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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.
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.
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.
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.
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%).
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 older 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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). 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.
Old Town Logo
Plainsboro Township is governed by a Township Committee form of New Jersey municipal government. The governing body is composed of five members chosen at-large on a partisan basis for three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either one or two seats up for vote each year as part of the November general election. 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.
As of 2016[update], members of the Plainsboro Township Committee are Mayor Peter A. Cantu (D, term on committee ends December 31, 2017; term as mayor ends 2016), Deputy Mayor Neil J. Lewis (D, term on committee ends 2018; term as deputy mayor ends 2016), David Bander (D, 2016), Nuran Nabi (D, 2018) and Edward Yates (D, 2016).
Federal, state and county representation
Plainsboro Township is located in the 12th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 14th state legislative district.
Middlesex County is governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders, whose seven members are elected at-large on a partisan basis to serve three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either two or three seats coming up for election each year as part of the November general election. At an annual reorganization meeting held in January, the board selects from among its members a Freeholder Director and Deputy Director. As of 2015[update], Middlesex County's Freeholders (with party affiliation, term-end year, residence and committee chairmanship listed in parentheses) are
Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios (D, term ends December 31, 2015, Carteret; Ex-officio on all committees),
Freeholder Deputy Director Carol Barrett Bellante (D, 2017; Monmouth Junction, South Brunswick Township; County Administration),
Kenneth Armwood (D, 2016, Piscataway; Business Development and Education),
Charles Kenny ( D, 2016, Woodbridge Township; Finance),
H. James Polos (D, 2015, Highland Park; Public Safety and Health),
Charles E. Tomaro (D, 2017, Edison; Infrastructure Management) and
Blanquita B. Valenti (D, 2016, New Brunswick; Community Services). Constitutional officers are
County Clerk Elaine M. Flynn (D, Old Bridge Township),
Sheriff Mildred S. Scott (D, 2016, Piscataway) and Surrogate
Kevin J. Hoagland (D, 2017; New Brunswick).
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.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 69.3% of the vote (5,416 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 29.3% (2,286 votes), and other candidates with 1.4% (111 votes), among the 7,859 ballots cast by the township's 12,074 registered voters (46 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 65.1%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 70.4% of the vote (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%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 63.4% of the vote (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.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 54.9% of the vote (2,232 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 43.4% (1,763 votes), and other candidates with 1.7% (68 votes), among the 4,121 ballots cast by the township's 12,289 registered voters (58 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 33.5%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 58.7% of the vote (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.
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 in 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 2015-16 school year, the district and its 10 schools had an enrollment of 9,756 students and 741.3 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student-teacher ratio of 13.2:1. Schools in the district (with 2015-16 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are
Dutch Neck Elementary School (located in West Windsor: 690 students; in grades K-3),
Maurice Hawk Elementary School (West Windsor: 790; K-3),
Town Center Elementary School (Plainsboro: 582; PreK-2),
J.V.B. Wicoff Elementary School (Plainsboro: 449; K-3),
Millstone River Upper Elementary School (Plainsboro: 1,051; 3-5. Formerly West Windsor-Plainsboro Upper Elementary School (UES), before the Village School was built),
Village Upper Elementary School (West Windsor: Preschool, 713; 4-5),
West Windsor-Plainsboro Community Middle School (Plainsboro: 1,152; 6-8. Formerly West Windsor-Plainsboro Middle School pre-1997, before Grover Middle School was created),
Thomas R. Grover Middle School (West Windsor: 1;188; 6-8),
West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North (Plainsboro: 1,414; 9-12) and
West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South (West Windsor: 1,591; 9-12. Formerly West Windsor-Plainsboro High School, before High School North was established in 1997).
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.
As of May 2010[update], 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.
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.
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 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.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Plainsboro Township include:
^History, Township of Plainsboro. Accessed March 23, 2017. "Inadequate school facilities became the catalyst for creating the Township. Residents John V.B. Wicoff, a prominent Trenton lawyer and businessman, and Henry W. Jeffers Sr. led the move to have the New Jersey legislature form the Township of Plainsboro. A new school was built shortly after incorporation. That school, renamed the JVB Wicoff School on October 9, 1975, still serves as the school to many of Plainsboro's elementary students."
^Garbarine, Rachelle. "In the Region/New Jersey; In Plainsboro, Clustering for Conservation", The New York Times, June 27, 1999. Accessed December 31, 2011. "A 255-ACRE former dairy farm in the west central portion of Plainsboro that was once the home of Elsie, the Borden cow, is being transformed into a single-family home community designed so half the site will be developed and the other half devoted to recreation and open space. Called Walker-Gordon Farm, after the dairy that dominated the site off Plainsboro Road through 1971, the project will have 355 detached houses, each with 2,100 to 3,400 square feet of space on lots averaging 6,000 to 12,000 square feet. A total of 183 homes have been sold."
^ abHistory, Walker Gordon Farm. Accessed October 22, 2013.
^Malwitz, Rick. "Playing the name game: Sounds like Princeton but it's not", Home News Tribune, June 6, 2004. Accessed December 31, 2011. "Until 1919, Plainsboro was located in the townships of South Brunswick and Cranbury. Plainsboro wanted a grammar school, but the government of Cranbury was reluctant to spend money for a school. The citizens of the Plainsboro petitioned the state legislature for recognition, and succeeded, led by powerful Trenton attorney John V.B. Wicoff..."
^Latham, Cara. "Children's Hospital Looks At Plainsboro Location", West Windsor & Plainboro News, January 7, 2011. Accessed May 24, 2016. "Officials at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have confirmed they are interested in opening a facility in Plainsboro on 13 acres on the new hospital campus off Route 1."
^Biography, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman. Accessed January 3, 2019. "Watson Coleman and her husband William reside in Ewing Township and are blessed to have three sons; William, Troy, and Jared and three grandchildren; William, Kamryn and Ashanee."
^ ab"Governor - Middlesex County"(PDF). New Jersey Department of Elections. January 29, 2014. Retrieved 2014.Cite error: The named reference "2013Elections" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
^War of the Worlds radio script, The Mercury Theatre on the Air, October 30, 1938; accessed April 28, 2007. "One hundred and twenty known survivors. The rest strewn over the battle area from Grovers Mill to Plainsboro, crushed and trampled to death under the metal feet of the monster, or burned to cinders by its heat ray."
^Berger, Debby. "earful smiles bid teen farewell", NJ.com, August 16, 2009. Accessed September 21, 2015. "At the entrance of the Bachners' Plainsboro home were poster tributes filled with David's photos that his friends made for the family. Earlier in the week, a tribute had been set up at his high school's baseball field, and friends also held a candlelight vigil."
^Asimov, Eric. "Patrick Clark, 42, Is Dead; Innovator in American Cuisine", The New York Times, February 13, 1998. Accessed September 21, 2015. "Patrick Clark, a chef who helped lead a generation of Americans to embrace a new style of casual but sophisticated French cooking in the early 1980s, and then helped lead them back to the ingredients and preparations of their own country, died late Wednesday night at Princeton Medical Center in Princeton, N.J. He was 42 and lived in Plainsboro, N.J. "
^Miller, Lynn. "Portrait of a Concert Pianist: Plainsboro to Carnegie Hall", Community News, January 23, 2009. Accessed October 2, 2017. "Her dream to be a concert pianist began early and by the time she was eight, she knew she would be a professional musician. Mariam Nazarian, 25, of Plainsboro was born into a family of musicians in Armenia.... Nazarian, who entered High School North with classmates in the school's first graduating class (2001), attended classes as a freshman and sophomore."