Obscure Facts About New Jersey: 5 Things You Did Not Know (2024)

City of New Jersey Landscape
Source: pexels.com

New Jersey is one of the most unique states in the U.S. Sharing a border with New York, it is the home to Liberty State Park and is only a short ferry ride from Manhattan.

Yet while its neighboring state gets much of the international attention, New Jersey has forged its own unique identity. Below, we provide some strange and obscure facts about New Jersey.

It Is Home to America’s Oldest Boardwalk

One of Atlantic City’s biggest attractions is its famous boardwalk, which stretches for a lengthy 5.5 miles. This makes it the world’s longest boardwalk, as well as the world’s oldest.

Construction began on the boardwalk in 1870. Its original purpose was to keep sand out of the hotels and restaurants along the beachfront.

A hotel and railway owner held a petition for the state to make rudimentary protection, and soon a platform was constructed that became a fledgling boardwalk. No commerce was allowed within 30 feet of it, and it was dismantled and stored away in winter.

Since then, numerous shops and amusements have sprung up along it, which have combined to make it one of the most famous beaches in the world.

On a U.S. monopoly board, it is the famed blue property, showing just how revered the area is. In the fifties and sixties, it became a haven for the stars, with artists like Frank Sinatra and the Beatles often passing by.

It Was a Trailblazer of Gambling Entertainment

new jersey Gambling
Source: en.wikipedia.org

During the seventies, the famous boardwalk had started to lose some of its glitz and glamour. To revitalize it, it was decided that casinos would be the answer to the solution and New Jersey became one of the few states to start building them. This brought a whole new influx of investment to the area.

Online iGaming is now a global industry, bringing in billions every year in terms of revenues and tax. Yet it was not always that way with many states having no online gambling facilities at all. In 2013, just as the industry was making its first fledgling steps, New Jersey was the first US state to permit the use of online casinos.

Now, online casinos are used widely across the states. They offer a convenient alternative to physical casinos, as you don’t have to visit a location to play. This means people can gamble from the comfort of their homes or even on a morning commute.

If you are looking for a NJ online casino then you can find some with attractive welcome bonuses and a wide range of games on PlayStar website. Wherever you play in the US, none of it would have been possible without New Jersey.

It Has a Spoon Museum

Spoons are a very undervalued item. On the surface, they may seem functional and uninteresting. Yet life would be much harder without them, and there is a whole subculture of collecting this humble cutlery item.

Thus, it stands to reason that someone, somewhere would open a spoon museum. That place happens to be New Jersey.

The collection was started by Bertha Schaefer Koempel. When she passed away in 1966, she donated her collection to the historical society of Paterson, New Jersey where she had resided. Her collection of spoons numbered an amazing 5400.

This had been curated on her travels, picking up spoons from different countries, and from friends and family who would send her them from across the world.

You can find some oddities here. The spoons are grouped by subjects such as geography, novelties, and religious themes. Some have moving pieces and others open to reveal hidden treasures. There are usually around 250 spoons on display at any time, and these rotate regularly.

It Has a State Dinosaur and Seashell

New Jersey State Dinosaur
Source: nj1015.com

New Jersey is a proud state, and quick to adopt anything that defines its heritage as its dedicated ambassador. This has led to two very strange items being associated with the state, namely a dinosaur and a seashell.

The Hadrosaur is the aforementioned dinosaur, which translated to heavy lizard in Greek. It was vital to the field of paleontology as it was the first almost fully complete fossil of a dinosaur to be found in North America.

It was uncovered by a farmer named John Estaugh Hopkins who was digging in the later part of the 1830s. Not knowing what the creature was, rumor has it he even began giving away bones to visitors before a friend told him how significant it could be.

The state shell is more commonly known as the knobbed whelk, or a conch shell. They are marine gastropods with spiral shells. These can be found all over the shores of New Jersey, and have a grey to white coloration on the outside with yellows and oranges internally. They get their name due to the triangles and knobs that punctuate the rim of the shell.

It Had the First Official Drive-in Movie Theatre

While unofficial drive-in theatres had been trialed before, it would be New Jersey resident Richard Hollingshead who would patent them and create the first real experience.

His inspiration came from his mother, who struggled to get comfortable in small theatre seats. Thus, he had the idea to literally drive her into the theatre in his car.

A sales manager at his father’s auto parts company, he experimented on his driveway, affixing a 1928 Kodak projector on his car and even placing radios behind the screen. With an investment of $30,000, he opened Park-In Theaters shortly after.

First Official Drive-in Movie Theatre in New Jersey
Source: nj1015.com

His first venture was the Camden Drive-In, located on Admiral Wilson Boulevard in Pennsauken. The entry fee was 25 cents per car with 25 cents added for each person. Soon, the concept took off and spread to the rest of the United States.

His patent would later be overturned, but his concept remained the same with only a few minor alterations. One of these was with sound, changing from speakers on the screen to smaller ones for each car.

With a long history, New Jersey has plenty of obscure and hidden treats ins store for residents and visitors. If you have never been to this state, then plan your venture and enjoy your time there.