Perth Amboy is located on the Arthur Kill and the Raritan River opposite the southern end of Staten Island, New York. European settlement dates to 1680, when Scotch dissenters, English merchants, and French Huguenots began developing the site's potential as a port. It became one of New Jersey's two capitals in 1686. It enjoyed modest prosperity as one of the colony's chief ports, though it never rivaled New York just 17 miles to the northeast.
Perth Amboy's citizens remained loyal to England during the American Revolution and were forced to flee after the war. The capital was relocated to Trenton and the town's fortunes diminished. It remained a backwater until industrialization and immigration brought sweeping changes after 1890. While the first large wave of immigrants were from central and eastern Europe, large numbers of Hispanics – in particular Puerto Ricans – transformed the community once again after 1950.
Today, the city remains a center of Hispanic life in New Jersey. The closing of many major industries in recent years has brought new economic challenges. However, its location near New York, on the Raritan River adjacent to the crossroads of the Garden State Parkway, New Jersey Turnpike, and I-287, suggests potential for future development.