Christie makes it official: New Jersey is the ‘Garden State’

TRENTON, N.J. — Garden State has been stamped on New Jersey license plates for more than six decades after first becoming a popular nickname in 1876, and on Monday it became the state’s official slogan.

The measure was one of 50 bills Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican in his final five months in office, signed into law. The bonanza stemmed from June voting sessions in which the Democratic-led Legislature sent the governor dozens of bills.

He also conditionally vetoed one bill, suggesting changes to legislation aimed at improving transparency about tuition and fees and colleges and universities.

The new law setting the state’s well-known nickname, which was also the title of a 2004 film starring Zach Braff and Natalie Portman, was initially introduced in 2014. But it didn’t advance at the time. This year, it passed unanimously.

The legislation points out that the name first became popularly associated with New Jersey in 1876, when Camden attorney Abraham Browning called New Jersey the Garden State while speaking at a centennial celebration in Philadelphia.

In 1954, a state law required the motto be printed on the state’s license plates.