New Jersey History Timeline

Important Dates, Events, and Milestones in New Jersey History

Offers a chronological timeline of important dates, events, and milestones in New Jersey history.

5000 BCE Native Americans occupy New Jersey thousands of years before European arrival. The Delaware (also known as the Lenape) tribe of the Algonquin live in the area, spending most of their time hunting and growing crops, such as corn, squash, and beans . One of the original 13 colonies, New Jersey was an important battleground during the American Revolution. Located in the heart of the bustling Atlantic corridor and nestled between New York and Pennsylvania, New Jersey has the highest population density of any U.S. state.

16th Century New Jersey History Timeline

1524 - Verrazano explores the Jersey coast

17th Century New Jersey History Timeline

1609 - Hudson explores Newark Bay

1638 - A Swedish colony is established along the Delaware River (but it was taken over by the Dutch in 1655).

1660 - Dutch establishes Bergen, now Jersey City, becomes the first permanent town in New Jersey

1664 - The British take control of New Jersey from the Dutch

1676 - New Jersey Colony is divided into East Jersey and West Jersey

18th Century New Jersey History Timeline

1702 - East and West Jersey combined into one colony

1721 - William Trent started a village called "Trent's Town," which eventually became Trenton in 1790 and the state's capital city.

1738 - Lewis Morris became the first governor of New Jersey.

1746 - Princeton University is founded

1758 - The Old Barracks in Trenton is built

1766 - Rutgers University is founded

1774 - The Greenwich Tea Burning

1776-1783 -Since more than 100 Revolutionary War battles took place in New Jersey, our state was often known as "The Crossroads of the Revolution."

1776 -

  • NJ's first newspaper, the New Jersey Gazette, issues its first edition
  • July 2 - New Jersey adopts its first state constitution
  • December 25 - Washington made his famous overnight crossing of the Delaware River from Pennsylvania to surprise the British in New Jersey. He defeated the British forces in the Battle of Trenton, changing the course of the war.

1777 - Winter - Washington made his headquarters in Morristown

1778 - June 28 - Another significant victory was gained at the Battle of Monmouth.

1783 - Princeton briefly serves as the nation's capital

1784 - Trenton briefly serves as the nation's capital

1787 - December 12,- New Jersey became the third state to join the union by ratifying the US Constitution.

1789 - New Jersey was also the first state to ratify the Bill of Rights

1790 -

  • New Jersey is the first state to sign the Bill of Rights
  • Trenton became the capital

1791 - Alexander Hamilton built the country's first planned industrial city in present-day Paterson, by the Passaic River's 77-foot Great Falls. By the late 1880s, Paterson became so well known for silk manufacturing that it was called "Silk City."

19th Century New Jersey History Timeline

LATE 1800s - The genius of New Jersey's inventors helped New Jersey grow in new directions. One of the most famous inventors was Thomas A. Edison, who invented the incandescent light bulb, movie camera, and phonograph in his West Orange and Menlo Park labs.

1804 -

  • Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr have a famous duel in Weehawken
  • New Jersey became the last state in the Northeast to free slaves as it had more slaves than any other Northern state.

1807 - Women lose the right to vote

1824 - The first ferry service in the US opens between Hoboken and Manhattan

1844 - New Jersey adopts its second state constitution

1858 - The first nearly complete dinosaur fossil is found in Haddonfield

1869 - The first intercollegiate football game is played in New Brunswick

1876 - Thomas Edison opens laboratories in Menlo Park

1879 - Edison invents a practical incandescent lamp

1882 - The first amusement pier over the ocean is built in Atlantic City

1883 - Roselle is the first US town to be lighted by electricity

1884 - Grover Cleveland becomes the 22nd President of the United States

1887 - Thomas Edison moves his laboratories to West Orange

20th Century New Jersey History Timeline

1912 - New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson is elected President of the US

1918 - A German U-boat sinks six American ships off the coast of New Jersey

1921 - The first Miss America Pageant is held

1927 - The Holland Tunnel opens

1933 - The first drive-in movie theater in the US opens in Camden

1939-1945 - World War II, More than 500,000 New Jersey residents joined in the war effort. The state produced battleships, heavy cruisers, aircraft engines, along with destroyers for the US Navy.

1943 - The USS. New Jersey battleship is put into active service

1947 -

  • Larry Doby, from Paterson, becomes the second African
  • American to play Major League Baseball
  • New Jersey adopts its third state constitution

1951 - The New Jersey Turnpike opens

1957 - The first New Jersey State Little League Baseball Tournament is played

1963 - Snowboarding pioneer Tom Sims of Haddonfield creates the "ski board," an early version of the snowboard

1967 - Riot in Newark kills 26 and causes $10 million in damage

1976 -

  • New Jersey organizes a state income tax
  • The Meadowlands Sports Complex opens

1978 - Gaming became legalized in Atlantic City and the Resorts International Hotel became the city's first casino.

1993 - Christine Todd Whitman becomes New Jersey's first female governor

1995 - The New Jersey Devils win the Stanley cup, becoming the first New Jersey team to win a major league professional sports championship

1998 -

  • The Toms River East Little League team wins the Little League World Series
  • The US Supreme Court ruled that most of
    Ellis Island (24 acres)-located in the Hudson
    River next to the Statue of Liberty-is part of New Jersey.

21st Century New Jersey History Timeline

2000 -

  • Hudson-Bergen Light Rail service began operation from Bayonne; the rail system now extends to Weehawken;
  • a fire at Seton Hall University killed three students in a dormitory;
  • Gov. Christine Whitman bcame the head of the Environmental Protection Agency under the administration of President George W. Bush

2001 -

  • On September 11, 700 New Jerseyans were killed in the attack on the Twin Towers;
  • Shirley M Tilghman named the first woman president of Princeton University; she was a professor of molecular biology
  • The USS. New Jersey battleship becomes a museum

2004 - On August 12, then governor James E. McGreevey resigned as his office

2005 -

  • In April, the General Motors plant in Linden closed;
  • the Pentagon announced the closing of the 80 year old Fort Monmouth;
  • New Jersey was the first state to award public funding for stem-cell research

2007 - On February 17, the State recognized the civil union of same-sex couples

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