Metuchen

Metuchen

[mi-tuhch-uhn]
Metuchen, borough (1990 pop. 12,804), Middlesex co., NE N.J.; settled before 1700, inc. 1900. Although chiefly residential, it manufactures metal products, packaging equipment, machinery, and electric appliances. In June, 1777, a brief but bloody skirmish occurred there between British troops under Gen. William Howe and a small American force led by William Alexander.
Metuchen is a Borough in Middlesex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the United States 2000 Census, the borough population was 12,840.

Metuchen (pronounced Meh-TUH-chen) was incorporated as a borough by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 20, 1900, from portions of Raritan Township (now known as Edison).

The Borough of Metuchen is completely surrounded by Edison.

Geography

Metuchen is located at (40.541054, -74.360992).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 2.7 square miles (7.1 km²), all of it land.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, 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/sq mi (719.2/km²). The racial makeup of the borough was 84.38% White, 5.30% 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.

Government

Local government

Metuchen is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government. The government consists of a Mayor and a Borough Council comprising six council members, with all positions elected at large. A Mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office. The Borough Council consists of six members elected to serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with two seats coming up for election each year.

The Mayor of Metuchen is Thomas Vahalla, who was elected for a four-year term ending December 31, 2011. The Mayor presides at Council meetings, approves ordinances, signs contracts, and appoints officials and members of various boards and commissions.

The Council adopts ordinances and resolutions and makes all policy in the Borough government. Each member is assigned as a liaison to several departments, boards and commissions with the consent of Council. Members of the Borough Council are Peter Cammarano (2008), Timothy Dacey (2008), Richard Dyas (2009), Christopher Morrison (2010), William Waldron (2010) and Richard E. Weber (2009).

Federal, state and county representation

Metuchen is in the Sixth Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 18th Legislative District.

Education

The Metuchen School District serves students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. Schools in the district (with 2005-06 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Moss School (Kindergarten; 145 students), Campbell Elementary School (1-4; 609), Edgar Middle School (5-8; 603) and Metuchen High School for grades 9-12 (587).

The Borough is also home to St. Joseph High School, a private Catholic prep school, notable for its academics and sports awards.

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 late 1990s. It has since been demolished to make way for a residential development called Franklin Square

History

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 village of Woodbridge, they early 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. 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 2/5th of the pastor's services and Woodbridge 3/5ths; by 1772 Metuchen had grown sufficiently to warrant 50% 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 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 thirty-seven 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 commenced operation and supplied hydrants for "newly-formed" volunteer fire companies. In 1899, new street lighting system installed. At about the same time the Metuchen Wheelmen, a bicycling organization was formed, which lobbied for improved roads. Trolley service began in 1900. In addition, by the end of the decade, 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 what residents saw as the biggest improvement of all, 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.

Transportation

Commuting had become a way of life for Metuchen residents by the turn-of-the-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 prestigious 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. Today, Metuchen Station on New Jersey Transit's Northeast Corridor Line, provides service to many destinations including Trenton and Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan.

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 in 1930 diverted traffic away from Middlesex Avenue, and undoubtedly helped the borough retain its residential character.

Notable residents

Noted current and former residents include:

References

External links

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