Where am I – North Jersey, South Jersey, or Possibly even Central Jersey?

What line divides North Jersey and South Jersey – Does Central Jersey even exist?

A few weeks ago my daughter, Sara Peters, was helping me to develop ideas for a presentation to the fall meeting of the New Jersey Society of Municipal Engineers. While brainstorming about potential topics she posed the question “Where do you think that most of the attendees will come from? – North Jersey,  South Jersey,  or Central Jersey?” This renewed a debate that has been brewing in our family for a number of years – “Where is the dividing line between North and South Jersey and does Central Jersey even exist.”


For us, the discussion began in earnest when Sara started to date her husband-to-be, Peter Aguero. Sara and Pete met while attending Rutgers University – the New Brunswick campuses. Sara, who was born and raised in Edison, knew full well that New Brunswick was situated in the heart of Central Jersey. Pete, who hails from Delanco – a town situated along the Delaware River in western Burlington County- was equally sure that New Brunswick was in North Jersey. While I’m not a New Jersey native (In fact I currently live in Staten Island, NY – separated from NJ by a narrow band of water but connected with three bridges that demand payment of a $12 toll.), I attended Rutgers University and have worked for most of my career as a Professional Engineer and Land Surveyor in Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth and northern Ocean Counties – land that I consider to be in Central Jersey.


Now, being of an engineering mindset, I thought that the first approach at defining North, South and Central Jersey would be to group the 21 counties into three groups of seven (obviously if there were only North and South Jersey we would need to have an even number of counties). My grouping is as follows:

North Jersey:     Sussex, Passaic, Bergen, Warren, Morris, Essex and Hudson;

Central Jersey:  Hunterdon, Somerset, Union, Middlesex, Monmouth, Mercer and Ocean;

South Jersey:     Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Atlantic, Cumberland, Salem and Cape May;


Admittedly, it was a difficult choice to determine into which groups Ocean County and Burlington County should be placed. I chose to place Ocean County in the Central Jersey group as it was part of the colonial grant for East Jersey (I’ll discuss the history of East and West Jersey in a future post). as were the majority of the other counties in the Central Jersey group. Burlington was the home of the proprietors of West Jersey, an area that contained all of the other counties I had arranged in the South Jersey Group.


While my groupings looked pretty neat, I thought that it might be wise to look at some official statistics. After all, the map seemed to show that more than 1/3 of the land area was in the group that I had labeled as South Jersey and more than 1/3 of the population resided in at least the eastern portion of North Jersey. A review of the 2010 Census data revealed the following facts.





Annual Income

Sq. Mi.




(persons/ sq. mi)


$/yr (millions)

Per Capita ($/yr)









































In my preliminary research I ran across the Center of Population Project , which has calculated that in the year 2000, New Jersey’s population was centered in Milltown, just slightly east of the New Jersey Turnpike, between exits 8A and 9.  This point is pretty near the center of my definition of Central Jersey  – my proposition is looking pretty good about now.



Geographic Center of New Jersey

Further research revealed that the geographic center of the state was located 5 miles southeast of Trenton at 74°33.5’W 40°4.2’N, which lies in Plumstead Township, Ocean County, south of Route I -195, east of the NJ Turnpike and north of McGuire Air Force Base. Now that point is just about on the border between Burlington and Ocean Counties, That means the geographic center is on the line between Central Jersey and South Jersey – that can’t be right.



It seems that getting these definitions of North Jersey, South Jersey and possibly Central Jersey accurate is going to be harder than I thought. It appears that I need to dig into this matter further. It’s been bugging me since Pete brainwashed Sara into becoming a Philadelphia Phillies fan when she grew up rooting for the New York Mets.


Please share your thoughts on this thorny issue with me – by answering these two poll questions and posting comments.

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Next – The Jersey Debate – How I got Interested


The author, Carl E. Peters is one of fewer than 10 people licensed by the State of New Jersey as a Professional Engineer, Professional Land Surveyor, Professional Planner, Construction Official, Building Subcode Official and Plumbing Subcode Official. He is also a Certified Municipal Engineer and Mediator and founder of Carl E. Peters, LLC