Bridgeton is a city in Cumberland County, New Jersey, United States, in the south part of the state, on the Cohansey River, near Delaware Bay. As of the United States 2000 Census, the city population was 22,771. It is the county seat of Cumberland County. Bridgeton, Millville and Vineland are the three principal cities of the Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area. It encompasses those cities and all of Cumberland County for statistical purposes. Similar to other areas near rivers and the bay, this area was inhabited for thousands of years by indigenous peoples. At the time of European contact, Lenni-Lenape Native Americans lived in the area, following a seasonal pattern of cultivation and hunting and fishing. The first European settlement in what is now Bridgeton was made by 1686 when Richard Hancock established a sawmill here. Settlers established a pioneer iron-works in 1814. Bridgeton was incorporated as a township by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 1, 1865, from portions of Deerfield Township. Bridgeton city was incorporated on March 1, 1865, replacing both Bridgeton Township and Cohansey Township. After the American Civil War, Bridgeton became the most prosperous town in the state due to rapid industrialization. Bridgeton was home to glass factories, sewing factories, metal and machine works etc. Bridgeton has the largest historic district of any incorporated town in New Jersey; it is dominated by large Victorian houses and a downtown area constructed in the 1920s. Bridgeton straddles the tidal Cohansey River and is located near the center of the Delaware Bay lowlands. It is home to the Cohanzick Zoo and numerous large municipal parks. Bridgeton Park encompasses about 1,500 acres along with the Cohanzick Zoo, which is free to the public. Although the city suffered an economic downturn in the 1980s, immigration from southern Mexico and elsewhere has recently led to a revitalization. A significant minority of Bridgeton residents speak Zapoteco. Immigrants work primarily in agricultural processing occupations near the city, which are among some of the most productive in New Jersey. The downtown has been made more lively by Mexican-American places of business, as well as other businesses, such as a coffee shop/arts venue, a vintage clothing boutique, an arts gallery, and so on. The state-recognized Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indians of New Jersey maintain a cultural center here. South Woods State Prison, opened near Bridgeton in 1997, is the largest state prison in New Jersey and provides a range of employment.