Elizabeth, city (1990 pop. 110,002), seat of Union co., NE N.J., on Newark Bay; inc. 1855. It is a shipping and transportation hub, with some of the world's largest containerized dock facilities at Port Elizabeth. Since 1985 the harbor, as part of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, has seen a steady increase in the volume of containerized exports. Highly industrialized, Elizabeth makes furnaces, plastics, chemicals, metal and food products, tea, paperboard boxes, and pharmaceuticals. A campus of Union College is in the city. The Goethals Bridge (1928) links Elizabeth with Staten Island, N.Y., and Newark International Airport is nearby. Since the 1980s the Jersey Gardens Mall and other developments have made Elizabeth a retailing center.
The area was purchased (1664) from the Delaware and called Elizabethtown. From 1668 to 1682, Elizabeth borough served as the meeting place of the New Jersey assembly. Chartered as the town of Elizabeth in 1740, it was the scene of several Revolutionary clashes; many buildings were burned (1780). Among surviving older buildings are the 18th-century Elias Boudinot House and the 17th-century Nathaniel Bonnell House. Early industries were tanning and brewing. In the 19th cent., Elizabeth's proximity to New York City and the coming of the railroad stimulated great industrial expansion, especially in shipbuilding, machine production, and oil refining. Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr lived at times in Elizabeth.
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