Biggest cities in New Jersey 150 years ago

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May 23, 2022
Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Biggest cities in New Jersey 150 years ago

After the completion of the 1860 census and the election of President Abraham Lincoln, America imploded. Eleven southern states seceded from the Union in 1861, instigating four bloody years of the Civil War and fundamentally altering the social history of the U.S. The estimates of deaths caused by the Civil War begin around 600,000, but some claim as many as 750,000 individuals died throughout the conflict.

With so many families looking for a new start after combat finally ended and approximately 4 million Black Americans emancipated from slavery, it was time for many Americans to look for a new home to put down roots. The obvious choice for many was to move west, where there was more land to buy, settle, and cultivate. Many traveled by covered wagon, spending months on the dusty trail. Others who could afford better accommodations took a 25-day ride by stagecoach. All of them picked new cities and towns to make their homes, spreading the U.S. population more evenly across different states and territories.

On May 10, 1869, the first transcontinental railroad route across the United States was completed, ushering in a new era of transportation. The project was completed ahead of schedule and under budget, though with the loss of many lives, including those of the many Irish and Chinese immigrants hired to work 12-hour days in the hot western sun. Riding by steam engine, passengers could cross the entire country in four days, enabling waves of Americans and immigrants to quickly occupy land that would otherwise take months to settle.

The years of Civil War reconstruction, coupled with wagon, stagecoach, and railroad passengers finding new lives across the U.S., made the urban development reflected in the 1870 census incredibly interesting. Stacker compiled a list of the biggest cities in New Jersey from 150 years ago using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. By transcribing Table XXV of the Ninth Census of the U.S., which was previously only available as a PDF, it's easy to explore what the urban landscape looked like less than a decade after the end of the Civil War as America healed and grew.

The largest city in New Jersey ranked #13 among all cities nationwide in 1870. Of the 100 largest cities in the U.S., 7 were in New Jersey. Keep reading to find out more about the historic metropolitan landscape in your home state or check out the data on your own on our site, GitHub, or data.world.

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People standing in front of a general store with painted signs
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#25. Hamilton, Mercer County

- Total population: 5,417 (#457 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,754
--- Female population: 2,663
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,733
Two story wooden building with porch and people in rural town.
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Minnesota Historical Society/Corbis via Getty Images

#24. Shrewsbury, Monmouth County

- Total population: 5,440 (#452 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,634
--- Female population: 2,806
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,528
Blacksmith shoeing a horse
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Alexander Alland, Sr./Corbis via Getty Images

#23. Morris, Morris County

- Total population: 5,674 (#421 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,618
--- Female population: 3,056
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,542
Group of people sitting on porch
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Carleton E. Watkins/Bettmann Archive via Getty Images

#22. Burlington, Burlington County

- Total population: 5,817 (#400 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,559
--- Female population: 3,258
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,697
Group of children pose with their teacher outside schoolhouse
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#21. Bridgewater, Somerset County

- Total population: 5,883 (#393 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,853
--- Female population: 3,030
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,646
Group of six sitting at outdoor picnic
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Camerique/ClassicStock // Getty Images

#20. Phillipsburg, Warren County

- Total population: 5,932 (#390 nationwide)
--- Male population: 3,085
--- Female population: 2,847
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,716
Doctor making medical rounds in horse buggy.
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#19. Bordentown, Burlington County

- Total population: 6,041 (#377 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,925
--- Female population: 3,116
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,823
Large trees shading dirt road on residential street
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Detroit Publishing Company // Library of Congress

#18. Millville, Cumberland County

- Total population: 6,101 (#371 nationwide)
--- Male population: 3,045
--- Female population: 3,056
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,010
Farrier shoeing a horse with blacksmith and two other men standing nearby.
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#17. Ocean, Monmouth County

- Total population: 6,189 (#362 nationwide)
--- Male population: 3,043
--- Female population: 3,146
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,828
Men on steps of rural General Store
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#16. Raliway, Union County

- Total population: 6,258 (#357 nationwide)
--- Male population: 2,959
--- Female population: 3,299
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,664
Waiters and waitresses pose for a group picture
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Bettmann // Getty Images

#15. Rockaway, Morris County

- Total population: 6,445 (#339 nationwide)
--- Male population: 3,506
--- Female population: 2,939
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,841
Horse and wagon outside general store
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Minnesota Historical Society/Corbis via Getty Images

#14. Union, Hudson County

- Total population: 6,737 (#318 nationwide)
--- Male population: 3,475
--- Female population: 3,262
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,644
Group of young women out for a trip in a horse drawn Surrey
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Transcendental Graphics // Getty Images

#13. Bridgeton, Cumberland County

- Total population: 6,830 (#310 nationwide)
--- Male population: 3,388
--- Female population: 3,442
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 1,907
Man standing in door of ice cream parlor
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Minnesota Historical Society/Corbis via Getty Images

#12. Landis, Cumberland County

- Total population: 7,079 (#293 nationwide)
--- Male population: 3,651
--- Female population: 3,428
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,247
Group of men in front of a billiard parlor
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#11. Hackensack, Bergen County

- Total population: 8,038 (#250 nationwide)
--- Male population: 3,931
--- Female population: 4,107
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,023
Young man operating a printing press
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Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images

#10. Newton, Camden County

- Total population: 8,437 (#239 nationwide)
--- Male population: 4,077
--- Female population: 4,360
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,537
Group of workmen seated and standing
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Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

#9. Orange, Essex County

- Total population: 9,348 (#207 nationwide)
--- Male population: 4,542
--- Female population: 4,806
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 2,588
Adults jumping rope on sidewalk
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Bettmann // Getty Images

#8. New Brunswick, Middlesex County

- Total population: 15,058 (#103 nationwide)
--- Male population: 7,204
--- Female population: 7,854
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 4,558
Two carriage horses being watered on city street
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Alexander Alland, Sr./Corbis via Getty Images

#7. Camden, Camden County

- Total population: 20,045 (#71 nationwide)
--- Male population: 9,518
--- Female population: 10,527
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 5,524
People in street scene with horse and buggy and bicycles
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Underwood Archives // Getty Images

#6. Hoboken, Hudson County

- Total population: 20,297 (#68 nationwide)
--- Male population: 10,090
--- Female population: 10,207
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 5,228
Postman delivers mail by horsedrawn carriage
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Vintage Images // Getty Images

#5. Elizabeth, Union County

- Total population: 20,832 (#66 nationwide)
--- Male population: 10,042
--- Female population: 10,790
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 5,778
Men standing next to horse drawn carriages in front of shops
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American Stock/ClassicStock // Getty Images

#4. Trenton, Mercer County

- Total population: 22,874 (#58 nationwide)
--- Male population: 10,928
--- Female population: 11,946
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 6,669
Men and women sitting with bicycles in park.
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Chicago History Museum // Getty Images

#3. Paterson, Passaic County

- Total population: 33,579 (#37 nationwide)
--- Male population: 16,451
--- Female population: 17,128
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 9,303
Busy urban scene with man in hat leaning against pole
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Alexander Alland, Sr./CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

#2. Jersey City, Hudson County

- Total population: 82,546 (#17 nationwide)
--- Male population: 40,602
--- Female population: 41,944
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 23,022
Busy intersection at Broad and Market Streets in Newark
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Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

#1. Newark, Essex County

- Total population: 105,059 (#13 nationwide)
--- Male population: 51,344
--- Female population: 53,715
--- Child population, ages 5-18: 29,948

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