The Interesting Local History of Perth Amboy, NJ

Perth Amboy, NJ History

Perth Amboy is a New Jersey city of about 51,000 residents. It is located in Middlesex County along the shores of Raritan Bay and covers approximately 4.55 square miles in land area. Perth Amboy has a rich maritime and industrial history, spanning more than three centuries. The community is considered part of the New York metro area.

Perth Amboy is known as the "City by the Bay" and is home to one of the oldest yacht clubs in the country. At the height of travel by sea, it served as an important stop for ferry ships traveling from New York City. Residents and visitors alike can still enjoy the city's historic waterfront. Read on to uncover more about the interesting history of Perth Amboy.

The Lenape People and Ompoge

The Lenape Tribe Was the First to Inhabit Perth AmboyThe earliest residents of the land that now includes Perth Amboy were the Lenape Native Americans. These indigenous people of the northeastern wooded areas of the U.S. and Canada were also known as the Leni Lenape, the Lenni Lenape, and the Delaware people. The names derive from words meaning "real person" or "original person." They were labeled Delaware Indians by English colonists due to where they lived.

This historical territory included present-day New Jersey and parts of eastern Pennsylvania along the Delaware River watershed, New York City, the Lower Hudson Valley, and western portions of Long Island. The Lenape called the area of present-day Perth Amboy "Ompoge." When Europeans first came upon them, they were a loose association of related people who shared common languages and culture in an area known as Lenapehoking.

The Lenape people have three clans, each consisting historically of 12 sub-clans. However, by the time William Penn arrived in 1862, the sub-clans had been dissolved into the three main clans.

Most of the Lenape were forced out of their homeland by the expanding European colonies. Today, the Lenape people are a part of multiple tribes and nations, with most residing in Oklahoma and a few in Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada.

The Colonization of Perth Amboy and East Jersey

European Settlers Come to Perth AmboyPerth Amboy was incorporated in 1683 and was first settled by Scottish colonists.

It was in 1718 that Perth Amboy was founded via Royal charter. The New Jersey Legislature later reaffirmed its status in 1784, following independence from British rule. From 1686 to 1776, the community was of such prominence that it served as the capital of the Province of East Jersey. Between 1674 and 1702, the Province of East Jersey and the Province of West Jersey were two distinct political divisions of the Province of New Jersey, which would later become New Jersey.

Perth Amboy's City Hall previously served as East Jersey's capitol building and is the oldest public building in continuous operation in the country. The city's market square, now a park, was once a busy colonial-era marketplace.

Although one of New Jersey's oldest cities, Perth Amboy's historical significance is often overlooked, possibly due to its residents at the time being on the "wrong side" of the Revolutionary War. Known as Loyalists or Tories, these early settlers sided with the British because they believed they had the most to gain from a British victory.

Perth Amboy's Changing Name

Perth Amboy was Named for Perth, ScotlandThe first land transfer of the area now known as Perth Amboy occurred between the Leni Lenape Native Americans and Augustine Herman in 1651. At that point in history, the land near the point of the Raritan River was known as Ompoge by the Native Americans living there.

From this early designation, the community's name began to morph, first to Emboyle and then Amboyle. When the city was first incorporated in 1683, settlers began calling it Ambo or Amboy Point, which eventually became Amboy. The word means a "place resembling a bowl."

The other portion of the city's name, Perth, was added in 1686 when the community became the East Jersey province's capital. This part of the settlement's name was added in honor of James Drummond, 1st Duke of Perth, a Scottish statesman.

Although there is no shared governance, Perth Amboy and the City of South Amboy are often referred to locally as The Amboys. This descriptor is even used as a destination on the area's highway exit signs.

Industrialization in Perth Amboy

How the Industrial Revolution Affected Perth AmboyThe mid-1800s brought change to Perth Amboy, as the Industrial Revolution and its accompanying influx of immigrants fed the city's hunger for growth, leaving the community with many thriving neighborhoods.

The city became home to several manufacturers, including A. Hall and Sons Terra Cotta, Guggenheim and Sons, and the Copper Works Smelting Company, among several others, creating a bustling downtown and offering employment for many of the city's residents. Immigrants, eager for the available factory jobs, came to Perth Amboy primarily from Denmark, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Russia, Austria, and Italy.

With the city's growth came greater opportunities for development and lifestyle enhancement. The first public library was erected in 1903, representing one of the first Carnegie libraries in all of New Jersey. Growth was further accelerated when the city became a railroad terminal and a coal shipping point.

By the late 19th century and early 20th century, the city began to grow in prominence as a resort town, thanks to its proximity to the Raritan Bayshore. Redevelopment of the area got underway in the 1990s, boosting local businesses and the city's waterfront.

Discover Perth Amboy

Perth Amboy is one of the country's earliest colonial settlements, but it was home to the Lenape Native Americans long before European settlers came to the area. Throughout its history, the city has played important roles, serving as the site of an early capital for the province and home to a prominent ferry slip for travelers heading south from New York City. Many other fun facts and tidbits are sprinkled throughout Perth Amboy's story.

The city was founded by Scotts seeking religious freedom, English merchants, and French protestants hoping to make the most of Perth Amboy's harbor. Visitors to Perth Amboy today can enjoy the historic architecture of the city and the revitalized waterfront. If a visitor wants to stay longer-term to experience the community, Perth Amboy rentals are available in addition to single-family homes for a more permanent move to the city. Contact a real estate professional from The Robert Dekanski Team at 800-691-0485 and allow them to help you discover your dream home in Perth Amboy today.

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