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Watchung, New Jersey

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Watchung, New Jersey
Borough
Borough of Watchung
Map of Watchung in Somerset County. Inset: Location of Somerset County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Watchung, New Jersey
Coordinates: 40.642845°N 74.436233°WCoordinates40.642845°N 74.436233°W[1][2]
Country United States
State New Jersey
County Somerset
Incorporated April 20, 1926
Government[6]
 • Type Borough
 • Mayor Gerald M. Mobus (term ends December 31, 2013)[3]
 • Administrator Thomas Atkins[4]
 • Clerk Michelle DeRocco[5]
Area[2]
 • Total 6.054 sq mi (15.679 km2)
 • Land 6.026 sq mi (15.607 km2)
 • Water 0.028 sq mi (0.072 km2)  0.46%
Area rank 254th of 566 in state
10th of 21 in county[2]
Elevation[7] 259 ft (79 m)
Population (2010 Census)[8][9][10]
 • Total 5,801
 • Estimate (2012[11]) 5,836
 • Rank 355th of 566 in state
16th of 21 in county[12]
 • Density 962.7/sq mi (371.7/km2)
 • Density rank 387th of 566 in state
12th of 21 in county[12]
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (EDT) (UTC-4)
ZIP code 07069[13][14]
Area code(s) 908[15]
FIPS code 3403577600[16][2][17]
GNIS feature ID 0885433[18][2]
Website www.watchungnj.com

Watchung is a borough in Somerset County,New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 5,801,[8][9][10] reflecting an increase of 188 (+3.3%) from the 5,613 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 503 (+9.8%) from the 5,110 counted in the 1990 Census.[19]

Watchung was incorporated as a borough by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on May 23, 1926, from portions of North Plainfield Township (now Green Brook Township) based on the results of a referendum held on April 20, 1926.[20]

 

Geography[edit]

Watchung is located at 40°38′34″N 74°26′10″W(40.642845,-74.436233). According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 6.054 square miles (15.679 km2), of which, 6.026 square miles (15.607 km2) of it is land and 0.028 square miles (0.072 km2) of it (0.46%) is water.[1][2]

The name 'Watchung' comes from the Lenni Lenape Native Americans, meaning 'high hills'. It is from the first ridge of the Watchung Mountains that George Washington surveyed the British troops in Perth Amboy many miles SSE. The eastern reach of these ridges is to the Oranges in the direction of Newark. The name "Washingtonville" was used in early times, but was rejected as the name for the area by theUnited States Postal Service, which felt that the state already had too many places named Washington.[21]

The Stony Brook flows through Watchung borough. Making its way from Warren Township to the Watchung Lake, then through the gorge in the first Watchung mountain and over theWetumpka Falls, on its way to the Green Brook.[22]

The borough is roughly a 40 minute drive from New York City and a 30 minute drive from Newark.

Demographics[edit]

Historical populations
Census Pop.  
1930 906  
1940 1,158   27.8%
1950 1,818   57.0%
1960 3,312   82.2%
1970 4,750   43.4%
1980 5,290   11.4%
1990 5,110   −3.4%
2000 5,613   9.8%
2010 5,801   3.3%
Est. 2012 5,836 [11] 0.6%
Population sources: 1930[23]
1930-1990[24] 2000[25][26] 2010[8][9][10]

2010 Census[edit]

At the 2010 United States Census, there were 5,801 people, 2,114 households, and 1,613 families residing in the borough. Thepopulation density was 962.7 inhabitants per square mile (371.7 /km2). There were 2,234 housing units at an average density of 370.7 per square mile (143.1 /km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 80.52% (4,671) White, 3.45% (200) Black or African American, 0.12% (7) Native American, 12.69% (736) Asian, 0.00% (0) Pacific Islander, 0.81% (47) from other races, and 2.41% (140) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.29% (307) of the population.[8]

There were 2,114 households of which 32.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.2% were married couples living together, 7.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.7% were non-families. 20.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.12.[8]

In the borough, 23.2% of the population were under the age of 18, 4.7% from 18 to 24, 18.8% from 25 to 44, 32.1% from 45 to 64, and 21.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46.9 years. For every 100 females there were 92.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.3 males.[8]

The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $112,917 (with a margin of error of +/- $21,189) and the median family income was $144,883 (+/- $38,172). Males had a median income of $92,667 (+/- $15,969) versus $63,811 (+/- $15,306) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $59,177 (+/- $6,617). About 3.2% of families and 2.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.2% of those under age 18 and 0.0% of those age 65 or over.[27]

2000 Census[edit]

As of the 2000 United States Census[16] there were 5,613 people, 2,098 households, and 1,617 families residing in the borough. The population density was 933.0 people per square mile (360.0/km2). There were 2,155 housing units at an average density of 358.2 per square mile (138.2/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 84.30% White, 3.37% African American, 0.09% Native American, 9.85% Asian, 0.09% Pacific Islander, 0.71% from other races, and 1.59% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.99% of the population.[25][26]

There were 2,098 households out of which 30.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 70.4% were married couples living together, 4.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.9% were non-families. 19.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.00.[25][26]

In the borough the population was spread out with 21.9% under the age of 18, 4.7% from 18 to 24, 27.0% from 25 to 44, 30.1% from 45 to 64, and 16.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 95.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.3 males.[25][26]

The median income for a household in the borough was $101,944, and the median income for a family was $120,764. Males had a median income of $80,658 versus $54,167 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $58,653. About 0.5% of families and 2.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.6% of those under age 18 and 1.6% of those age 65 or over.[25][26]

History[edit]

Watchung, from the 1900s was a semi-rural small community of about 3,200 people in comparison with the relatively larger and more urban communities of Plainfield and Somerville. The first mayor of the town was Henry Baldwin Macdonald, who served from 1926 to 1928. Even as late as the 1960s, it was common for residents to know one another by name, with few moving in or out of the town. The 1967 Plainfield riots, however, caused an exodus of the large upper-middle class population from the nearby cities to move to the Watchung Hills area to communities such as Watchung, Warren Township and Bridgewater Township.[citation needed]

Fishing is allowed at Watchung Lake on a catch-and-release basis only.

In the wake of public fear that ensued after the 1938 radio broadcast of Orson WellesThe War of the Worlds, National Guard troops were stationed around the hills in Watchung, as told on the vinyl record recording of news reports of the day.[citation needed]

Sports figures from Watching include Bobby Thomson,Billy Ard and Carl Banks.

Government[edit]

Cascading dam holds in Watchung Lake.
Park below the dam.
Sign post.
View of Watchung Lake.

Local government[edit]

Watchung is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government. The government consists of a Mayor and a Borough Council comprising six council members, with all positions elected at-large on a partisan basis as part of the November general election. A Mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office and only votes to break a tie. The Borough Council consists of six members elected to serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with two seats coming up for election each year in a three-year cycle.[6]

As of 2013, the Mayor of Watchung Borough isRepublican Gerald M. "Gerry" Mobus, whose term of office ends December 31, 2014. Members of the Watchung Borough Council are Council President Stephen Pote (R, 2013), Stephen L. Black (R, 2014), Karen A. Cassidy (R, 2014), Thomas Franklin (R, 2015), Debra Joren (R, 2015) and William Nehls (R, 2013).[28][29][30][31]

Federal, state and county representation[edit]

Watchung is located in the 7th Congressional District[32] and is part of New Jersey's 21st state legislative district.[9][33][34]

New Jersey's Seventh Congressional District is represented by Leonard Lance (RClinton Township).[35] New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Cory Booker (DNewark; took office on October 31, 2013, after winning a special election to fill the seat of Frank Lautenberg)[36][37] and Bob Menendez (D, North Bergen).[38][39]

The 21st Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate byThomas Kean, Jr. (RWestfield) and in the General Assembly by Jon Bramnick (R, Westfield) andNancy Munoz (R, Summit).[40] The Governor of New Jersey is Chris Christie (RMendham Township).[41] The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Kim Guadagno (R, Monmouth Beach).[42]

Somerset County is governed by a five-member Board of Chosen Freeholders, whose members are elected at-large to three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with one or two seats coming up for election each year. At an annual reorganization meeting held in the beginning of January, the board selects a Director and Deputy Director from among its members.[43] As of 2013, Somerset County's Freeholders are Freeholder Director Peter S. Palmer (RBernardsville, term ends December 31, 2014),[44] Freeholder Deputy Director Patrick Scaglione (R, Bridgewater Township, 2015).[45] Mark Caliguire (R, Skillman in Montgomery Township, 2015),[46] Patricia L. Walsh (R,Green Brook Township, 2013),[47] and Robert Zaborowski (R, Somerset in Franklin Township, 2014),[48][49][50] Constitutional officers elected on a countywide basis are County Clerk Brett A. Radi (R, Somerville, 2017),[51] Sheriff Frank J. Provenzano (R, Raritan, 2013)[52][53] and Surrogate Frank Bruno (R, Branchburg, 2015).[54]

Politics[edit]

As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 4,154 registered voters in Watchung, of which 845 (20.3% vs. 26.0% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 1,483 (35.7% vs. 25.7%) were registered as Republicans and 1,823 (43.9% vs. 48.2%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 3 voters registered to other parties.[55] Among the borough's 2010 Census population, 71.6% (vs. 60.4% in Somerset County) were registered to vote, including 93.3% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 80.4% countywide).[55][56]

In the 2008 presidential election, Republican John McCain received 1,803 votes here (55.0% vs. 46.1% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 1,415 votes (43.2% vs. 52.1%) and other candidates with 29 votes (0.9% vs. 1.1%), among the 3,277 ballots cast by the borough's 4,070 registered voters, for a turnout of 80.5% (vs. 78.7% in Somerset County).[57] In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 1,865 votes here (54.5% vs. 51.5% countywide), ahead of Democrat John Kerry with 1,516 votes (44.3% vs. 47.2%) and other candidates with 30 votes (0.9% vs. 0.9%), among the 3,424 ballots cast by the borough's 3,795 registered voters, for a turnout of 90.2% (vs. 81.7% in the whole county).[58]

In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 1,428 votes here (60.6% vs. 55.8% countywide), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 720 votes (30.5% vs. 34.1%), Independent Chris Daggett with 178 votes (7.6% vs. 8.7%) and other candidates with 15 votes (0.6% vs. 0.7%), among the 2,357 ballots cast by the borough's 4,155 registered voters, yielding a 56.7% turnout (vs. 52.5% in the county).[59]

Education[edit]

Students in Kindergarten through eighth grade are educated by the Watchung Borough Schools. Schools in the district (with 2010-11 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics[60]) are Bayberry Elementary School[61] with 357 students in grades K - 4 and Valley View School[62] with 344 students in grades 5 - 8.[63]

Watchung's students in public school for ninth through twelfth grades attend Watchung Hills Regional High School in Warren Township together with students from the neighboring communities of Green Brook Township and Warren Township (in Somerset County) and Long Hill Township (in Morris County).[64] As of the 2010-11 school year, there were 2,084 students attending.[65]

Mount St. Mary Academy (9-12), which opened in 1908, is operated by the Sisters of Mercy under the supervision of Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen.[66][67]

Transportation[edit]

The borough had a total of 44.63 miles (71.83 km) of roadways, of which 33.24 miles (53.49 km) are maintained by the municipality, 9.07 miles (14.60 km) by Somerset County and 2.32 miles (3.73 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation and 1.09 miles (1.75 km) by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.[68]

Interstate 78 runs through the northwestern portion of the borough, including interchange 41, entering in the east from Warren Township and continuing for 1.4 miles (2.3 km) to Berkeley Heights Township in Union County.[69] U.S. Route 22 passes briefly through the borough's southeast corner, entering from North Plainfield in the east and continuing into Scotch Plains Township in Union County.[70]

County Route 527 (Mountain Boulevard / Valley Road) stretches 5.2 miles (8.4 km) across the length of the borough from Warren Township in the southwest to Berkeley Heights in the northeast.[71] County Route 531 (Somerset Road / Hillcrest Road) runs for 1.4 miles (2.3 km) across the borough from North Plainfield to Warren Township.[72]

Notable people[edit]

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



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