South Amboy, New Jersey

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South Amboy, New Jersey
City of South Amboy
Downtown South Amboy along Broadway
Downtown South Amboy along Broadway
Nickname(s): 
"The Gateway to the Shore"[1]
South Amboy highlighted in Middlesex County. Inset: Location of Middlesex County in New Jersey
South Amboy highlighted in Middlesex County. Inset: Location of Middlesex County in New Jersey
Census Bureau map of South Amboy, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of South Amboy, New Jersey
South Amboy is located in Middlesex County, New Jersey
South Amboy
South Amboy
Location in Middlesex County
South Amboy is located in New Jersey
South Amboy
South Amboy
Location in New Jersey
South Amboy is located in the United States
South Amboy
South Amboy
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 40°29′11″N 74°16′44″W / 40.486391°N 74.278762°W / 40.486391; -74.278762Coordinates: 40°29′11″N 74°16′44″W / 40.486391°N 74.278762°W / 40.486391; -74.278762[2][3]
Country United States
State New Jersey
CountyMiddlesex
IncorporatedFebruary 21, 1798
Government
 • TypeFaulkner Act (mayor–council)
 • BodyCity Council
 • MayorFred A. Henry (D, term ends December 31, 2022)[4][5]
 • AdministratorGlenn Skarzynski[6]
 • Municipal clerkDeborah Brooks[7]
Area
 • Total2.68 sq mi (6.95 km2)
 • Land1.54 sq mi (3.98 km2)
 • Water1.15 sq mi (2.97 km2)  42.76%
 • Rank365th of 565 in state
19th of 25 in county[2]
Elevation10 ft (3 m)
Population
 • Total9,411
 • Rank265th of 566 in state
19th of 25 in county[14]
 • Density3,500/sq mi (1,400/km2)
  • Rank94th of 566 in state
7th of 25 in county[14]
Time zoneUTC−05:00 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−04:00 (Eastern (EDT))
ZIP Codes
08879[15]
Area code(s)732 and 848[16]
FIPS code3402368550[2][17][18]
GNIS feature ID0885399[2][19]
Websitewww.southamboynj.gov

South Amboy is a suburban city in Middlesex County, New Jersey, on the Raritan Bay. As of the 2020 United States Census, the city's population was 9,411.[10][11][12][13]

South Amboy and Perth 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.[20][21]

History[edit]

First settled by the Lenape Native Americans, who called the area around Perth Amboy by the name "Ompoge" (meaning "level ground"), the settlement ultimately became a key port for commerce between Lower New York Bay and Philadelphia, connected first by stagecoach and eventually by railroad.[22][23] When settled by Europeans in 1684, the city was named New Perth in honor of James Drummond, Earl of Perth, one of the associates of a company of Scottish proprietaries. The Algonquian language name was corrupted to Ambo, or Point Amboy, and eventually a combination of the native and colonial names was used.[24][25][26]

South Amboy has passed through three of the five types of New Jersey municipalities. It was first mentioned on May 28, 1782, in minutes of the Board of chosen freeholders as having been formed from Perth Amboy Township. It was formally incorporated as a township by the Township Act of 1798 on February 21, 1798. Over the next 90 years, portions split off to form Monroe Township (April 9, 1838), Madison Township (March 2, 1869; later renamed as Old Bridge Township) and Sayreville Township (April 6, 1876; later Borough of Sayreville). As of February 25, 1888, South Amboy borough was formed, replacing South Amboy Township. On April 11, 1908, South Amboy was incorporated as a city, replacing South Amboy borough, confirmed by a referendum held on July 21, 1908.[27][28]

Ammunition explosions[edit]

As a result of South Amboy's strategic location as a transportation hub, the city has been heavily damaged by military explosives in two major incidents. The 1918 explosions occurred during World War I at the Gillespie Shell Loading Plant, just south of the town. The 1950 explosion struck as Healing Lighterage Company dockworkers were transferring ammunition from a freight train onto barges. Both disasters killed dozens and injured hundreds of local victims, damaged hundreds of South Amboy buildings, required emergency declarations of martial law, and scattered wide areas of ammunition remnants that continue to surface occasionally.[29][30][31][32][33][34]

Geography[edit]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city had a total area of 2.68 square miles (6.95 km2), including 1.54 square miles (3.98 km2) of land and 1.15 square miles (2.97 km2) of water (42.76%).[2][3] South Amboy is bordered by land with Sayreville to the south and west, by Perth Amboy to the north (across the Raritan River), and Staten Island to the east (across the Raritan Bay in New York City).[35][36][37]

Area codes 732 and 848 are used in South Amboy.[16] The city had been in area code 908, until January 1, 1997, when 908 was split forming area code 732. South Amboy has an enclave of apartments near Kohl's in Sayreville, whose residents use a South Amboy mailing address. The Melrose and Morgan sections of Sayreville and the Laurence Harbor section of Old Bridge also use the South Amboy Zip Code of 08879.[citation needed] Mechanicsville, White's Dock, and Thomas J. Dohany Homes are neighborhoods in the city.

Demographics[edit]

As The New York Times said of South Amboy in 2000: "The population mix has not changed much since the beginning of the 20th century, when Irish and Polish immigrants came to work on the three railroads that crisscrossed the city."[38] South Amboy remains a strong enclave of Polish ethnicity, including 21% of its population in the 2000 census,[39] and the historic Sacred Heart Church and School.[40]

Historical population
Census Pop.
17902,626
18103,071
18203,40610.9%
18303,78211.0%
18401,825*−51.7%
18502,26624.2%
18603,65261.2%
18704,525*23.9%
18803,648*−19.4%
18904,33018.7%
19006,34946.6%
19107,00710.4%
19207,89712.7%
19308,4767.3%
19407,802−8.0%
19508,4227.9%
19608,4220.0%
19709,33810.9%
19808,322−10.9%
19907,863−5.5%
20007,9130.6%
20108,6319.1%
20209,4119.0%
Population sources: 1790-1920[41]
1840[42] 1850-1870[43] 1850[44]
1870[45] 1880-1890[46]
1890-1910[47] 1910-1930[48]
1930-1990[49] 2000[50][51] 2010[11] 2020[10]
* = Lost territory in previous decade.[27]

2010 Census[edit]

The 2010 United States census counted 8,631 people, 3,372 households, and 2,256 families in the city. The population density was 5,577.1 per square mile (2,153.3/km2). There were 3,576 housing units at an average density of 2,310.7 per square mile (892.2/km2). The racial makeup was 86.42% (7,459) White, 4.43% (382) Black or African American, 0.10% (9) Native American, 4.03% (348) Asian, 0.00% (0) Pacific Islander, 2.99% (258) from other races, and 2.03% (175) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13.42% (1,158) of the population.[11]

Of the 3,372 households, 28.0% had children under the age of 18; 46.8% were married couples living together; 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present and 33.1% were non-families. Of all households, 26.7% were made up of individuals and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.11.[11]

20.8% of the population were under the age of 18, 8.6% from 18 to 24, 29.8% from 25 to 44, 29.5% from 45 to 64, and 11.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39.3 years. For every 100 females, the population had 96.8 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 93.2 males.[11]

The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $61,566 (with a margin of error of +/- $6,388) and the median family income was $80,815 (+/- $4,285). Males had a median income of $54,000 (+/- $5,767) versus $49,303 (+/- $4,574) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $31,590 (+/- $2,232). About 10.2% of families and 9.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.7% of those under age 18 and 5.5% of those age 65 or over.[52]

2000 Census[edit]

As of the 2000 United States Census[17] there were 7,913 people, 2,967 households, and 2,041 families residing in the city. The population density was 5,102.1 people per square mile (1,971.1/km2). There were 3,110 housing units at an average density of 2,005.3 per square mile (774.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 94.22% White, 0.86% African American, 0.19% Native American, 1.38% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.71% from other races, and 1.62% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.75% of the population.[50][51]

There were 2,967 households, out of which 32.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.8% were married couples living together, 14.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.2% were non-families. 25.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.65 and the average family size was 3.22.[50][51]

In the city the population was spread out, with 24.3% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 32.9% from 25 to 44, 21.5% from 45 to 64, and 13.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.0 males.[50][51]

The median income for a household in the city was $50,529, and the median income for a family was $62,029. Males had a median income of $42,365 versus $29,737 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,598. About 6.7% of families and 7.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.6% of those under age 18 and 6.0% of those age 65 or over.[50][51]

Government[edit]

Local government[edit]

South Amboy is governed within the Faulkner Act, formally known as the Optional Municipal Charter Law, under the Mayor-Council system of municipal government. The city is one of 71 municipalities (of the 564) statewide governed under this form.[53] The governing body is comprised of the Mayor and the five-member City Council. The mayor is elected directly by the voters. The City Council is comprised of five members, two of whom are elected on an at-large basis while three are elected from wards. All members of the governing body are elected in partisan elections to serve four-year terms of office on a staggered basis in even-numbered years as part of the November general election, with the three ward seats up for election together and the two at-large seats and the mayoral seat up for vote together two years later.[8]

As of 2022, the Mayor of South Amboy is Democrat Fred Henry, whose term of office ends December 31, 2022.[4] Members of the City Council are Council President Michael "Mickey" Gross (D, 2022; at-large), Council Vice President Christine Noble (D, 2022; at-large), Zusette Dato (D, 2024; Third Ward), Brian H. McLaughlin (D, 2024; First Ward) and Thomas B. Reilly (D, 2024; Second Ward).[54][55][56][57]

In February 2015, the City Council appointed Thomas Reilly to fill the Second Ward expiring in December 2016 that became vacant when Christine Noble took office in an at-large seat.[58] In the 2015 November general election, Reilly was elected to serve the balance of the term of office.[59]

Following the death of Russell Stillwagon in June 2010, after serving nearly two decades on the City Council, Donald Applegate was chosen the following month by council members from among three names proposed to fill the vacancy representing the First Ward.[60]

Federal, state and county representation[edit]

South Amboy is located in the 6th Congressional District[61] and is part of New Jersey's 19th state legislative district.[12][62][63]

For the 117th United States Congress, New Jersey's Sixth Congressional District is represented by Frank Pallone (D, Long Branch).[64][65] New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Democrats Cory Booker (Newark, term ends 2027)[66] and Bob Menendez (Harrison, term ends 2025).[67][68]

For the 2022–2023 session, the 19th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Joe F. Vitale (D, Woodbridge Township) and in the General Assembly by Craig Coughlin (D, Woodbridge Township) and Yvonne Lopez (D, Perth Amboy).[69]

Middlesex County is governed by a Board of County Commissioners, 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 Commissioner Director and Deputy Director.[70] As of 2022, Middlesex County's Commissioners (with party affiliation, term-end year, and residence listed in parentheses) are Commissioner Director Ronald G. Rios (D, Carteret, term as commissioner ends December 31, 2024; term as commissioner director ends 2022),[71] Commissioner Deputy Director Shanti Narra (D, North Brunswick, term as commissioner ends 2024; term as deputy director ends 2022),[72] Claribel A. "Clary" Azcona-Barber (D, New Brunswick, 2022),[73] Charles Kenny (D, Woodbridge Township, 2022),[74] Leslie Koppel (D, Monroe Township, 2023),[75] Chanelle Scott McCullum (D, Piscataway, 2024)[76] and Charles E. Tomaro (D, Edison, 2023).[77][78] Constitutional officers are County Clerk Nancy Pinkin (D, 2025, East Brunswick),[79][80] Sheriff Mildred S. Scott (D, 2022, Piscataway)[81][82] and Surrogate Claribel Cortes (D, 2026; North Brunswick).[83][84][85]

Politics[edit]

As of November 6, 2018, there were a total of 5,876 registered voters in South Amboy, of which 2,948 (50.%) submitted ballots in the last General Election. Incumbent Mayor Fred Henry (1,490) secured his third term by defeating Republican candidate Peter Pisar (923) and independent amateur Brandon Russell (403).[86] [87]

Of the 5,876 registered voters - 2,410 (41.0%) were registered as Democrats, 658 (11.2%) were registered as Republicans and 2,803 (47.7%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 3 voters registered to other parties.[88]

In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 55.6% of the vote (1,790 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 42.7% (1,373 votes), and other candidates with 1.7% (54 votes), among the 3,269 ballots cast by the city's 5,491 registered voters (52 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 59.5%.[89][90] In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 50.8% of the vote (1,875 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 46.6% (1,722 votes) and other candidates with 1.7% (64 votes), among the 3,693 ballots cast by the city's 5,382 registered voters, for a turnout of 68.6%.[91] In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 52.4% of the vote (1,784 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 46.0% (1,566 votes) and other candidates with 0.7% (37 votes), among the 3,405 ballots cast by the city's 4,971 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 68.5.[92]

In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 65.0% of the vote (1,341 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 33.4% (689 votes), and other candidates with 1.6% (33 votes), among the 2,104 ballots cast by the city's 5,486 registered voters (41 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 38.4%.[93][94] In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 52.7% of the vote (1,288 ballots cast), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 35.4% (865 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 9.2% (226 votes) and other candidates with 1.7% (41 votes), among the 2,445 ballots cast by the city's 5,298 registered voters, yielding a 46.1% turnout.[95]

Education[edit]

The South Amboy Public Schools serve students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade.[96] As of the 2017–18 school year, the district, comprised of two schools, had an enrollment of 1,077 students and 90.0 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 12.0:1.[97] Schools in the district (with 2017-18 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics[98]) are South Amboy Elementary School[99] with 507 students in grades PreK-5 and South Amboy Middle High School[100] with 509 students in grades 6-12.[101][102]

Eighth grade students from all of Middlesex County are eligible to apply to attend the high school programs offered by the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools, a county-wide vocational school district that offers full-time career and technical education at Middlesex County Academy in Edison, the Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences in Woodbridge Township and at its East Brunswick, Perth Amboy and Piscataway technical high schools, with no tuition charged to students for attendance.[103][104]

Raritan Bay Catholic Preparatory - Sacred Heart School was a parochial elementary school opened in 1895 and serving PreK-3 to eighth grade that operated under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen, until it was closed in June 2016 due to insufficient enrollment.[105] Cardinal McCarrick High School closed at the end of the 2014–15 school year, in the wake of an increasing financial deficit.[106]

Transportation[edit]

Roads and highways[edit]

View north along US 9 at Route 35 in South Amboy

As of May 2010, the city had a total of 23.65 miles (38.06 km) of roadways, of which 18.73 miles (30.14 km) were maintained by the municipality, 3.50 miles (5.63 km) by Middlesex County, and 1.42 miles (2.29 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.[107]

Several major roads and highways traverse the city.[108] These include portions of U.S. Route 9,[109] Route 35[110] and CR 615, 621, 670, 684, 686, 688.[111][112][113][114][115][116] Three Garden State Parkway exits (123–125) are just beyond the city's western border.

Public transportation[edit]

The South Amboy station[117] provides frequent service on NJ Transit's North Jersey Coast Line, with most northbound trains heading to Newark Penn Station, Secaucus Junction and Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan and some heading to Hoboken Terminal.[118]

NJ Transit local bus service is available on the 815 and 817 routes.[119][120]

Plans for ferry service to Lower and Midtown Manhattan were announced in November 2018.[121] In June 2020, the project received $5.3 million in federal funding for construction of a terminal near the train station.[122]

The Raritan River Railroad provided passenger service to the city from 1888 to 1938.[123] The railroad is now defunct along this part of the line. Proposals have been made to use the line as a light rail route.[124]

Notable people[edit]

People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with South Amboy include:

In popular culture[edit]

Scenes from the 1985 Woody Allen movie The Purple Rose of Cairo were filmed in the former Raritan Diner.[141]

Scenes from the 2000 film Coyote Ugly starring Piper Perabo were filmed in South Amboy and the main character is from the city.[142][143]

References[edit]

[86] [87]

  1. ^ Baljko, Jennifer L. "The tide finally turns; Bayside on rise in South Amboy", The Home News, July 5, 1994. Accessed March 4, 2021, via Newspapers.com. "Motorists driving through the city see the signs: 'Welcome to South Amboy The Gateway to the Shore.'"
  2. ^ a b c d e f 2019 Census Gazetteer Files: New Jersey Places, United States Census Bureau. Accessed July 1, 2020.
  3. ^ a b US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990, United States Census Bureau. Accessed September 4, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Mayor Fred Henry, City of South Amboy. Accessed March 8, 2020.
  5. ^ 2022 New Jersey Mayors Directory, New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. Accessed March 1, 2022.
  6. ^ Business Administrator, City of South Amboy. Accessed April 23, 2022.
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  8. ^ a b 2012 New Jersey Legislative District Data Book, Rutgers University Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, March 2013, p. 87.
  9. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: City of South Amboy, Geographic Names Information System. Accessed March 14, 2013.
  10. ^ a b c "QuickFacts South Amboy city, New Jersey". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved February 25, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
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  12. ^ a b c Municipalities Sorted by 2011-2020 Legislative District, New Jersey Department of State. Accessed February 1, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 2010 for South Amboy city Archived 2014-04-13 at the Wayback Machine, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Accessed May 9, 2012.
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  105. ^ Loyer, Susan. "Sacred Heart School in South Amboy is closing", Courier News, April 15, 2016. Accessed December 25, 2019. "Sacred Heart Elementary School, a staple in the community for more than 100 years, is the latest school in the Diocese of Metuchen to be closing its doors.... The Pre-K to Grade 8 school has 191 registered students this academic year but only 80 registered for the 2016-2017 academic year, according to the diocese.... The decision to close McCarrick followed a 2013 decision to create the Raritan Bay Catholic Preparatory School, an umbrella organization for the high school and Sacred Heart Elementary School."
  106. ^ Milo, Paul. "McCarrick High School in South Amboy closing in June, report says", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, May 19, 2015. Accessed September 23, 2015. "The Diocese of Metuchen announced that Cardinal McCarrick St. Mary's High School will close due to a cash shortfall, News 12 New Jersey reported Tuesday.... Parents interviewed by the station expressed surprise when they learned the school had been grappling with financial problems for 5 years and now faces a $1.8 million deficit."
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  121. ^ Ursillo, Jen. "South Amboy passenger ferry soon to become a reality, WKXW. November 19, 2018. Accessed July 21, 2020. "The ferry will start at the Radford Ferry Overpass and it's expected the transit from South Amboy to Manhattan will be 40 minutes, with stops at Wall Street and Midtown. Eight hundred parking spaces will be available to start, Skarzynski said. If the ferry proves to be successful and more spaces are needed, then there will be plans for expansion."
  122. ^ Warren, Michael Sol. "N.J. city aims for new NYC ferry as project gets $5M boost from feds", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, July 21, 2020. Accessed July 21, 2020. "On Monday, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-6th Dist., announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation will grant $5.3 million to South Amboy for a ferry service between the Raritan Bay city and downtown Manhattan. The money, which comes from the DOT’s Passenger Ferry Grant program, will be used to help build a new ferry terminal in South Amboy."
  123. ^ Stations of the Raritan River Railroad, Tom's Raritan River Railroad Page. Accessed December 25, 2019. "The line ran from South Amboy to New Brunswick, via Sayreville, Parlin, South River, East Brunswick, and North Brunswick."
  124. ^ Preserving Rail Rights of Way in Middlesex County, Middlesex County, New Jersey. Accessed December 3, 2019. "On this basis the following rail lines may merit future investigation on their feasibility for accommodating a light rail and/or busway type of passenger service. Raritan River Railroad. South Amboy, Sayreville, South River, East Brunswick, Milltown, North Brunswick, New Brunswick - This corridor could address some of the east-west travel needs in the central area of the County providing a transit way that would link the City of South Amboy and the City of New Brunswick. This could also provide a viable commuter travel alternative to the heavily used Route 18 Corridor."
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  135. ^ Charles Willson Peale - Charles Pettit, 1792, Worcester Art Museum. Accessed October 6, 2015. "Pettit moved from Burlington to South Amboy with Franklin, but their relationship was severed when the governor decided to maintain his support of British authority and Pettit sided with the Whigs."
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  137. ^ "Elmer Stout Obituary", Asbury Park Press, September 24, 2013. Accessed October 6, 2015. "Born in South Amboy, he had resided in South River until his retirement from the former Goodkind & O'Dea Consulting Engineers for whom he worked his entire career."
  138. ^ Haley, John. "Q and A session with Marques Townes of St. Joseph (Met.), what sport will he play in college?", The Star-Ledger, January 28, 2014. Accessed March 26, 2018. "So that was the first thing I addressed with Townes, who grew up in Rahway, moved to South Amboy in the fifth grade and who now lives in Edison."
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  142. ^ Foreman, Jonathan. "It’S No Joke, Ugly Is Not A Pretty Picture", New York Post, August 4, 2000. Accessed July 24, 2020. "Violet hails from South Amboy, N.J., which the filmmakers conceive of as a desert island without TV, movies, libraries or magazines."
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