1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Elizabeth (New Jersey)

ELIZABETH, a city and the county-seat of Union county, New Jersey, U.S.A., on Elizabeth river, Newark Bay, and Arthur Kill, 10 m. S.W. of Jersey City. Pop. (1890) 37,764; (1900) 52,130, of whom 14,770 were foreign-born and 1139 were negroes; (1910 census) 73,409. It is served by the Pennsylvania, the Lehigh Valley and the Central of New Jersey railways. The site is level and the streets are broad and shaded. There are many residences of New York business men, and several historic buildings, including Liberty Hall, the mansion of William Livingston, first governor of the state; Boxwood Hall (now used as a home for aged women), the former home of Elias Boudinot; the old brick mansion of Jonathan Belcher (1681–1757), governor of the province from 1747 to 1757; the First Presbyterian Church; and the house occupied at different times by General Winfield Scott. The city has several parks, the Union county court house (1905), a public library and several charitable institutions. Elizabethport, that part of the city on Staten Island Sound, about 2 m. S.E. of the centre of Elizabeth, has a port open to vessels of 300 tons; it is an outlet of the Pennsylvania coal fields and is thus one of the most important coal shipping depots in the United States. Here, too, are a plant (covering more than 800 acres) of the Standard Oil Company and a large establishment for the manufacture of the “Singer” sewing machine—according to the U.S. census the largest manufactory of sewing machines in the world—employing more than 6000 workmen in 1905; among the other manufactures of Elizabeth are foundry and machine shop products (value in 1905, $3,887,139), wire, oil (value in 1905, $2,387,656), refined and smelted copper, the output of railway repair shops, edge tools and lager beer. The value of the manufactured products was $10,489,364 in 1890; $22,861,375 (factory product) in 1900; and $29,300,801 (factory product) in 1905.

Elizabeth was settled in 1665 by a company from Long Island for whom the land had been purchased from the Indians and a grant had been obtained from Richard Nicolls as agent for the duke of York. But about the same time the duke conveyed the entire province to John, Lord Berkeley, and Sir George Carteret, and these two conflicting grants gave rise to a long-continued controversy (see New Jersey). The town was named in honour of Elizabeth, wife of Sir George Carteret, and was first known as Elizabethtown. From 1665 to 1686 it was the seat of government of the province, and the legislature sat here occasionally until 1790. In the home of the Rev. Jonathan Dickinson (1688–1747), its first president, the first sessions of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) were held in 1747, but immediately afterwards the college removed to Newark. In December 1776 and twice in June 1780 the British entered Elizabeth and made it a base of operations, but on each occasion they were soon driven out. Elizabeth became a “free town and borough” in 1739; the borough charter was confirmed by the legislature in 1789 and repealed in 1790, and Elizabeth was chartered as a city in 1855.

See E. F. Hatfield, History of Elizabeth, New Jersey (New York, 1868).