What is now Old Bridge Township was originally incorporated as Madison Township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 2, 1869, from portions of South Amboy Township (now City of South Amboy). In a referendum held on November 5, 1975, voters approved changing the township's name to Old Bridge Township by a margin of 7,150 votes to 4,888. The township's name was changed to avoid confusion with the borough of Madison in Morris County. Use of the name Old Bridge for a location "on the Camden and Amboy Railroad, about eight miles (13 km) beyond South Amboy" or "about seven miles (11 km) from South Amboy" goes back, however, to at least 1853. Initially, the township was made up of farms and the population grew slowly. In 1880, the population was 1,662 and in 1950 it had reached 7,365. Over the next decade, a building boom started and farms gave way to developments, and the population grew to 22,772 by 1960. The 1980 census cited 51,406 people. The township saw major changes with the extension of Route 18 to the shore.
The township was named as a contender for the title of one of the best places to live in the United States by Money magazine in both 2005 and 2007.
In 2016, SafeWise named Old Bridge Township as the sixth-safest city in America to raise a child; the township was the second-highest ranked of the 12 communities in New Jersey included on the list.
The first inhabitants of the area known as Old Bridge, were the Lenni LenapeNative Americans. Those who settled in Old Bridge were known as the Unami, or "people down the river." They, like many people today, migrated to the shore along the Raritan each summer from their hunting grounds in the north. When the English gained control from the Dutch in 1664, the state was divided into two provinces, East Jersey and West Jersey. In 1683, the general assembly of East Jersey defined the boundaries of Middlesex County and the three other original counties (Bergen, Essex and Monmouth) as containing all plantations on both sides of the Raritan River, as far as Cheesequake Harbor to the east, then southwest to the Provincial line, with the southwest line being the border of Monmouth and Middlesex Counties and the Township's southern border.
Thomas Warne, one of the original 24 proprietors of East Jersey, was listed as a landowner of this area, and his son is said to have been the earliest white resident residing in the Cheesequake area in 1683. John and Susannah Brown were granted a 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) land grant from the King of England in 1737. They called the area Brownville, and today this part of town is now known as Browntown.
In 1684, South Amboy Township was formed. At that time, it covered an area that now consists of the Townships of Monroe and Old Bridge, the Borough of Sayreville and the City of South Amboy. The Township covers 42 square miles (110 km2) that separated from South Amboy on March 2, 1869, and was originally called Madison Township. In 1975, the name was changed by referendum to the Township of Old Bridge. The purpose of doing this was to formulate just one postal designations and ZIP code for the township and to differentiate the township from the Borough of Madison in Morris County. Old Bridge derives its name from the fact that the first bridge spanning the South River was built there, and as other bridges were built across the river the first one became known as "the Old Bridge." Prior to that, it was known as "South River Bridge."
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 40.783 square miles (105.627 km2), including 38.060 square miles (98.575 km2) of land and 2.723 square miles (7.052 km2) of water (6.68%).
Madison Township had many mill streams that were used to generate water power. The Warne family owned fulling mills in the area. Fulling was used as a finishing process used on woolen cloth that would remove the dirt and grease and to compact the wool fibers. The mill is said to have been run behind Old Bridge High School and flows east into the Matawan Creek. The area of Old Bridge was also known for their numerous snuff mills. The Washington Snuff mill (later renamed the Dill Snuff Mill) was established in 1801 and was located on Mount Pleasant and Old Bridge Turnpike (now Route 516). Snuff is a scented tobacco product that was used by men and women during that time period.
The clay soil in the area surrounding Old Bridge was used for pottery and bricks way before the first European settlers. "Fine clay had surrounded Cheesequake Creek when the Lenni Lenape Native Americans lived there. The early discoveries of clay along the banks opened the clay industry to Middlesex County as well as the state of New Jersey. By the 1800s clay was a major industry. The clay deposits found along Cheesequake Creek are reported to be some of the finest stoneware clays in the United States." The clay supplied local potters as well as those in Hudson Valley, Norwalk, Connecticut, other New England states, and parts of Canada. The earliest use of clay from this area was used by Captain James Morgan before the Revolution. The Perrine clay pit was located near U.S. Route 9 and Ernston Road.
The Cottrell homestead is a landmark in Old Bridge. It was built in 1831 and still stands today on the northeast corner of County Route 516 and Cottrell Road. The Cottrells owned a 150-acre (61 ha) apple orchard that was located across the street from their home. Apples that could not be used because of their size or quality did not go to waste. Across from the cold-storage building on the southwest corner of Cottrell Road and Route 516 (where Rite Aid is now located), the family built the New Jersey Apple Growers Inc. distillery. It was at this distillery that they pressed the apples into cider and distilled the brandy in large vats. The brandy would age in barrels in a government warehouse that was located on the Cottrells' property. The Cottrells produced apple brandy for twenty years on the farm and sold it wholesale to distributors under the name Browntown.
There were 23,777 households out of which 33.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.5% were married couples living together, 10.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.1% were non-families. 22.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.25.
In the township, the population was spread out with 22.8% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 27.2% from 25 to 44, 30.1% from 45 to 64, and 12.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40.1 years. For every 100 females there were 95.2 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 92.5 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $82,640 (with a margin of error of +/- $6,053) and the median family income was $98,634 (+/- $2,857). Males had a median income of $67,487 (+/- $3,364) versus $48,856 (+/- $3,104) for females. The per capita income for the township was $35,666 (+/- $1,152). About 3.1% of families and 4.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.3% of those under age 18 and 6.6% of those age 65 or over.
There were 21,438 households out of which 37.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.2% were married couples living together, 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.6% were non-families. 21.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.80 and the average family size was 3.30.
In the township the population was spread out with 25.9% under the age of 18, 7.0% from 18 to 24, 33.6% from 25 to 44, 22.9% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.7 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $64,707, and the median income for a family was $74,045. Males had a median income of $51,978 versus $35,462 for females. The per capita income for the township was $26,814. About 3.0% of families and 4.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.0% of those under age 18 and 7.2% of those age 65 or over.
Old Bridge Township is governed within the Faulkner Act, formally known as the Optional Municipal Charter Law, under the Faulkner Act (Mayor-Council) system of municipal government. The Township Council consists of nine members, with six elected to represent wards and three elected at-large from the Township as a whole in partisan elections held as part of the November general election. All elected officials serve four-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with the six ward seats up for election together and the three at-large seats and the mayoral seat up for vote together two years later.
As of 2016[update], the Mayor of Old Bridge Township is Republican Owen Henry, whose term of office ends December 31, 2019. The members of the Township Council are Council President Brian J. Cahill (R, 2019; At-Large), Council Vice-President Alan Rosencranz (R, 2017; Ward 4), June T. Dungee (D, 2017; Ward 3), Dr. Anita Greenberg-Belli (R, 2019; At-Large), Richard J. Greene (R, 2017; Ward 5), Joseph Mollis (R, 2017; Ward 1), Lucille Panos (R, 2017; Ward 6), Mary R. Sohor (R, 2017; Ward 2) and Eleanor "Debbie" Walker (R, 2019; At-Large).
In June 2016, the Township Council appointed June Dungee to fill the vacant Third Ward seat expiring in December 2017 that had been held by Reginald Butler until his death earlier that month; Dungee will serve until the November 2016 general election, when voters will choose a candidate to serve the balance of the term of office.
Federal, state and county representation
Old Bridge Township is split between the 6th and 12th Congressional Districts and is part of New Jersey's 12th state legislative district. Prior to the 2011 reapportionment following the 2010 Census, Old Bridge Township had been in the 13th state legislative district. Prior to the 2010 Census, Old Bridge Township had also been split between the 6th and 12th Congressional Districts, though with different boundaries, 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. The split that took effect in 2013 placed 22,050 residents in the township's northern and eastern portions in the 6th District, while 43,325 residents in the western and southern area of the township were placed in the 12th 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 38,907 registered voters in Old Bridge Township, of which 10,946 (28.1%) were registered as Democrats, 6,363 (16.4%) were registered as Republicans and 21,577 (55.5%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 21 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 54.1% of the vote (13,127 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 44.9% (10,911 votes), and other candidates with 1.0% (240 votes), among the 24,402 ballots cast by the township's 39,947 registered voters (124 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 61.1%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 51.0% of the vote (14,001 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 47.4% (13,019 votes) and other candidates with 1.0% (274 votes), among the 27,464 ballots cast by the township's 39,454 registered voters, for a turnout of 69.6%. In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 51.0% of the vote (12,722 ballots cast), outpolling Democrat John Kerry with 47.7% (11,884 votes) and other candidates with 0.7% (237 votes), among the 24,931 ballots cast by the township's 36,428 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 68.4.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 68.3% of the vote (10,211 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 30.3% (4,532 votes), and other candidates with 1.4% (206 votes), among the 15,147 ballots cast by the township's 40,437 registered voters (198 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 37.5%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 57.8% of the vote (9,511 ballots cast), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 35.9% (5,898 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 5.9% (976 votes) and other candidates with 1.0% (168 votes), among the 16,444 ballots cast by the township's 38,430 registered voters, yielding a 42.8% turnout.
Old Bridge also has many long term care facilities and nursing homes.
Old Bridge maintains a full-time police department consisting of 90 sworn personnel divided into multiple bureaus. The police department handles approximately 50,000 to 55,000 calls for service each year.
Administration Bureau: Chief of Police. Police radio, computer, 9-1-1, and dispatch operations. Training, scheduling etc.
Patrol Bureau: First responders for calls of service, motor vehicle crash investigators, motor vehicle and criminal law enforcement, road construction, special operations.
Traffic Safety Bureau: All traffic enforcement, road construction planning, commuter lot parking enforcement, state funded grants (i.e.:seatbelt enforcement, mobile phone enforcement, child seat, pedestrian etc.) serious and fatal motor vehicle crash investigations, large scale lane closings for events or crashes, road striping, traffic sign replacement and repair, ATV details, special events. Security of impounded vehicles.
Detective Bureau: Investigates all serious offenses and crimes, serious and fatal motor vehicle crash investigations, plain clothes operations. Works closely with FBI, United States Secret Service, Alcoholic Beverage Control and other federal agencies.
Identification Bureau: Works in conjunction with the detective bureau, documents all serious crime scenes, photography for crime scenes and fatal/serious motor vehicle crashes, fingerprinting, evidence collection, processing and storing, civilian background checks, Megans Law enforcement, firearms application investigating and processing.
Narcotics Bureau: All drug- and alcohol-related investigations, undercover operations, surveillance, liaisons with Prosecutors office, special operations, raids. Keeps a close relationship with the DEA.
Fire Arms Unit: Officers trained in qualifying and training all police personnel in weapons systems. This unit repairs and maintains firearms, gear and schedules all state mandated firearms training for the officers. Orders ammunition and supplies related to officer gear.
Police Garage: Mechanics trained in police vehicle repair, wiring, maintenance, storage of impounded vehicles.
Auxiliary Police: Patrol in marked cars and uniform. They augment the regular officers while on patrol. Auxiliary officers provide additional security for events and details, parade traffic assistance, township fairs, carnivals, benefit functions etc. These officers fall under the Office of Emergency Management section of the township and are all volunteers, receiving no paychecks for their services.
Special police officers: Most of these "special" employees are classified as Class I officers. They provide security at parks and recreation areas, conduct crowd control and are frequently used on court days to handle prisoners. They also serve as another set of eyes and ears for the patrol bureau. Class II officers are also employed in the township. They do the same as the Class I officers, however, not many remain.
Old Bridge is divided into four fire districts:
Fire District 1: Laurence Harbor Fire Department, established in 1924 and operating out of two stations.
Fire District 2: Cheesequake Volunteer Fire Company, with Station 1 at 113 Route 34, Station 2 at 4290 Route 516 and Station 3 at 3080 Route 516.
Fire District 3: South Old Bridge Volunteer Fire Company, established in 1947 and operating out of three stations, with Engine Company 1 located at 958 Englishtown Road, Engine Company 2 at 14 Throckmorton Lane and Engine Company 3 at 1599 Englishtown Road.
Fire District 4: Madison Park Volunteer Fire Company, organized in 1956.
Each of the above have several different fire houses with adequate equipment and trucks to handle any and all situations that arise within the township or surrounding towns.
Old Bridge is equipped for:
Old Bridge is divided into five districts each with a volunteer first aid squad. Numerous ambulances are in service for the community. A paid squad is employed between the hours of 6am to 6pm.
Cheesequake Volunteer First Aid Squad, formed in 1969
Laurence Harbor Volunteer First Aid Squad, established in 1927 and serving the areas of Laurence Harbor, Cliffwood Beach, Genoa, Cheesequake State Park, Cheesequake Village and Ellen Heath
Madison Park Volunteer First Aid Squad, formed in 1959
Old Bridge First Aid and Rescue Squad (nicknamed "Red & White" due to the color of their ambulances)
Old Bridge Volunteer Emergency Medical Services (nicknamed "Green & White" due to the color of their ambulances)
Old Bridge Township Emergency Medical Services (OBTEMS) is an all-paid squad which is not affiliated with any of the five volunteer organizations or the Township itself.
Advanced Life support or "ALS" for short, also known as medics, are paid personnel dispatched to all township calls based on the requirements of assistance. Medics respond to all life/death situations due to a traumatic injury, industrial accident, heart problems, strokes, serious vehicle crashes, etc. The medics are housed by Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Saint Peter's University Hospital and Raritan Bay Medical Center. Each are assigned their own ambulance.
Township parks include Veterans Park and Geick Park
Community and historical information
CPS Madison Industries Superfund Site has been identified as the 14th-worst Superfund site in the United States. That area is fenced off along Waterworks Road, near Cheesequake Road. This area has one chemical plant still operating, Old Bridge Chemical. A former plant, Ciba Chemical closed several years ago and a bulk of the plant was demolished, only the office building remains.
Many small ponds in the area are remnants of clay pits dug in the 19th century, as clay was a major industry. The Perrine clay pit was located near Route 9 and Ernston Road.
The Runyon coal yards were located off Bordentown Avenue and Cheesequake Road, where Stavola Asphalt Construction Company (formerly Manzos Contracting) currently operates. Rail cars at this yard were used to transport their loads to the South Amboy docks, where the coal was shipped to New York City.
Pilings of former docks can be found by foot traversing Steamboat Landing Road, also known as Dock Road, which is the extension of Cottrell Road at its intersection with Route 34.
The Ochwald Brickworks, now the site of Bridgepointe Development in Laurence Harbor, began operation in 1910 and continued operation into the early 1960s. Behind the Bridgepointe Development and far into the woodline and field, old bricks can still be found.
The Kepec Chemical Company in the Genoa section (off County Road) is where Julius and Ethel Rosenberg allegedly contacted Russian spies in 1950. The FBI conducted surveillance of the building at the corner of Biondi Avenue and Gordon Street. Only a few bricks remain to mark this location at the foot of Columbus Avenue.
A mass grave in the Ernst Memorial Cemetery off Ernston Road holds the remains of over a dozen unidentified victims of the T. A. Gillespie Company Shell Loading Plant explosion of 1918. This plant exploded in the Morgan section of neighboring Sayreville, killing an estimated 100 persons. Shock waves were felt as far north as Newark.
A horse-racing track used to be located where present day Lakeridge development now stands (near the border with Matawan Borough.)
A circular car racing track (early 1950s to approximately 1982) used to be located off County Route 516 where the Whispering Pines Development is now. No visible trace remains.
Cheesequake State Park, one of the oldest in the country, opening on June 22, 1940, covers 1,274 acres (516 ha), partially located in Old Bridge. Located near the Garden State Parkway exit 120, Route 34 and Route 35, the park is often crowded by sunbathers, picnics, concert goers (nearby PNC Bank Arts Center) and tourists.
A Cold War-era Nike missile base is located off U.S. Route 9 on Jake Brown Road. Listed in Weird NJ as a haunted site, readers frequent this area and explore the fields where former base worker residences once stood. The actual base was purchased by Old Bridge Township Board of Education and is currently used to store their own supplies and vehicles. The former underground silos and tunnels were purposely flooded and caved in when the base was closed.
Old Bridge Township Raceway Park, a racetrack that had hosted Funny Car and drag racing including the NHRA Summernationals, is located off Route 527 (Englishtown Road) near the township's border with Manalapan and Monroe. As part of a January 2018 reorganization, the facility announced that it will no longer be holding drag racing events, retaining kart and motocross races, as well as car shows and concerts.
^Epstein, Sue. "The Old Bridge council has chosen a replacement for Reginald Butler", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, June 28, 2016. Accessed July 13, 2016. "The council chose a replacement Monday night for long-time councilman Reginald Butler, who died earlier this month after a lengthy illness. June Dungee, 72, will represent Ward 3 until November when there will be a special election to choose someone to fill out the remaining year left on Butler's term."
^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."
^Donahue, Brian. "A town’s history as seen through the camera’s eye", Suburban News, June 6, 2002. Accessed January 18, 2018. "There are also the Runyan Coal Yards off Browntown Avenue, the old Cheesequake Hotel and even a picture of the Kepec Chemical Co. — the site where the Rosenbergs allegedly contacted Russian spies in 1950."
^Grave Site of the Morgan Plant Unidentified Dead, Morgan, New Jersey. Accessed August 10, 2015. "The remains of those unfortunate souls, who were so badly disintegrated by the blasts, were buried in a mass grave in nearby Ernst Memorial Cemetery."
^via Associated Press. "Summernationals homeless after Raceway Park drops drag racing", ESPN, January 18, 2018. Accessed January 18, 2018. "The NHRA Summernationals no longer have a home. The owners of Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey, have informed the National Hot Rod Association they no longer will host drag racing events, effective immediately.... While drag racing on the quarter-mile or eighth-mile track will end immediately, Raceway Park will use the stadium portion of the facility to continue most of its operations, including auto swap meets, numerous car shows, motocross and kart races and other events."
^Staff. "Hurt so good", Home News Tribune, March 14, 2008. Accessed February 7, 2011. "Spatola and Ansley (bass) both grew up in Old Bridge and went to shows and performed at the former Birch Hill Night Club in the township..."
^Kemp, Heather Wendt for Weird NJ. "Weird NJ: The Brasnos – Old Bridge’s movie heroes", Asbury Park Press, April 23, 2017. Accessed December 26, 2017. Persons short in stature historically have found work in the entertainment industry. The members of the Brasno family of Old Bridge were able to benefit from this trend. They were a family of six, four of whom were little people. As 'proportional' dwarfs, or 'midgets' as they were commonly known in the 1930s, siblings Olive and George Brasno were offered Munchkin roles in The Wizard of Oz.... Not foreseeing that the movie would become a classic, Olive and George declined MGM’s offer, choosing instead to continue with their own more lucrative vaudeville act, 'Buster Shaver, Olive and George.'"
^"Phil Ivey, High School Hall of Famer", F5 Poker. Accessed August 7, 2014. "Ivey went to the bulk of high school in Edison, New Jersey and eventually graduated from Middlesex's Old Bridge High School in 1995."
^GPC Jaguar Women's Soccer: Coaches, Georgia Perimeter College. Accessed November 7, 2017. "Franklin Lawson enters his tenth year as assistant coach of Georgia Perimeter College women's soccer program. A native of New Jersey, Lawson was a second team All-State player at Cedar Ridge High School in Old Bridge, New Jersey."
^"Metallica and the Old Bridge Metal Militia: The untold story ", Asbury Park Press, April 1, 2016. Accessed April 2, 2016. "... the couple decided to invite Metallica out to Old Bridge to record the songs on the demo for a proper album, which would eventually be called "Kill 'Em All." The band, originally from Los Angeles, subsequently lived in various houses and motels throughout Central Jersey and the Jersey Shore for the next two years when not on tour."
^Mifflin, Lawrie. "Doing a Star Turn for the Home Team, at Last", The New York Times, August 18, 1996. Accessed March 11, 2012. "Giants Stadium is a short trip up the turnpike from Old Bridge, where Mr. Ramos lives with his wife, Amy -- a former North Carolina State University soccer player like her husband -- and their 16-month-old son, Alex."
^Weinraub, Bernard. "Jersey Girl Makes It Big, at Least on TV", The New York Times, June 20, 2000. Accessed November 25, 2012. "After years of struggling as a writer and working as a waitress and bartender in and around the working- and middle-class North Jersey towns North Arlington and East Rutherford, Ms. Ruggiero (ROUGE-ear-oh) has been plucked from obscurity to write and help produce a new autobiographical television comedy series, That's Life, on CBS."
^Rose, Lisa. "Once 600 pounds, mom from Old Bridge puts down the fork and turns off the webcam", The Star-Ledger, December 18, 2011. Accessed January 30, 2012. "A mother of two from Old Bridge became a tabloid phenomenon last year after saying she was proud of her 600-pound physique, and wouldn't mind getting bigger. Donna Simpson capitalized on the notoriety that followed, as her internet modeling career took off and traffic increased on her website, where voyeurs could watch her eat on camera for $19 a month."