East of Burlington County, Ocean County is the second-largest county in New Jersey, containing 638 square miles of pine barrens and barrier islands and a 45-mile coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. Its county seat is Toms River. Ocean County is one of New Jersey’s fastest-growing counties. As of the 2017 Census estimate, the county's population was 597,943, a
3.7 percent increase from the 2010 United States Census, making Ocean the state’s sixth-
About 50 miles east of Philadelphia and
70 miles south of New York City, Ocean County’s location on the Jersey Shore makes it a prime destination for tourists and residents alike seeking recreation. From beachfront communities to Six Flags Great Adventures, there is something for every enthusiast. For more information, visit www.co.ocean.nj.us and www.oceancountytourism.com.
Communities in Ocean County with ties to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst include Toms River and Lakewood.
Township of Toms River
The Township of Toms River in Ocean County counts nearly 92,000 people within its 52 total square miles, according to 2016 estimates by the U.S. Census. Formerly known as the Township of Dover, in 2006 voters approved a change of the official name to the Township of Toms River, adopting the name of the largest unincorporated community within the township. The settlement and the river were usually spelled Tom’s River in its early days, though its current spelling has been standard since the middle of the 19th century.
Toms River was located in the southern section of the Township of Shrewsbury that obtained a royal charter to secede in 1767 and form Dover Township. During the American Revolutionary War, Toms River was home to a strategically important salt works that supplied colonial militias, as well as a base for privateer ships that plundered British and Tory vessels off the coast. In March 1782, a group of British and loyalist soldiers attacked a blockhouse along the river that housed the colonial militia. The township’s salt works and most of the houses in the village were destroyed.
In 1850, Toms River became the county seat of the newly created Ocean County when it was formed out of southern Monmouth County. During the 19th century, Toms River became a center for shipbuilding, whaling, fishing, and iron and lumber production.
While the village is still the center of municipal and county government, the population in the area exploded in the decades after World War II, due in part to the completion of the Garden State Parkway in 1954. In the last two decades of the 20th century, the demographics of the township changed substantially, adding over 20,000 residents just in the 1990s.
Today, Toms River is a vibrant waterfront community, boasting activities for residents and visitors alike. From kid-friendly activities and arts and culture to shopping and outdoor recreation, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy by the ocean and a little inland.
Median rent in Toms River is $1,340, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $2,018. Mean travel time to work 30.3 minutes.
Township of Jackson
Ocean County’s Jackson Township counts about 57,000 residents in 100 square miles, according to the U.S. Census. Immigrants from Europe came to and settled throughout the area in the 1700s. The township itself was created from portions of other townships in 1844, specifically to honor former President Andrew Jackson. Even today, after other municipalities have carved out their own space from its former boundaries, Jackson Township is still the largest municipality in Ocean County.
Through the 19th and early 20th centuries, the township’s main industry was agriculture. Forestry, with the hewing of trees for boards at local sawmills and the manufacture of charcoal for furnaces, was the first industry. As the forests were removed, land owners converted properties to farmland. In the early 1840s, cranberry crops flourished in the area’s bogs. After the civil war, more than 200 cranberry bogs ran at peak production, and the fruit was shipped to Philadelphia, New York and Boston in wood crates fabricated in local sawmills. After World War I, charcoal and cranberries declined and poultry became a major industry until the 1950s.
As the 1950s came to a close, the Garden State Parkway reached Ocean County, opening more opportunity for families in larger cities to relocate to the township. In 1960, land development in Jackson shifted from agriculture to new home development as the North Jersey megalopolis reached out into southern Monmouth and upper Ocean Counties.
Today, Jackson is defined as a commuter community, but there is enough play in the township to balance the work and home life. Jackson is home to the Six Flags Great Adventure amusement park, which features the 456-foot Kingda Ka, the tallest roller coaster in the world. Jackson also boasts the Six Flags Hurricane Harbor water park and the 350-acre Safari Off Road Adventure animal park. Near Six Flags is Jackson Premium Outlets, a retail outlet center with 70 stores.
Median rent in Jackson Township is $1,323, and selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $2,281. Mean travel time to work 34.7 minutes.
Township of Lakewood
About 20 miles north of Toms River via the Garden State Parkway, Lakewood Township is about 8 miles northeast of the Lakehurst Naval facilities. The city, with an estimated population of 100,758 in 2016, covers 25 square miles.
The earliest European settlers of the region were operators of sawmills and ironworkers, from about 1750 forward. In 1865 the town was renamed Bricksburg, and in 1880 it was renamed Lakewood and became a fashionable winter resort. The name Lakewood was intended to focus on the location near lakes and pine forests. The township was incorporated in 1892.
Today, Lakewood is a hub of Judaism, and more than half of the town’s population identifies with the Orthodox Jewish faith. The town is home to one of the largest schools of traditional Jewish religious texts in the world, the 6,500-student Beth Medrash Govoha. However, the town is also home to sizeable Hispanic and black populations.
To accommodate a rapid influx of residents from the New York City metro area, the town has undergone a building boom over the past few decades. Selected monthly owner costs of housing units with a mortgage are $2,068, and median rent is $1,355. Mean travel time to work is 23 minutes.