Central Jersey

Central Jersey is an affluent region in the middle section of the U.S. state of New Jersey.

Overlapping areas and definitions

Central Jersey

There are other related, overlapping areas that include counties in the midsection of the state.

North Jersey and South Jersey are the northern and southern halves of New Jersey. While there is agreement that their border is somewhere in the middle third of the state, there is no official definition.

While the region is considered part of the New York metropolitan area in its greatest extent, Mercer County constitutes a separate Metropolitan Statistical Area. The Metropolitan Statistical Areas of New Jersey further subdivides the middle third of the state into smaller groups of counties.

The New Jersey Department of Tourism places Middlesex and Union in the Gateway Region and Mercer in the Delaware Valley. Monmouth and Ocean are considered part of the Jersey Shore, while Somerset and Hunterdon are part of Skylands Region.

The Raritan Valley is the region along the middle reaches of the Raritan River, and its North Branch and South Branch. Branchburg, Bridgewater, Somerville, Raritan, Green Brook, North Plainfield, Bound Brook, and South Bound Brook, which are all in Somerset, and Piscataway, South Plainfield, New Brunswick, Highland Park, Edison, Middlesex, Dunellen, and Metuchen, which are all in the northern and central portions of Middlesex County, New Jersey and Plainfield in southwestern Union County.

The Raritan Bayshore is used to describe the region in Monmouth County along the coast of the Raritan Bay from South Amboy to Sandy Hook.

Kingston is the only tri-county community in New Jersey.

Colonial era

Central Jersey

Between 1674 and 1702, in the early part of New Jersey's colonial period, the border between West Jersey and East Jersey ran diagonally across the middle part of the state. The borders remained important in determining ownership and political boundaries until 1745. Remnants of that division are seen today, notably as the Hunterdon-Somerset, Ocean-Burlington, and Monmouth-Burlington county lines. The Keith Line, as the demarcation is known, ran through the center of what is now Mercer. New Jersey's position between the major cities of New York and Philadelphia led Benjamin Franklin to call the state "a barrel tapped at both ends". Travel between the two cities originally included a ferry crossing. Due to the obstacles created by the Meadowlands and the Hudson Palisades passengers from New York would cross the North River (Hudson River) and the Upper New York Bay by boat and then transfer to stagecoaches to travel overland through what is now Central Jersey. One route from Elizabethtown to Lambertville was known as Old York Road. Another route, from Perth Amboy through Kingston to Burlington ran along a portion of the Kings Highway, These roads followed Lenape paths known respectively as the Naritcong Trail and the Assunpink Trail.

Raritan Landing, across from New Brunswick in today's Piscataway became was important inland port and commercial hub for the region. Two of the nine Colonial Colleges, founded before the American Revolution, were the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), and Queens College, (now Rutgers).


Central Jersey

All of the region's counties are ranked among the highest income counties in the United States, as measured by median household income. It has been called the state's "wealth belt".


The Bell Labs Holmdel Complex was the site of many innovations in telecommunications. Today Verizon Wireless, AT&T Communications, Vonage, Avaya, and Bell Labs are located in the region.

Healthcare and pharmaceuticals

New Brunswick is known as "the Healthcare City", due to the concentration of medical facilities in Central Jersey, including Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Saint Peter's University Hospital, as well as the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The campuses of the major pharmaceutical corporations Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Johnson and Johnson, Merck and Sanofi-Aventis are located in the region. Princeton University's Frist Campus Center is used for the aerial views of Princetonâ€'Plainsboro Teaching Hospital seen in the television series House.

Shopping malls

Major shopping centers include Woodbridge Center, Menlo Park Mall, Bridgewater Commons, Monmouth Mall, Brunswick Square Mall, Quaker Bridge Mall, Princeton Market Fair and Freehold Raceway Mall.


Monmouth University, Rutgers-New Brunswick, Princeton University, Rider University, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and The College of New Jersey are located in Central Jersey. Each county maintains a county college, with the Raritan Valley Community College serving both Somerset and Hunterdon.Thomas Edison State College in Trenton provides extensive on line and adult education. Kean University is in Union County.

Tourism and cultural attractions

Popular tourist attractions include, Six Flags Great Adventure, Gateway National Recreation Area, Monmouth Park Racetrack, Freehold Raceway and the boardwalk along the northern Jersey Shore

The New Brunswick music scene has produced many successful indie bands. The city also is home to the New Jersey Folk Festival. In an early era, the Stone Pony and Asbury Park Convention Hall were important venues on the rock scene. Major music and theater venues in the region include PNC Bank Arts Center, the Trenton War Memorial, the McCarter Theater, the Count Basie Theater, the George Street Playhouse and the Starland Ballroom.

East Jersey Olde Towne Village, the Road Up Raritan Historic District as well as those in Trenton, Lawrence, and Princeton recall the colonial era. Ocean Grove is one of the largest national historical sites in the United States.

Media markets and national sports

Depending on the location, different parts of Central Jersey fall into overlapping spheres of influence from New York media market and Philadelphia media market. Mercer County is part of both the New York City, and the Philadelphia markets, while the rest of the region is part of the New York market.

While the Star-Ledger has the largest circulation of all newspapers in New Jersey, four regional newspapers - Asbury Park Press, Home News Tribune and two Trenton dailies, The Trentonian, and The Times- and several local papers are published in Central Jersey. New Jersey On-Line, CentralJersey.com and MyCentralJersey.com are web based news services. During statewide political events like Gubernatorial or Senatorial election debates often held in Trenton, partner stations from both the New York and Philadelphia markets pool resources together to co-host the events and bring them to New Jersey homes.

Identification with sports teams is also affected by the region's location, and it is not uncommon to find fans of major sports teams of either city. For example, while residents of northern New Jersey root for New York teams, those in the southern part of the state root for Philadelphia teams. The distinction is less clear in Central Jersey. Central Jersey Riptide was a short-lived professional soccer club.


There are varying descriptions as to what comprises Central Jersey. All tend to include Middlesex and the region radiating from New Brunswick including much of Monmouth, Mercer, and Somerset counties. Inclusion of adjacent areas of Hunterdon, Union, and Ocean counties is subjective and a source of debate.

New Jersey's geographic center is located in Hamilton Township. In 2011 the population center of the state was alongside Nenninger Lane in the western portion of East Brunswick Township which is also known as the 'Heart of Middlesex County".


Apart from Mercer County, which comes under the auspices of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, all counties in the region are part of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, a government partner which approves transportation projects for the state.

The United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company traversed the region in 1830, eventually becoming the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). NJT's Northeast Corridor Line and the North Jersey Coast were once part of the PRR, as was Amtrak which serves the commuter hub at Metropark, New Brunswick, and the Trenton Transit Center. The Central Railroad of New Jersey once connected Jersey City (with connecting ferries to Manhattan) and many Central Jersey towns. Much of that system is now included in New Jersey Transit rail operations to the Raritan Valley.

The Garden State Parkway, New Jersey Turnpike (Interstate 95), Interstate 287, U.S. Route 1, U.S. Route 9, New Jersey Route 18, and New Jersey Route 35 are major automobile routes through Central Jersey that pass over the Raritan River at Perth Amboy and New Brunswick. Interstate 195 travels through Central Jersey (hence the name "Central Jersey Expressway") from the Trenton area towards Belmar.

From the Raritan Bayshore, SeaStreak catamarans travel to Pier 11 at Wall Street and East 34th Street Ferry Landing. NY Waterway ferries travel to Paulus Hook Ferry Terminal in Jersey City, Battery Park City Ferry Terminal and West Midtown Ferry Terminal.

Trenton-Mercer Airport is the only airport in Central New Jersey providing long-distance commercial service. Monmouth Executive Airport, formerly known as Allaire Airport, is a public-use airport located near Allaire State Park. Central Jersey Regional Airport is a privately owned, public airport in Somerset County. Linden Airport is a small general aviation airport located along U.S. Route 1&9 in Union County,

The Route 9 BBS, the New Brunswick BRT, and the Central Jersey Route 1 Corridor are projects in the region that would expand the use of bus rapid transit in New Jersey.

Notable Central Jerseyans

  • People from Hunterdon County
  • People from Mercer County
  • People from Middlesex County
  • People from Monmouth County
  • People from Ocean County
  • People from Somerset County
  • People from Union County

See also

  • New Brunswick, New Jersey music scene
  • Jersey Shore sound
  • Benny (slang)
  • Cuisine of New Jersey
  • New Jersey: The Movie


External links

  • Sullivan, S.P. (May 30, 2014). "Jersey's Mason-Dixon line: Mapping the Taylor Ham vs. pork roll divide". NJ.com. 
  • Strauss, Robert (July 13, 2008). "North Jersey or South? A Search for the Line". The New York Times. 

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