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Somerville, NJ


Somerville, NJ

Somerville, New Jersey
Borough of Somerville

Map highlighting Somerville's location within Somerset County. Inset: Somerset County's location within New Jersey

Census Bureau map of Somerville, New Jersey

Coordinates: 40°34′11″N 74°36′28″W / 40.56975°N 74.607682°W / 40.56975; -74.607682Coordinates: 40°34′11″N 74°36′28″W / 40.56975°N 74.607682°W / 40.56975; -74.607682[1][2]

Country United States
State New Jersey
County Somerset
Incorporated March 25, 1863 (as town)
Reincorporated April 16, 1909 (as borough)
 • Type Borough
 • Mayor Brian G. Gallagher (term ends December 31, 2015)[3][4]
 • Administrator / Clerk Kevin Sluka[5]
 • Total 2.362 sq mi (6.118 km2)
 • Land 2.331 sq mi (6.038 km2)
 • Water 0.031 sq mi (0.080 km2)  1.31%
Area rank 383rd of 566 in state
16th of 21 in county[2]
Elevation[7] 62 ft (19 m)
Population (2010 Census)[8][9][10]
 • Total 12,098
 • Estimate (2012[11]) 12,160
 • Rank 203rd of 566 in state
9th of 21 in county[12]
 • Density 5,189.5/sq mi (2,003.7/km2)
 • Density rank 105th of 566 in state
4th of 21 in county[12]
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (EDT) (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 08876[13][14]
Area code(s) 609 and 908[15]
FIPS code 3403568460[16][2][17]
GNIS feature ID 0885398[18][2]

Somerville is a borough in Somerset County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 12,098,[8][9][10] reflecting a decline of 325 (-2.6%) from the 12,423 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 791 (+6.8%) from the 11,632 counted in the 1990 Census.[19] It is the county seat of Somerset County.[20][21]

Somerville was originally formed as a town on March 25, 1863, within a portion of Bridgewater Township. Somerville was incorporated as a borough by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 16, 1909, based on the results of a referendum held on May 4, 1909, at which point it was fully set off from Bridgewater Township.[22][23]


Somerville is located at 40°34′11″N 74°36′28″W / 40.56975°N 74.607682°W / 40.56975; -74.607682 (40.56975, −74.607682). According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 2.362 square miles (6.118 km2), of which, 2.331 square miles (6.038 km2) of it is land and 0.031 square miles (0.080 km2) of it (1.31%) is water.[1][2] The borough's territory is flat land. Somerville borders the Raritan River to the south.


Early development

Somerville was settled in colonial times primarily by the Dutch who purchased land from the English proprietors of the colony. The Dutch established their church near what is today Somerville and a Dutch Reformed minister or Domine lived at the Old Dutch Parsonage from about 1754. The early village grew up around a church, courthouse and a tavern built at a crossroads shortly after the American Revolution. The name "Somerville" was taken from four brothers of the Somerville family, William, Edward, John and James from Drishane and Castlehaven, County Cork, Ireland, who first founded the town in the 1750s. Somerville was originally a sparsely populated farming community, but rapidly grew after the completion of the railroad in the 1840s and development of water power along the Raritan River in the 1850s. Early industry included brick making from the plentiful red clay and shale on which Somerville is built. While much of the borough features distinctive Victorian architecture in several neighborhoods and along its Main Street, other periods are represented. National Register sites in Somerville include the white marble 1909 Somerville Court House and the wooden and stone colonial Wallace House (today a museum) where George Washington spent a winter during the American Revolutionary War. Near the Wallace House is the Old Dutch Parsonage, where Reverend Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh, a founder and first president of Rutgers University, then called Queens College, lived. Register listed Victorian structures include the James Harper Smith Estate (privately owned), St. John's Episcopal Church and rectory, and the Fire Museum (a vintage fire house). Other notable, register eligible structures are the Victorian train station (privately owned) and the municipal building, the former Robert Mansion.[24]

Originally the center of local commerce, the borough has evolved into a destination for boutique retail and dining. Modern highways today surround and go through Somerville, including U.S. Route 22, U.S. Route 202, U.S. Route 206 and Route 28 and is within 5 miles (8.0 km) of Interstate 287 and Interstate 78, making it an important hub in central New Jersey.

Downtown today

Main Street Somerville maintains most of its historical buildings, although many are now boutique specialty shops. Somerville has quite a diverse and large selection of restaurants that draw people from the surrounding area. In many ways, Somerville remains Somerset County's downtown, and is the heart of its designated Regional Center. Several of the factories in Somerville were abandoned and replaced with modern office buildings or remodeled as apartments. Somerville today and historically has had an important African American community, a distinguished member of which was Paul Robeson. Another famous Somerville native was famed character actor Lee Van Cleef. One of the founders of modern American Dance, Ruth St. Denis, made her professional debut at Somerset Hall, once a vaudeville theatre and today a local restaurant. The mix of modern amenities and an interesting and diverse past make Main Street, Somerville a unique destination for dining, strolling and visiting.

Future redevelopment

The shopping center on the west side of the downtown area was demolished and a new shopping center, town homes and other amenities will be built on the shopping center land and on adjacent land in the former borough landfill to the south. Ground was broken for a new "World Class" ShopRite supermarket in March 2011 and opened in November 2011.[25] Town planners envision a transit village style redevelopment centered around the Somerville train station.[26]

Hurricane Floyd

Somerville was hit hard by Hurricane Floyd in September 1999, despite its having been downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it impacted the vicinity. The borough received a record 13.34 inches (339 mm) of rain over three days during the slow moving storm, causing significant flooding and considerable damage.[27]


Historical population
Census Pop.
Est. 201212,160[11]0.5%
Population sources:
1870-1920[28] 1870[29] 1880-1890[30]
1890-1910[31] 1910-1930[32]
1930-1990[33] 2000[34][35] 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 $69,836 (with a margin of error of +/- $5,384) and the median family income was $80,461 (+/- $9,281). Males had a median income of $45,929 (+/- $5,005) versus $46,540 (+/- $3,751) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $30,272 (+/- $2,145). About 3.6% of families and 6.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.8% of those under age 18 and 10.8% of those age 65 or over.[36]

2000 Census

As of the 2000 United States Census[16] there were 12,423 people, 4,743 households, and 2,893 families residing in the borough. The population density was 5,262.4 people per square mile (2,032.4/km2). There were 4,882 housing units at an average density of 2,068.0 per square mile (798.7/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 71.21% White, 12.93% African American, 0.19% Native American, 7.35% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 5.10% from other races, and 3.20% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.00% of the population.[34][35]

There were 4,743 households out of which 28.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.5% were married couples living together, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.0% were non-families. 31.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.49 and the average family size was 3.15.[34][35]

In the borough the population was spread out with 21.9% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 35.8% from 25 to 44, 19.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 101.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 99.1 males.[34][35]

The median income for a household in the borough was $51,237, and the median income for a family was $60,422. Males had a median income of $40,585 versus $32,697 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $23,310. About 4.8% of families and 7.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.7% of those under age 18 and 8.6% of those age 65 or over.[34][35]


Somerville's climate is warm during summer when temperatures tend to be in the 70's and 80's and cold during winter when temperatures tend to be in the 20s and 30s.

The warmest month of the year is July with an average maximum temperature of 84.40 degrees Fahrenheit, while the coldest month of the year is January with an average minimum temperature of 19.10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Temperature variations between night and day tend to be moderate during summer with a difference that can reach 22 degrees Fahrenheit, and fairly limited during winter with an average difference of 19 degrees Fahrenheit.

The annual average precipitation at Somerville is 45.93 inches (1,167 mm). Rainfall in is fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. The wettest month of the year is July with an average rainfall of 4.81 inches (122 mm).

Climate data for Somerville, New Jersey
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 36.9
Average low °F (°C) 19.1


Local government

Somerville 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. A Mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office. 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.[6]

The Borough Council elects a member to serve as Council President to act in the absence of the Mayor. Each council member is appointed by the Mayor to one of six standing committee's during the Annual Reorganization Meeting held on January 1 of each year.

As of 2013, the Mayor of Somerville is Brian G. Gallagher (R, term of office expires December 31, 2015). Members of the Somerville Borough Council (with party, term-end year and committee chairmanships listed in parentheses) are Council President Jane E. Kobuta (D, 2013; Administration/Personnel Chairwoman), Thompson Mitchell (D, 2015; Public Works Chairman), Amanda O'Neill (R, 2014; Public Property Chairwoman), Nick Stires (R, 2014; Fire Commissioner, 2014), Dennis Sullivan (D, 2013; Finance Chairman) and Robert G. Wilson (D, 2015; Police Commissioner).[4][37][38][39]

Federal, state and county representation

Somerville is located in the 7th Congressional District[40] and is part of New Jersey's 16th state legislative district.[9][41][42] Prior to the 2010 Census, Somerville had been part of the 11th Congressional District, a change made by the New Jersey Redistricting Commission that took effect in January 2013, based on the results of the November 2012 general elections.[43]

New Jersey's Seventh Congressional District is represented by Leonard Lance (R, Clinton Township).[44] New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Cory Booker (D, Newark)[45] and Bob Menendez (D, North Bergen).[46][47]

The 16th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Christopher Bateman (R, Somerville) and in the General Assembly by Jack Ciattarelli (R, Hillsborough Township) and Donna Simon (R, Readington Township). [48] Peter J. Biondi won re-election to an eighth term in the Assembly but died days after the November 2011 election.[49] Simon was selected as his replacement by a Republican Party convention of district delegates and was sworn in on January 30, 2012.[50] The remaining year on his seat will be filled in a November 2012 special election. The Governor of New Jersey is Chris Christie (R, Mendham Township).[51] The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Kim Guadagno (R, Monmouth Beach).[52]

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.[53] As of 2013, Somerset County's Freeholders are Freeholder Director Peter S. Palmer (R, Bernardsville, term ends December 31, 2014),[54] Freeholder Deputy Director Patrick Scaglione (R, Bridgewater Township, 2015).[55] Mark Caliguire (R, Skillman in Montgomery Township, 2015),[56] Patricia L. Walsh (R, Green Brook Township, 2013),[57] and Robert Zaborowski (R, Somerset in Franklin Township, 2014),[58][59][60] Constitutional officers elected on a countywide basis are County Clerk Brett A. Radi (R, Somerville, 2017),[61] Sheriff Frank J. Provenzano (R, Raritan, 2013)[62][63] and Surrogate Frank Bruno (R, Branchburg, 2015).[64]


As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 6,565 registered voters in Somerville, of which 1,848 (28.1% vs. 26.0% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 1,358 (20.7% vs. 25.7%) were registered as Republicans and 3,349 (51.0% vs. 48.2%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 10 voters registered to other parties.[65] Among the borough's 2010 Census population, 54.3% (vs. 60.4% in Somerset County) were registered to vote, including 69.0% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 80.4% countywide).[65][66]

In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 2,847 votes here (59.9% vs. 52.1% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 1,814 votes (38.2% vs. 46.1%) and other candidates with 52 votes (1.1% vs. 1.1%), among the 4,751 ballots cast by the borough's 6,547 registered voters, for a turnout of 72.6% (vs. 78.7% in Somerset County).[67] In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 2,485 votes here (53.6% vs. 47.2% countywide), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 2,019 votes (43.6% vs. 51.5%) and other candidates with 58 votes (1.3% vs. 0.9%), among the 4,633 ballots cast by the borough's 5,974 registered voters, for a turnout of 77.6% (vs. 81.7% in the whole county).[68]

In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 1,465 votes here (46.8% vs. 55.8% countywide), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 1,265 votes (40.4% vs. 34.1%), Independent Chris Daggett with 334 votes (10.7% vs. 8.7%) and other candidates with 33 votes (1.1% vs. 0.7%), among the 3,128 ballots cast by the borough's 6,605 registered voters, yielding a 47.4% turnout (vs. 52.5% in the county).[69]


The Somerville Public Schools serve students in prekindergarten through twelfth grade. Schools in the district (with 2010-11 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics[70]) are Van Derveer Elementary School[71] (PreK-5; 860 students), Somerville Middle School[72] (6-8; 317) and Somerville High School[73] for grades 9-12 (1,251).[74] Students from Branchburg Township attend the district's high school as part of a sending/receiving relationship with the Branchburg Township School District.[75][76]

Immaculata High School is a private, coeducational, Roman Catholic high school, founded in 1962. The school enrolls approximately 850 students. Immaculate Conception School is a Catholic private coeducational day school, founded in 1957, for students in grades Pre-K through 8. Both schools operate under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen.[77]


The Somerville train station offers service on New Jersey Transit's Raritan Valley Line, with frequent service to Newark Penn Station, with connecting service to Penn Station New York in Midtown Manhattan.

U.S. Route 22 runs along the northern boundary of Somerville and offers connections to the state highway network. U.S. Route 206 runs along the western boundary of Somerville, via the Somerville Circle, and provides north/south connections to nearby towns.

Interstate 287 is outside in neighboring Bridgewater Township and is accessible via US Routes 22 and 202/206.

The closest airport with scheduled service is Newark Liberty International Airport.

Points of interest

Notable people

Notable current and former residents of Somerville include:


External links

New Jersey portal
  • Borough of Somerville official web site
  • Somerville Cable Television
  • Downtown Somerville Shopping, Dining & Business Information
  • Somerville Public Schools
  • New Jersey Department of Education
  • National Center for Education Statistics
  • Somerville Police Department
  • Somerset Medical Center
  • Somerville Rescue Squad
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