Plainfield, New Jersey facts for kids

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Plainfield, New Jersey
City
City of Plainfield
Aerial photograph of Plainfield
Aerial photograph of Plainfield
Nickname(s): The Queen City
Map of Plainfield in Union County. Inset: Location of Union County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Map of Plainfield in Union County. Inset: Location of Union County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Plainfield, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Plainfield, New Jersey
Country  United States
State  New Jersey
County Union
Incorporated April 21, 1869
Area
 • Total 6.034 sq mi (15.626 km2)
 • Land 6.023 sq mi (15.599 km2)
 • Water 0.011 sq mi (0.027 km2)  0.18%
Area rank 256th of 566 in state
8th of 21 in county
Elevation 95 ft (29 m)
Population (2010 Census)
 • Total 49,808
 • Estimate (2015) 51,217
 • Rank 35th of 566 in state
3rd of 21 in county
 • Density 8,270.1/sq mi (3,193.1/km2)
 • Density rank 45th of 566 in state
4th of 21 in county
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (EDT) (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 07060-07063
Area code(s) 732 and 908
FIPS code 3403959190
GNIS feature ID 0885355
Website www.plainfield.com

Plainfield is a city in Union County, New Jersey, United States, known by its nickname as "The Queen City". As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population increased to 49,808, its highest ever recorded population in any decennial census, with the population having increased by 1,979 (+4.1%) from the 47,829 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 1,262 (+2.7%) from the 46,567 counted in the 1990 Census.

The area of present-day Plainfield was originally formed as Plainfield Township, a township that was created on April 5, 1847, from portions of Westfield Township, while the area was still part of Essex County. On March 19, 1857, Plainfield Township became part of the newly created Union County.

Plainfield was incorporated as a city by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 21, 1869, from portions of Plainfield Township, based on the results of a referendum held that same day. The city and township coexisted until March 6, 1878, when Plainfield Township was dissolved and parts were absorbed by Plainfield city, with the remainder becoming Fanwood Township (now known as Scotch Plains).

The name "Plainfield", also used in both North Plainfield and South Plainfield, is derived from a local estate or from its scenic location.

History

Bungalow in Plainfield, New Jersey
A typical Bungalow-style house in Plainfield

Plainfield was settled in 1684 by Quakers, and incorporated as a city in 1869. Formerly a bedroom suburb in the New York metropolitan area, it has become the urban center of 10 closely allied municipalities, with diversified industries, including printing and the manufacture of chemicals, clothing, electronic equipment, and vehicular parts. Among the several 18th-century buildings remaining are a Friends' meetinghouse (1788), the Martine house (1717), and the Nathaniel Drake House (1746), known as George Washington's headquarters during the Battle of Short Hills in June 1777. Nearby Washington Rock is a prominent point of the Watchung Mountains and is reputed to be the vantage point from which Washington watched British troop movements.

In 1902, the New Jersey Legislature approved measures that would have allowed the borough of North Plainfield to become part of Union County (a measure repealed in 1903) and to allow for a merger of North Plainfield with the City of Plainfield subject to the approval of a referendum by voters in both municipalities.

Plainfield is the birthplace of P-Funk. George Clinton founded The Parliaments while working in a barber shop in Plainfield. Parliament-Funkadelic was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Plainfield has been home to former New Jersey governor James McGreevey.

In sports history, Plainfield is the birthplace and/or home of several current and former athletes, including professionals and well-known amateurs. Included in their number are Milt Campbell, the 1956 Olympic Decathlon gold medalist (the first African-American to earn this title), Joe Black, the first African-American pitcher to win a World Series game, Jeff Torborg, former MLB player, coach and manager, and Vic Washington, NFL player.

Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor appointed to oversee prosecutions in the Watergate break-in and related criminal activity during the Nixon administration, was born in Plainfield.

There are numerous sites, including homes, parks, and districts in the city that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While not listed, the Plainfield Armory, a prominent landmark completed in 1932, was sold by the state in 2013 as surplus property.

Plainfield's northeast corner, known as the "Sleepy Hollow" section of the city, was and still is characterized by its array of finely landscaped streets and neighborhoods with homes defined by a broad array of architectural styles, most built during the first half of the twentieth century. As one browses the tree-lines neighborhoods, it is obvious that the lot sizes vary, but the stateliness and distinction of each house is evident, whether a stately Queen Anne mansion or gingerbread cottage. Most lots are nicely landscaped and semi or fully private. Sleepy Hollow has remained a desirable place to buy and live despite the decay in other parts of the city.

In its heyday, Plainfield was a regional shopping and entertainment center. Residents of nearby Union, Middlesex and Somerset counties would drive to shop and explore the business districts of Plainfield. Other than during the holidays, peak shopping times in Plainfield were Thursday nights and Saturday, when Front Street and the areas around it bustled.

Plainfield had several entertainment venues. At the peak, there were four operating movie theaters: the Strand, the Liberty, the Paramount and the Oxford theaters. Prior to 1960, Cedarbrook park, at the south end of town, and Greenbrook park, at the north end of town, provided every opportunity for recreation, including ice skating in the winter, fishing, hiking, visits to the ice cream vendor and playgrounds.

Manufacturers of heavy goods included Chelsea Fan Corp., Mack Truck and National Starch and Chemical Corp. Plainfield Iron and Metal maintained a large scrapyard on the west end of town.

Civil disturbance

Plainfield was affected by the Plainfield riots in July 1967. This civil disturbance occurred in the wake of the larger Newark riots. A Plainfield police officer died, about fifty people were injured, and several hundred thousand dollars of property was damaged by looting and arson. The New Jersey National Guard restored order after three days of unrest. This civil unrest caused a massive white flight, characterized by the percentage of black residents rising from 40% in 1970 to 60% a decade later.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city had a total area of 6.034 square miles (15.626 km2), including 6.023 square miles (15.599 km2) of land and 0.011 square miles (0.027 km2) of water (0.18%).

Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the city include Netherwood.

The city is located in Central Jersey on the southwestern edge of Union County and is bordered by nine municipalities. Scotch Plains lies to the north and east, and Fanwood to the northeast. Bordered to the south are South Plainfield, and Piscataway. To the southwest lies Dunellen and to the southeast, Edison. All which are in Middlesex County. Green Brook Township lies to the northwest, North Plainfield lies to the north and Watchung borders to the northwest. All three of these municipalities are in Somerset County.

Plainfield is in the Raritan Valley, a line of cities in central New Jersey, and lies on the east side of the Raritan Valley along with Edison.

Climate

Plainfield has a humid continental climate, characterized by brisk to cold winters and hot, muggy summers. The lowest temperature ever recorded was −17 °F (−27 °C) on February 9, 1934, and the highest temperature ever recorded was 106 °F (41 °C) on July 10, 1936, and August 11, 1949. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Plainfield has a humid subtropical climate, which is abbreviated as "Cfa" on climate maps.

Climate data for Plainfield, New Jersey (1981–2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 39.3
(4.06)
43.4
(6.33)
52.5
(11.39)
63.9
(17.72)
74.1
(23.39)
82.6
(28.11)
86.8
(30.44)
85.1
(29.5)
77.7
(25.39)
65.9
(18.83)
54.9
(12.72)
43.4
(6.33)
64.13
(17.852)
Average low °F (°C) 23.3
(-4.83)
25.4
(-3.67)
31.7
(-0.17)
41.0
(5)
50.2
(10.11)
59.8
(15.44)
65.0
(18.33)
63.4
(17.44)
55.7
(13.17)
44.2
(6.78)
36.0
(2.22)
27.8
(-2.33)
43.63
(6.458)
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.70
(94)
2.91
(73.9)
4.29
(109)
3.77
(95.8)
4.22
(107.2)
4.12
(104.6)
5.30
(134.6)
3.58
(90.9)
4.64
(117.9)
4.30
(109.2)
3.90
(99.1)
3.72
(94.5)
48.44
(1,230.4)
Snowfall inches (cm) 8.0
(20.3)
10.0
(25.4)
3.6
(9.1)
.8
(2)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
.8
(2)
4.0
(10.2)
27.2
(69.1)
Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 9.7 8.3 9.5 10.9 10.3 10.0 9.4 8.8 8.3 8.3 9.1 9.7 112.3
Avg. snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 2.9 2.0 1.4 .2 0 0 0 0 0 0 .2 1.4 8.1
Source: NOAA

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 5,095
1880 8,125 59.5%
1890 11,267 38.7%
1900 15,369 36.4%
1910 20,550 33.7%
1920 27,700 34.8%
1930 34,422 24.3%
1940 37,469 8.9%
1950 42,366 13.1%
1960 45,330 7.0%
1970 46,862 3.4%
1980 45,555 −2.8%
1990 46,567 2.2%
2000 47,829 2.7%
2010 49,808 4.1%
Est. 2015 51,217 2.8%
Population sources: 1870–1920
1860-1870 1870 1880-1890
1890–1910 1870–1930
1930–1990 2000 2010

2010 Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 49,808 people, 15,180 households, and 10,884 families residing in the city. The population density was 8,270.1 per square mile (3,193.1/km2). There were 16,621 housing units at an average density of 2,759.8 per square mile (1,065.6/km2)*. The racial makeup of the city was 23.54% (11,724) White, 50.20% (25,006) Black or African American, 0.91% (455) Native American, 0.95% (474) Asian, 0.05% (26) Pacific Islander, 20.13% (10,024) from other races, and 4.21% (2,099) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 40.37% (20,105) of the population.

There were 15,180 households out of which 35.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.9% were married couples living together, 24.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.3% were non-families. 21.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.23 and the average family size was 3.60.

In the city, the population was spread out with 25.8% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 30.7% from 25 to 44, 23.5% from 45 to 64, and 9.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33.3 years. For every 100 females there were 101.3 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 100.4 males.

The Census Bureau's 2006–2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $52,056 (with a margin of error of +/- $3,048) and the median family income was $58,942 (+/- $4,261). Males had a median income of $33,306 (+/- $4,132) versus $37,265 (+/- $3,034) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $23,767 (+/- $1,013). About 12.2% of families and 16.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.5% of those under age 18 and 16.0% of those age 65 or over.

2000 Census

As of the 2000 United States Census of 2000, there were 47,829 people, 15,137 households, and 10,898 families residing in the city. The population density was 7,921.7 people per square mile (3,057.4/km²). There were 16,180 housing units at an average density of 2,679.8 per square mile (1,034.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 21.45% White, 61.78% African American, 0.41% Native American, 0.93% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 10.78% from other races, and 4.55% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 25.16% of the population.

There were 15,137 households out of which 35.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.3% were married couples living together, 24.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.0% were non-families. 21.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.10 and the average family size was 3.49.

In the city the population was spread out with 27.5% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 32.6% from 25 to 44, 20.5% from 45 to 64, and 9.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 95.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $46,683, and the median income for a family was $50,774. Males had a median income of $33,460 versus $30,408 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,052. About 12.2% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.3% of those under age 18 and 12.6% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

The Plainfield Symphony performs concerts at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church. The orchestra was founded in 1919, making it one of the oldest continuously operating orchestras in the United States.

In October 2010, former Plainfield music teacher Anwar Robinson and performer Yolanda Adams joined with community residents to try to be recognized by Guinness World Records for assembling the world's largest gospel chorus.

  • In the teaser trailer for the film, A Good Day to Die Hard, John McClane remarks "the 007 of Plainfield, New Jersey" thus confirming this as his fictional birthplace.

Plainfield Teacher's College hoax

Plainfield Teacher's College was a mythical institution created as a hoax by a duo of college football fans in 1941. The phony college's equally nonexistent football team had its scores carried by major newspapers including The New York Times before the hoax was discovered.

Images for kids


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