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Piscataway Township History
Gabrielan, Randall. Images of America Piscataway Township. Arcadia Publishing, Great Britain 2002.
PISCATAWAY, NEW JERSEY
Piscataway was owned by England and given in 1664 by King Charles II to his brother, James, the Duke of York. In turn, the Duke gave some land, in June 1664, to two of his aristocratic friends, Sir George Carteret and John Lord Berkeley. George’s cousin, Philip Carteret, became resident governor. The first grant to new settlers by the governor was sold to four men from New Hampshire who founded Piscataway in 1666. The founding of Piscataway was a very important event – it is one of the links in the earliest settlement of the Atlantic seacoast that ultimately led to the formation of the United States.
The name Piscataway was given to the area by the earliest pioneers from Piscataqua, New Hampshire. The meaning of the name is not certain. It is thought the name was derived from the Lenni Lenape Indian language, and interpreted to mean “great deer river” or “dark” referring possibly to the color of the soil.
Piscataway is the fifth oldest municipality in New Jersey and one of the fifty oldest towns in the nation. In 1997 the New Jersey and National Register of Historic Places approved the ROAD UP RARITAN HISTORIC DISTRICT. Nine of the fourteen existing historic homes in the River Road area, including the oldest home (circa 1720) in the County, constitute the township’s first designated historic district. Other areas of the township are under consideration for historic status.
According to the 2010 census, the township population lists 56,044 residents living in the 19-square mile township. The numbers swell dramatically during the weekdays due to the influx of people working in Piscataway and the many other individuals who pass through on a daily basis.
The township government is housed in a three building municipal complex at 455 Hoes Lane. In 1967 Piscataway residents voted to form a Mayor-Council form of government, authorized under Plan F of the “Faulkner Act of 1950.” It provides for the direct election of the Mayor and seven Council members, the separation of legislative power for administrative functions, and the employment of full-time professional personnel to perform governmental functions relating to administration, finance, public safety, engineering, public works, health, recreation and law.
Piscataway has six elementary schools, three middle schools and one high school, several private schools, pre-school and day care centers. The Board of Education is located at 1515 Stelton Road. The township has twenty-six parks, including “All Children’s Playground” in Quibbletown Park, a unique designated area where children with disabilities and non-disabled children can play together. Columbus Park hosts a summer concert series in the Gazebo. There are a variety of athletic fields sprinkled throughout the community. Piscataway had a series of private libraries dating from the early 1800s until in 1961, residents approved a municipal library maintained by the township. The J. F. Kennedy Library is located at 500 Hoes Lane, and the Johanna W. Westergard branch library is at 20 Murray Avenue. Six volunteer fire companies and three volunteer rescue squads are on duty in the township. Piscataway’s own museum, the Metlar/Bodine House Museum, the Cornelius Low County Museum, and East Jersey Olde Towne, a restored village of 18th and 19th century buildings, offer a wide array of activities, programs, and events for residents and visitors.
Piscataway’s civic groups include the Lions, Elks and Rotary Clubs, FRIENDS of the Library, American Legion, and the Piscataway Garden Club. Cultural Arts, Civil Rights, Public Relations and the Economic Development Commissions are four of the twenty-two Advisory Boards and Commissions to the Mayor. There are several thousand senior citizens registered at the Senior Citizen Center, and located nearby is Sterling Village, a township owned housing complex designed for seniors of moderate and low income. In 2003, Piscataway received the SportsIllustrated Sports Town award, the only New Jersey town to receive this award. In 2008 and 2010, Piscataway was named one of 100 best towns to live in the United States by Money Magazine.
The township’s first major retail center, Centennial Square, a 420,796 square feet shopping plaza opened in October 1998. Lowe’s Home Improvement Center, Wal-Mart, Sports Authority and several restaurants are some of the major tenants. Other shopping areas are located throughout the township. The Radisson Hotel, Embassy Suites, and Extended Stay Deluxe Suites welcomes weary travelers. The Raritan Landing Golf Course, an 18-hole, par-58 golf course, opened in 1999 and is available to Piscataway and County residents as well as the business community.
Many Fortune-500 companies including Telcordia Technologies, GE Healthcare, Hapag-Lloyd, Chanel Inc., I.E.E.E., Johnson & Johnson, Pepsi, Colgate Palmolive Technology Center and several data centers have a Piscataway address. 189 buildings on the Busch and Livingston campuses of Rutgers the State University are located in the township, including the Football Stadium and the Louis Brown Athletic Center. Medical students and public health officials are trained at the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in Piscataway.
Piscataway is 35 miles from New York City and located near major interstate highways including Route 287, the NJ Turnpike, the Garden State Parkway, and within easy access to many New Jersey shore areas. Piscataway is a proud community with a long and prestigious history but hardly one that is satisfied to stay static. It is a progressive community that has moved briskly into the 21st Century.
Meuly, Walter C. History of Piscataway Township-1666-1976. Bicentennial Commission 1976, reprints 1991/99.
Randall Gabrielan. Images of America: PISCATAWAY. Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC, 2001.
PISCATAWAY WEB SITE: www.piscatawaynj.org
Updated: April 2012
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