The Port of Perth Amboy lies at the mouth of the Raritan River in east-central New Jersey on the United States' East Coast. On the southwestern shores of Raritan Bay at the river's mouth, the Port of Perth Amboy is about 15 kilometers southwest of the Port of New York and about 16 kilometers southwest of the Port of Newark. The Port of Perth Amboy's name is a combination of Native American language (Amboy) and the fourth Earl of Perth. Historians believe that the first African American cast a ballot to vote in the Port of Perth Amboy in 1870. In 2000, more than 47 thousand people called the Port of Perth Amboy home.
The Port of Perth Amboy economy suffered from the transition of the national economy from industry and manufacturing to high-technology and services. While once a seaside resort, pollution has made its waters unswimmable as well. In the early 1990s, efforts at redevelopment were undertaken, and new businesses located in the Port of Perth Amboy. The waterfront was also renovated and modernized with new promenades and parks.
In 1651, the Algonquin tribe of Leni Lenape peoples sold the land at the mouth of the Raritan River to Augustine Herman. Known at the time as Ompoge, the new settlement's name changed first to Emboyle and then to Amboyle. The first three houses appeared in the new Port of Perth Amboy in 1683, and the settlers started calling the land Amboy.
The Port of Perth Amboy is the only city in the US to be incorporated twice. It was chartered as Perth Amboy in 1718, and the Port of Perth Amboy was incorporated again after the American Revolution in 1784. The Earl of Perth became Lord High Chancellor under King James II in 1684. When Deputy Governor Gawen Lawrie arrived, he came with instructions to call the town Perth.
The Port of Perth Amboy is the only place in the country where the original official Royal Governor's Mansion survives since colonial times (known as the Proprietary House). The Port of Perth Amboy's City Hall was built in the early 1700s as a county courthouse and jail. Destroyed by fire in 1731, the Port of Perth Amboy's city hall and courthouse was rebuilt in 1745. Arson again destroyed the building in the mid-1760s, and it was rebuilt in 1767 with chambers for the Provincial Assembly.
In the City Hall building, New Jersey became the first state to ratify the United States' Bill of Rights. City Hall was renovated twice in the 19th Century and again in 2006, but some of the original 1717 building remains, making it the oldest city hall in the country.
For much of the 19th Century, the City Hall Courthouse was used as a public school. When the first formal public school opened in 1870, the original building was renamed from School One to Thomas Mundy Peterson School, and it is still in use today. Thomas Mundy Peterson was the first black voter in the United States.
In the early 19th Century, the Port of Perth Amboy was a busy business center with warehouses, rooming houses, stores, outdoor markets, eateries, and docks. The ferry service from the Port of Perth Amboy was important for many years for people going to and Staten Island in New York City. Today, the Tottenville Ferry operated until 1963, and the Ferry Terminal has been restored, standing today as a proud historic site for the Port of Perth Amboy.
In the mid-19th Century, the Port of Perth Amboy became the home of a utopian community for intellectuals, abolitionists, and artists. The Eagleswood School was founded in the Port of Perth Amboy by Marcus and Rebecca Spring in 1853, and it attracted many celebrities of the day like Henry Thoreau , Louisa May Alcott , Ralph Waldo Emerson , and Horace Greeley . The Springs managed to have two men who were hung with abolitionist John Brown buried on the school grounds.
The Port of Perth Amboy has experienced many historic moments. In 1752, the first professional play was performed in the city. In 1760, the first American magazine was published in the Port of Perth Amboy. In 1865, the Raritan Yacht Club, the country's second oldest, was established in the Port of Perth Amboy. In 1896, the first modern submarine was constructed at the Industrial Iron Works and Machine Shop in the Port of Perth Amboy. The first air-mail delivery was made when a five-minute hydroplane carried mail from South Amboy to the Port of Perth Amboy in 1912.
The Port of Perth Amboy's waterfront has evolved greatly over time. In the colonial era when it was the capital of the Province of East Jersey, the Port of Perth Amboy was an important center for imports, exports, and fishing as well as the entry point into the United States for many immigrants.
In those early days, the Port of Perth Amboy had plentiful waterway access, a mature infrastructure, and a skilled workforce that made it an important hub for imports of raw materials.
In the 19th and early 20th Centuries, the Port of Perth Amboy was an important manufacturing center. Its native soils fed a profitable terra cotta industry . The Port of Perth Amboy was the source of ships that went all over the Northeast region. Its manufacturing plants and deep-water port attracted petrochemical companies and metal refineries.
In more modern times, the Port of Perth Amboy's economy and industries have changed dramatically. Technological advancements and decreased needs for raw materials left the city's economy depressed. The Port of Perth Amboy waterfront fell out of use during the post-industrial age. Many older industrial companies left town, although several are still active (including Hess, Chevron, General Cable, and many others).
In 1978, the Port of Perth Amboy's government began to redevelop and revitalize the waterfront area. They tore down old docks, planned waterfront improvements, and acquired grant funds. Public-private partnerships were formed to take on waterfront projects in the Port of Perth Amboy. Today, the Port of Perth Amboy's waterfront development continues to be a primary focus for the development and expansion of the local economy.
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