South Brunswick was first mentioned on February 28, 1779 in Freeholder minutes as being formed from New Brunswick Township. It was formally incorporated as one of New Jersey's initial group of 104 townships on February 21, 1798. Portions of the township have been taken to form Cranbury Township (March 7, 1872) and Plainsboro Township (April 1, 1919).
The township encompasses the census-designated places and unincorporated areas of Dayton (2000 Census population of 6,235), Heathcote (4,755), Kendall Park (9,006), Kingston (1,292) and Monmouth Junction (2,721). Deans is an unincorporated area within the Township. Among these, Kingston is (so far) unique as the only Village Center that has been officially designated by the New Jersey State Planning Commission in the township.
Kingston's location on the Lenape Assunpink Trail where it crossed the Millstone River was the prime factor in its early prominence. Kingston was by far the most active and important village, being situated on both the heavily traveled King's Road and Millstone River, combining commercial activities of both mills and taverns. The Kingston Village Advisory Committee, jointly appointed by the South Brunswick and Franklin Township Councils, reports to the Township Council on matters of concern to residents of Kingston.
Dayton was first known simply as The Cross Roads, where James Whitlock built a tavern on Georges Road around 1750. Early enterprises included a brick manufacturer and large nursery. In 1866, the name was changed from Cross Roads to Dayton, in honor of William L. Dayton, an attorney for the Freehold and Jamesburg Agricultural Railroad. Dayton had helped settle disputes arising from the location of a railroad right-of-way. He was later a United States Senator, was the first Republican nominee for Vice President (in 1856), and Minister to France. The nature of its business establishments — farm implements, tow hay dealers, a general store, a nursery and a harness maker — attests to its agricultural identity.
Deans originated from its location on both Crosswicknung Trail (Georges Road) and Lawrence Brook. Dams were built on the brook, creating Deans Pond.
With increased mobility and a growing population, the suburban style residential development was born after the World War II and Kendall Park was begun in the 1950s. Kendall Park is located right off Route 27, the old Indian trail and major thoroughfare of earlier centuries.
South Brunswick borders Cranbury Township, East Brunswick Township, Monroe Township, North Brunswick Township and Plainsboro Township in Middlesex County, Franklin Township in Somerset County, and Princeton Township in Mercer County.
As of the 2000 census, 10.48% of South Brunswick's residents identified themselves as being of Indian American ancestry, which was the seventh highest of any municipality in the United States and the fourth highest in New Jersey — behind Edison (17.75%), Plainsboro Township (16.97%) and Piscataway Township (12.49%) — of all places with 1,000 or more residents identifying their ancestry.
There were 13,428 households out of which 43.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.8% were married couples living together, 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.9% were non-families. 19.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 4.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.80 and the average family size was 3.27.
In the township the population was spread out with 28.4% under the age of 18, 5.7% from 18 to 24, 36.7% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 7.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 94.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.3 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $78,737, and the median income for a family was $86,891. Males had a median income of $61,637 versus $41,554 for females. The per capita income for the township was $32,104. About 2.1% of families and 3.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.9% of those under age 18 and 4.5% of those age 65 or over.
Members of the Township Council are Mayor Frank Gambatese (D; term ends December 31, 2010), Deputy Mayor Carol Barrett (D; 2008), Joseph J. Camarota Jr. (D; 2008), Charlie Carley (D; 2008) and Chris Killmurray (D; 2010).
The rural nature of the Township continued throughout the 19th century, with increases in commercial and residential growth and development coinciding with the introduction of new transportation routes. The Straight Turnpike, now U.S. Route 1, was constructed in 1804.
In 1872, the Legislature first reduced the size of South Brunswick with the creation of the separate Cranbury Township from the southern portion of South Brunswick. In 1885, it redefined and enlarged the boundaries of Cranbury, and in 1919, the size of South Brunswick was further reduced with the formation of Plainsboro Township. The present boundaries of South Brunswick date back to this last change.
20th century South Brunswick has seen extensive transformation with the impact of American industrial technology. The New Brunswick and Trenton Fast Line began operation in 1900, a trolley line running parallel to the Old Straight Turnpike of 1804 (Route 1), intersecting George's Road just north of the Five Corners intersection in Dayton. This trolley provided daily passenger and freight service, stopping at a local crossroads. The New Jersey Turnpike opened in 1951, again roughly parallel to Route 1, on the eastern edge of the Township. One effect of the Turnpike opening up Interchange 8A (just outside the township) was the transformation of the agricultural area on the southeast corner of South Brunswick to that of a burgeoning industrial development. As of 2008, the majority of land between US 130 and the turnpike consists largely of warehouses.
In 1980, the Township population approached 18,000. In 1990, this figure reached 25,792 and today South Brunswick has over 33,400 residents. In short, since the early 1900s, the town has matured from a farming community to a suburban town. While South Brunswick has been growing rapidly, much of the township's 42 square miles remain undeveloped and there are still significant amounts of wetlands, woodlands and open space within the community.
The New Jersey Turnpike Authority has proposed to construct a west-east spur of the Turnpike, NJ 92. The majority of the spur would be in South Brunswick Township. It would begin at US 1, just north of the intersection with Ridge Road in South Brunswick Township and would terminate at Exit 8A in the area of the 8A toll gate in Monroe Township.
On December 1, 2006, the New Jersey Turnpike Authority terminated its plans to build the spur from Ridge & 1 in South Brunswick to 8A in Monroe. The Authority's main focus will now be on widening the Turnpike between Exit 6 (in Mansfield Township) and Exit 8A (in Monroe Township).