New Jersey's location played an important role in the building of a new nation. New Jersey history includes a great deal of involvement in the American Revolution, as well as influences on the rest of the country.
Here are eight events that shaped the state of New Jersey:
British explorer Henry Hudson sailed through Newark Bay in 1609, claiming the land for the Dutch because he was working for the Netherlands. "New Netherlands" was later populated with small trading colonies that included Dutch, Finns and Swedes.
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The British took control of the area from the Dutch in 1664, making it one of their colonies. They named the land New Jersey from the Isle of Jersey in the English Channel. Sir George Carteret, one of two proprietors given control of the area, had been governor of the Isle of Jersey.
Strong support of the American Revolution from people in New Jersey led the colony to declare itself independent in 1776. More Revolutionary battles were fought in New Jersey than any other of the colonies because of its central location between New York and Philadelphia.
The Battle of Trenton was a major turning point in New Jersey history and for American independence. Gen. George Washington led the attack after crossing the Delaware River on Dec. 26, 1776, while Hessian mercenaries were asleep after a Christmas celebration. Some 900 mercenaries were taken prisoner, and the American victory boosted the morale of the country.
Atlantic City constructed the world's first boardwalk in 1870. The attraction remains the world's longest boardwalk at six miles. It was built to prevent sand from nearby beaches being tracked into hotels and railroad cars by visitors. With the introduction of casinos near the boardwalk in the 1980s, Atlantic City lifted itself from years of decay and economic decline, according to History.com.
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The Holland Tunnel opened to traffic in November 1927, connecting New Jersey and New York with a passageway that lies as much as 93 feet beneath the Hudson River. According to History.com, it was the first underwater tunnel operated with mechanical ventilation.
The explosion and crash the Hindenburg airship in Lakehurst, New Jersey, on May 6, 1937, ended a three-decade era of hydrogen airships for passengers. Accident and sabotage have been blamed for the blast over the years, but the hydrogen-filled cells destroyed the airship in 34 seconds, taking the lives of 36 people.
The rapid development of factories and oil refineries in northern New Jersey in the late 19th and 20th centuries gave rise to high employment, but eventually led to environmental concerns. New Jersey also became the most densely populated state in the country from the industrial growth. Urbanization and traffic congestion led to economic declines in the state's cities and various programs to improve the state's infrastructure.
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