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Plainsboro, New Jersey

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Plainsboro, New Jersey

Plainsboro Township, New Jersey
Township of Plainsboro

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

Coordinates: 40°20′18″N 74°34′55″W / 40.338251°N 74.581908°W / 40.338251; -74.581908Coordinates: 40°20′18″N 74°34′55″W / 40.338251°N 74.581908°W / 40.338251; -74.581908[1][2]

Country United States
State New Jersey
County Middlesex
Incorporated May 6, 1919
 • Type Township
 • Mayor Peter A. Cantu (term ends December 31, 2014)[3]
 • Administrator Robert O. Sheehan[4]
 • Clerk Carol J. Torres[5]
 • Total 12.207 sq mi (31.614 km2)
 • Land 11.785 sq mi (30.522 km2)
 • Water 0.422 sq mi (1.092 km2)  3.45%
Area rank 189th of 566 in state
11th of 25 in county[2]
Elevation[7] 79 ft (24 m)
Population (2010 Census)[8][9][10]
 • Total 22,999
 • Estimate (2012[11]) 23,168
 • Rank 109th of 566 in state
13th of 25 in county[12]
 • Density 1,951.6/sq mi (753.5/km2)
 • Density rank 295th of 566 in state
21st of 25 in county[12]
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (EDT) (UTC-4)
ZIP code 08536[13][14]
Area code(s) 609[15]
FIPS code 3402359280[16][2][17]
GNIS feature ID 0882161[18][2]

Plainsboro Township is a township in Middlesex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 22,999,[8][9][10] 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.[19]

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.[20] The main impetus towards the creation of the township was the lack of schools serving the area, Inadequate school facilities were the catalyst for creating the township. 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.[21]

Plainsboro Center (with a 2010 Census population of 2,712[22]) and Princeton Meadows (13,834 as of 2010[23]) are census-designated places and unincorporated communities located within Plainsboro Township.[24][25]


The original residents of Plainsboro were 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.[26] The site of the farm has been turned into a single-family home community named Walker-Gordon Farm, which consists of over 350 homes.[27]

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.

Plainsboro was officially founded on May 6, 1919, and was formed from sections of Cranbury and South Brunswick townships.[20] Plainsboro Township was created in response to Cranbury and South Brunswick refusing to build a new fireproof and larger school in Plainsboro Village.[28] 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.[29] 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.[30] 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 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 public park.[31] Officials at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have also confirmed they will be opening a facility in Plainsboro on 13 acres of the new hospital campus.[32]


Plainsboro is located at 40°20′18″N 74°34′55″W / 40.338251°N 74.581908°W / 40.338251; -74.581908 (40.338251,-74.581908). According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 12.207 square miles (31.614 km2), of which, 11.785 square miles (30.522 km2) of it is land and 0.422 square miles (1.092 km2) of it (3.45%) is water.[1][2]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201223,168[11]0.7%
Population sources:
1920[33] 1920-1930[34]
1930-1990[35] 2000[36][37] 2010[8][9][10]

2010 Census


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.[38]

2000 Census

As of the 2000 United States Census[16] there were 20,215 people, 8,742 households, and 5,122 families residing in the township. The population density was 1,707.7 people per square mile (659.2/km²). There were 9,133 housing units at an average density of 771.5 per square mile (297.8/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 58.20% White, 7.58% African American, 0.10% Native American, 30.51% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.36% from other races, and 2.24% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.64% of the population.[36][37]

As part of the 2000 Census, 16.97% of Plainsboro Township residents identified themselves as being Indian American. This was the second-highest percentage (behind Edison) of Indian American people in any municipality in the United States with 1,000 or more residents identifying their ancestry.[39] In the 2000 census, 8.55% of Plainsboro Township's residents identified themselves as being of Chinese ancestry. This was the second-highest percentage (behind Holmdel Township) of people with Chinese ancestry in any municipality in New Jersey with 1,000 or more residents identifying their ancestry.[40]

There were 8,742 households out of which 33.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.4% were married couples living together, 6.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.4% were non-families. 33.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 2.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.30 and the average family size was 3.06.[36][37]

In the township the population was spread out with 24.6% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 45.2% from 25 to 44, 19.4% from 45 to 64, and 4.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 102.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.8 males.[36][37]

The median income for a household in the township was $72,097, and the median income for a family was $88,783 (these figures had risen to $82,609 and $102,586 respectively as of the 2007 American Community Survey estimate[41]). Males had a median income of $62,327 versus $44,671 for females. The per capita income for the township was $38,982. About 1.4% of families and 3.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.7% of those under age 18 and 2.3% of those age 65 or over.[36][37]


Local government

Plainsboro Township is governed by a Township Committee form of New Jersey municipal government.[6] The governing body is composed of five members elected at large for staggered three-year terms. Every January 1, the Township Committee re-organizes and selects a mayor and deputy mayor from among its membership. Township Committee meetings are open to the public and held on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. A Township Administrator appointed by the Township Committee oversees Plainsboro's professional employees. Major departments are Administration, Township Clerk, Finance, Recreation/Cultural Affairs, Municipal Court, Public Safety, Public Works, Planning/Zoning, and Building Inspections, each overseen by a department head.[42]

As of 2013, members of the Plainsboro Township Committee are Mayor Peter Cantu (term on committee ends December 31, 2014; term as mayor ends 2013), Deputy Mayor Neil J. Lewis (term on committee ends 2014; term as deputy mayor ends 2013), David Bander (2013; serving the unexpired term of Michael Weaver), Nuran Nabi (2015) and Edward Yates (2013).[43][44][45]

Federal, state and county representation

Plainsboro Township is located in the 12th Congressional District[46] and is part of New Jersey's 14th state legislative district.[9][47][48]

New Jersey's Twelfth Congressional District is represented by Rush D. Holt, Jr. (D, Hopewell Township).[49] New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Cory Booker (D, Newark)[50] and Bob Menendez (D, North Bergen).[51][52]

The 14th district of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Linda R. Greenstein (D, Plainsboro Township and in the General Assembly by Daniel R. Benson (D, Hamilton Township, Mercer County) and Wayne DeAngelo (D, Hamilton Township, Mercer County).[53] The Governor of New Jersey is Chris Christie (R, Mendham Township).[54] The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Kim Guadagno (R, Monmouth Beach).[55]

Middlesex County is governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders, whose seven members are elected at-large to serve three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with two or three seats coming up for election each year. At an annual reorganization meeting held in January, the board selects from among its members a Freeholder Director and Deputy Director. As of 2013, Middlesex County's Freeholders (with committee chairmanship, residence and term-end year listed in parentheses) are Freeholder Director Christopher D. Rafano (Ex-officio on all committees; South River, term ends December 31, 2013),[56] Freeholder Deputy Director Ronald G. Rios (County Administration; Carteret, 2015),[57] Carol Barrett Bellante (Finance; Monmouth Junction in South Brunswick, 2014),[58] H. James Polos (Public Safety and Health; Highland Park, 2015),[59] Charles E. Tomaro (Business Development and Education; Edison, 2014)[60] and Blanquita B. Valenti (Community Services; New Brunswick, 2013).[61] The seat of Stephen J. "Pete" Dalina (D-Fords, Woodbridge) – Chairperson, Infrastructure Management Committee[62], is vacant following his death in October 2013 after serving 23 years in office as the longest-serving freeholder in the county.[63] Constitutional officers are County Clerk Elaine M. Flynn (Old Bridge Township),[64] Sheriff Mildred S. Scott (Piscataway)[65] and Surrogate Kevin J. Hoagland (New Brunswick).[66][67]


As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 11,460 registered voters in Plainsboro Township, of which 3,884 (33.9%) were registered as Democrats, 1,486 (13.0%) were registered as Republicans and 6,081 (53.1%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 9 voters registered to other parties.[68]

In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 70.4% of the vote here (5,760 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 27.8% (2,280 votes) and other candidates with 1.1% (87 votes), among the 8,187 ballots cast by the township's 11,847 registered voters, for a turnout of 69.1%.[69] In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 63.4% of the vote here (4,603 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 35.5% (2,575 votes) and other candidates with 0.6% (63 votes), among the 7,261 ballots cast by the township's 10,605 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 68.5.[70]

In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 58.7% of the vote here (2,478 ballots cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 43.2% (1,823 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 7.3% (309 votes) and other candidates with 1.2% (51 votes), among the 4,223 ballots cast by the township's 11,142 registered voters, yielding a 37.9% turnout.[71]


Plainsboro and West Windsor are part of a combined school district, the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District, which serves students in Kindergarten through twelfth grade. Schools in the district (with 2010-11 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics[72]) are four K-3 elementary schools — Dutch Neck Elementary School[73] (750 students), Maurice Hawk Elementary School[74] (846), Town Center Elementary School at Plainsboro[75] (664), J.V.B. Wicoff Elementary School[76] (465) — Millstone River Elementary School[77] (889) and Village Elementary School,ref>Village Elementary School, West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District. Accessed October 22, 2013. (629) for grades 4-5, Community Middle School[78] (1,235) and Thomas Grover Middle School[79] (1,098) for grades 6-8, and West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North[80] (1,598) and West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South[81] (1,606) for grades 9-12.[82][83]

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.[84]

Three of the district's schools have been recognized by the 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,[85] while West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North was recognized in the 2006-07 school year.[86]


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.[87]

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.

New Jersey Transit bus service includes the 600, which provides service to Trenton. New Jersey Transit's Northeast Corridor rail line runs through the township. New Jersey Transit, and Amtrak trains service the township at the nearby Princeton Junction.[88]

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

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.[89]
  • "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.[90]
  • Plainsboro was featured on the MTV series, True Life ("I'm Graduating from High School"), 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.[91]

Science and research

  • From 1986 through 1989, Plainsboro was home to the John von Neumann National Supercomputer Center on College Road. The JVNNSC hosted the liquid nitrogen-cooled ETA 10 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.[92][27]

Notable people

Notable current and former residents of Plainsboro Township include:


External links

  • Official Plainsboro web site
  • West Windsor-Plainsboro School District
  • New Jersey Department of Education
  • National Center for Education Statistics
  • Plainsboro Fire Company
  • Plainsboro Historical Society
  • Plainsboro Public Library
  • Plainsboro Rescue Squad
  • West Windsor/Plainsboro Today: local online news and chat site
  • Plainsboro Rescue Squad - volunteer ambulance service
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