Newark, located approximately two miles north of Staten Island and five miles west of Manhattan, is the largest city in New Jersey with an estimated population of 281,402 residents (2006). Its location on Newark Bay made it the ideal spot for the modern day shipping industry on the United States Atlantic Coast. It is also the home of Newark Liberty International Airport, which was the first major airport to serve the greater New York City area.
Before there was a Newark, Leni Lenape and other American Indian communities dotted the coast line in the summer, where they gathered shell fish in the bay and native plants from the inland estuaries. Newark was founded in 1666 by Connecticut Puritans, making it the third oldest major city in the United States, after Boston and New York. Newark is the city's second name; previously, it was called Milford, named for Milford, Connecticut, from which many settlers had migrated. Its current name comes from Newark-on-Trent, England, the original home of a few of the settlers.
Newark grew rapidly after the Revolutionary War and became quite famous for its good beer, ciders and tanned leather goods. Newark's rapid growth began in the early 1800s and continued through the mid-1900s, much of it due to expertise in leather tanning and the discovery and successful production of the first commercial plastic (celluloid), and Thomas Edison's invention of the stock market ticker, which occurred in the Brick City building.
Today, Newark has over 300 types of businesses. These include 1,800 retail, 540 wholesale establishments, eight major bank headquarters, and twelve savings and loan association headquarters. The city is also the third-largest insurance center in United States, after New York City and Hartford. Prudential Insurance and Mutual Benefit Companies originated in Newark. The former, the largest insurance company in the world, is still headquartered in Newark. Many other companies are headquartered in the city, including International Discount Telecommunications, New Jersey Transit, Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G), and Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey.
Though Newark is not the industrial colossus of the past, the city does have a considerable amount of industry. The southern portion of the Ironbound, also known as the Industrial Meadowlands, has seen many factories built since World War II, including a large Anheuser-Busch brewery. The service industry is also growing rapidly, replacing those in the manufacturing industry, which was once Newark's primary economy. Newark-based companies include International Discount Telecommunications, Net2Phone, and McCarter & English, LLP.
Newark is the home of the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rutgers University - Newark, Seton Hall University School of Law, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (Newark Campus), and Essex County College. Most of Newark's academic institutions are located in the city's University Heights district.