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Founded in 1683, Perth Amboy served as the capital of the province of East Jersey from 1683 to 1702 and of New Jersey from 1702 until 1790. The first African-American to vote in an election under the Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Thomas Mundy Peterson, voted here in 1870. The city was briefly considered as the site of the US Naval Academy.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 15.5 km² (6.0 mi²). 12.4 km² (4.8 mi²) of it is land and 3.1 km² (1.2 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 20.07% water.
As of the census of 2000, there are 47,303 people, 14,562 households, and 10,761 families residing in the city. The population density is 3,820.9/km² (9,892.0/mi²). There are 15,236 housing units at an average density of 1,230.7/km² (3,186.2/mi²). The racial makeup of the city is 46.41% White, 10.04% African American, 0.70% Native American, 1.53% Asian, 0.13% Pacific Islander, 35.59% from other races, and 5.61% from two or more races. 69.83% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 14,562 households out of which 40.3% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.6% are married couples living together, 21.0% have a female householder with no husband present, and 26.1% are non-families. 20.6% of all households are made up of individuals and 8.8% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 3.20 and the average family size is 3.63.
In the city the population is spread out with 28.5% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 31.6% from 25 to 44, 18.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.2% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 31 years. For every 100 females there are 98.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 94.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city is $37,608, and the median income for a family is $40,740. Males have a median income of $29,399 versus $21,954 for females. The per capita income for the city is $14,989. 17.6% of the population and 14.3% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 24.1% are under the age of 18 and 12.8% are 65 or older.