FIPS 55-3 Code
US National Archive Codes
Coordinates Latitude: 40.4778838 Longitude: -74.290702
Demographics & Economic Data
The area around Perth Amboy was called "Ompoge" (meaning "level ground") by Lenape Native Americans and became a key port for commerce between Lower New York Bay and Philadelphia, connected first by stagecoach and eventually by railroad. When settled 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.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 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.
South Amboy's strategic location as a transportation hub acted to its detriment in 1918 and 1950, when the town was heavily damaged by military explosives. The 1918 explosions occurred during World War I at the Gillespie Shell Loading Plant, just south of the town. The 1950 explosions 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.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city had a total area of 2.694 square miles (6.976 km2), including 1.548 square miles (4.008 km2) of land and 1.146 square miles (2.967 km2) of water (42.54%). 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).Area codes 732 and 848 are used in South Amboy. 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.Mechanicsville and Thomas J. Dohany Homes are unincorporated communities located within South Amboy.
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." South Amboy remains a strong enclave of Polish ethnicity, including 21% of its population in the 2000 census, and the historic Sacred Heart Church and School.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 8,631 people, 3,372 households, and 2,255.868 families residing 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 of the city 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.There were 3,372 households out of which 28.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.8% were married couples living together, 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.1% were non-families. 26.7% of all households 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.In the city, the population was spread out with 20.8% 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 there were 96.8 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 93.2 males.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.
As of the 2000 United States Census 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.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.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.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.
South Amboy is governed within the Faulkner Act, formally known as the Optional Municipal Charter Law, under the Mayor-Council system of municipal government with a mayor elected directly by the voters. The City Council consists 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 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.As of 2016, the Mayor of South Amboy is Democrat Fred Henry, whose term of office ends December 31, 2018. Members of the City Council are Council President Michael "Mickey" Gross (D, 2018; at-large), Council Vice President Christine Noble (D, 2018; at-large), Donald Applegate (D, 2016; First Ward), Zusette Dato (D, 2016; Third Ward) and Thomas B. Reilly (D, 2016; Second Ward, serving an unexpired term of office).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. In the 2015 November general election, Reilly was elected to serve the balance of the term of office.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.
Federal, state and county representation
South Amboy is located in the 6th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 19th state legislative district.For the 116th United States Congress, 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, term ends 2025).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, 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 5,457 registered voters in South Amboy, of which 2,237 (41.0%) were registered as Democrats, 612 (11.2%) were registered as Republicans and 2,605 (47.7%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 3 voters registered to other parties.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%. 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%. 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.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%. 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.
The South Amboy Public Schools serve students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of the 2011-12 school year, the district's two schools had an enrollment of 1,152 students and 82.0 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 14.05:1. Schools in the district (with 2011-12 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are
South Amboy Elementary School (PreK-5, 625 students) and
South Amboy Middle High School (6-12, 527 students).Raritan Bay Catholic Preparatory - Sacred Heart is a parochial elementary school serving PreK-3 to eighth grade that operates under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen. Cardinal McCarrick High School closed at the end of the 2014-15 school year, in the wake of an increasing financial deficit.
Roads and highways
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. The town's major roads include portions of US 9, NJ 35, and CR 615, 621, 670, 684, 686, 688, while three Garden State Parkway exits (123–125) are just beyond the city's western border.
The South Amboy station 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.NJ Transit local bus service is available on the 815 and 817 routes.Plans for ferry servce o Lower and Mdtown Manhattan were announced n November 2018.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with South Amboy include:
Don Campbell (1916–1991), tackle who played for two NFL seasons.
Allie Clark (1923–2012), former New York Yankee.
Richard Field Conover (1858–1930), tennis player, lawyer and real estate manager.
Craig Coughlin (born 1958), New Jersey General Assembly member who has represented the 19th Legislative District since 2010.
Greg Evigan (born 1953), actor best known for the TV series B. J. and the Bear, then My Two Dads.
Harold G. Hoffman (1896–1954), mayor, congressman, and governor, for whom South Amboy Elementary School is named.
Benjamin Franklin Howell (1844–1933), banker and congressman, buried in Christ Church Cemetery.
Jack McKeon (born 1930), manager of the 2003 World Series Champion Florida Marlins.
Johnny O'Brien (born 1930) and Eddie O'Brien (1930–2014), twin baseball players for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Charles Pettit (1736–1806), lawyer, merchant, and delegate to the Congress of the Confederation.
Thomas J. Scully (1864–1921), mayor and congressman.
Elmer Stout (1929–2013), football player.
Marques Townes (born 1995), basketball player for the Loyola Ramblers men's basketball team, who transferred out of Cardinal McCarrick after his sophomore year.
Timothy Wiltsey (1985–1991), child murder victim whose mother was convicted 25 years later.