The name Piscataway may be derived from the area's original Native American residents, transplants from near the Piscataqua River defining the coastal border between New Hampshire and Maine, whose name derives from peske (branch) and tegwe (tidal river), or alternatively from pisgeu (meaning "dark night") and awa ("place of") or from a Lenape language word meaning "great deer" or from words meaning "place of dark night". The area was appropriated in 1666 by Quakers and Baptists who had left the Puritan colony in New Hampshire.
Piscataway Township was formed on December 18, 1666, and officially incorporated by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on February 21, 1798, as part of the state's initial group of 104 townships. The community, the fifth-oldest municipality in New Jersey, has grown from Native American territory, through a colonial period and is one of the links in the earliest settlement of the Atlantic Ocean seacoast that ultimately led to the formation of the United States. Over the years, portions of Piscataway were taken to form Raritan Township (March 17, 1870, now Edison), Dunellen (October 28, 1887), Middlesex (April 9, 1913) and South Plainfield (March 10, 1926).
In 1666, the first appointed Governor of New Jersey, Philip Carteret, granted 12 new settlers from Massachusetts a 100 square mile lot of land that was later founded as the townships of Woodbridge and Piscataway. After this original purchase, additional settlers from the Piscataqua River area of New Hampshire also moved to the area, bringing the name. Coming from a lumbering, shipbuilding and fishing background, these settlers, consisting of mostly Baptists and Quakers, were comfortable with their new surroundings, and looking forward to starting a new life away from political and religious persecution in the north. They were also enterprising and pioneering families who were already experienced in wilderness settlement. Before the original settlers, there were pioneer scouts who surveyed these new lands and waterways. The town name of Piscataway came from these early pioneers who originally came from the town of Piscataqua. During the original land purchase, the pioneers had signed 12 Articles of Agreement with Governor Carteret, which served as the legal basis for the government of Piscataway and Woodbridge and which shaped the democratic development of self-government. In short, these articles were mainly designed to provide liberty and land ownership for new families and to allow them to establish their own government representatives and religious freedoms.
After a few line and boundary changes, Piscataway and its out plantations were reported to total 40,000 acres, with 66 square miles of land in 1685. The Lenni Lenape Indians were natives to the entire Piscataway area, but were quietly displaced to smaller areas as settler numbers increased. The Indians had established defined trails that the settlers used to travel through the wilderness area and branch out to new lands. Over time, many of these primitive trails became the main routes of travel from town to town and still exist today. The trails along the Raritan River were named after a local Indian tribe called the Raritangs. Piscataway Township is the fifth oldest town in New Jersey and among the fifty oldest towns in the United States.
On February 8, 1777, the Battle of Quibbletown, a running battle took place between approximately 2,000 British and Hessian troops under the command of British General Charles Lord Cornwallis and the local patriot militia led by Colonel Charles Scott and a separate militia commanded by Brigadier General Nathaniel Warner.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 19.029 square miles (49.286 km2), including 18.835 square miles (48.782 km2) of land and 0.194 square miles (0.504 km2) of water (1.02%).
The Arbor and New Brunswick Highland sections of Piscataway were historically African American neighborhoods.
The New Market section historically comprised the Quaker village of Quibbletown. The early name of the village originated from the fact that settlers of different religious denominations quibbled about whether the Sabbath should be observed on Saturday or on Sunday in the village.
There were 17,050 households out of which 35.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 59.9% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.0% were non-families. 18.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 5.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.91 and the average family size was 3.33.
In the township, the population was spread out with 20.1% under the age of 18, 17.8% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 24.1% from 45 to 64, and 9.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33.0 years. For every 100 females there were 99.2 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 96.8 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $88,428 (with a margin of error of +/- $3,958) and the median family income was $95,483 (+/- $3,327). Males had a median income of $57,308 (+/- $4,335) versus $48,606 (+/- $1,863) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $31,254 (+/- $1,335). About 2.5% of families and 4.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.9% of those under age 18 and 4.5% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 Census, 12.49% of Piscataway's residents identified themselves as being of Indian American ancestry, which was the fourth highest of any municipality in the United States and the third highest in New Jersey—behind Edison (17.75%) and Plainsboro Township (16.97%)—of all places with 1,000 or more residents identifying their ancestry.
There were 16,500 households out of which 34.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.6% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.3% were non-families. 19.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.84 and the average family size was 3.29.
In the township, the population was spread out with 21.9% under the age of 18, 14.1% from 18 to 24, 33.3% from 25 to 44, 22.1% from 45 to 64, and 8.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.2 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $68,721, and the median income for a family was $75,218. Males had a median income of $47,188 versus $36,271 for females. The per capita income for the township was $26,321. About 2.7% of families and 3.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.3% of those under age 18 and 4.3% of those age 65 or over.
Louis Brown Athletic Center is the home of the Rutgers University men's and women's basketball teams, and was the home of the professional New Jersey Nets during 1977–1981. The venue was originally named the Rutgers Athletic Center, still called the RAC by many, and can accommodate 9,000 attendees.
Yurcak Field is a multi-purpose soccer and lacrossestadium, built in 1994, and holds 5,000 people. The stadium is officially named "The Soccer/Lacrosse Stadium at Yurcak Field" in honor of Ronald N. Yurcak, a 1965 All-American Rutgers lacrosse player. Rutgers University host their home games at this stadium.
In November 1966, Piscataway voters, under the Faulkner Act, approved a Charter Study and elected a Charter Study Commission to recommend the form of Government best suited to the township's needs. The Commission recommended Mayor-Council Plan F. Voters approved the plan in a referendum in November 1967 and the new form of government was inaugurated on January 1, 1969. Under Plan F the Mayor is the administrator and the Council is the legislative body. A full-time business administrator, appointed by the Mayor with the advice and consent of the Council, and responsible to the Mayor, supervises the day-by-day operation of municipal government. There are seven Council members, one representing each of four wards, and three at-large members. The Mayor and Council members serve four-year terms on a staggered basis, with either the three at-large seats (and the mayoral seat) or the four ward seats up for vote in even years as part of the November general election.
As of 2017[update], the mayor of Piscataway is Democrat Brian C. Wahler, whose term of office ends December 31, 2020. Members of the Township Council are Council President Chanelle C. McCullum (D, 2020; At Large), Council Vice President Frank Uhrin (D, 2018; Ward 1), Jim Bullard (D, 2018; Ward 2), Gabrielle Cahill (D, 2020; At Large), Steven D. Cahn (D, 2018; Ward 3), Michele Lombardi (D, 2018; Ward 4) and Kapil K. Shah (D, 2020; At Large).
Camille Fernicola was appointed to fill the at-large seat expiring in December 2016 that had been held by Michael Griffith until his death in November 2014. In the November 2015 general election, Fernicola was elected to serve the balance of the term of office.
Chanelle McCullum was appointed in April 2013 to fill the vacant at-large seat of Kenneth Armwood, who had been the township council president until he was appointed to fill a vacant seat on the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. McCullum was elected in November 2013 to serve the balance of the unexpired term through its expiration in December 2016.
Federal, state and county representation
Piscataway is located in the 6th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 17th 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 31,266 registered voters in Piscataway Township, of which 11,355 (36.3%) were registered as Democrats, 3,034 (9.7%) were registered as Republicans and 16,859 (53.9%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 18 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 74.4% of the vote (15,659 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 24.4% (5,125 votes), and other candidates with 1.2% (262 votes), among the 21,227 ballots cast by the township's 33,597 registered voters (181 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 63.2%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 71.0% of the vote (15,978 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 27.2% (6,111 votes) and other candidates with 1.0% (215 votes), among the 22,491 ballots cast by the township's 32,398 registered voters, for a turnout of 69.4%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 64.2% of the vote (12,627 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 34.3% (6,749 votes) and other candidates with 0.8% (218 votes), among the 19,670 ballots cast by the township's 27,842 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 70.6.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Democrat Barbara Buono received 50.6% of the vote (5,388 cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 48.2% (5,129 votes), and other candidates with 1.1% (122 votes), among the 10,823 ballots cast by the township's 34,170 registered voters (184 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 31.7%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 54.9% of the vote (6,773 ballots cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 37.6% (4,637 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 6.0% (738 votes) and other candidates with 0.9% (111 votes), among the 12,334 ballots cast by the township's 31,079 registered voters, yielding a 39.7% turnout.
Fire and EMS
Piscataway is divided into four fire districts which are served by a total of two volunteer rescue squads and six volunteer fire companies, one of which combines both fire and EMS services. The fire districts are the zones in which fire departments operate, and although the volunteer EMS squads follow the basic regions of the districts, only North Stelton Fire Rescue EMS is a part of a fire district. Additionally, on weekdays and weekends from 6 am until 6 pm, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital staffs an ambulance in Piscataway. When the volunteer rescue squads are not in service, either Rutgers University Emergency Services or Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital may be asked to send an ambulance.
Arbor Rescue Squad (EMS), 1790 W. 7th Street (partial coverage)
River Road Rescue Squad (EMS), 101 Shirley Parkway (partial coverage)
New Market Fire Company, 801 South Washington Avenue
North Stelton Fire Rescue (EMS), 70 Haines Avenue (partial coverage)
River Road Rescue Squad (EMS), 101 Shirley Parkway
River Road Fire Company, 102 Netherwood Avenue
Holmes Marshall Fire Company, 5300 Deborah Drive
Possumtown Fire Company, 85 Stratton Street South
Arbor Rescue Squad (EMS), 1790 W. 7th Street
Arbor Hose Company, 1780 West Seventh Street
North Stelton Volunteer Fire Company, 70 Haines Avenue
The primary law enforcement agency in the township is the Piscataway Police Department. Rutgers University Police Department operates on its campuses within Piscataway. The New Jersey State Police patrols the section of Interstate 287 that bisects the town.
The Piscataway Township Schools serves students in kindergarten through twelfth grades with four schools that educate students in pre-kindergarten / kindergarten through third grade, two intermediate schools serving grades 4–5, three middle schools for students in grades six to eight and a high school for grades nine to twelve. As of the 2015-16 school year, the district's 10 schools had an enrollment of 7,283 students and 542.9 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 13.4:1. Schools in the district (with 2015-16 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are
Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School (564 students; in grades K-3),
Grandview Elementary School (774; PreK-3),
Knollwood Elementary School (494; K-3),
Randolphville Elementary School (550; K-3),
Arbor Intermediate School (419; 4-5),
Martin Luther King Intermediate School (532; 4-5),
Conackamack Middle School (589; 6-8),
Quibbletown Middle School (563; 6-8),
Theodore Schor Middle School (583; 6-8) and
Piscataway Township High School (2,173; 9-12).
Middlesex County schools
Nuview Academy Piscataway Campus, 1 Park Avenue – Programs for students with symptoms of; Depression, ADHD, Conduct Disorder, Thought Disorder, or Anxiety Disorder.
Bright Beginnings Learning Center, 1660 Stelton Road – Programs for students with Autism.
Piscataway Regional Day School, 1670 Stelton Road – Programs for students with Autism.
Raritan Valley Academy, 1690 Stelton Road – Programs for students with behavioral disabilities, learning and/or language disabilities.
Middlesex County Vocational Technical High School Piscataway Campus, 21 Suttons Lane – Vocational and Technical High School.
As of May 2010[update], the township had a total of 206.70 miles (332.65 km) of roadways, of which 181.68 miles (292.39 km) were maintained by the municipality, 18.94 miles (30.48 km) by Middlesex County and 6.08 miles (9.78 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Piscataway is served by a number of roads. County roads include CR 501 (along the border with South Plainfield), CR 514 and CR 529. Route 18 runs along Hoes Lane to Interstate 287, which passes through the center of the township for about 4 miles.
^ abCheslow, Jerry. "If You're Thinking of Living in: Piscataway", The New York Times, June 28, 1992. Accessed October 3, 2012. "What is now the township was settled in 1666 by Quakers and Baptists and fleeing the intolerant Puritan colony in New Hampshire. While Piscataway is a derivative of the Leni Lenape word for "great deer," the township is believed to have been named after the settlers' former home on the Piscataqua River."
^About Piscataway Township, Piscataway, New Jersey. Accessed June 24, 2019. "Piscataway was founded in 1666 and officially incorporated in 1798. As the fifth oldest municipality in New Jersey, Piscataway has grown from Native American territory through a colonial period and is one of the links in the earliest settlement of the Atlantic seacoast that ultimately led to the formation of the United States."
^Raum, John O. The History of New Jersey: From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time, Volume 1, p. 247-8, J. E. Potter and company, 1877. Accessed July 17, 2013. "Piscataway was incorporated in 1798, so named from some of the first settlers who came from Piscataqua, in Maine, and upon their arrival they called the place New Piscataqua. New Market, formerly Quibbletown, is a thriving post town. New Brooklyn, Samptown, New Durham and Raritan Landing, are small villages in the township. The population of Piscataway was in 1850, 2,975; in 1860, 3,186; and in 1870, 2,757."
^Tribe, Shawn. Gorgias Press - Liturgy, New Liturgical Movement, August 14, 2005. Accessed August 7, 2014. "Gorgias Press who publish a number of books related to Eastern Christianity. They also have a Liturgy section which includes books like F.E. Brightman's compilation of Eastern liturgies, as well as other non-Byzantine (i.e. Oriental) liturgical items that some may find of interest here."
^Staff. "Community news briefs: New councilwoman is sworn in", Courier News, April 21, 2013. Accessed November 24, 2013. "The Honorable Judge Philip Paley swore in Piscataway resident, Chanelle McCullum, as an at-large councilwoman at the township's regular and agenda meeting on April 16.Due to the resignation of Piscataway council president Kenneth Armwood, who was appointed to the open seat on the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders after Freeholder Director Christopher Rafano's appointment to the New Jersey Superior Court, McCullum will temporally fill the vacancy until it is filled for Armwood's unexpired term at the next general election."
^AboutArchived August 11, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, An-Noor Academy. Accessed August 7, 2014. "An-Noor Academy & Darul-Huda Institute was established in September 2000 by Muslim Center of Middlesex County (MCMC) to serve the educational needs of the Muslim community of Piscataway and surrounding areas."
^About Us, The Metlar-Bodine House Museum. Accessed August 7, 2014. "The museum was established in 1979 by the Fellowship for Metlar House and the Township of Piscataway as a collecting institution. The historic site, its original section built in 1728 with 19th century additions, is treated as the largest artifact in the collection."
^About MelissaArchived October 8, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Melissa Bacelar. Accessed November 24, 2013. "Melissa grew up in Piscataway, New Jersey. Her father came to America from Cuba when he was thirteen and her mother's family owns the oldest Lumber Yard in New Jersey, opened by her great grandfather in the 1900's."
^Davis, Ken. "Signing Period Ends, Recruiting Continues", Hartford Courant, November 17, 1994. Accessed January 2, 2015. "Hartford landed its third recruit of the early signing period when 6-1 guard Justin Bailey of Piscataway, N.J., signed a letter of intent. Bailey, described as a versatile guard by his coach, Paul Schoeb, helped Piscataway High School to a 23-2 record and a Group Four championship last season."
^Rutgers Oral History Archives: Blum, Samuel, Rutgers University, July 8, 1994. Accessed November 24, 2013. "My father and mother summered out here in what is Piscataway Township, a place called Ferrer Colony. It's five miles from here. They built a shack that they and I summered in, until I was ten.... He built a permanent winter home and we left the city. I enrolled in the Fellowship Farm School in Piscataway Township."
^Mallozzi, Vincent M. "Big East Report", The New York Times, January 17, 1996. Accessed October 3, 2012. "One of the players who played well in Kittles's absence against West Virginia was the freshman John Celestand, a 6-3 guard from Piscataway N.J., who scored 14 points against the Mountaineers."
^O'Donnell, Chuck. "Mark Ciardi: A life worthy of a Hollywood script", Courier News, July 22, 2016. Accessed August 15, 2016. "Mark Ciardi pitching for Piscataway High School. After graduating in 1979, he went on to pitch at the University of Maryland.... Ciardi, who turns 55 in August, grew up on Mitchell Avenue in Piscataway."
^Stanmyre, Matthew. "Piscataway High School a prolific pipeline for Division 1 football programs", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, July 6, 2009, updated February 17, 2010. Accessed September 18, 2015. "Departed players Justin Blake (Stony Brook), Jeremy Crayton (Central Connecticut State) and Steven Miller (Nassau Community College) were also back on campus Thursday, jawing with 33 current Piscataway players who baked in the 80-degree heat."
^CastArchived April 19, 2018, at the Wayback Machine, Anyone But Me. Accessed November 24, 2013. "Rachael Hip-Flores (Vivian) was born and raised in Piscataway, NJ and graduated Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University."
^Lizura, Joe. Medieval Church DiscoveredArchived December 2, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, Joe Lizura Official Website, September 6, 2012. Accessed November 24, 2013. "At least I personally have a good feeling for 'old' because my hometown of Piscataway, New Jersey was founded in 1666 – old? yes, but still not as old as the Church under the parking lot in England."
^Sullivan, John. "At Rutgers, Weathering An Ordeal", The New York Times, November 30, 2003. Accessed January 26, 2011. "From his early boyhood home in New Brunswick, Richard Levis McCormick would have glimpsed Old Queens above the river. Even after his family moved to the more rural town of Piscataway, the building would have been a familiar site as he visited the campus where his parents taught."
^Neary, Lynn. "Funny Stories Behind Screenwriter's 'Shudder'", NPR, September 13, 2009. Accessed November 24, 2013. "Mr. Rudnick: Yes. I was raised in the suburb of Piscataway, where the Chamber of Commerce sponsored a promotional billboard picturing two cartoon Native Americans in feathers and striped war paint."
^"Man Convicted of Rape-Murder in Carjacking at Shopping Mall", The New York Times, February 25, 1995. Accessed February 25, 2016. "A jury today found a Plainfield man guilty on all 13 counts in the rape and murder of a Piscataway woman, Gail Shollar, in a 1992 carjacking.... Fear swept across New Jersey following Mrs. Shollar's murder. Residents packed self-defense classes, task forces were set up statewide to study the carjacking dilemma, and the Legislature stiffened penalties for the crime."
^Harbatkin, Erica. "Piscataway H.S. opens wing", Home News Tribune, October 21, 2007. Accessed November 24, 2013. "Bob Smith, D-Middlesex, a former mayor of Piscataway, stood in front of the group, pumped his fist in the air and yelled, "Go Chiefs! Go Superchiefs band!"