New Jersey Headlines That Shocked the World

From the Lindbergh kidnapping to the Bridgegate scandal, these news articles from the Garden State went national or beyond.

Bergen Evening Record newspaper with Lindbergh kidnapping headline

People may like to poke fun at New Jersey, but our stories are undeniably American. From newspapers to broadcast to viral moments, these Garden State stories went national in a big way.

The Jersey Devil Is Born in the Pinelands


As legend has it, the mysterious creature said to roam the Pinelands was born as the devil-esque 13th child of a woman named Mother Leeds. Today, the Jersey Devil is reportedly the only state demon in the country. Our NHL team is also named for it.

Nearly Whole Dinosaur Fossil Found in Haddonfield


William Parker Foulke discovered the world’s first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton in a marl pit in Camden County. That discovery, the Hadrosaurus foulkii, a plant-eater with a duck-shaped bill, is now the official state dinosaur. Read about a Haddonfield home redesign inspired by the 19th-century discovery here.

Thomas Edison Invents the Light Bulb in Menlo Park

January 1880

Thomas Edison, who had labs in Menlo Park and West Orange, created some of the most important inventions of all time, among them the movie camera, the phonograph, the automatic telegraph and, most famously, the light bulb, for which Edison received the patent in January 1880. Today, Edison-focused tours are available in both towns.

President James A. Garfield Dies in Long Branch

September 19, 1881

Garfield was the only president to die in New Jersey. He was shot and wounded in Washington by Charles J. Guiteau, and later died of an infection while staying at Francklyn Cottage, a Shore escape from the country’s capital. Garfield had been president for just four months before the shooting. Guiteau was executed in 1882.

Roselle Is First U.S. Town With Electricity

January 19, 1883

It’s fitting that a Jersey town was the first one lighted by electricity from one generating station.

Paterson Silk Strike Changes History

February 25, 1913

Poster from Paterson Silk Strike

About 25,000 workers went on strike, shutting down the important silk industry in Paterson for five months. The workers, mostly immigrants, sought improved conditions in the mills. Although the workers didn’t get everything they desired, the strike played an important part in the country’s movement to improve workplace conditions.

Cliffhanger Joins Movie Lexicon From Fort Lee


The film term cliffhanger originates from the silent serial The Perils of Pauline. It starred the actress Pearl White, who literally hung over the cliffs of the Palisades of Fort Lee and left audiences on the edge of their seats with anticipation as they wondered what would happen next. Fort Lee is known as the birthplace of film, with many early studios and projects.

Prohibition Fuels Atlantic City Debauchery

January 17, 1920

The start of Prohibition sparked an era of Mob activity, bootlegging and political corruption in Atlantic City. Today’s New Jerseyans saw a slice of that time when the HBO drama Boardwalk Empire ran from 2010 to 2014. The series starred Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson (based on real-life political boss Nucky Johnson) and West Orange’s Michael Pitt.

Lindbergh Baby Kidnapped

March 1, 1932

In one of the most infamous crimes in American history, famed aviator Charles Lindbergh and wife Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s 20-month-old son was kidnapped from the family’s home and found dead two months later, just a few miles from their residence. Bruno Richard Hauptmann was executed for the murder of baby Charles A. Lindbergh in 1936. In 2023, a judge shut down a possible re-examination of the case.

M&Ms Created in Newark


The first batch of the iconic candies was made at 285 Badger Avenue. The Mars Wrigley factory is now in Hackettstown. (Read more about iconic candy brands born and bred in Jersey here.)

Self-Service Gas Ban Begins


Today, New Jersey is the only state left in the country that doesn’t allow people to pump their own gas at service stations. The practice stems from the state Legislature passing the Retail Gasoline Dispensing Safety Act, citing driver safety and convenience. Government players have attempted to get the self-service ban reversed over the years, but so far, it has never happened.

Three Planes Crash in Elizabeth


Newspaper headlines showing trio of 1950s Elizabeth plane crashes

In one of the most shocking and tragic stories in New Jersey history, three planes crashed in Elizabeth in a 58-day period from December 1951 through February 1952. All either took off from Newark Airport or were en route to land there. Judy Blume, an Elizabeth native, used the events as the setting for her 2015 novel, The Unlikely Event.

Newark Riots Tear the City Apart

July 12-17, 1967

The five-day uprising left Newark devastated for decades. An incident of police brutality sparked the riots in the midst of frustrations about housing discrimination, unemployment, and the failure of leadership to reflect the mostly African American community. The governor sent in the National Guard. Twenty-six people died and many were injured.

Grateful Dead Concert in Englishtown is Biggest Ever in U.S.

September 3, 1977

More than 107,000 fans rocked out, making it the biggest ticketed concert in U.S. history.

Physicists Win Nobel Following Discovery in Holmdel’s Bell Labs


Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered cosmic background radiation, proving the Big Bang Theory.

Baby M Case Stuns the Nation


New Jersey was at the center of the nation’s first surrogacy controversy when Mary Beth Whitehead decided she wanted to keep the baby she’d birthed as a surrogate for the Sterns of Tenafly. Whitehead used her own egg. The Sterns won custody. The case ignited a debate on the morality and legality of surrogacy and helped gain protections for parents. These days, hopeful parents are increasingly choosing surrogacy in the Garden State.

‘Crazy Eddie’ Gets Prison Time


Eddie Antar mugshot

Photo: Courtesy of Paul Hayes

Crazy Eddie, the electronics store chain that rose to prominence in New Jersey for its cut-rate prices and notoriously frenetic TV commercials, later become notorious for its dramatic fall from grace amid a colossal fraud scheme. Founder Eddie Antar ultimately pleaded guilty to one charge of racketeering conspiracy. He served time and died in 2006.

JFK Jr.’s Fatal Flight Leaves From Fairfield

July 16, 1999

John F. Kennedy Jr., his wife, Carolyn Bessette, and her sister Lauren took off from Fairfield’s Essex County Airport at 8:38 pm with Kennedy piloting his new Piper Saratoga, headed to Martha’s Vineyard. At 9:41, the plane hit the water, killing all three. The accident was caused by Kennedy’s spatial disorientation descending over water at night; hazy weather reduced visibility.

9/11 Claims 750 New Jerseyans’ Lives

September 11, 2001

Empty Sky in Liberty State Park

An estimated 750 New Jerseyans were among the nearly 3,000 lives lost on September 11, 2001. We had the second highest death toll of any state, following New York. Ten years after the attacks, New Jersey dedicated its official 9/11 memorial, called Empty Sky. Located in Liberty State Park, the powerful memorial faces the World Trade Center site. Twenty years after the attacks, New Jerseyans shared personal stories with NJM about 9/11’s impact on their lives.

Jim McGreevey Comes Out as ‘Gay American’

August 13, 2004

Jim McGreevey on C-SPAN

Then governor Jim McGreevey shocked the world by resigning, admitting to an affair with a man, and declaring, “I am a gay American.” Nearly 20 years later, in 2023, McGreevey announced a run for mayor of Jersey City. In recent years, he’s been working with formerly incarcerated people through his New Jersey Reentry Corporation.

Charles Kushner Weaves a Sordid Web of Scandal


Real estate mogul Charles Kushner was embroiled in scandal long before son Jared married Ivanka Trump. In pleading guilty to various charges, he admitted to hiring a prostitute to seduce his sister’s husband, and paying someone $25,000 to film the tryst. The reason? Kushner’s sister was a cooperating witness against him. Kushner got two years in prison.

Sopranos Series Finale Airs

June 10, 2007

When The Sopranos ended its six-season run, the series finale sparked an intense debate that never died. The final scene was filmed at Holsten’s in Bloomfield, making the eatery a household name far beyond the Garden State. For years a plaque hung in the booth where the Soprano family sat that read, “This Booth Reserved For the Soprano Family.” In late February, the restaurant announced that it was auctioning off the booth on eBay amid desperately needed renovations.

Bob Dylan Detained in Long Branch

June 2009

When cops got a call about an “eccentric-looking old man” walking around Long Branch, it turned out to be music legend Bob Dylan. The 24-year-old police officer who responded to the call didn’t recognize Dylan, nor did she initially believe him when he told her who he was and that he was in town on tour. It was a a shock when she used his passport to verify his identity.

Hurricane Sandy Wreaks Havoc on Jersey Shore

October 29, 2012

The Star Jet rollercoaster destroyed by Hurricane Sandy

Photo: Courtesy of Anthony Quintano

Hurricane Sandy left destruction and years of rebuilding in its wake. It devastated our Shore and caused billions in damages. Read about what’s next for the Jersey Shore a decade later here.

Bridgegate Scandal in Fort Lee Shocks Everyone

September 9, 2013

Staff members of then governor Chris Christie apparently schemed to shut down the busy lanes into the GW Bridge during rush hour in retribution for the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee’s refusal to back Christie’s bid for re-election—even though Christie is a Republican. The misadventure resulted in massive headaches for drivers and a nine-count indictment.

Super Bowl Held at MetLife 

February 2, 2014

The game between the Broncos and the winning Seahawks was the first Super Bowl played outdoors in a cold-weather city.

Tracy Morgan Nearly Dies in Cranbury Car Crash

June 7, 2014

Tracy Morgan

Photo: Alex Millauer/Shutterstock

Comedian Tracy Morgan was in a wheelchair for five months, broke every bone in his face, and says he considered suicide after a Walmart truck crashed into his limo on the Turnpike. Morgan’s friend James “Jimmy Mack” McNair, died in the crash. The truck driver pleaded guilty to second-degree vehicular homicide and four counts of third-degree aggravated assault.

‘The Situation’ Sentenced to Prison

October 5, 2018

 Mike Sorrentino prison ID

Photo: Courtesy of Mike Sorrentino

Jersey Shore star Mike Sorrentino spent eight months behind bars for tax evasion. He spoke candidly with New Jersey Monthly last year about his road to redemption following prison and drug addiction.

Ivana Trump Buried in Bedminster

July 2022

Even though she’d been divorced from Donald Trump for three decades when she died, Ivana Trump was buried at his Trump National Golf Club. Her gravesite is reportedly located in a quiet spot, away from the hubbub of golfers passing through. The former president has said in the past that he wants to be buried at the golf course.

Senator Robert Menendez Indicted

September 22, 2023

Did anyone say gold bars? That’s what was found in the home that Senator Robert Menendez shares with his wife when it was searched by federal agents, along with hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash—all central to the stunning charges against the pair. He has been accused of acting as a foreign agent to Egypt and helping to advance the interests of Qatar in a bribery scheme.

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