So, How Did We Become The Garden State?
We use the phrase all the time, but do you know how New Jersey became known as the Garden State? Well, like most New Jersey things, there is a bit of controversy about it.
According to the official New Jersey website, here's how the story goes as documented in Alfred Heston's book Jersey Waggon Jaunts . Back in August of 1876, a man named Abraham Browning of Camden called New Jersey the Garden State while he was speaking at New Jersey Day at the Philadelphia Centennial exhibition.
The New Jersey website says, " Browning said that our Garden State is an immense barrel, filled with good things to eat and open at both ends, with Pennsylvanians grabbing from one end and New Yorkers from the other".
The controversy exists because Benjamin Franklin is also quoted as saying something very similar and some people say that puts crediting Browning with coining the nickname in question.
You didn't expect our nickname, or anything else in our Garden State to be controversy-free, did you? And the story didn't end there. There was also a battle regarding putting the nickname on our license plates.
Back in 1954, the state legislature passed bill that would put "The Garden State" on license plates. Seems simple enough, right? Hold everything, said Governor Robert Meyner. He apparently did some investigating and said, "I do not believe that the average citizen of New Jersey regards his state as more peculiarly identifiable with gardening for farming than any of its other industries or occupations." The Governor vetoed the bill, but then that veto was overridden by the legislature, and it wasn't long before Garden State was part of our plates.
There you have it. A little history lesson about our beloved nickname.