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ORIGIN OF STATE NAME: Named for the British Channel Island of Jersey. NICKNAME: The Garden State. CAPITAL: Trenton. ENTERED UNION: 18 December 1787 (3rd). MOTTO: Liberty and Prosperity. COLORS: Buff and Jersey blue. COAT OF ARMS: In the center is a shield with three plows, symbolic of agriculture; a helmet above indicates sovereignty, and a horse's head atop the helmet signifies speed and prosperity. The state motto and the date "1776" are displayed on a banner below. FLAG: The coat of arms on a buff field. OFFICIAL SEAL: The coat of arms surrounded by the words "The Great Seal of the State of New Jersey." ANIMAL: Horse. BIRD: Eastern goldfinch. INSECT: Honeybee. FLOWER: Violet. TREE: Red oak. MEMORIAL TREE: Dogwood. SHELL: Knobbed whelk. LEGAL HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. 3rd Monday in January; Lincoln's Birthday, 12 February; Washington's Birthday, 3rd Monday in February; Good Friday, March or April; Memorial Day, last Monday in May; Independence Day, 4 July; Labor Day, 1st Monday in September; Columbus Day, 2nd Monday in October; Election Day, 1st Tuesday after 1st Monday in November; Veterans Day, 11 November; Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November; Christmas Day, 25 December. TIME: 7 AM EST = noon GMT.
Bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware River, most of New Jersey has a moderate climate with cold winters and warm, humid summers. Winter temperatures are slightly colder and summer temperatures slightly milder in the northwestern hills than in the rest of the state.
In Atlantic City, the average mean temperature is 53°F (12°C), ranging from 31°F (–1°C) in January to 75°F (24°C) in July. Precipitation is plentiful, averaging 46 in (117 cm) annually; snowfall totals about 16 in (41 cm). At Atlantic City, annual precipitation (1971–2000) was 40.6 cm (103 cm). The annual average humidity is 81% at 7 AM, reaching a normal high of 87% in September.
New Jersey ranked 9th in population in the US with an estimated total of 8,590,300 in 2002, an increase of 2.1% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, New Jersey's population grew from 7,730,188 to 8,414,350, an increase of 8.9%. In 2000 New Jersey had the highest population density among the 50 states: 1,134.4 persons per sq mi. The population is projected to reach 9.6 million by 2025.
In 2000 the median age was 36.7. Persons under 18 years old accounted for 24.8% of the population while 13.2% were age 65 or older.
Over 42% of New Jersey's land area, or 2,132,000 acres (863,000 hectares), was forested in 2002. Of that total, 1,876,000 acres (759,200 hectares) were classified as commercial timberland, most of it privately owned. The forests of New Jersey are important for their function in conservation and recreation. Wood that is harvested contributes to specialty markets and quality veneer products. State forests cover 382,000 acres (155,000 hectares).
Before 1967, New Jersey took a laissez-faire attitude toward housing. With each locality free to fashion its own zoning ordinances, large tracts of rural land succumbed to "suburban sprawl"—single-family housing developments spread out in two huge arcs from New York City and Philadelphia. Meanwhile, the tenement housing of New Jersey's central cities was left to deteriorate. Because poor housing was at least one of the causes of the Newark riot in 1967, the state established the Department of Community Affairs to coordinate existing housing aid programs and establish new ones. The state legislature also created the Mortgage Finance Agency and Housing Finance Agency to stimulate home buying and residential construction. In an effort to halt suburban sprawl, local and county planning boards were encouraged during the 1970s to adopt master plans for controlled growth. Court decisions in the late 1970s and early 1980s challenged the constitutionality of zoning laws that precluded the development of low-income housing in suburban areas.
In 2002, the state had an estimated 3,372,572 housing units, of which 3,081,928 were occupied; 65.9% were owner-occupied. About 54.2% of all units were single-family, detached homes. Nearly 46% of the entire housing stock was built before 1969. Utility gas is the most common heating energy source, followed by fuel oil and kerosene. It was estimated that 69,464 units lacked telephone service, 12,764 lacked complete plumbing facilities, and 14,958 lacked complete kitchen facilities. The average household size was 2.72 people.
In 2002, 30,441 new privately owned units were authorized for construction. The median home value was $210,483, the 5th-highest in the country. The median monthly cost for mortgage owners was $1,672. Renters paid a median of $808. During 2002, New Jersey received over $177.5 million in community planning and development aid from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
New Jersey did not have a major league professional team until 1976, when the New York Giants of the National Football League moved across the Hudson River into the newly completed Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands Sports Complex at East Rutherford. The NFL's New York Jets began playing their home games at the Meadowlands in 1984. The Continental Airlines Arena, located at the same site, is the home of the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association and the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League. As New York teams who no longer play in their home state, the Giants and the Jets are scorned by some New York sports purists. When the Giants won the Super Bowl in 1987, New York's then mayor, Ed Koch, refused them the ticker-tape parade traditionally given to local sports champions on the grounds that since they play in New Jersey they are not a New York team.
The state did celebrate a championship it could call its own, however, when the Devils won the Stanley Cup in 1995. The Devils repeated their success with two more Stanley Cup victories in 2000 and 2003.
The New Jersey Nets have made a surge in the recent past, becoming one of the most successful teams in the NBA. They captured births in consecutive NBA Finals in 2002–03, falling short on both occasions, however.
The Meadowlands is also the home of a dual thoroughbred–harness-racing track. Other racetracks are Garden State Park (Cherry Hill), Monmouth Park (Oceanport), and Atlantic City Race Course for thoroughbreds, and Freehold Raceway for harness racing. Auto racing is featured at speedways in Bridgeport, East Windsor, and New Egypt. Trenton has a minor league baseball team, the Thunder, in the Eastern League. New Jersey has several world-class golf courses, including Baltusrol, the site of seven US Opens, the latest in 1993. Numerous championship boxing matches have been held in Atlantic City.
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