Where can you gaze at a six-story elephant, enjoy a specialty processed pork product, and potentially be arrested for pumping your own gas? Weird, wonderful New Jersey, that’s where.
While tiny in size, New Jersey has a quirk factor big enough for the entire nation. Here are a few of the reasons why New Jersey is even weirder than you think.
A Lot of People Choose to Live There
With lovingly bestowed nicknames like “armpit of the nation,” you might not think New Jersey would be a desirable place to live. It’s actually the most densely populated state in the U.S., with over 1,200 people per square mile. That’s a big difference between the least-populated state, Alaska, which has only 1.3 people per square mile.
It’s Illegal to Pump Your Own Gas
In most places, when you need to get gas, you get out of your car and pump it yourself. Not so in New Jersey. Per the state’s Retail Gasoline Dispensing Safety Act and Regulations, it’s illegal to dispense one’s own fuel based on the idea that it’s safer to have someone supervise the activity. Weird, sure, though it’s nice that you don’t have to get out of your car in the winter.
There’s a State Monster
The Jersey Devil has been the stuff of cautionary tales in the Garden State for years. Thousands are said to have seen the creature in the Pine Barrens region, with nearly a thousand sightings in one single week in 1909.
But it gets even weirder. Did you know that there’s a bounty out on him? According to reports, the Philadelphia Zoo has offered $10,000 for his capture, and the Hunt Brothers Circus offered $100,000.
It Has a Six-Story Elephant
No, you’re not seeing things: that is in fact a six-story elephant. Erected in 1881, Lucy is an Atlantic City icon and has National Historic Landmark Status. She’s also popular: Lucy is the most popular non-gaming-related tourist attraction in the region.
Dinosaurs Lived in New Jersey
Archaeology might not be the first thing you think of when you think of New Jersey, but maybe it should be. In 1858, the first relatively complete set of dinosaur bones (for a dinosaur called hadrosaurus foulkii) was excavated by William Parker Foulke.
It Inspired Monopoly’s Street Names
As you’re walking around Atlantic City, the street names might seem familiar: Ventnor Avenue, Park Place, Baltic Avenue. Yes, indeed, the streets in the classic board game Monopoly are inspired by actual streets in Atlantic City.
It’s Got More Diners Than Your State
If you love a good classic diner, you’re in luck when spending time in New Jersey. Dubbed “The Diner Capital of the Country,” the Garden State boasts over 500 diners within its relatively small landmass.
Tons of Celebrities Are From New Jersey
A pretty surprising number of famous people hail from New Jersey — and we’re not talking about the cast of "Jersey Shore." Among their ranks? Bruce Springsteen, Jack Nicholson, Jon Bon Jovi, Meryl Streep, Martha Stewart, Danny DeVito, Queen Latifah, and Tom Cruise — to name just a few!
It Claims True Ownership of the Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is one of New York’s biggest attractions. But could it actually belong to New Jersey? While Liberty Island is federally owned, it’s surrounded by Jersey City’s waters, so as it turns out, New Jersey may have a claim on one of the nation’s most famous landmarks.
Two Words: Pork Roll
Pork roll is a processed meat product that looks somewhat like Canadian bacon but is more like Spam in terms of its ingredients list. Sound gross? Not to New Jersey residents. Pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich on a hard roll is a classic and beloved Jersey breakfast.
The Weird and Wild World of New Jersey
New Jersey may be small, but it’s mighty in terms of weirdness. From archaeological discoveries to odd food specialties, it’s never a boring day in the Garden State!
Cover image credit: Alexander Lukatskiy / Shutterstock.com