Perth Amboy is maybe the nicest decaying ex-factory town in New Jersey, and reminds me very much of several other nice little economically distressed communities in Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Upstate New York. The people who possess (or force) some community spirit are desperately enthusiastic about things like ‘waterfront revitalization’ and ‘urban enterprise zones’, while most of the residents secretly hope for an early death, and pass the time drinking beer and watching TV.
We always wondered where the name came from; according to Wikipedia, the Lenni Lenape Native Americans called the land “Ompoge” (meaning ‘point’), which was Eurorefined into “Emboyle”, “Amboyle”, “Ambo”, “Amboy Point”, and ultimately “Amboy.”
That’s that settled, then. Regardless of the origins, Perth got thrown into the mix when James, the 4th Earl of Perth (Scotland, don’t you know), went in on a bag of East Jersey with his bud William Penn. The earl may not have actually seen the land, which may have worked out well for everyone.
After carefully grazing the available historic texts, I’ve come to the conclusion that Lord Perth is mainly remembered for becoming Catholic at a bad time…oh, and he was named Gentleman of the Bedchamber AND a Knight of the Garter. I have no idea what either one does, but it sounds like a great job.
Due to an extraordinary conjunction of geographical coincidences, Perth Amboy can boast of something unique to New Jersey: no radon. Yep, if you live in Perth Amboy and you want cancer, you’re going to have to earn it just like the rest of us.
Walter Mitty spent a lot of his Secret Life in Perth Amboy, which is both cool and sad at the same time. And it was revealed various times, in an off-hand way, that Perth Amboy is the hometown of iconic trickster Bugs Bunny (kingpin of the vicious Merrie Melodies Gang). Who knew? From the accent, I coulda sworn he was from Flatbush…
Perth Amboy is a crucial part of the delicate Tri-State Derision Chain. I’m not a professional, so I’ll explain it in layman’s terms: Manhattan looks down on everyone else in New York. The Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn get to look down on Staten Island. Staten Island, therefore, should be at the bottom…except that everybody in New York gets to look down on New Jersey, which makes Staten Island very happy (there but for the grace of god, etc.).
However, Perth Amboy and Staten Island are so similar in character that PA residents can almost pretend to be New Yorkers (albeit the bottom strata of New Yorkers), along with fellow pretenders Bayonne, Jersey City, Hackensack, Hoboken, Carteret…
The only wild card in this puzzle is Connecticut — which may or may not be preferable to Manhattan, depending on what line of work you are in, and what residential options you have — but it’s most certainly above Staten Island, placing it above Perth Amboy or anywhere else in Jersey.