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Perth Amboy, New Jersey
City
City of Perth Amboy
Perth Amboy Courthouse and Police Station
Perth Amboy Courthouse and Police Station
Motto(s): 
The City by the Bay
Location of Perth Amboy in Middlesex County(click image to enlarge; see also: state map)
Location of Perth Amboy in Middlesex County
(click image to enlarge; see also: state map)
Census Bureau map of Perth Amboy, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Perth Amboy, New Jersey
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Coordinates: 40°31′13″N 74°16′17″W / 40.52016°N 74.271331°W / 40.52016; -74.271331Coordinates: 40°31′13″N 74°16′17″W / 40.52016°N 74.271331°W / 40.52016; -74.271331
Country  United States
State  New Jersey
County Middlesex
Earliest European Settlement 1683
Royal charter August 4, 1718
Incorporated December 21, 1784
Reincorporated April 8, 1844 (included Township)
Named for James Drummond, 4th Earl of Perth
Government
 • Type Faulkner Act (mayor–council)
 • Body City Council
Area
 • Total 5.93 sq mi (15.36 km2)
 • Land 4.66 sq mi (12.07 km2)
 • Water 1.27 sq mi (3.28 km2)  21.37%
Area rank 259th of 565 in state
13th of 25 in county
Elevation
62 ft (19 m)
Population
 • Total 50,814
 • Estimate 
(2019)
51,390
 • Rank 758th in country (as of 2019)
33rd of 566 in state
6th of 25 in county
 • Density 10,806.8/sq mi (4,172.5/km2)
 • Density rank 29th of 566 in state
1st of 25 in county
Time zone UTC−05:00 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (Eastern (EDT))
ZIP Codes
08861-08863
Area code(s) 732 Exchanges: 293,324,376,442,697,826
FIPS code 3402358200
GNIS feature ID 0885349

Perth Amboy is a city in Middlesex County, New Jersey, United States. The City of Perth Amboy is part of the New York metropolitan area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 50,814, reflecting an increase of 3,511 (+7.4%) from the 47,303 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 5,336 (+12.7%) from the 41,967 counted in the 1990 Census. The Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program calculated that the city's population was 51,390 in 2019, ranking the city the 758th-most-populous in the country. Perth Amboy has a Hispanic majority population. In the 2010 census, the Hispanic population made up 78.1% of the population, the second-highest in the state, behind Union City at 84.7%. Perth Amboy is known as the "City by the Bay", referring to its location adjoining Raritan Bay.

The earliest residents of the area were the Lenape Native Americans, who called the point on which the city lies "Ompoge". Perth Amboy was settled in 1683 by Scottish colonists and was called "New Perth" after James Drummond, 4th Earl of Perth; the native name was eventually corrupted and the two names were merged. Perth Amboy was formed by Royal charter in 1718, and the New Jersey Legislature reaffirmed its status in 1784, after independence. The city was a capital of the Province of New Jersey from 1686 to 1776. During the mid-1800s, the Industrial Revolution and immigration grew the city, developing a variety of neighborhoods which residents from a diverse range of ethnicities lived in. The city developed into a resort town for the Raritan Bayshore near it, but the city has grown in other industries since its redevelopment starting in the 1990s.

Perth Amboy borders the Arthur Kill and features a historic waterfront. The Perth Amboy Ferry Slip was once an important ferry slip on the route south from New York City; it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The Raritan Yacht Club, one of the oldest yacht clubs in the United States, is located in the city. Perth Amboy is connected to the Staten Island borough of New York City via the Outerbridge Crossing.

History

Name

The Lenape Native Americans called the point on which the city is built "Ompoge" meaning "level ground". When settled in 1684 the new city was dubbed New Perth in honor of James Drummond, Earl of Perth, one of the associates of a company of Scottish proprietaries. The Algonquian language name persisted, corrupted to Ambo, or Point Amboy, and eventually a combination of the native and colonial names emerged, also appearing in South Amboy.

Scottish colony

Perth Amboy was first settled around 1683 by Scottish colonists who had been recruited to inhabit the share of the East Jersey colony owned by Robert Barclay, a Quaker who would later become the absentee governor of the province.

Charter and incorporation

Perth Amboy was formed by Royal charter on August 4, 1718, within various townships and again by New Jersey Legislature on December 21, 1784, within Perth Amboy Township and from part of Woodbridge Township. Perth Amboy Township was formed on October 31, 1693, and was enlarged during the 1720s to encompass Perth Amboy city. Perth Amboy Township was incorporated as one of New Jersey's initial 104 townships through the Township Act of 1798 on February 21, 1798. The township was replaced by Perth Amboy city on April 8, 1844.

Provincial capital

ProprietaryHousePerthAmboy
Proprietary House

Perth Amboy served as a capital of the Province of New Jersey from 1686 until 1776. In 1684, Perth Amboy became the capital of East Jersey and remained the capital until the union of East and West Jersey in 1702, and became an alternate colonial capital with Burlington until 1776. A few of the buildings from this early period can still be seen today. Most notably, the Proprietary House, the home of William Franklin, the last Royal Governor of New Jersey and estranged son of Benjamin Franklin, still stands in the waterfront area of the city. St. Peter's Church was founded in 1718 by the first Episcopal congregation in the state. Its current building, dating from 1875, is surrounded by a graveyard of early inhabitants and displays a collection of stained-glass windows with religious scenes as well as early depictions of New Jersey receiving her charter and a meeting between William Franklin and his father, Ben. Perth Amboy City Hall, first built as a courthouse in 1714, survived major fires in 1731 and 1764 and is the oldest city hall in continuous use in the United States. The Kearny Cottage, moved from its original location, is a remaining example of 18th Century vernacular architecture.

During the colonial period and for a significant time thereafter, Perth Amboy was an important way-station for travelers between New York City and Philadelphia, as it was the site of a ferry that crossed the Arthur Kill to Tottenville, Staten Island. Regular service began in 1709. This ferry became less important when the Outerbridge Crossing opened in 1928, but continued to operate until 1963. In 1998, the Perth Amboy Ferry Slip was restored to its 1904 appearance. A replica of the ticket office has been constructed and is used as a small museum.

Industrialization and immigration

PSM V40 D330 Three kilns at the perth amboy terra cotta company
Three kilns at the Perth Amboy Terra Cotta Company

By the middle of the 19th century, immigration and industrialization transformed Perth Amboy. Factories such as A. Hall and Sons Terra Cotta, Guggenheim and Sons and the Copper Works Smelting Company fueled a thriving downtown and employed many area residents. Growth was further stimulated by becoming the tidewater terminal for the Lehigh Valley Railroad and a coal shipping point. Perth Amboy developed tightly knit and insular ethnic neighborhoods such as Budapest, Dublin, and Chickentown. Immigrants from Denmark, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Russia, and Austria quickly dominated the factory jobs.

In 1903, the Perth Amboy Public Library became the first Carnegie library in the state, made possible through grants from Andrew Carnegie, and donations of local philanthropists.

In 1914, Perth Amboy had a baseball team called the Pacers; they only played for one season.

In late August 1923 a violent riot by an estimated 6,000 persons shook Perth Amboy when the Ku Klux Klan attempted to organize a meeting in the city.

The city was also a resort town in the 19th century and early 20th century, located on the northern edge of the Raritan Bayshore. Since the early 1990s Perth Amboy has seen redevelopment. Small businesses have started to open up, helped by the city's designation as an Urban Enterprise Zone. The waterfront has also seen a rebirth. The marina has been extended, there are new promenades, parks, and housing overlooking the bay.

The chapter "More Alarms at Night" in humorist James Thurber's biography My Life and Hard Times involves Perth Amboy. One night during his adolescence in Ohio, young Thurber is unable to go to sleep because he cannot remember the name of this New Jersey community. He wakens his father and demands that he start naming towns in New Jersey. When the startled father names several towns with single-word names, Thurber replies that the name he is seeking is "two words, like helter skelter". This convinces his father that Thurber has become dangerously insane. Thurber also wrote the story later made into the film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, about an "inconsequential guy from Perth Amboy, New Jersey". Perth Amboy's water pumping station is located in Old Bridge Township.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city had a total area of 5.957 square miles (15.429 km2), including 4.702 square miles (12.178 km2) of land and 1.255 square miles (3.251 km2) of water (21.07%).

Perth Amboy, and South Amboy across the Raritan River, are collectively referred to as The Amboys. Signage for Exit 11 on the New Jersey Turnpike refers to "The Amboys" as a destination. The Amboys are the northern limit of the area informally referred to as the Bayshore.

Perth Amboy borders Woodbridge Township (adjacent by land to the north and west), Sayreville (to the southwest, across the Raritan River), South Amboy (south across the upper reaches of Raritan Bay, directly connected only by rail), and the New York City borough of Staten Island (east across the Arthur Kill).

Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the city include Barber, Eagleswood and Florida Grove.

Perth Amboy sits on a geological layer of clay several hundred feet thick. Consequently, clay mining and factories such as A. Hall and Sons Terra Cotta located in Perth Amboy in the late 19th century.

In the September 2005 issue, Golf Magazine named Perth Amboy the unofficial "Golf Capital of the U.S.," despite the fact that there are no golf courses within the city limits, citing the city's access to 25 of the magazine's Top 100 Golf Courses in the U.S., which can be found within 150 mi (240 km) of Perth Amboy.

Victorian homes in Perth Amboy, New Jersey
Typical Victorians on High Street
Perth Amboy waterfront Arthur Kill
Arthur Kill along waterfront walkway just south of Ferry Slip

Waterfront

Perth Amboy features a historic waterfront, which has gone through significant revitalization. This is where the city was first settled and one of the few places left in New Jersey that has a historic and marina culture surrounded by water. Local attractions include the Perth Amboy Ferry Slip, two small museums, an art gallery, a yacht club, and a marina. Near the marina lies a park with a small bandshell. On Sunday afternoons in the summertime, Perth Amboy hosts the Concerts by the Bay in the park's bandshell. Every Thursday evening in the summer Perth Amboy hosts the Mayor's Concert Series in Bayview Park. Perth Amboy also hosts an annual Waterfront Arts Festival. The waterfront is also characterized by a redbrick promenade near the water and many stately Victorian homes, some on hills overlooking the bay and predominating tree lined streets with well-manicured lawns. It has a number of seafood restaurants, as well. The land rises steeply after two blocks. This hides the rest of the town, making the waterfront look like a quiet fishing village. Points of interest on the waterfront include St. Peter's Episcopal Church, and the Proprietary House, which is now the former governor's mansion and houses a museum and some offices. Kearny Cottage, which also has a museum, is here. In addition, this section of Perth Amboy once had a thriving Jewish community with yeshivas, synagogues, kosher butchers and bakers. Today however there are only two synagogues left each with only a few members usually over the age of 55. A project called the Landings at Harborside was to have featured 2,100 residential units along with indoor parking, 150,000 sq ft (14,000 m2) of retail space, a community center, and recreation amenities for the public as well. After meeting with Charles Kushner, the developer who spent two years in prison after being convicted of witness tampering, tax evasion and making illegal campaign contributions, Mayor Wilda Diaz endorsed a scaled-back design concept for the development, allowing Section 8 housing rentals instead of owner-occupied units as originally promised.

Downtown Perth Amboy

PA Bank
The Perth Amboy National Bank Building at the Five Corners

Perth Amboy was settled in 1683 and incorporated as a city in 1718. It was founded by English merchants, Scots seeking religious freedom, and French Protestants, who sought to make use of Perth Amboy's harbor to its full potential. Downtown is the main commercial district and is centered on Smith Street. It is an Urban Enterprise Zone and the reduced sales tax rate of 3½% (half of the statewide rate of 7%) funds revitalization of Smith Street with newly planted trees, Victorian streetlights, benches, garbage cans, and redbrick sidewalks. Smith Street is a relatively small shopping center that is only seven blocks wide and bustles with stores catering to working-class customers. The street is flanked by mainly two- to three-story buildings of varied architecture. It also has a lone bank skyscraper which is 10-stories tall called Amboy Towers, located at Five Corners, the intersection of Smith Street, New Brunswick Avenue and State Street. Once home to several department stores downtown, the largest today is discount retailer Bargain Man.

Harbortown

Tottenville ferry pilings jeh
Looking across Arthur Kill to Harbortown (center)

Harbortown is at townhouse development on the waterfront which continues to be expanded since construction started in 1987. Affordable housing (Section 8) along with more affluent homes can be found in Harbortown, an economically and ethnically diverse townhouse development in the city.

This area was the Lehigh Valley Railroad marshaling yards where coal was loaded onto barges for shipment to New York City and elsewhere until the LVRR went bankrupt in 1976.

Hall Avenue

Hall Avenue is a neighborhood centered on Hall Avenue east of the NJ Transit train tracks. The street itself, Hall Avenue, is no longer the commercial strip it once wase. Still, although the street has few pedestrians, it is not deserted. In addition, there is a recently built strip mall on the corner of Hall Avenue and State Street called the "Firehouse Plaza." There is also the special "Banco Popular" a branch of the bank headquartered in Puerto Rico. However, Hall Avenue is now primarily residential. Most of the homes are aging apartments, but there are also some newly constructed homes. Hall Avenue remains a traditional Puerto Rican neighborhood, and it hosts the city's annual Puerto Rican Day Festival, which is held on the same day of the historic Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York City. Rudyk Park is north of Route 440 and features the Roberto Clemente Baseball Field and an industrial park.

Southwestern section

The southwestern section is a mainly working-class residential neighborhood with some light industry, once the site of Eagleswood Military Academy. The city's largest strip mall is located here. This neighborhood has a large and diversified Hispanic neighborhood with many Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and recently, South Americans. Much of the city's Mexican population also lives in this section. Previously, this section of Perth Amboy had a large Irish population and was once named "Dublin." Following the Irish came the Eastern Europeans, primarily Polish and Hungarian. Most of the housing consists of small one- or two-family houses. The main commercial strip is Smith Street, west of the NJ Transit train tracks.

Western section

The western section of the waterfront is west of Kearny Avenue. It is an overwhelmingly blue-collar Hispanic neighborhood. Most of the homes are over 100 years old and many are modest row houses. Sadowski Parkway Park lines through the southern end of the neighborhood and has a walkway with a beach. The park also hosts the Dominican festival and other festivals during the summer.

State Street

State Street is a neighborhood east of the NJ Transit train tracks, north of Fayette Street, and south of Harbortown. Like the southwestern section of Perth Amboy, it is predominantly working-class Hispanic. In addition, this neighborhood had many industries and factories before they moved overseas. The neighborhood is mainly Caribbean Hispanic. This section once had a large Cuban community. The State and Fayette Gardens, an apartment complex in the neighborhood, were called "The Cuban Buildings" at one time. The Landings at Harborside redevelopment project is being constructed in this neighborhood.

Amboy Avenue

Amboy Avenue is a quasi-suburban, working to middle-class neighborhood. It is also referred to as the "Hospital section" or the "High School section" due to the fact that these places are located in the neighborhood. Today most residents are Hispanic; Amboy Avenue once had a strong Italian population.

Maurer

Maurer is a chiefly working to middle-class neighborhood that lies in the northern part of Route 440. It is heavily industrial with many oil refineries and brownfields. Like Amboy Avenue, it is quasi-suburban.

Chickentown

Chickentown is a neighborhood in the western part of Route 35 south of Spa Springs, just south of Route 440. It shares many of the same characteristics of Spa Springs but to a lesser extent. The city's largest park, Washington Park, is located here. It received its name from all the chicken farms (hens and eggs) that were located here before World War II.

Spa Springs

Along with the waterfront, Spa Springs, in the northwestern part of the city, remains one of the most attractive and middle-class areas of the city. The population is older. Spa Springs is the wealthiest neighborhood in town and is the most suburban with single-family houses and garages.

Climate

Perth Amboy has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) typical of New Jersey with warm summers and cold winters.

Climate data for Perth Amboy, New Jersey
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 39
(3.9)
43
(6.1)
52
(11.1)
64
(17.8)
74
(23.3)
83
(28.3)
87
(30.6)
85
(29.4)
78
(25.6)
66
(18.9)
55
(12.8)
43
(6.1)
64.1
(17.82)
Average low °F (°C) 23
(-5)
25
(-3.9)
32
(0)
41
(5)
50
(10)
60
(15.6)
65
(18.3)
64
(17.8)
56
(13.3)
45
(7.2)
36
(2.2)
28
(-2.2)
43.8
(6.53)
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.63
(92.2)
3.06
(77.7)
4.13
(104.9)
4.01
(101.9)
4.22
(107.2)
4.21
(106.9)
5.50
(139.7)
3.73
(94.7)
4.57
(116.1)
4.21
(106.9)
3.85
(97.8)
4.00
(101.6)
49.12
(1,247.6)

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 582
1810 815
1820 798 −2.1%
1830 879 10.2%
1840 1,303 48.2%
1850 1,865 43.1%
1860 2,302 23.4%
1870 2,851 23.8%
1880 4,808 68.6%
1890 9,512 97.8%
1900 17,699 86.1%
1910 32,121 81.5%
1920 41,707 29.8%
1930 43,516 4.3%
1940 41,242 −5.2%
1950 41,330 0.2%
1960 38,007 −8.0%
1970 38,798 2.1%
1980 38,951 0.4%
1990 41,967 7.7%
2000 47,303 12.7%
2010 50,814 7.4%
2019 (est.) 51,390 1.1%
Population sources:1790–1920
1840 1850–1870 1850
1870 1880–1890 1850–1930
1930–1990 2000 2010

The city is one of many U.S. communities with a majority Hispanic population.

2010 Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 50,814 people, 15,419 households, and 11,456 families residing in the city. The population density was 10,806.8 per square mile (4,172.5/km2). There were 16,556 housing units at an average density of 3,521.0 per square mile (1,359.5/km2)*. The racial makeup of the city was 50.26% (25,541) White, 10.54% (5,358) Black or African American, 1.10% (561) Native American, 1.69% (859) Asian, 0.05% (27) Pacific Islander, 30.77% (15,634) from other races, and 5.58% (2,834) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 78.10% (39,685) of the population. The city's Hispanic population was the second-highest percentage among municipalities in New Jersey as of the 2010 Census, ranked behind Union City with 84.7%.

There were 15,419 households out of which 40.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.1% were married couples living together, 24.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.7% were non-families. 20.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.25 and the average family size was 3.65.

In the city, the population was spread out with 27.3% under the age of 18, 11.0% from 18 to 24, 30.2% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 9.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32.4 years. For every 100 females there were 97.3 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 94.3 males.

The Census Bureau's 2006–2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $47,696 (with a margin of error of +/− $3,644) and the median family income was $53,792 (+/− $2,943). Males had a median income of $38,485 (+/− $2,450) versus $30,078 (+/− $3,452) for females. The per capita income for the city was $20,162 (+/−$933). About 16.3% of families and 19.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.8% of those under age 18 and 15.2% of those age 65 or over.

Transportation

Roads and highways

The Outerbridge Crossing, at night
The Outerbridge Crossing, at night. The bridge leads Route 440 from Perth Amboy across the Arthur Kill into Staten Island, NY.

As of May 2010, the city had a total of 75.25 miles (121.10 km) of roadways, of which 58.36 miles (93.92 km) were maintained by the municipality, 11.45 miles (18.43 km) by Middlesex County and 4.27 miles (6.87 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

The Outerbridge Crossing, which opened to traffic on June 29, 1928, is a cantilever bridge over the Arthur Kill that connects Perth Amboy with Staten Island. Known locally as the "Outerbridge", it is part of a popular route on NY-440 / NJ-440 from the south and west to New York City and Long Island. Despite the assumption that the name is derived from its location as the southernmost bridge in New York State and Staten Island, the Outerbridge Crossing was named in honor of Eugenius H. Outerbridge, first Chairman of the Port Authority. The bridge clears the channel by 143 ft (44 m), providing passage for some of the largest ships entering the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Perth Amboy Station
Main entrance of Perth Amboy Station

The Victory Bridge carries Route 35 over the Raritan River, connecting Perth Amboy on the north with the borough of Sayreville to the south. A project completed in 2005 replaced a swing bridge that carried four lanes of traffic with twin bridges, each carrying two lanes of traffic, an outside shoulder and a bike lane.

Public transportation

The city has NJ Transit train service at Perth Amboy station. The station provides service on the North Jersey Coast Line to Newark Penn Station, Hoboken Terminal, Secaucus Junction, New York Penn Station and the Jersey Shore.

NJ Transit buses serve the Port Authority Bus Terminal on the 116 route, Elizabeth on the 48 line, with local service available on the 813, 815, and 817 bus routes.

Sister cities

Economy

Portions of the city are part of an Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ), one of 32 zones covering 37 municipalities statewide. The city was selected in 1994 as one of a group of 10 zones added to participate in the program. In addition to other benefits to encourage employment within the UEZ, shoppers can take advantage of a reduced 3.3125% sales tax rate (half of the 6+58% rate charged statewide) at eligible merchants. Established in October 1994, the city's Urban Enterprise Zone status expires in October 2025.

Education

Perth Amboy HS
Perth Amboy High School

Public schools in Perth Amboy are operated by Perth Amboy Public Schools, serving students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. The district is one of 31 former Abbott districts statewide, which are now referred to as "SDA Districts" based on the requirement for the state to cover all costs for school building and renovation projects in these districts under the supervision of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority.

As of the 2017–18 school year, the district, comprised of 11 schools, had an enrollment of 11,135 students and 890.1 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 12.5:1. Schools in the district (with 2017-18 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Ignacio Cruz Early Childhood Center (755 students; in PreK), Edmund Hmieleski Jr. Early Childhood Center (397; PreK), Anthony V. Ceres Elementary School (694; K-4), James J. Flynn Elementary School (812; K-4), Edward J. Patten Elementary School (963; K-4), Dr. Herbert N. Richardson 21st Century Elementary School (779; K-4), Robert N. Wilentz Elementary School (845; K-4), Dual Language School (295; 2-6), William C. McGinnis Middle School (1,513; 5-8), Samuel E. Shull Middle School (1,397; 5-8) and Perth Amboy High School (2,208; 9-12).

Based on data from the 2013-2017 American Community Survey, 14.5% of adults over the age of 25 in Perth Amboy have a bachelor's degree or higher, a percentage significantly below the state average of 38.9% and the 42.7% of those in Middlesex County.

The Academy for Urban Leadership Charter High School is a public high school serving grades 7–12 open since September 2010, operating independently of the Perth Amboy Public Schools under the terms of a charter granted by the New Jersey Department of Education. The school opened with one hundred 9th graders, with plans to add a class of 100 students each year until it reached its goal of 400 students in grades 9–12 by the 2013–14 school year and has since added grades 7 and 8. As of the 2017–18 school year, the school had an enrollment of 576 students and 49.0 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 11.8:1.

Eighth grade students from all of Middlesex County are eligible to apply to attend the high school programs offered by the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools, a county-wide vocational school district that offers full-time career and technical education at Middlesex County Academy in Edison, the Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences in Woodbridge and at its East Brunswick, Perth Amboy and Piscataway technical high schools, with no tuition charged to students for attendance.

Assumption Catholic School (Pre-K–8) and Perth Amboy Catholic Primary School / Upper School (PreK–8) operate under the supervision of Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen.

In 1903, the Perth Amboy Public Library became the first Carnegie library in the state, made possible through a grant of $20,000 from Andrew Carnegie Foundation and donations from local philanthropists, which were supplemented in 1914 by an additional $30,000 in Carnegie grants to pay for two additional reading rooms. The library reopened in 2015 after a $2 million renovation project that kept the library closed for more than two years.

Notable people

People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Perth Amboy include:

  • Soren Sorensen Adams (1879–1963), inventor and manufacturer of novelty products, including the joy buzzer.
  • Garth Ancier (born 1957), media executive best known for being one of only two people to have programmed three of the five US broadcast television networks.
  • Solomon Andrews (1806–1872), creator of the first successful dirigible airship; served three terms as mayor of Perth Amboy.
  • Carolyn Aronson (born 1966), hair care entrepreneur.
  • Mike Baumgartner (1922–1991), bobsledder who competed in the Four-man event at the 1964 Winter Olympics.
  • Jay Bellamy (born 1972), safety who played in the NFL for the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints.
  • Jon Bon Jovi (born 1962), singer was born in Perth Amboy.
  • Padi Boyd, astrophysicist who is the head of NASA's Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics Laboratory.
  • Kelly J. Breen (born 1969), trainer of thoroughbred racehorses.
  • Malcolm Brenner (born 1951), author, journalist and zoophile.
  • Miles Browning (1897–1954), officer in the United States Navy in the Atlantic during World War I and in the Pacific during World War II who was a pioneer in the development of aircraft carrier combat operations concepts.
  • Frank Buckiewicz (1930–2017), football player and coach who served as the head football coach at Pacific University from 1965 to 1980.
  • Johnny Buff (1888–1955), boxer who was world bantamweight champion from 1921 to 1922.
  • Anne Casale (1930-2002, class of 1948), cookbook author and cooking teacher.
  • Karen A. Cerulo (born 1957), sociologist specializing in the study of culture, communication and cognition.
  • Alan Cheuse (1940–2015), writer.
  • Steve Christiansen (born 1956), rower who competed in the men's eight event at the 1976 Summer Olympics.
  • Stanley Norman Cohen (born 1935), co-creator of the first genetically modified organism and the process of recombinant DNA technology.
  • Flora Parker DeHaven (1883-1950), actress and mother of actress Gloria DeHaven.
  • Thomas J. Deverin (1921–2010), politician who served 11 terms in the New Jersey General Assembly, from 1970 to 1992.
  • William Dunlap (1766–1839), theater pioneer.
  • Bernard J. Dwyer (1921–1998, class of 1938), politician, who served in the United States House of Representatives from New Jersey from 1981 to 1993.
  • Walt Flanagan (born 1967), comic book artist and podcaster, creator of One True Three.
  • William Franklin (1730–1813), last governor of Province of New Jersey.
  • Arthur Franz (1920–2006), actor.
  • Thomas Gordon (1652–1722), lawyer who served as Chief Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court and New Jersey Attorney General for the Province of New Jersey.
  • Angelina Grimké (1805–1879) and Sarah Grimké (1792–1873), abolitionists.
  • Vida Guerra (born 1974), model, was born in Cuba but was raised in Perth Amboy.
  • George Inness (1825–1894), landscape painter.
  • Augustus Johnston (1729–1790), Rhode Island Attorney General, Tory sympathizer.
  • Lewis B. Kaden, businessman, attorney, legal scholar, and former political advisor who served as vice chairman of Citigroup from 2005 to 2013.
  • Lawrence Kearny (1789–1868) the "Sailor Diplomat", who paved the way for an open-door policy with China.
  • Edward L. Kemeys (1843–1907), sculptor in residence at Eagleswood Mansion.
  • Morgan Foster Larson (1882–1961), Governor of New Jersey from 1929 to 1932.
  • Yvonne Lopez (born 1957), politician who has represented the 19th Legislative District in the New Jersey General Assembly since 2018.
  • Miilkbone (born 1974 as Thomas Wlodarczyk), rapper.
  • Walter Mitty, fictional character from the 1947 film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
  • Steve Mizerak (1944–2006), champion pool player.
  • Joseph Montani (PAHS, 1970), astronomer and planetary scientist who named the minor planet "12465 Perth Amboy" after his hometown.
  • John A. Nagy (1946-2016), author of books about espionage and mutinies of the American Revolution.
  • John Nosta, critical thinker with a background in science and marketing, most notable for his work in the field of digital health.
  • George Otlowski (1912–2009), politician who served as mayor of the city from 1976 to 1990.
  • Thomas H. Paterniti (1929–2017), dentist and politician who served as Mayor of Edison and in both houses of the New Jersey Legislature.
  • Edward J. Patten (1905–1994), lawyer and politician who represented New Jersey's 15th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1963 until 1981.
  • Will Pennyfeather (born 1968), former center fielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • Thomas Mundy Peterson (1824–1904), first African-American to vote under the provisions of the 15th Amendment to the U.S. constitution in 1870.
  • Joseph J. Sadowski (1917–1944), United States Army soldier awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in World War II.
  • Richie Sambora (born 1959), guitarist for Bon Jovi was born here.
  • Arthur J. Sills (1917–1982), attorney who served as New Jersey Attorney General from 1962 to 1970.
  • Dave Smigelsky (born 1959), former American football punter who played for the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League and Washington Federals of the United States Football League.
  • Joann H. Smith (1934–1998), politician who served in the New Jersey General Assembly from the 13th Legislative District from 1986 to 1998.
  • Marcus Spring (1810–1874), founder of Raritan Bay Union and Eagleswood Military Academy.
  • Steve Stanko (1917–1978), heavyweight weightlifter and bodybuilder who was crowned Mr. America in 1944 and Mr. Universe in 1947.
  • John Stevens (c. 1715-1792), colonial American landowner, merchant and politician who was a delegate to the Continental Congress from New Jersey.
  • John Stevens (1749–1838), engineer who developed the multitubular boiler engine and the screw propeller.
  • Bruce Taylor (born 1948), former NFL player.
  • Brian Taylor (born 1951), former professional basketball player who played for the New York Nets and three other teams in his 10-year career in the NBA.
  • Harry Tierney (1890–1965), composer.
  • Marc Turtletaub (born 1946), movie producer and former president and CEO of The Money Store.
  • John Watson (1685–1768), one of the first painters in America and holder of the first gallery of paintings in the country.
  • Ruth White (1914–1969), Emmy Award winning television, stage and motion picture actress.
  • Amy Wilentz (born 1954), writer
  • Robert Wilentz (1927–1996), Chief Justice of New Jersey Supreme Court from 1979 to 1996.
  • Warren W. Wilentz (1924-2010), attorney and politician.
  • Blenda Wilson (born 1941), university president and education executive who was the first African-American woman to lead a large (over 25,000 students) university in the United States.
  • John Wisniewski (born 1962), politician who served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 1996 to 2018, where he represented the 19th Legislative District.

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