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Plainsboro Township, New Jersey
Township
Township of Plainsboro
Plainsboro Center located in the middle of the township
Plainsboro Center located in the middle of the township
Location of Plainsboro Township in Middlesex County. Inset: Location of Middlesex County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Location of Plainsboro Township in Middlesex County. Inset: Location of Middlesex County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Plainsboro Township, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Plainsboro Township, New Jersey
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Coordinates: 40°20′18″N 74°34′55″W / 40.338255°N 74.581898°W / 40.338255; -74.581898Coordinates: 40°20′18″N 74°34′55″W / 40.338255°N 74.581898°W / 40.338255; -74.581898
Country  United States
State  New Jersey
County Middlesex
Incorporated May 6, 1919
Government
 • Type Township
 • Body Township Committee
Area
 • Total 12.11 sq mi (31.37 km2)
 • Land 11.74 sq mi (30.40 km2)
 • Water 0.37 sq mi (0.97 km2)  3.09%
Area rank 191st of 565 in state
11th of 25 in county
Elevation
79 ft (24 m)
Population
 • Total 22,999
 • Estimate 
(2019)
22,884
 • Rank 109th of 566 in state
13th of 25 in county
 • Density 1,951.6/sq mi (753.5/km2)
 • Density rank 295th of 566 in state
21st of 25 in county
Time zone UTC−05:00 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (Eastern (EDT))
ZIP Code
08536
Area code(s) 609
FIPS code 3402359280
GNIS feature ID 0882161

Plainsboro Township is a township in Middlesex County in the U.S. state of New Jersey. The township is centrally located in the Raritan Valley region and is a part of the New York metropolitan area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 22,999, reflecting an increase of 2,784 (+13.8%) from the 20,215 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 6,002 (+42.2%) from the 14,213 counted in the 1990 Census.

Plainsboro was incorporated as a township on May 6, 1919, from lands north of Plainsboro Road and Dey Road that had been part of South Brunswick Township and lands south of Plainsboro Road and Dey Road that had been part of Cranbury Township. The main impetus towards the creation of the township was the lack of schools serving the area; a new school was constructed after the township was established, which still exists as J.V.B. Wicoff School, named for one of the individuals who led the effort to create Plainsboro.

History

The original residents of Plainsboro were the Unami people, a subtribe of the Lenape Native Americans. In the 17th century, the Dutch settled the area for its agricultural properties.

The oldest developed section of Plainsboro is at the intersection of Dey and Plainsboro Roads. It is thought that the road was named after a Dutch-built tavern that sat at the intersection, called "The Planes Tavern," in the early 18th century or earlier. The building still stands and was featured on HGTV's If These Walls Could Talk along with the historic Plainsboro Inn building (circa 1790) that was built adjacent to "Planes Tavern" at Plainsboro Road and Dey Road.

In 1897, the Walker-Gordon Dairy Farm opened up, which, among many other things, contributed Elsie the Cow, possibly the most famous cow ever, and The Walker Gordon Diner, which has since been closed. The site of the farm has been turned into a single-family home community named Walker-Gordon Farm, which consists of over 350 homes.

Other family farms arrived during the first three quarters of the 20th Century, notably the Parker, Simonson, Stults, and Groendyke farms. The Parker Farm was eventually integrated into the Groendyke farm, and both became part of Walker-Gordon's Dairy Farm, which is now a housing development. The Simonson and Stults Farms still stand and operate in Plainsboro.

St. Joseph's Seminary (Princeton, New Jersey) chapel
The chapel of St. Joseph's Seminary, built 1914 in Plainsboro, though it bears a Princeton address

Plainsboro was officially founded on May 6, 1919, and was formed from sections of Cranbury and South Brunswick townships. Plainsboro Township was created in response to Cranbury and South Brunswick refusing to build a new fireproof and larger school in Plainsboro Village. Every year, the date is celebrated with a parade, festival, and a concert.

In 1971, Princeton University (which owned most of the town) and Lincoln Properties, Inc., together developed the area into what it is now, a large suburban town still holding on to its rural past. In response to the development, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South was opened in nearby Princeton Junction, then just called WWP High. To accommodate the additional growth, West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North was opened in Plainsboro in September 2000, beginning a North-South rivalry between the Pirates and the Knights.

The latest addition to Plainsboro is the Village Center, which is adjacent to the historic village area. Located at the intersection of Schalks Crossing and Scudder Mills Roads, Plainsboro Village Center currently features eight buildings totaling almost 75,000 square feet (7,000 m2) of retail, commercial and office space, as well as 11 single-family homes and 12 townhomes. The Village Center contains wide landscaped sidewalks and outdoor, cafe'-style seating. The Village center's downtown atmosphere is the location of many shopping and dining destinations. The Village Center features a large village green with a tranquil fountain and walking paths in a park-like setting. The Village Center also houses a new $12.4 million Plainsboro Library, which opened on April 10, 2010. The township broke ground on July 27, for two new buildings that will host medical offices, additional retail space and eight residential condominium units.

A new $447 million hospital facility is being developed in Plainsboro, slated for a 2012 opening. The hospital will be renamed University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro. The new hospital and 171-acre (69 ha) medical campus will include a modern medical office building attached to the hospital, a world-class education center, a health and fitness center, a skilled nursing facility, a pediatric services facility and a 32-acre (13 ha) public park. Officials at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) announced they will be opening a facility in Plainsboro on 13 acres (5.3 ha) of the new hospital campus.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 12.207 square miles (31.614 km2), including 11.785 square miles (30.522 km2) of land and 0.422 square miles (1.092 km2) of water (3.45%).

Plainsboro Center (with a 2010 Census population of 2,712) and Princeton Meadows (13,834 as of 2010) are unincorporated communities and census-designated places (CDPs) located within Plainsboro Township.

Other unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Aqueduct, Schalks and Scotts Corner.

The township borders Cranbury Township and South Brunswick Township in Middlesex County, and East Windsor Township, Princeton and West Windsor Township in Mercer County.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1920 460
1930 1,018 121.3%
1940 925 −9.1%
1950 1,112 20.2%
1960 1,171 5.3%
1970 1,648 40.7%
1980 5,605 240.1%
1990 14,213 153.6%
2000 20,215 42.2%
2010 22,999 13.8%
2019 (est.) 22,884 −0.5%
Population sources:
1920 1920-1930
1930-1990 2000 2010

2010 Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 22,999 people, 9,402 households, and 5,886 families residing in the township. The population density was 1,951.6 per square mile (753.5/km2). There were 10,089 housing units at an average density of 856.1 per square mile (330.5/km2)*. The racial makeup of the township was 41.07% (9,445) White, 8.03% (1,847) Black or African American, 0.30% (69) Native American, 46.22% (10,630) Asian, 0.02% (4) Pacific Islander, 1.76% (404) from other races, and 2.61% (600) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.21% (1,429) of the population. As of the 2010 Census, 29.6% of the township's population self-identified as being Indian American, making them the largest minority group in the township.

There were 9,402 households out of which 36.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.4% were married couples living together, 7.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.4% were non-families. 31.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 3.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.43 and the average family size was 3.14.

In the township, the population was spread out with 24.7% under the age of 18, 6.0% from 18 to 24, 35.7% from 25 to 44, 26.2% from 45 to 64, and 7.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.5 years. For every 100 females there were 98.8 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 96.4 males.

The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $86,986 (with a margin of error of +/- $5,536) and the median family income was $114,457 (+/- $6.162). Males had a median income of $76,846 (+/- $6,185) versus $58,515 (+/- $5,722) for females. The per capita income for the township was $46,222 (+/- $2,054). About 1.9% of families and 3.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.6% of those under age 18 and 4.0% of those age 65 or over.

Transportation

Roads and highways

As of May 2010, the township had a total of 64.94 miles (104.51 km) of roadways, of which 55.78 miles (89.77 km) were maintained by the municipality, 7.06 miles (11.36 km) by Middlesex County and 2.10 miles (3.38 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

U.S. Route 1 is a major transportation route that passes through the northwestern part of township. County Route 614 has its western terminus at U.S. Route 1 and passes through the center of Plainsboro.

The closest limited access road is the New Jersey Turnpike which is accessible from Interchange 8 in neighboring East Windsor Township and Interchange 8A in Monroe Township.

Public transportation

New Jersey Transit bus service includes the 600, which provides service to Trenton. NJ Transit's Northeast Corridor rail line runs through the township. NJ Transit and Amtrak trains service the township at the nearby Princeton Junction.

Suburban Transit buses 300 line to New York from the Park and Ride in Route 130 provides service directly to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan.

Cycling

There are many cycle routes through Plainsboro, connecting the main shopping districts and down to the D&R Canal cycle pathway. There are a few discontinuities in the cycle routes, but generally they are well-maintained.

Media appearances

  • Plainsboro is the namesake of the fictional hospital in the Fox TV series House (aka Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital)
  • Plainsboro is referred to in Tim Curry's song "Paradise Garage" from his album Fearless.
  • "Plainsboro High" is a fictional New Jersey high school around which the HBO film, Rocket Science, is based.
  • Plainsboro is mentioned in the description of the battle area in Orson Welles's 1938 radio broadcast, The War of the Worlds, when the radio announcer describes the aftermath of the purported Martian invasion at nearby Grover's Mill.
  • Plainsboro was featured on the MTV series, True Life ("I'm Graduating from High School") season 11, 2008, on which MTV took a look at the life of three seniors who were enrolled at High School North.
  • Plainsboro is the site for the tomb of Elsie the Cow.

Science and research

  • From 1986 through 1989, Plainsboro was home to the John von Neumann Center on College Road, which hosted the liquid nitrogen-cooled ETA10 Supercomputers and was a major hub of the early Internet.
  • Plainsboro is home to the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, one of the few nuclear fusion reactors in the world.
  • The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, where the first computer models of climate were developed, is physically located in Plainsboro on the James Forrestal Campus of Princeton University.
  • Plainsboro had a nuclear research reactor (on Nuclear Reactor Road) built in 1957.
  • In 1930, the Rotolactor was invented by Walker Gordon Farms in Plainsboro. The Rotolactor was the first rotary milking parlor and a popular tourist attraction. It remained in use into the 1960s.

Education

Public schools

Schools signs of the Marillac campus at St. Joseph's Seminary (Princeton, New Jersey)
The campus of the former St. Joseph's Seminary is home to a number of private schools

Plainsboro Township and West Windsor Township are part of a combined school district, the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District, which serves students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade from the two communities. The district has four elementary schools (grades PreK/K - 3), two upper elementary schools (grades 4 and 5), two middle schools (grades 6 - 8) and two high schools (grades 9 - 12). As of the 2017–18 school year, the district, comprised of 10 schools, had an enrollment of 9,812 students and 761.6 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 12.9:1. Schools in the district (with 2017-18 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Dutch Neck Elementary School (located in West Windsor: 687 students; in grades K-3), Maurice Hawk Elementary School (West Windsor: 749; K-3), Town Center Elementary School (Plainsboro: 522; PreK-2), J.V.B. Wicoff Elementary School (Plainsboro: 449; K-3), Millstone River Upper Elementary School (Plainsboro: 1,088; 3-5 - Formerly West Windsor-Plainsboro Upper Elementary School (UES), before the Village School was built), Village Upper Elementary School (West Windsor: Preschool, 726; 4–5), West Windsor-Plainsboro Community Middle School (Plainsboro: 1,172; 6-8 - Formerly West Windsor-Plainsboro Middle School pre-1997, before Grover Middle School was created), Thomas R. Grover Middle School (West Windsor: 1,264; 6–8), West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North (Plainsboro: 1,448; 9-12) and West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South (West Windsor: 1,601; 9-12 - Formerly West Windsor-Plainsboro High School, before High School North was established in 1997). The district is overseen by a directly elected nine-member board of education whose members are allocated to the two constituent municipalities based on population, with four of the nine seats allocated to Plainsboro.

In 2005, Community Middle School received first place at the national "Science Olympiad" competition and took first place for a second time in 2007. West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North was the 32nd-ranked public high school, and South was 62nd-ranked, in New Jersey out of 328 schools statewide, in New Jersey Monthly magazine's September 2012 cover story on the state's Top Public High Schools.

Three of the district's schools have been recognized by the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program. West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South was recognized during the 1992–93 school year and Maurice Hawk Elementary School was recognized in 1993–94, while West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North was recognized in the 2006–07 school year.

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.

Private schools

The campus of the former St. Joseph's Seminary, located in Plainsboro, is home to a number of private schools.

  • French American School of Princeton (PreK-8)
  • The American Boychoir School (closed after 2017–18 school year)
  • The Laurel School
  • Wilberforce School, a Classical Christian school. The school had been located in Plainsboro from 2011 to 2014 but permanently located in the former Saint Joseph's seminary in 2019.

Notable people

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

  • David Jordan Bachner (1991-2009), baseball pitcher.
  • Andrew Bynum (born 1987), former professional basketball player.
  • Patrick Clark (1955-1998), chef.
  • Elsie the Cow (died 1941), mascot.
  • Linda R. Greenstein (born 1950), represents the 14th Legislative District in the New Jersey State Senate.
  • Henry W. Jeffers (1871–1953), one of the leaders in establishing Plainsboro Township, and served as its first mayor after incorporation in 1919.
  • Gary Jeter (born 1955), former NFL defensive end who played for the New York Giants, Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots.
  • Mariam Nazarian (born 1983), concert pianist and producer, who made her Carnegie Hall debut at the age of 16.
  • Rebecca Soni (born 1987), U.S. Olympic swimmer and gold medal winner of the 200m breaststroke at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
  • Barbara Wright (born 1933), member of the New Jersey General Assembly who also served as mayor of the township.
  • Felicia Zhang (born 1993), former pair skater who is a two-time U.S. national medalist and competed at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

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