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Somerville, New Jersey
Borough of Somerville
Daniel Robert House – Borough Hall and Public Library
Daniel Robert House – Borough Hall and Public Library
Map highlighting Somerville's location within Somerset County. Inset: Somerset County's location within New Jersey
Map highlighting Somerville's location within Somerset County. Inset: Somerset County's location within New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Somerville, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Somerville, New Jersey
Somerville, New Jersey is located in Somerset County, New Jersey
Somerville, New Jersey
Somerville, New Jersey
Location in Somerset County, New Jersey
Somerville, New Jersey is located in New Jersey
Somerville, New Jersey
Somerville, New Jersey
Location in New Jersey
Somerville, New Jersey is located in the United States
Somerville, New Jersey
Somerville, New Jersey
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  New Jersey
County Somerset
Incorporated March 25, 1863 (as town)
Reincorporated April 16, 1909 (as borough)
Named for Somerset, England
 • Type Borough
 • Body Borough Council
 • Total 2.37 sq mi (6.13 km2)
 • Land 2.34 sq mi (6.06 km2)
 • Water 0.03 sq mi (0.07 km2)  1.18%
Area rank 384th of 565 in state
16th of 21 in county
62 ft (19 m)
 • Total 12,098
 • Estimate 
 • Rank 203rd of 566 in state
9th of 21 in county
 • Density 5,189.5/sq mi (2,003.7/km2)
 • Density rank 105th of 566 in state
4th of 21 in county
Time zone UTC−05:00 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (Eastern (EDT))
ZIP Codes
Area code(s) 908
FIPS code 3403568460
GNIS feature ID 0885398

Somerville is a borough in and the county seat of Somerset County, New Jersey, United States. The borough is located in the heart of the Raritan Valley region within the New York Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 12,098, reflecting a decline of 325 (-2.6%) from the 12,423 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 791 (+6.8%) from the 11,632 counted in the 1990 Census.

Somerville was originally formed as a town on March 25, 1863, within a portion of Bridgewater Township. Somerville was incorporated as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 16, 1909, based on the results of a referendum held on May 4, 1909, at which point it was fully set off from Bridgewater Township. It is home of the oldest competitive bicycle race in the United States.

The borough is named for Somerset in England.


September 11, 2001 attacks Memorial and Court House, Somerville
Old Dutch Parsonage Somerville
The Old Dutch Parsonage, home of Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh and John Frelinghuysen

Early development

Somerville was settled in colonial times primarily by the Dutch who purchased land from the English proprietors of the colony. The Dutch established their church near what is today Somerville and a Dutch Reformed minister or Domine lived at the Old Dutch Parsonage from about 1754. The early village grew up around a church, courthouse and a tavern built at a crossroads shortly after the American Revolution. The name "Somerville" was taken from four brothers of the Somerville family, William, Edward, John and James from Drishane and Castlehaven, County Cork, Ireland, who first founded the town in the 1750s. Somerville was originally a sparsely populated farming community, but rapidly grew after the completion of the railroad in the 1840s and development of water power along the Raritan River in the 1850s. Early industry included brick making from the plentiful red clay and shale on which Somerville is built. While much of the borough features distinctive Victorian architecture in several neighborhoods and along its Main Street, other periods are represented. National Register sites in Somerville include the white marble 1909 Somerville Court House and the wooden and stone colonial Wallace House (today a museum) where George Washington spent a winter during the American Revolutionary War. Near the Wallace House is the Old Dutch Parsonage, where Reverend Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh, a founder and first president of Rutgers University, then called Queens College, lived. Register listed Victorian structures include the James Harper Smith Estate (privately owned), St. John's Episcopal Church and rectory, and the Fire Museum (a vintage fire house). Other notable, register eligible structures are the Victorian train station (privately owned) and the municipal building, the former Robert Mansion.

Originally the center of local commerce, the borough has evolved into a destination for boutique retail and dining. Modern highways today surround and traverse Somerville, including U.S. Route 22, U.S. Route 202, U.S. Route 206 and Route 28 and is within 5 miles (8.0 km) of Interstate 287 and Interstate 78, making it an important hub in central New Jersey.

Downtown today

Main Street Somerville maintains most of its historical buildings, although many are now boutique specialty shops and second hand shops. Somerville has quite a diverse and large selection of restaurants that draw people from the surrounding area. In many ways, Somerville remains Somerset County's downtown, and is the heart of its designated Regional Center. Several of the factories in Somerville were abandoned and replaced with modern office buildings or remodeled as apartments. Somerville today and historically has had an important African American community, a distinguished member of which was Paul Robeson. Another famous Somerville native was famed character actor Lee Van Cleef. One of the founders of modern American Dance, Ruth St. Denis, made her professional debut at Somerset Hall, once a vaudeville theatre and today a local restaurant. The mix of modern amenities and an interesting and diverse past make Main Street, Somerville a unique destination for dining, strolling and visiting.

Future redevelopment

The shopping center on the west side of the downtown area was demolished and a new shopping center, town homes and other amenities will be built on the shopping center land and on adjacent land in the former borough landfill to the south. Ground was broken for a new "world class" ShopRite supermarket in March 2011 and opened in November 2011. Borough planners envision a transit village style redevelopment centered around the Somerville train station.

Hurricane Floyd

Somerville was hit hard by Hurricane Floyd in September 1999, despite its having been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it impacted the vicinity. The borough received a record 13.34 inches (339 mm) of rain over three days during the slow moving storm, causing significant flooding and considerable damage.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 2.362 square miles (6.118 km2), including 2.331 square miles (6.038 km2) of land and 0.031 square miles (0.080 km2) of water (1.31%). The borough's territory is flat land. Somerville borders the Raritan River to the south.

The borough borders Bridgewater Township, Hillsborough Township and Raritan.


Somerville's climate is warm during summer when temperatures tend to be in the 70s and 80s and cold during winter when temperatures tend to be in the 20s and 30s.

The warmest month of the year is July with an average maximum temperature of 84.40 degrees Fahrenheit, while the coldest month of the year is January with an average minimum temperature of 19.10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperature variations between night and day tend to be moderate during summer with a difference that can reach 22 degrees Fahrenheit, and fairly limited during winter with an average difference of 19 degrees Fahrenheit.

The annual average precipitation at Somerville is 45.93 inches (1,167 mm). Rainfall in is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. The wettest month of the year is July with an average rainfall of 4.81 inches (122 mm).

Climate data for Somerville, New Jersey
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 36.9
Average low °F (°C) 19.1


Super-regional shopping mall Bridgewater Commons is located in bordering Bridgewater. It is a major shopping destination for Somerville residents.
Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 2,236
1880 3,105 38.9%
1890 3,861 24.3%
1900 4,843 25.4%
1910 5,060 4.5%
1920 6,718 32.8%
1930 8,255 22.9%
1940 8,720 5.6%
1950 11,571 32.7%
1960 12,458 7.7%
1970 13,652 9.6%
1980 11,973 −12.3%
1990 11,632 −2.8%
2000 12,423 6.8%
2010 12,098 −2.6%
2019 (est.) 12,063 −0.3%
Population sources:
1870-1920 1870 1880-1890
1890-1910 1910-1930
1930-1990 2000 2010

2010 Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 12,098 people, 4,591 households, and 2,778 families residing in the borough. The population density was 5,189.5 per square mile (2,003.7/km2). There were 4,951 housing units at an average density of 2,123.8 per square mile (820.0/km2)*. The racial makeup of the borough was 65.64% (7,941) White, 12.15% (1,470) Black or African American, 0.34% (41) Native American, 11.37% (1,375) Asian, 0.07% (9) Pacific Islander, 6.34% (767) from other races, and 4.09% (495) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 23.75% (2,873) of the population.

There were 4,591 households out of which 28.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.7% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.5% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.20.

In the borough, the population was spread out with 21.3% under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 34.0% from 25 to 44, 24.8% from 45 to 64, and 11.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.5 years. For every 100 females there were 107.3 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 106.7 males.

The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $69,836 (with a margin of error of +/- $5,384) and the median family income was $80,461 (+/- $9,281). Males had a median income of $45,929 (+/- $5,005) versus $46,540 (+/- $3,751) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $30,272 (+/- $2,145). About 3.6% of families and 6.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.8% of those under age 18 and 10.8% of those age 65 or over.



2018-05-29 15 08 54 View north along U.S. Route 202 and U.S. Route 206 between the Somerville Circle and U.S. Route 22 in Somerville, Somerset County, New Jersey
US 202/206 in Somerville, the largest and busiest highway in the boro

Roads and highways

As of May 2010, the borough had a total of 36.16 miles (58.19 km) of roadways, of which 30.96 miles (49.83 km) were maintained by the municipality, 1.90 miles (3.06 km) by Somerset County and 3.30 miles (5.31 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

U.S. Route 22 runs along the northern boundary of Somerville and offers connections to the state highway network. U.S. Route 202 and U.S. Route 206 runs along the western boundary of Somerville, via the Somerville Circle, and provides north–south connections to nearby towns.

Interstate 287 is in neighboring Bridgewater Township and is accessible via US Routes 22 and 202/206.

Public transportation

The Somerville train station offers service on New Jersey Transit's Raritan Valley Line, with frequent service to Newark Penn Station, with connecting service to Penn Station New York in Midtown Manhattan.

Front of Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Somerset, pictured right before its RWJ merger

The closest airport with scheduled service is Newark Liberty International Airport.


Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital for Somerset County is located in the borough, and provides healthcare for Greater Somerset. The hospital was originally founded as Somerset Hospital in 1901, and since has grown into a major university medical center. Since June 1, 2014, the 355 bed facility has been affiliated with Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, the largest healthcare network in the state.

Points of interest

  • Duke Farms - Estate of the late tobacco heiress Doris Duke, located in neighboring Hillsborough.
  • The Wallace House New Jersey State Historic House Museum - Washington's Headquarters during the Middlebrook Encampment of 1778-1779.
  • Old Dutch Parsonage New Jersey State Historic Site - First parsonage of the Dutch Reformed Church in Somerset County and home of Rev. Jacob Hardenburgh, a founder and later first President of Queens College (now Rutgers University).
  • The Robert Mansion (Somerville Municipal Building) - National Register Property, Alexander Jackson Davis design, classic example of American Gothic architecture.


The Somerville Public Schools serve students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of the 2018–19 school year, the district, comprised of three schools, had an enrollment of 2,398 students and 204.7 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 11.7:1. Schools in the district (with 2018–19 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Van Derveer Elementary School with 802 students in grades PreK-5, Somerville Middle School with 371 students in grades 6-8 and Somerville High School with 1,195 students in grades 9-12. Students from Branchburg Township attend the district's high school as part of a sending/receiving relationship with the Branchburg Township School District. For many years, Branchburg has accounted for 60-65% of the high school's enrollment.

Immaculata High School is a private, coeducational, Roman Catholic high school, founded in 1962. The school enrolls approximately 850 students in grades 9 to 12. Immaculate Conception School is a Catholic private coeducational day school, founded in 1957, for students in grades Pre-K through 8. Both schools operate under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen.

Notable people

See also (related category): People from Somerville, New Jersey

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

  • Alicia Albe (born 1977), competitor in rhythmic gymnastics.
  • Mary Ellicott Arnold (1876–1968), social activist, teacher and writer best known for her memoir In the Land of the Grasshopper Song.
  • Nicole Arendt (born 1969), professional tennis player.
  • Frank Asch (born 1946), author of children's literature.
  • Christopher "Kip" Bateman (born 1957), politician who has served in the New Jersey Senate since 2008, where he represents the 16th Legislative District.
  • Raymond Bateman (1927–2016), politician who served in the New Jersey Senate in the 1960s and 1970s, who was the Republican nominee for Governor of New Jersey in 1977.
  • Daniel H. Beekman (1874-1951), Judge of the Somerset County Court of Common Pleas, President of the Second National Bank of Somerville, and Democratic politician.
  • James J. Bergen (1847–1924), politician who served as Speaker of the New Jersey General Assembly and an Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.
  • George H. Brown (1810–1865), represented New Jersey's 4th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1853–1855.
  • Tony Camillo (1928–2018), record producer and arranger.
  • Clarence E. Case (1877–1961), politician who served as acting Republican Governor of New Jersey in 1920, succeeding William Nelson Runyon.
  • Jack M. Ciattarelli (born 1961), entrepreneur and politician who represented the 16th Legislative District in the New Jersey General Assembly from 2011 to 2018.
  • Alvah A. Clark (1840–1912), represented New Jersey's 4th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1877–1881.
  • Kate Claxton (1848–1924), stage actress.
  • Christine Danelson (born 1987), actress best known as the understudy for the role of Tracy in the national tour of the Broadway musical Hairspray.
  • Royal Page Davidson (1870–1943), educator and inventor.
  • John G. Demaray (1930–2015), medievalist.
  • Don Elliott (1926–1984), jazz trumpeter, vibraphonist, vocalist, and mellophone player.
  • David Felmley (1857–1930), educator who served for 30 years as president of Illinois State University, then known as Illinois State Normal University.
  • Lewis Van Syckle Fitz Randolph (1838–1921), businessman and politician.
  • Kevin Foley (born 1987), professional golfer.
  • Gene Freed (1930–2009), bridge player and physician.
  • Frederick Frelinghuysen, (1753–1804), lawyer, soldier, and senator from New Jersey.
  • Mary Exton Gaston (1855–1956), first female physician in Somerville and a "major force in the borough's development".
  • Frederick Wilson Hall (1908–1984), Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court from 1959 to 1975.
  • Reggie Harrison (born 1951), former professional American football running back for four seasons in the National Football League for the Pittsburgh Steelers and St. Louis Cardinals.
  • Mort Herbert (1925–1983), jazz bassist and lawyer.
  • Naomi Jakobsson (born 1941), member of the Illinois House of Representatives, representing the 103rd District since 2003.
  • Walter J. Kavanaugh (1933–2008), member of the State Senate who represented New Jersey's 16th Legislative District who had been a successful businessman in Somerville and a life member of the Somerville First Aid & Rescue Squad.
  • Joyce Kozloff (born 1942), artist whose politically engaged work has been based on cartography since the early 1990s.
  • Joe Lis (born 1946), Major League Baseball player who played for Philadelphia, Minnesota, Cleveland and Seattle.
  • John Mack (1926–2006), principal oboist with the Cleveland Orchestra.
  • Eric Murdock (born 1968), NBA player for the Utah Jazz, Milwaukee Bucks, Vancouver Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat, New Jersey Nets and Los Angeles Clippers.
  • Michael J. Newman (born 1960), United States magistrate judge in the Southern District of Ohio.
  • Steven J. Ostro (1946–2008), scientist specializing in radar astronomy.
  • Frank Perantoni (1923-1991), American football center who played professional football for the New York Yankees and later served on the Somerville borough council.
  • Helen Riehle (born 1950), politician who serves in the Vermont Senate, representing most of Chittenden County.
  • Paul Robeson (1898–1976), actor, athlete, bass-baritone concert singer, writer, civil rights activist, Fellow traveler, Spingarn Medal winner, and Stalin Peace Prize laureate.
  • Brian E. Rumpf (born 1964), represents the 9th Legislative District in the New Jersey General Assembly.
  • Theodore Runyon (1822–1896), politician, diplomat, and American Civil War brigadier general in the New Jersey Militia.
  • Skinnyfromthe9 (born 1995), rapper and singer.
  • Frank Snook (born 1949), former relief pitcher who played for the San Diego Padres.
  • Ruth St. Denis (1879–1968), modern dance pioneer.
  • William Gaston Steele, (1820–1892), represented New Jersey's 3rd congressional district from 1861–1865.
  • Douglas Urbanski, film producer.
  • Lee Van Cleef (1925–1989), actor who was featured in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, For a Few Dollars More, Escape from New York and many other films and TV series.
  • Fred Van Eps (1878–1960), banjoist and early recording artist.
  • Jeffrey Vanderbeek, former owner of the New Jersey Devils.
  • Mauricio Vargas (born 1992), soccer goalkeeper who plays for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds of the United Soccer League.
  • Frederica von Stade (born 1945), mezzo-soprano.
  • Daniel Spader Voorhees (1852–1935), New Jersey State Treasurer from 1907–1913.
  • Jon Williams (born 1961), NFL player for the New England Patriots.
  • Elvira Woodruff (born 1951), children's writer known for books that include elements of fantasy and history.
  • Elinor Wylie (1885–1928), poet and novelist, author of Angels and Earthly Creatures, The Orphan Angel and other works.

Images for kids

See also

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