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South Amboy, New Jersey
City of South Amboy
South Amboy highlighted in Middlesex County. Inset: Location of Middlesex County in New Jersey.
South Amboy highlighted in Middlesex County. Inset: Location of Middlesex County in New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of South Amboy, New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of South Amboy, New Jersey.
Coordinates: 40°29′12″N 74°16′44″W / 40.486719°N 74.279016°W / 40.486719; -74.279016Coordinates: 40°29′12″N 74°16′44″W / 40.486719°N 74.279016°W / 40.486719; -74.279016
Country  United States
State  New Jersey
County Middlesex
Incorporated February 21, 1798
 • Type Faulkner Act (Mayor-Council)
 • Body City Council
 • Total 2.694 sq mi (6.976 km2)
 • Land 1.548 sq mi (4.008 km2)
 • Water 1.146 sq mi (2.967 km2)  42.54%
Area rank 364th of 566 in state
19th of 25 in county
10 ft (3 m)
 • Total 8,631
 • Estimate 
 • Rank 265th of 566 in state
19th of 25 in county
 • Density 5,577.1/sq mi (2,153.3/km2)
 • Density rank 94th of 566 in state
7th of 25 in county
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (Eastern (EDT))
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 732 and 848
FIPS code 3402368550
GNIS feature ID 0885399

South Amboy is a city in Middlesex County, New Jersey, on the Raritan Bay. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 8,631, reflecting an increase of 718 (+9.1%) from the 7,913 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 50 (+0.6%) from the 7,863 counted in the 1990 Census.

South Amboy and Perth 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 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.

Ammunition explosions

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.

Historical population
Census Pop.
1790 2,626
1810 3,071
1820 3,406 10.9%
1830 3,782 11.0%
1840 1,825 −51.7%
1850 2,266 24.2%
1860 3,652 61.2%
1870 4,525 23.9%
1880 3,648 −19.4%
1890 4,330 18.7%
1900 6,349 46.6%
1910 7,007 10.4%
1920 7,897 12.7%
1930 8,476 7.3%
1940 7,802 −8.0%
1950 8,422 7.9%
1960 8,422 0.0%
1970 9,338 10.9%
1980 8,322 −10.9%
1990 7,863 −5.5%
2000 7,913 0.6%
2010 8,631 9.1%
2015 (est.) 8,846 2.5%
Population sources: 1790-1920
1840 1850-1870 1850
1870 1880-1890
1890-1910 1910-1930
1930-1990 2000 2010
* = Lost territory in previous decade.

2010 Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 8,631 people, 3,372 households, and 2,256 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 (U.S. Census)|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 old 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.


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.

Public transportation

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.

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