Metuchen, New Jersey
Metuchen (// mə-TUTCH-ən) is a suburban borough in Middlesex County, New Jersey, United States. The borough is a bedroom suburb of New York City, located in the heart of the Raritan Valley region within the New York Metropolitan area. The borough, along with Edison (which completely surrounds Metuchen), is a regional commercial hub for Central New Jersey. The borough is 5 miles (8.0 km) northeast of New Brunswick, 19 miles (31 km) southwest of Newark, 26 miles (42 km) southwest of Jersey City, and 33 miles (53 km) southwest of Manhattan. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 13,574, reflecting an increase of 734 (+5.7%) from the 12,840 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 36 (+0.3%) from the 12,804 counted in the 1990 Census.
The earliest residents of the area were the Raritan people of the Lenape Native Americans, who lived in the area and travelled through it to the shore. In 1646, Chief Matouchin was part of a group that included 1,200 warriors.
Until 1870, what is now Metuchen was part of Woodbridge Township. Because the settlers in the western part of the township were so far removed from the main settlement of Woodbridge, they early-on developed a separate identity. The name "Metuchen" first appeared in 1688/1689, and its name was derived from the name of a Native American chief, known as Matouchin or Matochshegan. In 1701, an overseer of roads was appointed for "Metuchen district". In 1705, Main Street was laid out at the same time as the road from Metuchen to Woodbridge, which one source calls a "reworking of the original road".
Sometime between 1717 and 1730, a meeting house was constructed for weekday meetings conducted by the pastor of the Woodbridge Presbyterian Church. In 1756, Metuchen Presbyterians succeeded in forming their own congregation, attesting to their growing numbers. In 1770, the congregations merged, with Metuchen getting 2/5 of the pastor's services and Woodbridge 3/5; by 1772, Metuchen had grown sufficiently to warrant half of his time. In 1793, the two churches again separated.
From the late 18th to the early 19th century Metuchen grew little. A map of 1799 shows ten buildings in the center of town along Main Street. By 1834, a Presbyterian church, a store, two taverns and about a dozen dwellings could be found. The opening of the Middlesex and Essex Turnpike (now Middlesex Avenue, portions in concurrency with Route 27) in 1806, and the Perth Amboy and Bound Brook Turnpike in 1808 seem not to have spurred growth to any appreciable extent. Not until the beginning of the railroad era did commercial and residential development surge.
In 1836, the New Jersey Railroad was completed to New Brunswick. The construction of a station at Main Street made it inevitable that this would develop as the principal street. A business section soon began to appear between Middlesex Avenue and the railroad tracks, and commercial and service establishments gradually began to assume a more modern aspect (the typical 18th century tavern, for example, was replaced by the equally typical 19th century hotel).
The second half of the 19th century was a period of social, cultural and religious diversification in Metuchen. Between 1859 and 1866 the Reformed Church was organized, the first Catholic mass was celebrated and St. Luke's Episcopal Church was founded. In 1870 both the Building and Loan Association and the library opened, the same year that Raritan Township was incorporated. As the largest village in the new township, Metuchen naturally became its commercial and cultural center and acquired substantial political control. In 1873, the town hosted Howard Newton Fuller and the Rutgers College Glee Club in the first-ever performance of their alma mater. In 1879, the literary and debating society was formed, and in 1883 the Village Improvement Society. By 1882, Metuchen School #15 had an enrollment of 256 pupils, and by 1885 the New Jersey Gazette listed 37 businesses.
The decade of the 1890s was a period of expansion for public utilities. In 1894, telegraph service was begun and in 1897 telephone service begun by the N.Y. and N.J. Telephone Company. In the same year the Midland Water Company began operation and supplied hydrants for "newly formed" volunteer fire companies. In 1899, a new street lighting system was installed. At about the same time a bicycling organization was formed, the Metuchen Wheelmen, which lobbied for improved roads. Trolley service began in 1900. In addition, commerce had grown to such an extent that the New Brunswick Directory listed 91 businesses in 1899.
Metuchen attracted an influx of artists, literary figures and noted intellectuals during this time, acquiring the nickname "the Brainy Boro". One of the Borough's two post offices is named Brainy Boro Station.
The new century began with the borough's incorporation, in 1900.
On November 19, 1981, Metuchen became the Seat of the newly established Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen. The diocese includes Hunterdon, Middlesex, Somerset and Warren counties and more than 500,000 Catholics.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 2.85 square miles (7.39 km2), including 2.85 square miles (7.38 km2) of land and <0.01 square miles (0.01 km2) of water (0.07%).
The Borough of Metuchen is completely surrounded by Edison, making it part of 21 pairs of "doughnut towns" in the state, where one municipality entirely surrounds another.
Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Jefferson Park and Robinvale.
Metuchen has been a state-designated "town center" since 1996 and "transit village" in 2001. The borough has been recognized for its smart growth development. Plans to build a residential and commercial center with 700 parking spaces on a parking lot adjacent to the train station were announced in July 2014.
1930-1990 2000 2010
The 2010 United States Census counted 13,574 people, 5,243 households, and 3,744 families in the borough. The population density was 4,910.4 per square mile (1,895.9/km2). There were 5,440 housing units at an average density of 1,967.9 per square mile (759.8/km2). The racial makeup was 77.92% (10,577) White, 4.88% (662) Black or African American, 0.07% (10) Native American, 12.96% (1,759) Asian, 0.02% (3) Pacific Islander, 1.39% (189) from other races, and 2.76% (374) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.89% (935) of the population.
Of the 5,243 households, 33.6% had children under the age of 18; 58.3% were married couples living together; 10.1% had a female householder with no husband present and 28.6% were non-families. Of all households, 23.9% were made up of individuals and 9.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.10.
24.2% of the population were under the age of 18, 5.4% from 18 to 24, 26.8% from 25 to 44, 29.7% from 45 to 64, and 13.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.1 years. For every 100 females, the population had 93.1 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 88.2 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $94,410 (with a margin of error of +/- $10,474) and the median family income was $126,123 (+/- $7,549). Males had a median income of $78,974 (+/- $8,613) versus $57,271 (+/- $5,731) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $46,949 (+/- $3,227). About 1.9% of families and 2.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.8% of those under age 18 and 5.7% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 United States Census there were 12,840 people, 4,992 households, and 3,584 families residing in the borough. The population density was 4,684.8 people per square mile (1,809.3/km2). There were 5,104 housing units at an average density of 1,862.2 per square mile (719.2/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 93.30% White, 3.38% African American, 0.10% Native American, 7.23% Asian, 1.12% from other races, and 1.86% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.96% of the population.
There were 4,992 households, out of which 32.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.8% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.2% were non-families. 23.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.05.
In the borough the population was spread out, with 23.3% under the age of 18, 5.3% from 18 to 24, 31.3% from 25 to 44, 25.2% from 45 to 64, and 14.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.1 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $75,546, and the median income for a family was $85,022. Males had a median income of $58,125 versus $43,097 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $36,749. About 3.4% of families and 3.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.6% of those under age 18 and 4.9% of those age 65 or over.
Parks and recreation
Metuchen includes a variety of public spaces, historical sites, a war memorial, and a greenway.
Covering 13 acres (5.3 ha), Centennial Park is Metuchen's largest park and is accessible from Grove Avenue. The park includes Beacon Hill, which at 169 feet (52 m) is the highest point in the borough.
Woodwild Park is a 3.5-acre (1.4 ha) park consisting of undeveloped land that is managed by the Woodwild Park Association and accessible from Middlesex Avenue. It is part of the Middlesex Avenue–Woodwild Park Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on July 31, 2017.
Metuchen Memorial Park is a war memorial that was created starting in 1925 to honor those who served during World War I and has been updated since then to honor those Metuchen residents who served in other of the nation's wars. For 90 years, the park has been the planned destination of the borough's annual Memorial Day Parade.
Tommy's Pond, on a 1.8-acre (0.73 ha) site donated to the borough in 1929, includes a 0.4-acre (0.16 ha) pond that is used for an annual fishing derby.
The Dismal Swamp is a nearby natural area known as the "Everglades of Central New Jersey."
Metuchen is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government, which is used in 218 municipalities (of the 565) statewide, making it the most common form of government in New Jersey. The governing body is comprised of the mayor and the borough council, with all positions elected at-large on a partisan basis as part of the November general election. A mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office. The borough council is comprised of six members elected to serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with two seats coming up for election each year in a three-year cycle. The Borough form of government used by Metuchen is a "weak mayor / strong council" government in which council members act as the legislative body with the mayor presiding at meetings and voting only in the event of a tie. The mayor can veto ordinances subject to an override by a two-thirds majority vote of the council. The mayor makes committee and liaison assignments for council members, and most appointments are made by the mayor with the advice and consent of the council.
As of 2021[update], the Mayor of Metuchen is Democrat Jonathan Busch, whose term of office ends December 31, 2023; Busch took office as mayor when he was appointed in December 2017 to fill the balance of the four-year term that had been held by Peter Cammarano ending December 31, 2019, and was elected in November 2018 to serve the balance of the term of office. Members of the borough council are Jason Delia (D, 2021), Daniel Hirsch (D, 2023); Linda Koskoski (D, 2022), Tyler Kandel (D, 2023), Dorothy Rasmussen (D, 2022) and Sheri-Rose Rubin (D, 2021).
In January 2019, the borough council unanimously selected Daniel Hirsch from a list of three candidates nominated by the Democratic municipal committee to fill the seat expiring in December 2020 that became vacant following the resignation of Reed Leibfried. Hirsch served on an interim basis until the November 2019 general election, when he was elected to serve the balance of the term of office.
In December 2017, Jonathan Busch was selected from three names submitted by the Democratic municipal committee to fill the seat expiring in December 2019 that had been held by Peter Cammarano until he resigned from office to become the chief of staff for Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy.
Federal, state and county representation
Metuchen is located in the 6th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 18th state legislative district.
For the 116th United States Congress, New Jersey's Sixth Congressional District is represented by Frank Pallone (D, Long Branch). New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Democrats Cory Booker (Newark, term ends 2021) and Bob Menendez (Paramus, term ends 2025).
For the 2018–2019 session (Senate, General Assembly), the 18th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Patrick J. Diegnan (D, South Plainfield) and in the General Assembly by Robert Karabinchak (D, Edison) and Sterley Stanley (D, East Brunswick).
Template:NJ Middlesex County Board of Commissioners
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 9,520 registered voters in Metuchen, of which 4,120 (43.3%) were registered as Democrats, 1,528 (16.1%) were registered as Republicans and 3,858 (40.5%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 14 voters registered to other parties.
|2016||32.6% 2,407||63.1% 4,664||4.3% 316|
|2012||37.4% 2,618||61.3% 4,286||1.3% 90|
|2008||38.3% 2,900||60.1% 4,554||1.0% 74|
|2004||40.6% 2,914||57.9% 4,152||0.9% 80|
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 61.3% of the vote (4,286 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 37.4% (2,618 votes), and other candidates with 1.3% (90 votes), among the 7,049 ballots cast by the borough's 9,779 registered voters (55 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 72.1%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 60.1% of the vote (4,554 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 38.3% (2,900 votes) and other candidates with 1.0% (74 votes), among the 7,579 ballots cast by the borough's 9,809 registered voters, for a turnout of 77.3%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 57.9% of the vote (4,152 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 40.6% (2,914 votes) and other candidates with 0.9% (80 votes), among the 7,170 ballots cast by the borough's 9,348 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 76.7.
|2017||33.8% 1,605||63.1% 2,994||3.0% 144|
|2013||50.1% 2,397||48.5% 2,319||1.4% 69|
|2009||43.4% 2,256||47.0% 2,281||9.0% 468|
|2005||38.2% 1,938||55.1% 2,791||4.0% 202|
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 50.1% of the vote (2,397 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 48.5% (2,319 votes), and other candidates with 1.4% (69 votes), among the 4,844 ballots cast by the borough's 9,822 registered voters (59 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 49.3%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 47.0% of the vote (2,440 ballots cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 43.4% (2,256 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 8.2% (425 votes) and other candidates with 0.8% (43 votes), among the 5,197 ballots cast by the borough's 9,479 registered voters, yielding a 54.8% turnout.
The Metuchen School District serves students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of the 2017–18 school year, the district, comprised of four schools, had an enrollment of 2,287 students and 179.2 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 12.8:1. Schools in the district (with 2017–18 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Mildred B. Moss School (166 students; in PreK/K), Campbell Elementary School (675; 1-4), Edgar Middle School (724; 5-8) and Metuchen High School for grades 9–12 (694).
Eighth grade students from all of Middlesex County are eligible to apply to attend the high school programs offered by the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools, a county-wide vocational school district that offers full-time career and technical education at Middlesex County Academy in Edison, the Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences in Woodbridge Township and at its East Brunswick, Perth Amboy and Piscataway technical high schools, with no tuition charged to students for attendance.
There have been two historical schools named for Benjamin Franklin. The Old Franklin Schoolhouse is a one-room school on Route 27 (Middlesex Avenue) near Main Street built in 1807 and used until 1870. In 1906, it was acquired and restored by the Borough Improvement League and is currently used as a community music venue. A larger Franklin School, built in 1906, once stood at the intersection of Middlesex and Lake Avenues but fell into disrepair in the mid-1980s. It has since been demolished to make way for a residential development called Franklin Square.
The borough is home to St. Joseph High School, a private all-boys Catholic prep school, notable for its academics and sports awards, that is conducted by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart and operated under the supervision of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen. Saint Francis Cathedral School, a PreK-8 school also operated as part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen, was one of eight private schools recognized in 2017 as an Exemplary High Performing School by the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program of the United States Department of Education.
Commuting had become a way of life for Metuchen residents by the start of the 20th century. Daily commuters numbered 400 out of a population of 1,786 by the year 1900. Accessibility to New York City and New Brunswick enhanced the borough's reputation as a place to live, and the modern suburban ideal of small-town life where tired businessmen could escape the pace of the city grew in popularity.
Roads and highways
As of May 2010[update], the borough had a total of 47.06 miles (75.74 km) of roadways, of which 38.91 miles (62.62 km) were maintained by the municipality, 5.73 miles (9.22 km) by Middlesex County and 2.42 miles (3.89 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
The biggest change to affect Metuchen between the World Wars was the rise of the automobile. In the 1920s, service stations were built, and the construction of U.S. Route 1 just south of Metuchen in 1930 diverted traffic away from Middlesex Avenue, helping the borough retain its residential character.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Metuchen include:
- Marqus Blakely (born 1988), two-time America East Men's Basketball Player of the Year, winner of 2010 slam dunk contest.
- Charles Brown (1946–2004), actor.
- Henry T. Brown (1932–2020), chemical engineer who was the first African American in borough government.
- Barbara Buono (born 1953), New Jersey State Senator.
- John Ciardi (1916–1986), poet.
- David Copperfield (born 1956), magician and illusionist.
- Scott Cowen (born 1946), president of Tulane University.
- Paula Danziger (1944–2004), children's author who wrote more than 30 books, including her 1974 debut young adult novel, The Cat Ate My Gymsuit.
- Betsy Dunn, politician who served in the Vermont House of Representatives from 2017 to 2019.
- Bernard J. Dwyer (1921–1998, class of 1938), politician, who served in the United States House of Representatives from New Jersey from 1981 to 1993.
- Gail Fisher (1935–2000), first black actress to win an Emmy.
- James Florio (born 1937), Governor of New Jersey from 1990 to 1994.
- Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman (1852–1930), author and novelist.
- James Freis (born 1970), global fraud expert and former Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
- Samuel L. Greitzer (1905–1988), mathematician who was founding chairman of the United States of America Mathematical Olympiad.
- Robert Hegyes (1951–2012), actor who played the character "Epstein" in the 1970s TV series Welcome Back, Kotter.
- Cecelia Holland (born 1943), historical novelist.
- Ed Kalegi, voice actor, radio personality, host and actor.
- Robert Kaplow (born c. 1954), teacher and novelist whose coming-of-age novel was made into a film titled Me and Orson Welles.
- Jerome H. Lemelson (1923–1997), inventor and holder of more than 550 patents.
- Lonny Price (born 1959), actor, writer and director.
- Thomas Mundy Peterson (1824–1904), first African-American to vote in an election under the just-enacted provisions of the 15th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
- Hester Martha Poole (1833–1932), American writer, poet, art critic, artist, and an advocate for women's rights.
- Brian Ralph (born 1973) is an American alternative cartoonist, whose graphic novel, Daybreak, was adapted for the Netflix series Daybreak.
- Nancy A. Roseman (class of 1976), 28th president of Dickinson College.
- Quinn Shephard (born 1995), actress, writer, director and producer, whose directorial debut film Blame was shot in Metuchen.
- Jack Waldman (1952–1986), jazz and rock musician, composer, producer, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist.
- Marvin Webster (1952–2009), NBA basketball player, spent half his career with the New York Knicks.
- Julian E. Zelizer (born 1969), author and professor of political history at Princeton University.
- Metuchen Borough website
- Metuchen School District
- Metuchen School District's 2015–16 School Report Card from the New Jersey Department of Education
- School Data for the Metuchen School District, National Center for Education Statistics
- Metuchen-Edison Historical Society website
- Metuchen Public Library website