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Cranbury, New Jersey
Township
Township of Cranbury
John S. Silvers Mansion, built 1886
John S. Silvers Mansion, built 1886
Map of Cranbury Township in Middlesex County. Inset: Location of Middlesex County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Map of Cranbury Township in Middlesex County. Inset: Location of Middlesex County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Cranbury Township, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Cranbury Township, New Jersey
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Coordinates: 40°18′48″N 74°31′13″W / 40.31345°N 74.520233°W / 40.31345; -74.520233Coordinates: 40°18′48″N 74°31′13″W / 40.31345°N 74.520233°W / 40.31345; -74.520233
Country  United States
State  New Jersey
County Middlesex
Incorporated March 7, 1872
Government
 • Type Township
 • Body Township Committee
Area
 • Total 13.43 sq mi (34.79 km2)
 • Land 13.28 sq mi (34.40 km2)
 • Water 0.15 sq mi (0.39 km2)  1.12%
Area rank 181st of 565 in state
9th of 25 in county
Elevation
82 ft (25 m)
Population
 • Total 3,857
 • Estimate 
(2019)
4,067
 • Rank 417th of 566 in state
24th of 25 in county
 • Density 291.2/sq mi (112.4/km2)
 • Density rank 481st of 566 in state
25th of 25 in county
Time zone UTC−05:00 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (Eastern (EDT))
ZIP Codes
08512
Area code(s) 609
FIPS code 3402315550
GNIS feature ID 0882160

Cranbury is a township in Middlesex County, New Jersey, United States. Located within the Raritan Valley region, Cranbury is roughly equidistant between New York City and Philadelphia in the heart of the state. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 3,857, reflecting an increase of 630 (+19.5%) from the 3,227 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 727 (+29.1%) from the 2,500 counted in 1990.

History

A deed for a sale of land and improvements dated March 1, 1698, is the earliest evidence of buildings constructed in present-day Cranbury. A home in Cranbury was used by Alexander Hamilton and the Marquis de Lafayette as a headquarters during the American Revolutionary War, and they were visited by General George Washington on June 26, 1778. As part of orders issued during the Presidency of George Washington, maps of Cranbury were made showing the presence of a church, a mill and 25 other buildings. During its earliest years, the location was usually spelled as "Cranberry". Rev. Joseph G. Symmes argued in 1857 that the name was spelled improperly and that the suffix "bury" was more appropriate, leading the name of the community and brook to be changed to "Cranbury" in 1869. The name has been attributed to wild cranberries that grew in the area.

The so-called Hightstown rail accident occurred in or near Cranbury, in 1833. According to John Quincy Adams, who was aboard the train and who wrote in his diary about it, the train was 3 miles (4.8 km) from Hightstown when the disaster struck, putting the accident near what is now Cranbury Station. Among the passengers aboard were Tyrone Power and Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Cranbury was incorporated as a township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 7, 1872, from portions of both Monroe Township and South Brunswick Township. Portions of the township were taken on April 1, 1919, to form Plainsboro Township.

George Washington's headquarters were located in Cranbury while planning for the Battle of Monmouth, a major turning point during the Revolutionary War.

Many buildings on Cranbury's Main Street and in the surrounding area date to the 18th or 19th century. The entire downtown area is designated as a Historic District, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 as District #80002502.

The township celebrated its tricentennial in 1998.

Updike Parsonage Barn was relocated and reconstructed in 2010.

Geography

Brainerd Lake, Cranbury, NJ
Brainerd Lake in the center of the township
Cranbury-twp-nj
Cranbury Township highlighted in Middlesex County

According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 13.397 square miles (34.697 km2), including 13.247 square miles (34.309 km2) of land and 0.150 square miles (0.389 km2) of water (1.12%).

Cranbury CDP (2010 Census population of 2,181) is a unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) located within Cranbury Township. Despite the match between the name of the Township and the CDP, the two are not one and the same, as was the case for most paired Township / CDP combinations (i.e., a CDP with the same as its parent township) before the 2010 Census, when most such paired CDPs were coextensive with a township of the same name.

Other unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Brain Grove Lake, Cranbury Station, Wescott and Wyckoffs Mills.

The township borders Plainsboro Township, Monroe Township and South Brunswick Township in Middlesex County; and East Windsor Township in Mercer County.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 1,509
1890 1,422 −5.8%
1900 1,428 0.4%
1910 1,424 −0.3%
1920 1,083 −23.9%
1930 1,278 18.0%
1940 1,342 5.0%
1950 1,797 33.9%
1960 2,001 11.4%
1970 2,253 12.6%
1980 1,927 −14.5%
1990 2,500 29.7%
2000 3,227 29.1%
2010 3,857 19.5%
2019 (est.) 4,067 5.4%
Population sources:
1880-1920 1880-1890
1890-1910 1910-1930
1930-1990 2000 2010
* = Lost territory in previous decade.

Census 2010

As of the census of 2010, there were 3,857 people, 1,320 households, and 1,060 families residing in the township. The population density was 291.2 per square mile (112.4/km2). There were 1,371 housing units at an average density of 103.5 per square mile (40.0/km2)*. The racial makeup of the township was 80.53% (3,106) White, 3.45% (133) Black or African American, 0.10% (4) Native American, 13.74% (530) Asian, 0.03% (1) Pacific Islander, 0.36% (14) from other races, and 1.79% (69) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.57% (99) of the population.

There were 1,320 households out of which 41.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 71.3% were married couples living together, 7.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.7% were non-families. 17.5% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.82 and the average family size was 3.21.

In the township, the population was spread out with 27.2% under the age of 18, 5.4% from 18 to 24, 15.1% from 25 to 44, 35.5% from 45 to 64, and 16.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46.2 years. For every 100 females there were 94.2 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old 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 $131,667 (with a margin of error of +/- $21,076) and the median family income was $146,250 (+/- $24,045). Males had a median income of $122,566 (+/- $25,917) versus $60,781 (+/- $22,066) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $55,236 (+/- $5,718). About 3.1% of families and 4.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.2% of those under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.

Census 2000

As of the 2000 United States Census there were 3,227 people, 1,091 households, and 877 families residing in the township. The population density was 240.6 people per square mile (92.9/km2). There were 1,121 housing units at an average density of 83.6 per square mile (32.3/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 88.78% White, 2.26% African American, 7.41% Asian, 0.22% from other races, and 1.33% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.70% of the population.

There were 1,091 households, out of which 46.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 74.6% were married couples living together, 4.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.6% were non-families. 16.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.92 and the average family size was 3.31.

In the township the population was spread out, with 30.4% under the age of 18, 3.4% from 18 to 24, 27.6% from 25 to 44, 27.3% from 45 to 64, and 11.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.4 males.

The median income for a household in the township was $111,680, and the median income for a family was $128,410. Males had a median income of $94,683 versus $44,167 for females. The per capita income for the township was $50,698. About 0.7% of families and 1.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.7% of those under age 18 and 0.9% of those age 65 or over.

Transportation

Roads and highways

As of May 2010, the township had a total of 51.25 miles (82.48 km) of roadways, of which 31.08 miles (50.02 km) were maintained by the municipality, 12.85 miles (20.68 km) by Middlesex County and 3.16 miles (5.09 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation and 4.16 miles (6.69 km) by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

A few county routes traverse through Cranbury: 535, 539, 615, and 614.

Cranbury hosts U.S. Route 130 and a 4-mile (6.4 km) section of Interstate 95 (the New Jersey Turnpike). Cranbury is accessible by the Turnpike in neighboring East Windsor Township (Exit 8) and Monroe Township (Exit 8A). The Molly Pitcher Service Area is located at mile marker 71.7 on the southbound side.

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority widened the Turnpike (with the "dual-dual" setup) between Exit 6 in Mansfield Township and Exit 8A in Monroe Township in late 2014. New entrance and exit ramps were constructed to access the service area.

Public transportation

Middlesex County offers the M6 MCAT shuttle route providing service to Jamesburg and Plainsboro Township.

Economy

Cranbury is host to many warehouses along Route 130 and the roads leading to the NJ Turnpike. A company making the Boy Scout Pinewood Derby cars is also here. Cranbury was noted for a used Rolls-Royce dealership located in the center of township, but it has gone out of business. The alternative energy business Blacklight Power, which occupies a building formerly occupied by Creative Playthings, is in fact located in East Windsor, in an area served by the Cranbury Post Office.

The Associated University Presses is an academic publishing company supplying textbooks to colleges and universities.

Education

PrincetonHighSchool Front
Princeton High School

The Cranbury School District serves children in public school for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade at Cranbury School. As of the 2019–20 school year, the district, comprised of one school, had an enrollment of 484 students and 55.9 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 8.7:1. For the 1996–97 school years, Cranbury School was formally designated as a National Blue Ribbon School, the highest honor that an American public school can achieve. During the 2009–10 school year, Cranbury School was awarded the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence a second time, and a third time for the 2016–17 school year.

For ninth through twelfth grades, students move on to Princeton High School in Princeton, as part of a sending/receiving relationship with the Princeton Public Schools. Cranbury Township is granted a seat on the Princeton Regional Schools Board of Education, with the designated representative only voting on issues pertaining to Princeton High School and district-wide issues. As of the 2019–20 school year, the high school had an enrollment of 1,582 students and 122.0 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 13.0:1. Cranbury students had attended Hightstown High School and then Lawrence High School before the relationship was established with Princeton.

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.

Public libraries

The Cranbury Public Library serves Cranbury residents, sharing a facility with the Cranbury School until summer 2020 when the school evicted the library to provide additional learning space during the COVID-19 pandemic. The public library has operated out of a pocket library since early 2021 while a free-standing public library is being built at 30 Park Place West.

Notable people

People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Cranbury include:

  • Melanie Balcomb (born 1962), head coach of the Vanderbilt Commodores women's basketball team.
  • Scott Brunner (born 1957), quarterback who played in the NFL from 1981 to 1986, most notably for the New York Giants.
  • Ronald C. Davidson (1941-2016), physicist, professor and scientific administrator who served as the first director of the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center and as director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory.
  • Wendy Gooditis (born Gwendolyn Wallace in 1960), politician who represents Virginia's 10th House of Delegates district in the Virginia House of Delegates.
  • Noah Harlan, independent filmmaker.
  • Ralph Izzo, businessman and former nuclear physicist, who is the Chairman, President and CEO of Public Service Enterprise Group.
  • Hughie Lee-Smith (1915–1999), artist.
  • Cicero Hunt Lewis (1826–1897), merchant.
  • Robert Lougy, judge on the New Jersey Superior Court who served as acting New Jersey Attorney General in 1996.
  • Charles McKnight (1750-1791), physician during and after the American Revolutionary War.
  • Jan Morris (born 1926), Welsh travel writer and historian, lived in Cranbury for several months in the 1950s whose impressions of the town are recorded in the book Coast to Coast: A Journey Across 1950s America.
  • Henry Perrine (1797-1840), physician, horticulturist and an enthusiast for introducing tropical plants into cultivation in the United States.

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