Perth Amboy, New Jersey
|Perth Amboy, New Jersey|
|City of Perth Amboy|
Perth Amboy Courthouse and Police Station
|Motto(s): The City by the Bay|
Location of Perth Amboy in Middlesex County
(click image to enlarge; also see: state map)
Census Bureau map of Perth Amboy, New Jersey
|Coordinates: Coordinates: |
|Royal charter||August 4, 1718|
|Incorporated||December 21, 1784|
|Reincorporated||April 8, 1844 (included Township)|
|Named for||James Drummond, 4th Earl of Perth|
|• Type||Faulkner Act (Mayor-Council)|
|• Body||City Council|
|• Mayor||Wilda Diaz (term ends December 31, 2020)|
|• Administrator||Adam E. Cruz|
|• Municipal clerk||Elaine M. Jasko|
|• Total||5.957 sq mi (15.429 km2)|
|• Land||4.702 sq mi (12.178 km2)|
|• Water||1.255 sq mi (3.251 km2) 21.07%|
|Area rank||258th of 566 in state
13th of 25 in county
|Elevation||62 ft (19 m)|
|Population (2010 Census)|
|• Estimate (2016)||52,499|
|• Rank||33rd of 566 in state
6th of 25 in county
|• Density||10,806.8/sq mi (4,172.5/km2)|
|• Density rank||29th of 566 in state
1st of 25 in county
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||Eastern (EDT) (UTC-4)|
|Area code(s)||732 Exchanges: 293,324,376,442,697,826|
|GNIS feature ID||0885349|
Perth Amboy is a city in Middlesex County, New Jersey, United States. The City of Perth Amboy is part of the New York metropolitan area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 50,814, reflecting an increase of 3,511 (+7.4%) from the 47,303 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 5,336 (+12.7%) from the 41,967 counted in the 1990 Census. Perth Amboy is known as the "City by the Bay," referring to Raritan Bay.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Climate
- 4 Demographics
- 5 Economy
- 6 Government
- 7 Transportation
- 8 Education
- 9 Notable people
- 10 Sister cities
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
The Lenape Native Americans called the point on which the city is built "Ompoge" meaning "level ground". When settled in 1684 the new city was dubbed New Perth in honor of James Drummond, Earl of Perth, one of the associates of a company of Scottish proprietaries. The Algonquian language name persisted, corrupted to Ambo, or Point Amboy, and eventually a combination of the native and colonial names emerged, also appearing in South Amboy.
Perth Amboy was settled by Scottish colonists around 1683 who had been recruited to inhabit the share of the East Jersey colony owned by Robert Barclay, a Quaker who would later become the absentee governor of the province.
Charter and incorporation
Perth Amboy was formed by Royal charter on August 4, 1718, within various townships and again by New Jersey Legislature on December 21, 1784, within Perth Amboy Township and from part of Woodbridge Township. 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 through the Township Act of 1798 on February 21, 1798. The township was replaced by Perth Amboy city on April 8, 1844.
Perth Amboy served as a capital of the Province of New Jersey 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 Burlington until 1776. A few of the buildings from this early period can still be seen today. Most notably, the Proprietary House, the home of William Franklin, the last Royal Governor of New Jersey and estranged son of Benjamin Franklin, still stands in the waterfront area of the city. St. Peter's Church was founded in 1718 by the first Episcopal congregation in the state. Its current building, dating from 1875, is surrounded by a graveyard of early inhabitants and displays a collection of stained-glass windows with religious scenes as well as early depictions of New Jersey receiving her charter and a meeting between William Franklin and his father, Ben. Perth Amboy City Hall, first built as a courthouse in 1714, survived major fires in 1731 and 1764 and is the oldest city hall in continuous use in the United States. The Kearny Cottage, moved from its original location, is a remaining example of 18th Century vernacular architecture.
During the colonial period and for a significant time thereafter, Perth Amboy was an important way-station for travelers between New York City and Philadelphia, as it was the site of a ferry that crossed the Arthur Kill to Tottenville, Staten Island. Regular service began in 1709. This ferry became less important when the Outerbridge Crossing opened in 1928, but continued to operate until 1963. In 1998, the Perth Amboy Ferry Slip was restored to its 1904 appearance. A replica of the ticket office has been constructed and is used as a small museum.
Industrialization and immigration
By the middle of the 19th century, 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. Growth was further stimulated by becoming the tidewater terminal for the Lehigh Valley Railroad and a coal shipping point. Perth Amboy developed tightly knit and insular ethnic neighborhoods such as Budapest, Dublin, and Chickentown. Immigrants from Denmark, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Russia, and Austria quickly dominated the factory jobs.
The city was also a resort town in the 19th century and early 20th century, located on the northern edge of the Raritan Bayshore. Since the early 1990s Perth Amboy has seen redevelopment. Small businesses have started to open up, helped by the city's designation as 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.
The chapter "More Alarms at Night" in humorist James Thurber's biography My Life and Hard Times 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 community. 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. Thurber also wrote the story later made into the film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, about an "inconsequential guy from Perth Amboy, New Jersey". Perth Amboy's water pumping station is located in Old Bridge Township.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city had a total area of 5.957 square miles (15.429 km2), including 4.702 square miles (12.178 km2) of land and 1.255 square miles (3.251 km2) of water (21.07%).
Perth Amboy, and South Amboy 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.
Perth Amboy borders Woodbridge Township (adjacent by land to the north and west), Sayreville (to the southwest, across the Raritan River), South Amboy (south across the upper reaches of Raritan Bay, directly connected only by rail), and the New York City borough of Staten Island (east across the Arthur Kill).
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 19th century.
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 150 mi (240 km) of Perth Amboy.
Perth Amboy features a historic waterfront, which has gone through significant revitalization. This 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 the Perth Amboy Ferry Slip, 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. Every Thursday evening in the summer Perth Amboy hosts the Mayor's Concert Series in Bayview Park. Perth Amboy also hosts an annual Waterfront Arts Festival. 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 land rises steeply after two blocks. This hides 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. A project called the Landings at Harborside was to have featured 2,100 residential units along with indoor parking, 150,000 sq ft (14,000 m2) of retail space, a community center, and recreation amenities for the public as well. After meeting with Charles Kushner, the developer who spent two years in prison after being convicted of witness tampering, tax evasion and making illegal campaign contributions, Mayor Wilda Diaz endorsed a scaled-back design concept for the development, allowing Section 8 housing rentals instead of owner-occupied units as originally promised. The Raritan Yacht Club is one of the oldest yacht club in the United States.
Downtown Perth Amboy
Perth Amboy was settled by Europeans 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. 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 3 1⁄2% (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-story buildings of varied architecture. It also has a lone bank skyscraper which is 10 stories tall called Amboy Towers, located at Five Corners, the intersection of Smith Street, New Brunswick Avenue and State Street. Once home to several department stores downtown, the largest today is discount retailer Bargain Man.
Harbortown is at townhouse development on the waterfront which continues to be expanded since construction started in 1987. Affordable housing (Section 8) along with more affluent homes can be found in Harbortown, an economically and ethnically diverse townhouse development in the city.
This area was the Lehigh Valley Railroad marshaling yards where coal was loaded onto barges for shipment to New York City and elsewhere until the LVRR went bankrupt in 1976.
Hall Avenue is a neighborhood centered on Hall Avenue east of the NJ Transit train tracks. The street itself, Hall Avenue, is no longer the commercial strip it once was. Still, although the street has 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." There is also the special "Banco Popular" a branch of the bank headquartered in Puerto Rico. However, Hall Avenue is now primarily residential. Most of the homes are aging apartments, but there are also some newly constructed homes. Hall Avenue remains a 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. Rudyk Park is north of Route 440 and features the Roberto Clemente Baseball Field and an industrial park.
The southwestern section is a mainly working-class residential neighborhood with some light industry, once the site of Eagleswood Military Academy. The city's largest strip mall is located here. This neighborhood has a large and diversified Hispanic neighborhood with many Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and recently, South Americans. Much of the city's Mexican population also lives in this section. Previously, this section of Perth Amboy had a large Irish population and was once named "Dublin." Following 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 NJ Transit train tracks.
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 park also hosts the Dominican festival and other festivals during the summer.
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 once had a large Cuban community. The State and Fayette Gardens, an apartment complex in the neighborhood, were called "The Cuban Buildings" at one time. The Landings at Harborside redevelopment project is being constructed in this neighborhood.
Amboy Avenue 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. Today most residents are Hispanic; Amboy Avenue once had a strong Italian population.
Maurer is a chiefly 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. It received its name from all the chicken farms (hens and eggs) that were located here before World War II.
Along with the waterfront, Spa Springs, in the northwestern part of the city, remains one of the most attractive and middle-class areas of the city. The population is older. Spa Springs is the wealthiest neighborhood in town and is the most suburban with single-family houses and garages.
|Climate data for Perth Amboy, New Jersey|
|Average high °F (°C)||39
|Average low °F (°C)||23
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.63
1840 1850–1870 1850
1870 1880–1890 1850–1930
1930–1990 2000 2010
The city is one of many U.S. communities with a majority Hispanic population.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 50,814 people, 15,419 households, and 11,456 families residing in the city. The population density was 10,806.8 per square mile (4,172.5/km2). There were 16,556 housing units at an average density of 3,521.0 per square mile (1,359.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 50.26% (25,541) White, 10.54% (5,358) Black or African American, 1.10% (561) Native American, 1.69% (859) Asian, 0.05% (27) Pacific Islander, 30.77% (15,634) from other races, and 5.58% (2,834) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 78.10% (39,685) of the population. The city's Hispanic population was the second-highest percentage among municipalities in New Jersey as of the 2010 Census, ranked behind Union City with 84.7%.
There were 15,419 households out of which 40.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.1% were married couples living together, 24.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.7% were non-families. 20.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.25 and the average family size was 3.65.
In the city, the population was spread out with 27.3% under the age of 18, 11.0% from 18 to 24, 30.2% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 9.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32.4 years. For every 100 females there were 97.3 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 94.3 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006–2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $47,696 (with a margin of error of +/− $3,644) and the median family income was $53,792 (+/− $2,943). Males had a median income of $38,485 (+/− $2,450) versus $30,078 (+/− $3,452) for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,162 (+/−$933). About 16.3% of families and 19.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.8% of those under age 18 and 15.2% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 United States Census 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 per square mile (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.
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, Massachusetts using the same criteria.
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 3 1⁄2% sales tax rate at eligible merchants (versus the 7% rate charged statewide).
The City of Perth Amboy is governed under the Mayor-Council system of municipal government under the Faulkner Act. Members of the City Council are elected at-large on a non-partisan basis to four-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with two or three seats coming up for election in even years. The mayor also serves a four-year term of office, which is up for election the same year that two council seats are up for vote. In October 2010, the City Council voted to shift the city's non-partisan elections from May to November, with the first balloting held in conjunction with the General Election in November 2012.
As of 2017[update], the mayor of Perth Amboy is Wilda Diaz, the first Latina mayor in state history, whose term of office ends on December 31, 2020. She succeeded former mayor and 19th legislative district Assemblyman Joseph Vas, who served as mayor for 18 years. Members of the City Council are Council President William Petrick (2018), Fernando Gonzalez (2018), Fernando Irizarry (2019), Joel Pabon Sr. (2018) and Helmin Caba (2019).
In the November 2014 general election Fernando Gonzalez came in third place, winning the final seat up for election ahead of Sergio Diaz by nine votes. In March 2015, a Superior Court judge ordered a special election between Diaz and Gonzalez after finding that votes had been illegally cast and that there was evidence of fraud in mail voting. In the special election, Gonzalez beat Diaz by a 112-vote margin.
Federal, state and county representation
Perth Amboy is located in the 6th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 19th state legislative district. Prior to the 2010 Census, Perth Amboy had been part of the 13th Congressional District, a change made by the New Jersey Redistricting Commission that took effect in January 2013, based on the results of the November 2012 general elections.
New Jersey's Sixth Congressional District is represented by Frank Pallone (D, Long Branch). New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Democrats Cory Booker (Newark, term ends 2021) and Bob Menendez (Paramus, 2019).
For the 2018–2019 session (Senate, General Assembly), the 19th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Joe Vitale (D, Woodbridge Township) and in the General Assembly by Craig Coughlin (D, Woodbridge Township) and Yvonne Lopez (D, Perth Amboy). The Governor of New Jersey is Phil Murphy (D, Middletown Township). The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Sheila Oliver (D, East Orange).
Middlesex County is governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders, whose seven members are elected at-large on a partisan basis to serve three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either two or three seats coming up for election each year as part of the November general election. At an annual reorganization meeting held in January, the board selects from among its members a Freeholder Director and Deputy Director. As of 2015[update], Middlesex County's Freeholders (with party affiliation, term-end year, residence and committee chairmanship listed in parentheses) are Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios (D, term ends December 31, 2015, Carteret; Ex-officio on all committees), Freeholder Deputy Director Carol Barrett Bellante (D, 2017; Monmouth Junction, South Brunswick Township; County Administration), Kenneth Armwood (D, 2016, Piscataway; Business Development and Education), Charles Kenny ( D, 2016, Woodbridge Township; Finance), H. James Polos (D, 2015, Highland Park; Public Safety and Health), Charles E. Tomaro (D, 2017, Edison; Infrastructure Management) and Blanquita B. Valenti (D, 2016, New Brunswick; Community Services). Constitutional officers are County Clerk Elaine M. Flynn (D, Old Bridge Township), Sheriff Mildred S. Scott (D, 2016, Piscataway) and Surrogate Kevin J. Hoagland (D, 2017; New Brunswick).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 22,737 registered voters in Perth Amboy, of which 9,212 (40.5%) were registered as Democrats, 1,022 (4.5%) were registered as Republicans and 12,500 (55.0%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 3 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 87.0% of the vote (11,774 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 12.3% (1,667 votes), and other candidates with 0.7% (100 votes), among the 13,869 ballots cast by the city's 24,253 registered voters (328 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 57.2%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 81.6% of the vote (10,999 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 16.8% (2,261 votes) and other candidates with 0.7% (91 votes), among the 13,473 ballots cast by the city's 23,248 registered voters, for a turnout of 58.0%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 71.0% of the vote (8,677 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 27.5% (3,359 votes) and other candidates with 0.4% (79 votes), among the 12,223 ballots cast by the city's 21,686 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 56.4.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Democrat Barbara Buono received 63.1% of the vote (3,574 cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 35.6% (2,014 votes), and other candidates with 1.3% (74 votes), among the 5,915 ballots cast by the city's 24,593 registered voters (253 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 24.1%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 69.8% of the vote (4,645 ballots cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 24.2% (1,611 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 3.4% (228 votes) and other candidates with 0.8% (50 votes), among the 6,654 ballots cast by the city's 22,185 registered voters, yielding a 30.0% turnout.
Roads and highways
As of May 2010[update], the city had a total of 75.25 miles (121.10 km) of roadways, of which 58.36 miles (93.92 km) were maintained by the municipality, 11.45 miles (18.43 km) by Middlesex County and 4.27 miles (6.87 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
The Outerbridge Crossing, which opened to traffic on June 29, 1928, is a cantilever bridge over the Arthur Kill that connects Perth Amboy with Staten Island. 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 City and Long Island. 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 143 ft (44 m), providing passage for some of the largest ships entering the Port of New York and New Jersey.
The Victory Bridge carries Route 35 over the Raritan River, connecting Perth Amboy on the north with the borough of Sayreville to the south. A project completed in 2005 replaced a swing bridge that carried four lanes of traffic with twin bridges, each carrying two lanes of traffic, an outside shoulder and a bike lane.
The city has NJ Transit train service at Perth Amboy station. The station provides service on the North Jersey Coast Line to Newark Penn Station, Hoboken Terminal, Secaucus Junction, New York Penn Station and the Jersey Shore.
Public schools in Perth Amboy are operated by Perth Amboy Public Schools, serving students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. The district is one of 31 former Abbott districts statewide, which are now referred to as "SDA Districts" based on the requirement for the state to cover all costs for school building and renovation projects in these districts under the supervision of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority.
As of the 2011–12 school year, the district's 10 schools had an enrollment of 10,258 students and 786.0 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 13.05:1. Schools in the district (with 2011–12 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Ignacio Cruz Early Childhood Center (745) and Edmund Hmieleski Jr. Early Childhood Center (418 students) for preschool; Anthony V. Ceres Elementary School (627), James J. Flynn Elementary School (871), Edward J. Patten Elementary School (899), Dr. Herbert N. Richardson 21st Century Elementary School (728) and Robert N. Wilentz Elementary School (883) for grades K–4; Samuel E. Shull Middle School (1,411) and William C. McGinnis Middle School (1,369) for grades 5–8; and Perth Amboy High School (2,307) 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 Academy for Urban Leadership Charter High School is a public high school serving grades 9–12 open since September 2010, operating independently of the Perth Amboy Public Schools under the terms of a charter granted by the New Jersey Department of Education. Opening to 100 9th graders, the school plans to add a class of 100 students each year until it reaches its goal of 400 students in grades 9–12 by the 2013–14 school year.
In 1903, the Perth Amboy Public Library became the first Carnegie library in the state, made possible through grants from Andrew Carnegie, and donations of local philanthropists. Since 2010 the building is being renovated, and fundraising to increase its size threefold is underway.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Perth Amboy include:
- Soren Sorensen Adams (1879–1963), inventor and manufacturer of novelty products, including the joy buzzer.
- Garth Ancier (born 1957), media executive best known for being one of only two people to have programmed three of the five US broadcast television networks.
- Solomon Andrews (1806–1872), creator of the first successful dirigible airship; served three terms as mayor of Perth Amboy.
- Jay Bellamy (born 1972), safety who played in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints.
- Jon Bon Jovi (born 1962), singer was born in Perth Amboy.
- Kelly J. Breen (born 1969), trainer of thoroughbred racehorses.
- Malcolm Brenner (born 1951), author, journalist and zoophile.
- Miles Browning (1897–1954), officer in the United States Navy in the Atlantic during World War I and in the Pacific during World War II who was a pioneer in the development of aircraft carrier combat operations concepts.
- Johnny Buff (1888–1955), boxer who was world bantamweight champion from 1921 to 1922.
- Karen A. Cerulo (born 1957), sociologist specializing in the study of culture, communication and cognition.
- Alan Cheuse (1940–2015), writer.
- Stanley Norman Cohen (born 1935), co-creator of the first genetically modified organism and the process of recombinant DNA technology.
- William Dunlap (1766–1839), theater pioneer.
- Walt Flanagan (born 1967), comic book artist and podcaster, creator of One True Three. 
- William Franklin (1730–1813), last governor of Province of New Jersey.
- Arthur Franz (1920-2006), actor.
- Angelina Grimké (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.
- Augustus Johnston (1729–1790), Rhode Island Attorney General, Tory sympathizer.
- Lawrence Kearny (1789–1868) the "Sailor Diplomat", who paved the way for an open-door policy with China.
- Edward L. Kemeys (1843–1907), sculptor in residence at Eagleswood Mansion.
- Morgan Foster Larson (1882–1961), Governor of New Jersey from 1929 to 1932.
- Miilkbone (born 1974 as Thomas Wlodarczyk), rapper.
- Walter Mitty, fictional character from the 1947 film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
- Steve Mizerak (1944–2006), champion pool player.
- Joseph Montani (PAHS, 1970), astronomer and planetary scientist who named the minor planet "12465 Perth Amboy" after his hometown.
- John A. Nagy (born 1946), author of books about espionage and mutinies of the American Revolution.
- John Nosta, critical thinker with a background in science and marketing, most notable for his work in the field of digital health.
- George Otlowski (1912–2009), politician who served as mayor of the city from 1976 to 1990.
- 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 for Bon Jovi was born here.
- Marcus Spring (1810–1874), founder of Raritan Bay Union and Eagleswood Military Academy.
- Steve Stanko (1917-1978), heavyweight weightlifter and bodybuilder who was crowned Mr. America in 1944 and Mr. Universe in 1947.
- John Stevens (1749–1838), engineer who developed the multitubular boiler engine and the screw propeller.
- Gina Stritch, author.
- Bruce Taylor (born 1948), former NFL player.
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- via Associated Press. Bruce Taylor Selected for Lowe Award", The Day (New London), December 1, 1969. Accessed January 30, 2011. "The 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior from Perth Amboy, N.J., became the third player to win the Lowe award in its 31-year history..."
- Hasty, Miranda. "Beyond the Bubble: Brian Taylor '84, former NBA player and educator", The Daily Princetonian, October 4, 2016. Accessed November 15, 2017. "Brian Taylor '84: I’m from Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Basketball was a sport, in which Perth Amboy had several different leagues. Even as a kid, they had a lot of recreation leagues."
- Ortner, Sherry, B. Not Hollywood: Independent Film at the Twilight of the American Dream, p. 11. Duke University Press, 2013, ISBN 978-0-8223-9968-1. Accessed November 13, 2017. "A second example of a progressive investor is Marc Turtletaub, head of Big Beach Productions.... I met him on the seat of a later investing / producing project Sunshine Cleaning, and asked him about his background. He said he's from Pert Amboy, N.J."
- Staff. "Michelle Visage brings some 'Jersey' to 'RuPaul's Drag Race'!", OutInJersey.net, January 27, 2011. Accessed November 25, 2012. "Q. Michelle, thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me! You're a 'Jersey Girl' correct? A. Sure am Cookie! Jersey is where it all started for me. I was born in Perth Amboy, and moved to South Plainfield."
- Dunlap, William. A History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Design in the United States. C.E. Goodspeed & Co: Boston, 1918.
- Jacobs, Alexandra. "California Girl", The New York Times, September 3, 2006. Accessed January 16, 2018. "A few years ago, Amy Wilentz’s husband got a job offer from The Los Angeles Times and she agreed, ambivalently, to move from the Upper West Side of Manhattan to the West Coast with their three sons and dog. Raised in gritty Perth Amboy, N.J., Wilentz is an accomplished journalist who has corresponded from Jerusalem for The New Yorker and written a book about Haiti."
- Biography of David T. Wilentz, NJ Attorney General, 1934-1944. Accessed August 28, 2009.
- Sullivan, Joseph F. "Wilentz Reappointment Cleared By Jersey Panel", The New York Times, July 30, 1985. Accessed January 16, 2018. "Mr. Wilentz, who has an apartment in Perth Amboy and a home in Deal on the Jersey Shore, also has an apartment in Manhattan, where he has stayed virtually every night since October 1984, when his wife, Jacqueline, began undergoing chemotherapy for cancer in New York City. Mr. Wilentz said he hoped to be able to resume his former routine of staying in his Perth Amboy apartment five nights a week and visiting the Manhattan apartment only on weekends, if his wife's condition continues to improve.... He said that he voted and paid his taxes from his 166 Water Street address in Perth Amboy and that he considered New Jersey his home."
- Stout, David. "Robert Wilentz, 69, New Jersey Chief Justice, Dies; Court Aided Women and the Poor", The New York Times, July 24, 1996. Accessed January 16, 2018. "Robert Wilentz was born on Feb. 17, 1927, the son of David T. and Lena Wilentz. He spent his boyhood in Perth Amboy."
- Smith, Jessie Carney. Black Firsts: 4,000 Ground-Breaking and Pioneering Historical Events, Visible Ink Press, 2012. ISBN 9781578594252. Accessed January 16, 2018. "Blenda Jacqueline Wilson (1941-) became the first black woman to head a public university in Michigan when she was appointed chancellor of the University of Michigan, Dearborn. Wilson was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, where she was one of only two black children in her kindergarten class."
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