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New Jersey Counties
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New Jersey Counties

New Jersey has twenty-one counties. New Jersey's first counties were created as administrative districts within each province, with East Jersey split in 1675 into Bergen, Essex, Middlesex and Monmouth counties, while West Jersey's initial counties of Burlington and Salem date to 1681. The most recent county created in New Jersey was Union County, created in 1857.

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Union County, New Jersey

Union County Education, Geography, and HistoryUnion County, New Jersey Courthouse

Union County is a county in the state of New Jersey. At the 2014 Census, its estimated population was 552,939. Union County was formed on March 19, 1857, from portions of Essex County. Its county seat is Elizabeth.

It is part of the New York metropolitan area.

Etymology - Origin of Union County Name

Union is named for the Union which was threatened by the American Civil War.

Demographics:

County QuickFacts: Census Bureau Quick Facts

Union County History

History of Union County

Written by Joanne Rajoppi, Union County Clerk

From the 15th to 17th Centuries, the Dutch and English were drawn to this area - then occupied by the Lenni Lenapi Indians (or Delaware tribe, as the Europeans called them) - because of its incredibly easy access by sea. They developed the first colonial settlements in the area because of its natural beauty, vast abundance of fertile fields and natural resources, and offer of personal freedom.

The development of the area was greatly helped by the criss-cross network of Indian trails, which became colonial roads and, centuries later, major highways.

In the historic Elizabethtown Purchase of 1664 - the Lenni Lanapi gave a group of English settlers title to an immense tract of land that extended from the Raritan to the Passaic Rivers, and westward for over thirty miles. (It is interesting to note that the Indians believed they were selling the rights to use the land for hunting, fishing, farming and such. The English concept of owning? land was unknown to them at that time.) The purchase led to the first permanent English settlement in New Jersey. Elizabethtown was laid out along the Elizabeth River near the present Union County Courthouse. As the port of entry and first seat of New Jersey government, Elizabeth became a prominent and thriving economic center, and the leading settlement in the state. (It should also be noted that Warinanco and Matteo were two Indians whose names were later given to two County parks.)

In 1683, the General Assembly, meeting in Elizabethtown, divided East New Jersey into four counties: Bergen, Essex, Middlesex and Monmouth. What we know as Union County was originally a part of Essex County.

With the growth in population and continuous division and sale of land parcels, Elizabethtown's boundary lines continued to expand and divide. State legislature created the towns of Springfield (1793), Westfield (1794), Rahway (1804), Union (1808) and New Providence (1809).

The creation of Plainfield in 1847 fueled the movement to secede from Essex County, to create a new county better equipped to meet the needs of the southernmost towns. The animosities between Elizabethtown and Newark heightened in 1807 when Newark replaced Elizabethtown as Essex County seat of justice, and gradually overcame Elizabethtown in economic importance. It accelerated when Elizabeth incorporated in 1855.

Written by Joanne Rajoppi, Union County Clerk

Geography: Land and Water

According to the 2010 Census, the county had a total area of 105.40 square miles (273.0 km2), including 102.86 square miles (266.4 km2) of land (97.6%) and 2.55 square miles (6.6 km2) of water (2.4%).

Much of Union County is relatively flat and low-lying. Only in the northwestern corner does any significant relief appear as the Watchung Mountains cross the county. It is there that highest elevations, two areas approximately 560 feet (170 m) above sea level, are found in Berkeley Heights. The lowest elevation is sea level along the eastern shore.

Neighboring Counties

Bordering counties are as follows:

  • Essex County, New Jersey - north
  • Hudson County, New Jersey - northeast
  • Richmond County, New York - east
  • Middlesex County, New Jersey - south
  • Somerset County, New Jersey - west
  • Morris County, New Jersey - northwest

Education

Kean University, a co-educational, public research university dating back to 1855 is located in Union and Hillside, serving nearly 13,000 undergraduates. Kean University educates its students in the liberal arts, the sciences and the professions; it is best known for its programs in the humanities and social sciences and in education, graduating the most teachers in the state of New Jersey annually, along with a physical therapy program which it holds in conjunction with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Union County College is the two-year community college for Union County, one of a network of 19 county colleges in New Jersey. Union County College was founded in 1933 and has campuses in Cranford, Elizabeth, Plainfield and Scotch Plains

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