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Willingboro Township, New Jersey
Township
Township of Willingboro
Motto(s): 
"A Naturally Better Place to Be"
Willingboro Township highlighted in Burlington County. Inset map: Burlington County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Willingboro Township highlighted in Burlington County. Inset map: Burlington County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Willingboro Township, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Willingboro Township, New Jersey
Willingboro Township, New Jersey is located in Burlington County, New Jersey
Willingboro Township, New Jersey
Willingboro Township, New Jersey
Location in Burlington County, New Jersey
Willingboro Township, New Jersey is located in New Jersey
Willingboro Township, New Jersey
Willingboro Township, New Jersey
Location in New Jersey
Willingboro Township, New Jersey is located in the United States
Willingboro Township, New Jersey
Willingboro Township, New Jersey
Location in the United States
Country  United States
State  New Jersey
County Flag of Burlington County, New Jersey.gif Burlington
Formed November 6, 1688
Incorporated February 21, 1798
Renamed November 3, 1959 to November 5, 1963 as Levittown Township
Named for Wellingborough
Government
 • Type Faulkner Act (council–manager)
 • Body Township Council
Area
 • Total 8.14 sq mi (21.08 km2)
 • Land 7.73 sq mi (20.01 km2)
 • Water 0.41 sq mi (1.07 km2)  5.09%
Area rank 230th of 565 in state
22nd of 40 in county
Elevation
30 ft (9 m)
Population
 • Total 31,629
 • Estimate 
(2019)
32,005
 • Rank 70th of 566 in state
3rd of 40 in county
 • Density 4,087.3/sq mi (1,578.1/km2)
 • Density rank 150th of 566 in state
6th of 40 in county
Time zone UTC−05:00 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC−04:00 (Eastern (EDT))
ZIP Code
08046
Area code(s) 609 and 856
FIPS code 3400581440
GNIS feature ID 0882099
Website
Millcreek Park, Willingboro
Lake at Millcreek Park in Willingboro, New Jersey

Willingboro Township is a township in Burlington County, New Jersey, United States, and a suburb of Philadelphia. The Township has British roots going back to the 17th century. Abraham Levitt and Sons purchased and developed Willingboro land in the 1950s and 1960s as a planned community in their Levittown model.

The 1967 book The Levittowners, by sociologist Herbert J. Gans, was a famous case study in American urban sociology based on the development of Levittown. Willingboro later became a predominantly African American suburb, and is more recently attracting a growing Muslim population.

History

Willingboro was one of the original nine divisions in the organization of Burlington County within West Jersey, and was originally formed as the "Constabulary of Wellingborrow" on November 6, 1688. At the time, it included present day Delanco Township, New Jersey. The original name of Wellingborough was after the community in England, which was the hometown of Thomas Ollive, who led the original settlers into what would become Willingboro Township. Other spellings were used at different times.

After the establishment of the United States and the State of New Jersey, the community was formally incorporated as "Willingborough Township", one of New Jersey's initial group of 104 townships, on February 21, 1798, by the New Jersey Legislature when it enacted "An Act incorporating the Inhabitants of Townships, designating their Powers, and regulating their Meetings", P.L. 1798, p. 289. This makes Willingboro one of the oldest townships in the State.

Portions of the township were taken to form Beverly borough (March 5, 1850, now Beverly city) and Beverly Township (March 1, 1859, now known as Delanco Township).

In the 1950s and 1960s, Willingboro was the location for a massive residential development by Levitt & Sons. The town was to be Levitt & Sons' third and largest Levittown development, following similar projects in New York and Pennsylvania. Levitt acquired the great majority of the land in Willingboro; the historic community of Rancocas, in the southeast portion of the township, was annexed to Westampton Township to keep it from being bulldozed, as Levitt wished to keep the development within the boundaries of a single municipality. The first Levittown homes were sold in June 1958, at which time the community was already known as Levittown, New Jersey.

The town's name was changed from the original Willingboro to "Levittown Township" by a referendum of township residents held on November 3, 1959. Willingboro was less than 12 miles (19 km) from Levittown, Pennsylvania and this occasionally caused confusion. A referendum held on the issue on November 5, 1963, changed the name back to Willingboro. The name change was passed by a narrow margin of 3,123 to 3,003. In retaliation, Levitt refused to donate any more schools to the fast-growing community.

When homes for the new Levittown were first being sold in 1958, Levitt and Sons had a policy against sales to African Americans. W. R. James, an African-American officer in the Army's Criminal Investigation Division, was stationed at nearby Fort Dix and applied to purchase a Levittown home. On June 29, 1958, an agent of Levitt and Sons told him that the new Levittown development would be an all-white community. James filed suit against the company challenging their policy. A friend of his, who worked at the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights, said that it was illegal in New Jersey to discriminate in federally-subsidized housing. At the time, de facto racial segregation in housing existed in many areas in the United States. Levittown was receiving mortgage insurance from the Federal Housing Administration. But as of 1958, the law had not been tested.

James sued Levitt in a case that ultimately went to the New Jersey Supreme Court, which upheld lower court rulings in favor of James. James was not the first African American to move into Willingboro. Given James' success in his suit, Charles and Vera Williams purchased a house and moved into the community in 1960, the first African-American family in Willingboro. James eventually moved into Millbrook Park in 1960. He served as head of the local chapter of the NAACP and eventually became a minister. An elementary school in Willingboro was named in his honor.

Following the court case, Levitt developed a thorough integration program. The company set up an integration committee headed by Howard Lett, an African American. Lett created a five-point program, which included the announcement by community leaders of Levitt's plan to desegregate housing, and a thorough briefing program for Levitt employees, government officials, the police and the press. Lett recommended an attempt to discourage anti-integration activities known as "Operation Hothead". Lett created a Human Relations Council to oversee possible disputes in community. James served as a member of that committee. The committee tried to solve problems of juvenile delinquency in the township. It opposed a curfew passed by the Township Council in the early 1970s. The curfew was later dropped, but reintroduced later. One area that the committee oversaw was the practice of blockbusting.

The African-American population of Willingboro increased throughout the 1960s; by 1964 there were 50 African-American families. By 1970, African Americans represented about 11% of the population. During the early 1970s, several homeowners said they were approached by local real estate agents and told that their neighborhood was becoming increasingly African-American and home values could decline if they did not sell quickly; a practice known as blockbusting. While the Human Relations Council could not prove these claims, it made recommendations to help foster better relations between ethnic communities in the township and calm concerns.

The township in 1974 enacted an ordinance that prohibited the posting of "for sale" or "sold" signs on real estate. Proponents of the ordinance alleged the purpose was to maintain integration. Many other communities had enacted similar laws in reaction to the practice of blockbusting in the 1960s and 1970s. The Supreme Court in the 1977 case of Linmark Associates, Inc. v. Willingboro ruled that the ordinance violated the First Amendment protections for free speech, which applied to commercial needs.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, Willingboro township had a total area of 8.150 square miles (21.108 km2), including 7.738 square miles (20.042 km2) of land and 0.412 square miles (1.066 km2) of water (5.05%).

The township borders the Burlington County municipalities of Edgewater Park Township, Burlington Township, Westampton Township, Mount Laurel Township, Moorestown Township, Delran Township, and Delanco Township.

Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Bortons Landing, Charleston and Cooperstown.

Parks and sections

Willingboro is divided into several sections, each section's street names beginning with the same letter as the corresponding section name. For example, streets in Pennypacker Park all begin with the letter "P". This is the case with all parks, excluding Martin's Beach and certain streets in Rittenhouse Park. Some streets that predate Levittown retained their original names, such as Charleston Road.

Originally, each Park or section had its own swimming pool for residents' use. Residents' families would receive free swim tags after showing applicable IDs at each section's school or the community office. However, some swimming pools, such as Hawthorne Park, have been inactive for years. Free lessons and other events were focused on these "park" pools during the summer months. By the 1990s, only Pennypacker Park and Country Club Park had operating summer pools. Finally, Country Club Park has been denoted the "community pool" at this time.

  • Buckingham Park
  • Country Club Ridge
  • Pennypacker Park
  • Millbrook Park
  • Martin's Beach
  • Deer Park
  • Somerset Park (First house was occupied here.)
  • Windsor Park
  • Garfield Park
  • Garfield Park East
  • Garfield Park North
  • Rittenhouse Park
  • Twin Hill Park
  • Ironside Court (Non-residential, Public Works Department and some industry.)
  • Hawthorne Park
  • Fairmount Park

A section without a name is located near Olympia Lakes. This is the only part of the town with the area code 856. The rest of Willingboro is in area code 609.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 495
1810 619 25.1%
1820 787 27.1%
1830 782 −0.6%
1840 900 15.1%
1850 1,596 77.3%
1860 643 −59.7%
1870 750 16.6%
1880 743 −0.9%
1890 739 −0.5%
1900 673 −8.9%
1910 562 −16.5%
1920 601 6.9%
1930 613 2.0%
1940 642 4.7%
1950 852 32.7%
1960 11,861 1,292.1%
1970 43,386 265.8%
1980 39,912 −8.0%
1990 36,291 −9.1%
2000 33,008 −9.0%
2010 31,629 −4.2%
2019 (est.) 32,005 1.2%
Population sources:1800-2000
1800-1920 1840 1850-1870
1850 1870 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 31,629 people, 10,884 households, and 8,283 families residing in the township. The population density was 4,087.3 per square mile (1,578.1/km2). There were 11,442 housing units at an average density of 1,478.6 per square mile (570.9/km2)*. The racial makeup of the township was 17.31% (5,475) White, 72.74% (23,007) Black or African American, 0.37% (117) Native American, 2.01% (635) Asian, 0.03% (10) Pacific Islander, 3.12% (988) from other races, and 4.42% (1,397) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.65% (2,737) of the population.

There were 10,884 households out of which 27.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.3% were married couples living together, 21.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.9% were non-families. 20.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.90 and the average family size was 3.32.

In the township, the population was spread out with 23.5% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 22.8% from 25 to 44, 28.7% from 45 to 64, and 15.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.0 years. For every 100 females there were 85.5 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 81.2 males.

The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $66,479 (with a margin of error of +/- $4,323) and the median family income was $73,968 (+/- $2,888). Males had a median income of $48,323 (+/- $2,553) versus $40,313 (+/- $3,074) for females. The per capita income for the township was $25,989 (+/- $1,048). About 6.9% of families and 8.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.5% of those under age 18 and 3.8% of those age 65 or over.

Census 2000

As of the 2000 United States Census there were 33,008 people, 10,713 households, and 8,784 families residing in the township. The population density was 4,292.7 people per square mile (1,657.3/km2). There were 11,124 housing units at an average density of 1,446.7 per square mile (558.5/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 66.71% African American, 24.67% White, 0.30% Native American, 1.70% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 2.62% from other races, and 3.95% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.05% of the population.

There were 10,713 households, out of which 33.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.1% were married couples living together, 18.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.0% were non-families. 15.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.07 and the average family size was 3.36.

In the township the population was spread out, with 27.5% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 26.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.4 males.

The median income for a household in the township was $60,869, and the median income for a family was $64,338. Males had a median income of $39,963 versus $31,554 for females. The per capita income for the township was $21,799. About 3.5% of families and 5.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.3% of those under age 18 and 5.1% of those age 65 or over.

Transportation

2018-05-23 16 13 11 View north along U.S. Route 130 (Burlington Pike) just north of the Rancocas Creek on the border of Delanco Township and Willingboro Township in Burlington County, New Jersey
US 130 on the northwest edge of Willingboro

Roads and highways

As of May 2010, the township had a total of 122.11 miles (196.52 km) of roadways, of which 109.02 miles (175.45 km) were maintained by the municipality, 11.53 miles (18.56 km) by Burlington County and 1.56 miles (2.51 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

U.S. Route 130 is the main highway serving Willingboro. It straddles the township's borders with Delanco Township and Edgewater Park Township.

Public transportation

NJ Transit provides bus service on 409 / 417 / 418 routes between Trenton and Philadelphia.

BurLink bus service is offered on the B1 route (between Beverly and Pemberton) and on the B2 route (between Beverly and Westampton Township).

Academy Bus provides service from Willingboro and at the park-and-ride facility near Exit 5 of the New Jersey Turnpike in Westampton to the Port Authority Bus Terminal and other street service in Midtown Manhattan and to both Jersey City and the Wall Street area in Lower Manhattan.

Education

The Willingboro Township Public Schools serves students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of the 2017–18 school year, the district, comprised of eight schools, had an enrollment of 3,203 students and 272.0 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 11.8:1. Schools in the district (with 2017–18 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are J. Cresswell Stuart Early Childhood Development Center for PreK-K, Garfield East Early Childhood Development Center for PreK-K, Hawthorne Elementary School with 393 students in grades 1–4, W.R. James Sr. Elementary School with 349 students in grades 1–4, Twin Hills Elementary School with 312 students in grades 1–4, Levitt Intermediate School with NA students in grades 5–6, Willingboro Memorial Middle School with 677 students in grades 7–8, Willingboro High School with 632 students in grades 9-12 and Alternative School at Bookbinder served 18 students in grades 6-12.

During the early development of the township, all high school students attended Levittown High School for grades 9-12 (LHS was renamed "Levitt Jr. High School" when the new high school - John F. Kennedy - was opened in 1964). It was the only junior high school, grades 7 through 9, until Memorial Junior High School opened in 1968. The substantial student population at JFK HS required that the school go to split sessions and only was able to house grades 10–12, with the freshmen classes divided between Memorial and Levitt junior high schools. In 1975, Willingboro HS was opened and became the "sister" school, located only about two miles apart - both on JFK Way. This is the way the township was until JFK HS became a middle school in 1990, leaving Willingboro as the only high school. By this time, the township population fell and Levitt Junior High School was closed to become township offices and storage. Memorial Junior High School would remain open for college classes for Burlington County College. Kennedy Middle School eventually closed and became Kennedy Center, a community center for the performing arts, an additional gym for events, and classrooms for college classes.

The S.W. Bookbinder, J.A. McGinley and Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary Schools were closed at the end of the 2005–06 school year as part of an effort to save about $3.6 million, through the reduction of as many as 100 staff members and class sizes increased as large as 27 at the five remaining elementary schools. The cuts were needed to fill a two-year budget deficit of nearly $10 million.

Students from Willingboro Township, and from all of Burlington County, are eligible to attend the Burlington County Institute of Technology, a countywide public school district that serves the vocational and technical education needs of students at the high school and post-secondary level at its campuses in Medford and Westampton Township.

The Willingboro Public Library (WPL) is the municipal public library for the community. It first opened in 1960 and operates independently from the Burlington County Library System. Before 2003, the library was housed in the township's municipal building on Salem Road. The current library building is 42,000 square feet (3,900 m2). and is an anchor for the new Willingboro Town Center on Route 130.

Notable people

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

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

  • Mark Adamo (born 1962), composer and librettist with New York City Opera.
  • Malik Allen (born 1978), NBA power forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
  • Priscilla B. Anderson (born 1935), politician who served in the New Jersey General Assembly from the 7th Legislative District from 1992 to 1994 and as mayor of Willingboro.
  • Tony Bellinger (born 1957), retired professional soccer defender who played in the NASL for the Dallas Tornado.
  • T. J. Brennan (born 1989), professional ice hockey defenseman who has played in the NHL for the Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs.
  • Cardiak (born 1988), music producer for 50 Cent, Rick Ross, Fabolous, Meek Mill and Lloyd Banks.
  • Sean Casey (born 1974), Major League Baseball first baseman for the Boston Red Sox.
  • Mike Chioda (born 1964), WWE professional wrestling Referee and Raw Senior Referee.
  • City High, R&B group.
  • Ant Clemons (born 1991), singer-songwriter, who released his debut album Happy 2 Be Here in March 2020.
  • Tom Davis (born c. 1970), basketball player best known for his college career at Delaware State University between 1987–88 and 1990–91 in which he had more than 2,200 points and 1,000 rebounds.
  • Gary Dourdan (born 1966), actor best known for playing the character Warrick Brown on the television series '.
  • Chuck Faucette (born 1963), former NFL linebacker who played for the San Diego Chargers for two seasons.
  • William Franklin (1731–1813), last Colonial Governor of New Jersey, son of Benjamin Franklin.
  • Vance Gilbert, folk music singer/songwriter.
  • James Green (born 1992), amateur wrestler who won bronze at the 2015 World Wrestling Championships at Men's freestyle 70 kg.
  • Anthony Griggs (born 1960), former NFL linebacker who played for the Philadelphia Eagles and Cleveland Browns.
  • Erskine Hawkins (1914–1993), jazz trumpeter and big band leader.
  • Derrick Hodge (born 1979), bassist, composer, music producer, music director and recording artist.
  • Charles W. Hooper, Lieutenant General in the United States Army who has held the position of Director of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency since 2017.
  • Barbara Kalik (born 1936), politician who served in the New Jersey General Assembly from the 7th Legislative District from 1978 to 1992 and as mayor of Willingboro.
  • Stephen Kasprzyk (born 1982), rower who represented the United States in the Men's eight event at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
  • Michelle Kosinski (born 1974), journalist who has been a White House correspondent for CNN.
  • Crystal Langhorne (born 1986), WNBA basketball player drafted in 2008 by the Washington Mystics. Won the National Championship in 2006 as a member of the Maryland Terrapins.
  • Carl Lewis (born 1961), United States Olympic track athlete who won ten Olympic medals (9 gold, 1 silver) and was ranked #1 on the Sports Illustrated list of The 50 Greatest New Jersey Sports Figures.
  • Cleve Lewis (born 1955), retired professional soccer player who was the first African American drafted by the North American Soccer League.
  • Wali Lundy (born 1983), rapper and former football running back who played in the NFL for the Houston Texans.
  • Joey Marella (1963–1994) WWE professional wrestling referee, who refereed main event for the indoor attendance record setting match at WrestleMania III between André the Giant versus Hulk Hogan in the Pontiac Silverdome.
  • Marilyn Marshall (1941–2015), R&B singer/musician.
  • Tim Marshall, R&B Music Hall of Fame radio host, journalist, educator and humanitarian.
  • Patrick McFarland (born 1951), former professional basketball player who played in the American Basketball Association for the Denver Rockets, Denver Nuggets, and San Diego Sails.
  • Kareem McKenzie (born 1979), National Football League offensive tackle.
  • David Miscavige (born 1960), leader of the Church of Scientology.
  • Gorilla Monsoon (1937–1999), WWE Hall of Fame professional wrestler who is a former president of WWE. Monsoon, whose real name was Robert James "Gino" Marella, was the adopted father of Joey Marella.
  • Dezman Moses (born 1989), National Football League linebacker with the Green Bay Packers.
  • Kristopher Negron (born 1986), professional baseball utility player who has played for the Cincinnati Reds.
  • Thomas Olive, deputy-governor of West Jersey from 1684 to 1685, who gave the township its name, based on his birthplace of Wellingborough.
  • Claudette Ortiz (born 1981), singer and model.
  • Gregory Pardlo (born 1968), poet.
  • Gervase Peterson (born 1969), contestant on Survivor: Borneo, the first season of the program.
  • Shaun Phillips (born 1981), National Football League defensive tackle.
  • Maria Rodriguez-Gregg, member of the New Jersey General Assembly who is the first Republican Hispanic woman to be elected to the New Jersey Legislature.
  • Keith Saunders (born 1984), professional football linebacker who has played for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League.
  • Craig Schurig (born 1965), football coach and former player who is the head coach for the Washburn Ichabods football team since the 2002 season.
  • Troy Singleton (born 1973), member of the New Jersey General Assembly from the 7th Legislative District since 2011.
  • LaMont Smith (born 1972), gold medalist at the 1996 Olympic Games in the men's 4x400 meter relay.
  • Mark Tatulli (born 1963), syndicated comic strip cartoonist and children's book author.
  • Ryan Toby (born 1976), soul singer, songwriter, producer, and actor best known for playing Wesley Glen Ahmal James in the 1993 film Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit.
  • Jimmy Valiant (born 1942), WWE Hall of Fame professional wrestler.
  • Peter Vermes (born 1966), former professional soccer player who has been the head coach of Sporting Kansas City in Major League Soccer.
  • Mark Zagunis (born 1993), professional baseball player.
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