Great Egg Harbor got its name from Dutch explorer Cornelius Jacobsen Mey. In 1614, Mey came upon the inlet to the Great Egg Harbor River. The meadows were so covered with shorebird and waterfowl eggs that he called it "Eieren Haven" (Egg Harbor).
The first residents of what would become Egg Harbor Township were the Lenni Lenape Native Americans, who would spend their summers on the elevated land around the cedar swamp that is now Bargaintown Lake, as well as along the banks of Patcong Creek, where they made use of the abundant fish, shellfish, wild berries, and bird's eggs in the area and collected shells that could be carved to make wampum.
Great Egg Harbor was originally part of Gloucester County. In 1694 a law was passed that read "forasmuch as there are families settled upon the Egg Harbor, and of right ought to be under some jurisdiction, be it enacted by the authority aforesaid that the inhabitants of the said Egg Harbor shall and do belong to the jurisdiction of Gloucester."
In 1710, by an Act of the Legislature, legal boundaries of Gloucester County were set from the Delaware River, along the Burlington County line to the sea and back up the Great Egg Harbor River to the Delaware River. At that time Great Egg Harbor encompassed all of present-day Atlantic County. In 1837, Atlantic County was set apart from Gloucester County and the Townships were Egg Harbor, Galloway, Hamilton and Weymouth.
Since 1837, ten municipalities have separated from the original Egg Harbor Township, including Atlantic City (1854), Absecon (1872), South Atlantic City (now Margate) (1885), Somers Point (1886), Pleasantville (1888), Linwood (1889), Longport (1898), Brigantine (1903), Ventnor (1903) and Northfield (1905).
Points of interest
- The Atlantic County Bikeway stretches for 7.5 miles (12.1 km) from the Shore Mall to the Atlantic County Institute of Technology in Hamilton Township.
- Storybook Land is a park for children on a site covering 20 acres (8.1 ha) that was opened in 1955, featuring storybook characters such as Mother Goose and the Three Little Pigs.
- Jersey Shore Children's Museum provides an environment for children that stimulates creativity, imagination, and learning through interactive play.