the NJ government allowed gas stations to remain competitive without having to sacrifice their profits.

New Jersey birthed the ubiquitous traffic barricade!

While perhaps not as exciting an occasion as birthing Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Queen Latifah, Shaq, Judy Blume or Whitney Houston, New Jersey should nevertheless get credit for creating the Jersey Barrier, the storied traffic barricade responsible for improved road safety and the mitigation of vehicle crashes around the world. With the invention of the Jersey Barrier, New Jersey ensured that drivers, pedestrians and construction workers alike would remain better protected against wayward vehicles, bombs and the effects of some types of natural disasters.