Somerset County courthouse
Location within the U.S. state of New Jersey
New Jersey's location within the U.S.
|Founded||May 14, 1688|
|Named for||English county of Somerset|
|Largest city||Franklin Township (population)|
Hillsborough Township (area)
|• Total||304.86 sq mi (789.6 km2)|
|• Land||301.81 sq mi (781.7 km2)|
|• Water||3.04 sq mi (7.9 km2) 1.00%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||1,100/sq mi (410/km2)|
|Congressional districts||7th, 12th|
Somerset County is a county located in the central part of the U.S. state of New Jersey. As of the 2019 Census estimate, the county's population was 328,934, a 1.7% increase from the 2010 United States Census, making it the 13th most populous of the state's 21 counties. Somerset County is part of the New York Metropolitan Area. Its county seat is Somerville. The most populous place was Franklin Township, with 62,300 residents at the time of the 2010 Census, while Hillsborough Township, covered 55.00 square miles (142.4 km2), the largest total area of any municipality.
In 2015, the county had a per capita personal income of $86,468, the second highest in New Jersey and ranked 25th of 3,113 counties in the United States. Somerset County, as of the 2000 Census, was the seventh wealthiest county in the United States by median household income at $76,933 (third in New Jersey behind Hunterdon County at $79,888 and Morris County at $77,340), fourth in median family income at $90,655 (second in New Jersey behind Hunterdon County at $91,050) and ranked seventh by per capita income at $37,970 (highest in New Jersey). The Bureau of Economic Analysis ranked the county as having the 11th-highest per capita income of all 3,113 counties in the United States (and the highest in New Jersey) as of 2009.
In 2012, 49.8 percent of Somerset County residents were college graduates, the highest percentage in the state. Somerset County was recently ranked number 3 of 21 NJ counties as one of the healthiest counties in New Jersey, according to an annual report by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps. Somerset County was created on May 14, 1688, from portions of Middlesex County.
Somerset County is one of America's oldest counties, and is named after the English county of Somerset. The area was first settled in 1681, in the vicinity of Bound Brook, and the county was established by charter on May 22, 1688. Most of the early residents were Dutch. General George Washington and his troops marched through the county on several occasions and slept in many of the homes located throughout the area. Somerset County also played an important part during both World War I and World War II with weapons depots and the manufacturing of the army's woolen blankets.
For much of its history, Somerset County was primarily an agricultural county. In the late 19th century, the Somerset Hills area of Somerset County became a popular country home for wealthy industrialists. The area is still the home of wealthy pharmaceutical industrialists.
In 1917, Somerset County, in cooperation with Rutgers University, hired its first agricultural agent to connect local farmers with expert advice. The Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Somerset County, located in Bridgewater, serves residents in the areas of agriculture and natural resources, 4-H youth development and family and community health sciences.
In the 1960s, townships that were once exclusively agricultural were quickly transformed into suburban communities. Examples include Bridgewater Township and the Watchung Hills communities of Watchung, Green Brook and Warren Township. This growth was aided by the development of the county's very strong pharmaceutical and technology presence. Warren Township used to be considered "the greenest place in New Jersey." More recently, there has been an influx of New York City commuters who use NJ Transit's Raritan Valley Line and Gladstone Branch or use Interstate 78.
According to the 2010 Census, the county had a total area of 304.86 square miles (789.6 km2), including 301.81 square miles (781.7 km2) of land (99.0%) and 3.04 square miles (7.9 km2) of water (1.0%).
The high point is on Mine Mountain in Bernardsville, at approximately 860 feet (260 m) above sea level. The lowest point is just above sea level on the Raritan River at the Middlesex County line.
Somerset County borders the following counties:
|Somerville, New Jersey|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
In recent years, average temperatures in the county seat of Somerville have ranged from a low of 18 °F (−8 °C) in January to a high of 85 °F (29 °C) in July, although a record low of −16 °F (−27 °C) was recorded in January 1984 and a record high of 105 °F (41 °C) was recorded in August 1955. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 2.84 inches (72 mm) in February to 4.83 inches (123 mm) in July. The county has a humid continental climate which is hot-summer (Dfa) except on Mine Mountain west of Bernardsville where it is warm-summer (Dfb).
|Historical sources: 1790-1990|
1970-2010 2000 2010-2018 2000-2010
* = Lost territory in previous decade.
The 2010 United States Census counted 323,444 people, 117,759 households, and 84,668.721 families in the county. The population density was 1,071.7 per square mile (413.8/km2). There were 123,127 housing units at an average density of 408 per square mile (158/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 70.06% (226,608) White, 8.95% (28,943) Black or African American, 0.17% (556) Native American, 14.11% (45,650) Asian, 0.03% (94) Pacific Islander, 4.13% (13,360) from other races, and 2.55% (8,233) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13.01% (42,091) of the population.
The 117,759 households accounted 35.9% with children under the age of 18 living with them; 58.8% were married couples living together; 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.1% were non-families. Of all households, 23.3% were made up of individuals, and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.71 and the average family size was 3.22.
In the county, the population age was spread out with 25% under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 29.8% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40.2 years. For every 100 females, the population had 95.1 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 91.8 males.
At the 2000 United States Census there were 297,490 people, 108,984 households and 78,359 families residing in the county. The population density was 976 per square mile (377/km²). There were 112,023 housing units at an average density of 368 per square mile (142/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 79.34% White, 7.53% Black or African American, 0.13% Native American, 8.38% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 2.74% from other races, and 1.83% from two or more races. 8.68% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Among those residents listing their ancestry, 18.7% were of Italian, 15.6% Irish, 14.5% German, 9.6% Polish and 7.1% English ancestry according to Census 2000.
There were 108,984 households of which 36.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.60% were married couples living together, 8.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.10% were non-families. 22.80% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.00% 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 3.19.
Age distribution was 25.50% under the age of 18, 5.90% from 18 to 24, 33.80% from 25 to 44, 23.50% from 45 to 64, and 11.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.10 males.
The median household income was $76,933 and the median family income was $90,605. Males had a median income of $60,602 versus $41,824 for females. The per capita income for the county was $37,970. About 2.3% of families and 8.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.7% of those under age 18 and 4.9% of those age 65 or over.
Somerset County parks are under the administration of the Somerset County Parks Commission. General parks are Natirar, Duke Island Park, Lord Stirling Park (part of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge), Colonial Park, North Branch Park, Skillman Park, East County Park and a park in development called Raritan River Greenway. Leonard J. Buck Garden is a botanical garden of the county. In addition, the Commission manages natural parks such as the Washington Valley Park (with biking and hiking trails) and the Sourland Mountain Preserve (hiking and mountain biking trails).
The Somerset Patriots are a professional baseball team who plays at the 6,100-seat TD Bank Ballpark, located on the border of Bridgewater and Bound Brook. They play in the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.
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 on the first Friday of January, the board selects a Director and Deputy Director from among its members. In 2016, freeholders were paid $21,902 and the freeholder director was paid an annual salary of $22,902.
The Freeholders employ a full-time County Administrator who manages the day-to-day operations of County government. The County Administrator is Michael J. Amorosa. The Clerk of the Board of Freeholders oversees the work of their offices. Department heads are appointed in accordance with statute and by resolution of the board. Somerset County currently has approximately 1,100 full-time and 130 part-time employees in 52 divisions (including the Library System).
Pursuant to Article VII Section II of the New Jersey State Constitution, each county in New Jersey is required to have three elected administrative officials known as "constitutional officers." These officers are the County Clerk and County Surrogate (both elected for five-year terms of office) and the County Sheriff (elected for a three-year term). Constitutional officers, elected on a countywide basis are:
Somerset County is a part of Vicinage 13 of the New Jersey Superior Court (along with Hunterdon County and Warren County), which is seated at the Somerset County Courthouse in Somerville; the Assignment Judge for Vicinage 15 is Yolanda Ciccone.
The 7th and 12th Congressional Districts cover the county. For the 116th United States Congress. New Jersey's Seventh Congressional District is represented by Tom Malinowski (D, Ringoes). For the 116th United States Congress, New Jersey's Twelfth Congressional District is represented by Bonnie Watson Coleman (D, Ewing Township).
The county is part of the 16th, 17th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd and 25th Districts in the New Jersey Legislature. For the 2018–2019 session (Senate, General Assembly), the 16th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Christopher Bateman (R, Branchburg) and in the General Assembly by Andrew Zwicker (D, South Brunswick) and Roy Freiman (D, Hillsborough Township). For the 2018–2019 session (Senate, General Assembly), the 17th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Bob Smith (D, Piscataway) and in the General Assembly by Joseph Danielsen (D, Franklin Township, Somerset County) and Joseph V. Egan (D, New Brunswick). For the 2018–2019 session (Senate, General Assembly), the 21st Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Thomas Kean Jr. (R, Westfield) and in the General Assembly by Jon Bramnick (R, Westfield) and Nancy Munoz (R, Summit). For the 2018–2019 session (Senate, General Assembly), the 22nd Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Nicholas Scutari (D, Linden) and in the General Assembly by Linda Carter (politician) (D, Plainfield) and James J. Kennedy (D, Rahway). Carter was appointed in May 2018 to fill the vacant seat left following the death of Jerry Green the previous month after 26 years of service. For the 2018–2019 session (Senate, General Assembly), the 23rd Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Michael J. Doherty (R, Washington Township, Warren County) and in the General Assembly by John DiMaio (R, Hackettstown) and Erik Peterson (R, Franklin Township, Hunterdon County). For the 2020–2021 session (Senate, General Assembly), the 25th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Tony Bucco (R, Boonton Township) and in the General Assembly by Brian Bergen (R, Denville) and Aura K. Dunn (R, Mendham Borough).
Senator Anthony R. Bucco died in September 2019. A special convention of the Republican County Committee members from the district met on October 15, 2019, and unanimously selected his son, Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco to fill his father's seat until a 2020 special election. Assemblyman Bucco then resigned from the Assembly and on October 24, 2019, was sworn into the Senate. In a special convention following the 2019 General Election, Dunn was slected and will serve until the end of the current Legislative Session, January 14, 2020.
As of October 31, 2014, there were a total of 216,901 registered voters in Somerset County, of whom 55,782 (25.7%) were registered as Democrats, 53,345 (24.6%) were registered as Republicans and 107,546 (49.6%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 228 voters registered to other parties. Among the county's 2010 Census population, 67.1% were registered to vote, including 75.% of those ages 18 and over.
In the 2004 presidential election, George W. Bush carried Somerset County by a 4.3% margin over John Kerry, with Kerry carrying the state by 6.7% over Bush. However, in 2008, Barack Obama became the first Democratic Presidential nominee to carry the county since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and only the second since 1936. Obama won Somerset by a 6.1% margin over John McCain, with Obama carrying the state by 15.5% over McCain. Somerset's growing Democratic trend at the presidential level has largely been spurred by the rapid growth of the overwhelmingly Democratic Franklin Township in the county's southwest corner.
In the 2009 Gubernatorial Election, Republican Chris Christie received 56% of the vote, defeating Democrat Jon Corzine, who received around 34%. In the 2012 presidential election, the county was carried by Barack Obama, winning 52.8% of the vote to Mitt Romney's 47.2%, a 5.6% gap that represented a 0.5% drop off for Obama from his 2008 margin of victory in the county.
In 1996, Nicholas L. Bissell Jr., then county prosecutor, was charged with embezzlement, tax fraud and abuse of power. He fled to Laughlin, Nevada, near Las Vegas and took his own life when the federal authorities attempted to arrest him.
Based on IRS data for the 2004 tax year, Somerset County taxpayers had the ninth-highest average federal income tax liability per return in the country. Average tax liability was $16,502, representing 16.8% of Adjusted Gross Income.
Somerset County is home to two colleges:
Alma White College (which operated from 1921 to 1978) was a private college located in Zarephath. Beginning in 1931 the college operated WAWZ 1380 on the AM radio dial. The station continued to 1984 after the school closed. The building is now occupied by Somerset Christian College.
Somerset Hills Learning Institute, founded in 1998 and now located in Bedminster Township, is a state-of-the-art program dedicated to educating children on the autism spectrum by utilizing the principles of applied behavior analysis.
Municipalities in Somerset County (with 2010 Census data for population, housing units and area) are listed below. Other, unincorporated communities in the county are listed alongside their parent municipality (or municipalities, as the case may be). These areas include census-designated places (CDPs), which have been created by the United States Census Bureau for enumeration purposes within a Township. Other communities, historical areas, unincorporated areas, and enclaves that exist within a municipality are also listed.
(with map key)
|township||8,165||4,349||26.30||0.22||26.08||313.1||166.8||Somerset Hills (9-12) (S/R)
Bedminster Township (PK-8)
|township||26,652||10,103||24.06||0.13||23.93||1,113.6||422.1||Bernards Township||Basking Ridge|
|Bernardsville (1)||borough||7,707||2,871||12.98||0.08||12.91||597.2||222.5||Somerset Hills|
|Bound Brook (6)||borough||10,402||3,816||1.69||0.04||1.66||6,269.6||2,300.0||Bound Brook|
|township||14,459||5,419||20.28||0.24||20.04||721.4||270.4||Somerville (9-12) (S/R)
|township||44,464||16,657||32.51||0.47||32.04||1,387.9||519.9||Bridgewater-Raritan||Bradley Gardens CDP (14,206)|
Finderne CDP (5,600)
Green Knoll CDP (6,200)
Martinsville CDP (11,980)
|Far Hills (3)||borough||919||418||4.88||0.08||4.80||191.6||87.1||Somerset Hills|
|township||62,300||24,426||46.85||0.70||46.15||1,350.0||529.3||Franklin Township||Blackwells Mills CDP (803)|
Clyde CDP (213)
East Franklin CDP (8,669)
East Millstone CDP (579)
East Rocky Hill CDP (469)
Franklin Center CDP (4,460)
Franklin Park CDP (13,295)
Griggstown CDP (819)
Kingston CDP (part; 271)
Middlebush CDP (2,326)
Pleasant Plains CDP (922)
Six Mile Run CDP (3,184)
Somerset CDP (22,083)
Ten Mile Run CDP (1,959)
Voorhees CDP (976)
Weston CDP (1,235)
Zarephath CDP (37)
|township||7,203||2,448||4.48||0.01||4.47||1,610.5||547.3||Watchung Hills (9-12)
Green Brook (PK-8)
|Millstone (11)||borough||418||167||0.76||0.02||0.74||566.5||226.3||Hillsborough (S/R)|
Belle Mead CDP (216)
Blawenburg CDP (280)
Harlingen CDP (297)
Skillman CDP (242)
|North Plainfield (5)||borough||21,936||7,848||2.81||0.01||2.79||7,850.0||2,808.5||North Plainfield|
|Peapack-Gladstone (2)||borough||2,582||949||5.85||0.04||5.81||444.5||163.4||Somerset Hills||Gladstone|
|Rocky Hill (12)||borough||682||292||0.62||0.00||0.62||1,101.4||471.6||Montgomery (S/R)|
|South Bound Brook (7)||borough||4,563||1,865||0.75||0.10||0.66||6,933.8||2,834.0||Bound Brook (9-12) (S/R)
South Bound Brook (PK-8)
|Warren Township (18)||township||15,311||5,258||19.64||0.08||19.57||782.5||268.7||Watchung Hills (9-12)
Warren Township (PK-8)
|Watchung (4)||borough||5,801||2,234||6.05||0.03||6.03||962.7||370.7||Watchung Hills (9-12)
Somerset County is served by a number of different routes. As of May 2010[update], the county had a total of 1,714.99 miles (2,760.01 km) of roadways, of which 1,370.80 miles (2,206.09 km) were maintained by the local municipality, 234.23 miles (376.96 km) by Somerset County and 109.96 miles (176.96 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Major county roads that pass through include County Route 512, County Route 514, County Route 518, County Route 523, County Route 525, County Route 527, County Route 529, County Route 531 and County Route 533.
Interstate 95 was planned to run along the Somerset Freeway from its proposed southern end in Hopewell Township, Mercer County to Franklin Township at I-287 in the 1960s. However, this plan was cancelled in 1983.
NJ Transit provides bus service to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan, as well as service to major cities in New Jersey and within Somerset County. Ridewise provides three SCOOT shuttles as well as DASH buses and CAT buses.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Somerset County, New Jersey.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Somerset County (New Jersey).|