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New Jersey Hall of Fame breaks ground on state-of-the-art center

by Samantha Davis-Friedman

The New Jersey Hall of Fame (NJHOF) has begun construction on a 10,000-square-foot state-of-the-art center at the American Dream entertainment, shopping, and dining destination in the New Jersey Meadowlands.

New Jersey Hall of Fame Entertainment and Learning Center
Images courtesy of New Jersey Hall of Fame

Featuring exhibits and highly-immersive experiences that celebrate the Garden State and New Jersey Hall of Fame inductees, the custom-built NJHOF Entertainment and Learning Center will be located on the third floor of American Dream near the Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park, the country’s only Toys “R” Us flagship, and It’s Sugar, the world’s first and only candy department store.

“American Dream is a one-of-a-kind destination and a New Jersey icon, making it the ideal location for our state-of-the-art center,” said Hall of Fame Chairman Jon F. Hanson. “The Entertainment and Learning Center will be one of the ultimate symbols of Jersey pride where we will be able to celebrate our great state and all the contributions made by its many illustrious residents.”

Visitors will be welcomed to the center by life-size replicas of NJHOF inductees before they move onto the Hometown Exhibit to embark on a virtual reality journey in a classic car to tour a Hall of Fame inductee’s hometown, school, home, and even their favorite restaurant. 

The new facility will also feature the historic Model T Ford car gifted by Henry Ford to 2008 NJHOF inductee Thomas Edison in 1933 – and while visitors won’t be able to ride in Edison’s original Model T, they will be able to climb aboard a replica.

Fun Fact: The two men became friends after embarking on road trips together throughout the country in Model Ts.

New Jersey Hall of Fame - Thomas Edison and Henry Ford
Thomas Edison (L) and Henry Ford (R)
Photo courtesy of Edison Innovation Foundation

“The New Jersey Hall of Fame is the perfect place to house the Ford Model T, a great piece of Americana and owned by the New Jersey Hall of Fame’s very first inductee and New Jersey resident Thomas Edison,” said Edison Innovation Foundation Chairman John Keegan.

Another epic experience will be the “Fly Me to the Moon” motion simulator, where narrators, former astronauts, and 2017 NJHOF inductees Mark and Scott Kelly will highlight New Jersey’s contributions to the field of science.


Mark & Scott Kelly Vignette 2017

“The exhibits within the ELC will allow visitors to explore their passions through the significant achievements and contributions made by each of our inductees,” said the President of the Hall of Fame, Steve Edwards. “It’s a place where we can take pride in our Jersey grit; and where we can all, including our children, be inspired to realize our highest and best sense of selves. I couldn’t imagine a more fitting home for NJHOF than one of New Jersey’s top destinations.”

The centerpiece of the Entertainment and Learning Center’s Great Hall will be a Wall of Fame celebrating each of the 200+ NJHOF inductees, as well as achievements by everyday New Jersey citizens. In addition, the hall’s hologram karaoke stage will give visitors the unique opportunity to interview favorite stars and sing alongside some of music’s biggest legends, including 2010 NJHOF inductee Frankie Valli and 2017 NJHOF inductee Gloria Gaynor.

New Jersey Hall of Fame 2022 Inductees

The 12 inductees in the five categories were chosen out of 50 nominees by public vote.

  • Ron Jaworski ** from Voorhees, NJ (Sports) – Former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and National Football League analyst.
  • Heather O’Reilly from East Brunswick, NJ (Sports) – Professional soccer player and three-time Olympic medalist.
  • Chelsea Handler from Livingston, NJ (Performing Arts) – Award-winning comedian, television host, best-selling author, and advocate.
  • Max Weinberg from Newark, NJ (Performing Arts) – Drummer and television personality.
  • Ralph Izzo from Cranbury, NJ (Enterprise) – Businessman and former nuclear physicist.
  • Dr. Roy Vagelos from Westfield, NJ (Enterprise) – Physician and business executive.
  • The Unanue Family from Alpine and Ridgefield Park, NJ (Enterprise) – Founder of Goya Foods.
  • Governor Richard J. Hughes* from Florence Township, NJ (Public Service) – Lawyer, politician, and judge.
  • Dorothea Dix* from Trenton, NJ (Public Service) – Nurse and advocate for mentally ill.
  • Margaret Bourke-White* from Middlesex, NJ (Arts & Letters) – Photographer and documentary photographer.
  • Walter Dean Myers* from Jersey City, NJ (Arts & Letters) – Writer of children’s books and young adult literature.
  • New Jersey Medal of Honor Recipients (Unsung Heroes).

*Honored posthumously; **Previous inductee, but being formally inducted this year.

The New Jersey Hall of Fame Entertainment and Learning Center is expected to be completed in Spring 2023.

Click here for more information about the New Jersey Hall of Fame, and click here for a complete list of NJHOF inductees.

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