New Jersey is a US state located in the northern part of the country where it covers an area of 8,723 square miles. Native American communities have lived within the present-day region of New Jersey since 13,000 BCE after the melting of the Wisconsin Glacier. Some of the Native American communities which lived in the area are the Lenape, Munsee, and Powhatan. Although human societies have lived in the region of the present-day New Jersey for a long time, its boundaries only began taking shape after the arrival of the Europeans into the area. The first European that explored New Jersey was Giovanni da Verrazano who arrived in the area in 1524. The Dutch and the Swedes were among the first to settle in the area, but it later fell into the hands of the British who added it to their colony. Currently, New Jersey shares its borders with three other states: Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New York.
The Border with Pennsylvania
The boundary that separates New Jersey and Pennsylvania is New Jersey's longest boundary and is located on its western part. The Delaware River forms a significant portion of the boundary between the two states. The Delaware River flows for about 419 miles and drains an area of approximately 14,119 square miles wide. During the pre-colonial era, Native American communities referred to the river as Lenapewihittuk. The Delaware River is particularly famous as George Washington, the first President of the United States, crossed it before the Battle of Trenton. Other rivers situated close to the boundary between the two states include the Paulinskill River and the Musconetcong River, both of which are tributaries of the Delaware River. The Musconetcong River flows for roughly 46 miles from Lake Hopatcong to the Delaware River. The residents of the region believe that the river got its name from a mythical creature believed to have roamed the area.
Some of the major cities located on the Pennsylvania side of the border include Bethlehem, Milford, and Philadelphia. The major towns located on the New Jersey side of the border include Belvidere, Frenchtown, and Lambertville. Bethlehem is one of the unique cities in the US because it is located in two counties: Northampton and Lehigh. In 2016, it was estimated that Bethlehem was home to 75,293 people most of who live in the part of the town located in Northampton County. In 2006, Bethlehem was ranked among the best areas to live by the Money Magazine. Belvidere is one of New Jersey's small towns and it covers an area of 1.5 square miles and was home to 2,602 people in 2016. Belvidere was incorporated during the mid-19th century after the residents voted in a referendum.
The Border with New York
New York and New Jersey is separated by a border that is located on the northern part of New Jersey. The boundary between the two states dates back to an agreement signed in the mid 17th century that was later acknowledged in 1719. During the 18th century, the border between New Jersey and New York was a significant issue between the two states.
From 1701 to 1765 there were several conflicts along the border that were referred to as the New York-New Jersey Line War. Although the border agreement between the two states had been acknowledged by their respective governments, the agreement was not respected by the residents. Settlers from New York moved to New Jersey's territory which caused conflict between them and the residents of New Jersey. The final fight between the residents of the two states occurred in 1765 after the residents of New Jersey tried to capture the leaders of the New York group. The fights took place on the Sabbath, and as a result, neither side used weapons. The leaders of the New York group were captured and imprisoned in the Sussex County jail. The issue was finally resolved after King George appointed commissioners to survey and establish the border.
New York and New Jersey also had a dispute over the ownership of Ellis Island. The dispute dated back to the mid-19th century and the two states had signed a compact granting New York control over all the islands in the Hudson River. The agreement also allowed New Jersey to use half the water in the river. From 1890 to 1934, the territory of the Ellis Island was expanded through land reclamation, and New Jersey claimed it had a right to the territory. The Supreme Court ruled in New Jersey's favor and granted the state control over the reclaimed territory.
Several rivers cross the boundary between New York and New Jersey with the Wallkill River being the most well-known. The river flows for roughly 88 miles and drains an area of about 785 square miles. The Wallkill River is unique for several reasons including the fact that it is one of the few rivers that drain into a creek. The river is also unique because it flows north while it is sandwiched between two major rivers that flow to the south.
The Border with Delaware
New Jersey and Delaware are separated by a border located on New Jersey's southwestern part. The Delaware River forms a significant portion of the border between Delaware and New Jersey. The boundary between the two states is located on the easternmost edge of the river instead of being at the center of the river like in most cases. The position of the boundary means that some of the lands on the New Jersey side of the river are actually under the control of Delaware. A grant of King Charles II caused the unique shape of the border. The grant extended the northern portion of Delaware's northern boundaries by a circular arc with a radius of 12 miles. Fully extending the circle would have resulted in taking land from New Jersey which was unacceptable because the King had already granted the land. Delaware and New Jersey have been involved in several Supreme Court cases over their shared boundary.
The Importance of New Jersey's Boundaries
The boundaries of New Jersey are primarily important because they reflect a vital portion of the state's colonial history. The borders are also important as they mark the limits of the jurisdiction of New Jersey's government.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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