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Perth Amboy is a city in Middlesex Countymarker, New Jerseymarker, United Statesmarker. As of the United States 2000 Census, the city population was 47,303. Perth Amboy is known as the "City by the Bay".

Perth Amboy was formed by Royal Charter on August 4, 1718, within various townships. Perth Amboy was chartered as a city by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on December 21, 1784, within Perth Amboy Township and from part of Woodbridge Townshipmarker. Perth Amboy Township was formed on October 31, 1693, and was enlarged during the 1720s to encompass Perth Amboy city. Perth Amboy Township was incorporated as one of New Jersey's initial 104 townships on February 21, 1798. The township was absorbed by Perth Amboy city on April 8, 1844.

Perth Amboy, and South Amboymarker across the Raritan River, are collectively referred to as The Amboys. Signage for Exit 11 on the New Jersey Turnpike refers to "The Amboys" as a destination. The Amboys are the northern limit of the area informally referred to as the Bayshore.


The Perth Amboy National Bank Building, and a view of the "5 Corners" downtown area (Intersections of State and Smith Sts. and the terminus of New Brunswick Ave.)
Perth Amboy was settled in 1683 and incorporated as a city in 1718. It was founded by English merchants, Scots seeking religious freedom, and French Protestants, who sought to make use of Perth Amboy's harbor to its full potential.

Perth Amboy served as the colonial capital from 1686 until 1776. In 1684, Perth Amboy became the capital of East Jersey and remained the capital until the union of East and West Jersey in 1702 and became an alternate colonial capital with Burlingtonmarker until 1776. A few of the buildings from this early period can still be seen today (a map of historic sites and buildings [18986]). Most notably, the Proprietary Housemarker, the home of William Franklin, the last Royal Governor of New Jersey and estranged son of Ben Franklin, still stands in the waterfront area of the city. Other early architectural examples include the Kearny Cottage (moved from its original location), and St. Peter's church. St. Peter's is surrounded by a graveyard of early inhabitants and displays a collection of incredible stained-glass windows. In addition to the religious scenes these windows portray, early depictions of New Jersey receiving her charter and a meeting between William Franklin and his father, Ben, are also included. Perth Amboy's city hall, first built as a courthouse in 1685, survived major fires in 1731 and 1764 and is the oldest city hall in continuous use in the United States.

By the middle of the 1800s, immigration and industrialization transformed Perth Amboy. Factories such as A. Hall and Sons Terra Cotta, Guggenheim and Sons and the Copper Works Smelting Company fueled a thriving downtown and employed many area residents. Perth Amboy also grew after it became the tidewater terminal for the Lehigh Valley Railroad and a coal shipping point. Perth Amboy also witnessed tightly knit and insular ethnic neighborhoods such as Budapest, Dublin, and Chickentown. Immigrants from Denmarkmarker, Polandmarker, Hungarymarker, Czechoslovakiamarker, Italymarker, Russiamarker, and Austriamarker quickly dominated the factory jobs. Perth Amboy was also a resort town in the 1800s and early 20th century.

In 1914, Perth Amboy had a baseball team called the Pacers; they only played for one season.

In late August 1923 a violent riot by an estimated 6,000 persons shook Perth Amboy when the Ku Klux Klanattempted to organize a meeting in the city.

Unfortunately the immigration growth occurred at a time when factories were being demolished and plants were being closed down; thus Perth Amboy became part of the rust belt. Once a resort town, Perth Amboy’s beaches are no longer in use for swimming because of the polluted waters. Competition from malls outside the city and in New York forced the big chain and higher end stores out of Perth Amboy’s downtown. There are no movie theaters or major department stores remaining in Perth Amboy.

However, since the early 1990s Perth Amboy has seen redevelopment. Small businesses have started to open up, and with the presence of an Urban Enterprise Zone. The waterfront has also seen a rebirth. The marina has been extended, there are new promenades, parks, and housing overlooking the bay. Perth Amboy is still continuing for an attempt of an upheaval in the waterfront. A new project called Landings at Harborside will feature 2,100 residential units composed of town homes and mid-rise luxury condominiums along with indoor garage parking. There were also be of retail space with an international market, restaurants, specialty shops, community center, and recreation amenities for the public as well. It is an eight year and $600 million plan. Moreover there will be an extension of Route 440 to High Street, connecting commuters from the Outerbridge Crossingmarker directly to the waterfront.

Film history

  • In the 1955 war movie To Hell and Back the city is mentioned by one of the U.S. soldiers - "River like this reminds me of an old gal I knew in Perth Amboy, New Jersey"
  • The Merrie Melodies/Looney Tunes series makes references to Perth Amboy, New Jersey several times.
  • In the 1947 comedy "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" Danny Kaye's titular character lives in, and travels to and from Perth Amboy on the train.
  • In the 1951 film "An American in Paris" Gene Kelly's character Jerry Mulligan is quick to tell an American exchange student, who attempts to critique his artwork in French, that to stop wasting his time he understands and speaks English. "I'm from Perth Amboy, New Jersey."
  • In the 1949 comedy "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" Bing Crosby invokes Perth Amboy in an effort to prevent being burned at the stake.
  • In the 1978 film version of The Lady Vanishes the female lead, "much married heiress" Amanda Midvani-Von Hoffsteader-Kelly's (Cybill Shepherd) third husband, Mr Kelly is a bigamist whose first wife lives in Perth Amboy. This leads Mrs Midvani-Von Hoffsteader-Kelly to explain "apparently they make a big deal about bigamy, especially in places like Perth Amboy, New Jersey".


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of , of which, of it is land and of it (20.07%) is water.

Perth Amboy borders Sayrevillemarker, Woodbridgemarker, South Amboymarker (although the two are directly connected only by rail), and the New York City borough of Staten Islandmarker across the Arthur Killmarker.

The city is named in honor of James, Earl of Perth one of the associates of a company of Scottish proprietaries. "Amboy" may have come from "Ompoge" an Algonquian name for the area, also appearing in South Amboymarker.

Perth Amboy sits on a geological layer of clay several hundred feet thick. Consequently, clay mining and factories such as A. Hall and Sons Terra Cotta located in Perth Amboy in the late 1800s. Because of the clay and accompanying lack of percolation, Perth Amboy is the only locality in New Jerseymarker that does not have radon.


Perth Amboy has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) typical of New Jersey with warm summers and cold winters.


As of the census of 2000, there were 47,303 people, 14,562 households, and 10,761 families residing in the city. The population density was 9,892.0 people per square mile (3,820.9/km2). There were 15,236 housing units at an average density of 3,186.2/sq mi (1,230.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 46.41% White, 10.04% African American, 0.70% Native American, 1.53% Asian, 0.13% Pacific Islander, 35.59% from other races, and 5.61% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 69.83% of the population. Most of the Hispanics in Perth Amboy are of Puerto Rican or Dominican descent but all Latino nationalities are represented in the city.

There were 14,562 households out of which 40.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% were married couples living together, 21.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.1% were non-families. 20.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.20 and the average family size was 3.63.

In the city the population was spread out with 28.5% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 31.6% from 25 to 44, 18.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 98.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $37,608, and the median income for a family was $40,740. Males had a median income of $29,399 versus $21,954 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,989. About 14.3% of families and 17.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.1% of those under age 18 and 12.8% of those age 65 or over.

In 2000, 27.79% of Perth Amboy residents identified themselves as being of Puerto Rican ancestry, the fifth highest concentration of Puerto Ricans on the U.S. mainland of those municipalities with 1,000 or more residents identifying their ancestry. In the same census, 18.81% of Perth Amboy residents identified themselves as being of Dominican ancestry, the third highest concentration in the country of Dominicans in the United States after Haverstraw, New York and Lawrence, Massachusettsmarker using the same criteria.

Today, Perth Amboy’s immigrants are primarily Hispanic.


Typical Victorians on High Street

The Waterfront

Perth Amboy features a historic waterfront, which has gone through significant revitalization. Perth Amboy's waterfront is where the city was first settled and one of the few places left in New Jersey that has a historic and marina culture surrounded by water. Local attractions include two small museums, an art gallery, a yacht club, and a marina. Near the marina lies a park with a small bandshell. On Sunday afternoons in the summertime, Perth Amboy hosts the Concerts by the Bay in the park's bandshell. The waterfront is also characterized by a redbrick promenade near the water and many stately Victorian homes, some on hills overlooking the bay and predominating tree lined streets with well-manicured lawns. It has a number of seafood restaurants, as well. The waterfront rises very steep after two blocks. This hinders the rest of the town making the waterfront look like a quiet fishing village. Points of interest on the waterfront include St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, and the Proprietary House, which is now the former governor’s mansion and houses a museum and some offices. Kearny Cottage, which also has a museum, is here. In addition, this section of Perth Amboy once had a thriving Jewish community with yeshivas, synagogues, kosher butchers and bakers. Today however there are only two synagogues left each with only a few members usually over the age of 55

Downtown Perth Amboy

Downtown is the main commercial district and is centered on Smith Street. It is an Urban Enterprise Zone and the reduced sales tax rate of 3½% (half of the statewide rate of 7%) funds revitalization of Smith Street with newly planted trees, Victorian streetlights, benches, garbage cans, and redbrick sidewalks. Smith Street is a relatively small shopping center that is only seven blocks wide and bustles with stores catering to working-class customers. The street is flanked by mainly two- to three-storey buildings of varied architecture. It also has a lone bank skyscraper which is 10-stories tall called Amboy Towers in the "Five Corners" (pictured above). The Five Cornersmarker is the intersection of Smith Street, New Brunswick Avenue and State Street. Although there were previously several department stores downtown, the largest today is discount retailer Kids City.


Harbortown is a recently built townhouse development, that is part rental and part condo, and still continues to be expanded. Section 8 housing along with more affluent homes can be found in Harbortown, an economically and ethnically diverse townhouse development in the city. Harbortown is also the most educated and one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Perth Amboy. However, it also has the highest poverty rate out of any neighborhood in Perth Amboy.

Hall Avenue

Hall Avenue is a neighborhood centered on Hall Avenue east of the New Jersey Transit train tracks. The street, Hall Avenue, itself is not the commercial strip it used to be. Still, although the street has a few pedestrians, it is not deserted. In addition, there is a recently built strip mall on the corner of Hall Avenue and State Street called the "Firehouse Plaza." However, Hall Avenue is now primarily residential. Most of the homes are aging apartments but there are also some newly constructed homes. Hall Avenue also remains the traditional Puerto Rican neighborhood and it hosts the city's annual Puerto Rican Day Festival, which is held on the same day of the historic Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City. North of Route 440 in the neighborhood is Rudyk Park which features the Roberto Clemente baseball field and an industrial park.

Southwestern section

The southwestern section is a mainly working-class residential neighborhood with some light industry. The city's largest strip mall is located here. This neighborhood has a large and diversified Hispanic neighborhood with many Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and the more recent South Americans. Much of the city's Mexican population also lives in this section. Before, this section of Perth Amboy used to have a large Irish population and the neighborhood was once named "Dublin." After, the Irish came the Eastern Europeans, primarily Polish and Hungarian. Most of the housing consists of small one or two family houses. The main commercial strip is Smith Street, west of the New Jersey Transit train tracks.

Western section of the Waterfront

The western section of the waterfront is west of Kearny Avenue. It is an overwhelmingly blue-collar Hispanic neighborhood. Most of the homes are over 100 years old and many are modest row houses. Sadowski Parkway Park lines through the southern end of the neighborhood and has a walkway with a beach. The beach however is no longer in use for swimming. The park also hosts the Dominican festival and other festivals during the summer.

State Street

State Street is a neighborhood east of the NJ Transit train tracks, north of Fayette Street, and south of Harbortown. Like the southwestern section of Perth Amboy, it is predominantly working-class Hispanic. In addition, this neighborhood had many industries and factories before they moved overseas. The neighborhood is mainly Caribbean Hispanic. This section also once had a visible Cuban community. The State and Fayette Gardens, an apartment complex in the neighborhood, was at one point considered to be "The Cuban Buildings." The Landings at Harborside redevelopment project is being constructed in this neighborhood.$-Block

Amboy Avenue

Amboy Ave is a quasi-suburban, working to middle-class neighborhood. It is also referred to as the "Hospital section" or the "High School section" due to the fact that these places are located in the neighborhood. Although today it is mostly Hispanic, Amboy Avenue once had a strong Italian population.


Maurer is mainly working to middle-class neighborhood that lies in the northern part of Route 440. It is heavily industrial with many oil refineries and brownfields. Like Amboy Avenue, it is quasi-suburban.


Chickentown is a neighborhood in the western part of Route 35 south of Spa Springs, just south of Route 440. It shares many of the same characteristics of Spa Springs but to a lesser extent. The city's largest park, Washington Park, is located here.

Spa Springs

Along with the waterfront, Spa Springs, which is in the northwestern part of the city, remains one of the most attractive and middle-class areas of the city. In this neighborhood, the population is older. Spa Springs is also the wealthiest neighborhood in town and is the most suburban with single family houses and garages.


Local government

The City of Perth Amboy is governed under the Faulkner Act system of municipal government. The current mayor of Perth Amboy is Wilda Diaz, the first Latina mayor in the history of the state of New Jerseymarker. She succeeds former mayor and current 19th legislative district Assemblyman Joseph Vas, who served as mayor for 18 years.

Federal, state and county representation

Perth Amboy is in the Thirteenth Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 19th Legislative District.


The Outerbridge Crossingmarker, a cantilever bridge over the Arthur Killmarker, connects Perth Amboy with Staten Islandmarker. Known locally as the "Outerbridge", it is part of a popular route on NY-440/NJ-440 from the south and west to New York Citymarker and Long Islandmarker. Despite the assumption that the name is derived from its location as the southernmost bridge in New York State and Staten Island, the Outerbridge Crossing was named in honor of Eugenius H. Outerbridge, first Chairman of the Port Authority. The bridge clears the channel by , providing passage for some of the largest of ships.

The Victory Bridgemarker carries Route 35 over the Raritan River, connecting Perth Amboy on the north with the borough of Sayrevillemarker to the south.

The Perth Amboymarker station provides service on the North Jersey Coast Line to Newark Penn Stationmarker, Hoboken Terminalmarker, Secaucus Junctionmarker and Pennsylvania Stationmarker in Midtown Manhattan.

New Jersey Transit buses serve the Port Authority Bus Terminalmarker on the 116 route, Newarkmarker on the 62 line, with local service available on the 813, 815, and 817 bus routes. Perth Amboy also has four taxi companies.


Public schools in Perth Amboy are operated by Perth Amboy Public Schoolsmarker, serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The district is one of 31 Abbott Districts statewide.

Schools in the district (with 2005-06 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Early Childhood Center at St. Mary's (300 students) and Ignacio Cruz School (729) for preschool; Anthony V. Ceres School (588), James J. Flynn School (749), Edward J. Patten Elementary School (811), Dr. Herbert N. Richardson 21st Century School (540) and Robert N. Wilentz School (789) for grades K-4; Samuel E. Shull Middle School (1,173) andWilliam C. McGinnis Middle School (1,449) for grades 5-8; andPerth Amboy High Schoolmarker (2,123) for grades 9-12.

9.7% of adults over the age of 25 in Perth Amboy have a bachelor's degree or higher, a percentage significantly below the state average.

The overcrowded schools are slightly passing or failing. Perth Amboy is an Abbott funded district, which ensures that the district receives parity funding. There is also a large and growing number of students who cannot read or write in English.

Holy Trinity School used to sit on the corner of Lawrie & Penn Street.


Portions of Perth Amboy are part of an Urban Enterprise Zone. In addition to other benefits to encourage employment within the Zone, shoppers can take advantage of a reduced 3½% sales tax rate (versus the 7% rate charged statewide).

Notable residents

Notable current and former residents of Perth Amboy include:

  • Solomon Andrews (1806-1872), creator of the first successful dirigible airship, who later served three terms as mayor of Perth Amboy.
  • Jon Bon Jovi (born 1962), was born in Perth Amboy, but raised in Sayrevillemarker.
  • David Bryan (born 1962), keyboard player for Bon Jovi.
  • Stanley Norman Cohen, credited with the co-creation of the first genetically modified organism and the process of recombinant DNA technology.
  • William Dunlap (1766-1839), theater pioneer.
  • Angelina (1805-1879) and Sarah Grimké (1792-1873), abolitionists.
  • Vida Guerra (born 1974), model, was born in Cuba but was raised in Perth Amboy.
  • George Inness (1825-1894), landscape painter.
  • Steve Mizerak (1944-2006), champion pool player.
  • Joseph Montani, astronomer and planetary scientist was born in Perth Amboy in 1952. Montani has named one of his minor planet (asteroid) discoveries (discovered on January 3, 1997 in Arizona, on Kitt Peakmarker, in his work on the Spacewatch Project) after his home town; the object is officially known as: "(12465) Perth Amboy", and its properties and orbit have been recorded by the International Astronomical Union and published to the world. Montani's colleagues also named an asteroid for him, "(7656) JoeMontani", which they discovered on April 24, 1992. Montani moved from Perth Amboy in 1970, after completing high school at PAHS, to attend college in New York City, and has lived in various parts of the world since that time, pursuing his work in Astronomy.
  • Thomas Mundy Peterson (1824-1904), first African-American to vote under the provisions of the 15th Amendment to the U.S. constitution in 1870.
  • Joseph J. Sadowski (1917-1944), United States Army soldier awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in World War II.
  • Richie Sambora (born 1959), guitarist of Bon Jovi, was born here.
  • Phil Sellers (born 1953), former NBA player.
  • Harry Tierney (1890-1965), composer.
  • Michelle Visage (born 1970), singer, deejay was born in Perth Amboy.
  • John Watson (1685-1768), one of the first painters in America and holder of the first gallery of paintings in the country .
  • Ruth White (1914-1969), was born, lived and died in Perth Amboy from cancer at only 55 years old in 1969.
  • David T. Wilentz (1894-1988), N.J. Attorney General, from 1934 to 1944, who prosecuted Bruno Hauptmann in the Lindbergh kidnapping trial.

Miscellaneous Information

  • In the September 2005 issue, Golf Magazine named Perth Amboy the unofficial "Golf Capital of the U.S.," despite the fact that there are no golf courses within the city limits, citing the city's access to 25 of the magazine's Top 100 Golf Courses in the U.S., which can be found within of Perth Amboy. The Golf Capital of the U.S., accessed August 9, 2006.
  • Humorist James Thurber's story "More Alarms at Night" involves Perth Amboy. One night during his adolescence in Ohio, young Thurber is unable to go to sleep because he cannot remember the name of this New Jersey town. He wakens his father and demands that he start naming towns in New Jersey. When the startled father names several towns with single-word names, Thurber replies that the name he is seeking is "two words, like helter skelter". This convinces his father that Thurber has become dangerously insane.

Sister Cities

See also

External links


  1. City of Perth Amboy, accessed April 15, 2007. "Welcome to Perth Amboy, The City by the Bay."
  2. "The Story of New Jersey's Civil Boundaries: 1606-1968", John P. Snyder, Bureau of Geology and Topography; Trenton, New Jersey; 1969. p. 172.
  3. New Jersey History's Mysteries, Accessed May 29, 2007. "Later they moved the capital to Perth Amboy in 1686, and when New Jersey was divided into East and West Jersey, Burlington became the capital of the latter, and Perth Amboy remained the capital of the former."
  5. Puerto Rican Communities, Epodunk. Accessed July 7, 2006.
  6. Dominican Communities, Epodunk. Accessed July 7, 2006.
  7. Silverstein, Marilyn. "Rabbi hopes to bring renaissance to shul", New Jersey Jewish News, June 17, 2004, accessed April 11, 2007. "Once upon a time, Perth Amboy was the hub of a thriving Jewish community, observed Rabbi Israel Einhorn. “Perth Amboy used to be the No. 1 shtetl in New Jersey. They had butchers, bakers, yeshivas,” Einhorn said as he sat in his office at Congregation Shaarey Tefiloh, an Orthodox shul on the waterfront in the economically depressed town."
  8. 2005 New Jersey Legislative District Data Book, Rutgers University Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, April 2005, p. 87.
  9. 2008 New Jersey Citizen's Guide to Government, New Jersey League of Women Voters, p. 62. Accessed September 30, 2009.
  10. Middlesex County Bus/Rail Connections, New Jersey Transit. Accessed July 15, 2007.
  11. Abbott Districts, New Jersey Department of Education. Accessed March 31, 2008.
  12. Data for the Perth Amboy Public Schools, National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed July 16, 2008.
  13. Geographic & Urban Redevelopment Tax Credit Programs: Urban Enterprise Zone Employee Tax Credit, State of New Jersey. Accessed July 28, 2008.
  14. New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame - Pioneer Inductees: Solomon Andrews (1806-1872), accessed December 13, 2006.
  15. National Inventors Hall of Fame: Stan Cohen, accessed December 14, 2006.
  16. Grimké, Sarah; and Grimké, Angelina, Encyclopædia Britannica's Guide to Women's History. Accessed June 4, 2007. "hey assisted in Weld's school in Belleville and later Perth Amboy, New Jersey, in 1848–62."
  17. "Vida Guerra: libre e independiente en Playboy", El Heraldo , June 8, 2006. Accessed October 23, 2007. "Nacida en Bauta, pueblo cercano a La Habana, en marzo de 1980, Vida fue traída por sus padres an Estados Unidos cuando contaba apenas seis años, pero no ha perdido ni el idioma ni sus costumbres latinas, ya que se ha mantenido oscilando entre las dos culturas desde su hogar en Perth Amboy, Nueva Jersey."
  18. Goldstein, Richard. "Steve Mizerak, National Pool Champion, Is Dead at 61", The New York Times, June 2, 2006. Accessed January 1, 2008.
  19. Steve "the Miz" Mizerak, The Palm Beach Post, accessed May 16, 2007.
  20. Spacewatch Minor Planets Joe Has Named, accessed May 31, 2006.
  21. Fact Sheet of the 4th Armored Division. Accessed November 7, 2007.
  22. Dunlap, William. A History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Design in the United States. C.E. Goodspeed & Co: Boston, 1918.
  23. City History, City of Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Accessed June 4, 2007.
  24. Biography of David T. Wilentz, NJ Attorney General, 1934-1944. Accessed August 28, 2009.
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