Somerville, New Jersey
|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
|Incorporated||March 25, 1863 (as town)|
|Reincorporated||April 16, 1909 (as borough)|
|Named for||Somerset, England|
|• Body||Borough Council|
|• Mayor||Brian G. Gallagher (term ends December 31, 2015)|
|• Administrator / Clerk||Kevin Sluka|
|• 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%|
383rd of 566 in state
16th of 21 in county
|Elevation||62 ft (19 m)|
|Population (2010 Census)|
|• Estimate (2014)||12,153|
203rd of 566 in state
9th of 21 in county
|• Density||5,189.5/sq mi (2,003.7/km2)|
|• Density rank||
105th of 566 in state
4th of 21 in county
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||Eastern (EDT) (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0885398|
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, 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. It is the county seat of Somerset County.
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.
The borough is named for Somerset in England.
- Early development 1.1
- Downtown today 1.2
- Future redevelopment 1.3
- Hurricane Floyd 1.4
- Climate 2.1
- 2010 Census 3.1
- 2000 Census 3.2
- Local government 4.1
- Federal, state and county representation 4.2
- Politics 4.3
- Education 5
- Roads and highways 6.1
- Public transportation 6.2
- Points of interest 7
- Notable people 8
- References 9
- External links 10
Somerville was settled in colonial times primarily by the Dutch who purchased land from 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.
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.
Main Street Somerville maintains most of its historical buildings, although many are now boutique specialty shops and second hand 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.
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. Borough planners envision a transit village style redevelopment centered around the Somerville train station.
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.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 2.362 square miles (6.118 km2), including 2.331 square miles (6.038 km2) of land and 0.031 square miles (0.080 km2) of water (1.31%). The borough's territory is flat land. Somerville borders the Raritan River to the south.
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|
|Average high °F (°C)||
|Average low °F (°C)||
|Source: SOMERVILLE 4 NW Weather station (2011). "Somerville, NJ Weather". Somerville, NJ Weather Data. Open Publishing. Retrieved March 28, 2011.|
At the 2010 United States Census, there were 12,098 people, 4,591 households, and 2,778 families residing in the borough. The population density was 5,189.5 per square mile (2,003.7/km2). There were 4,951 housing units at an average density of 2,123.8 per square mile (820.0/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 65.64% (7,941) White, 12.15% (1,470) Black or African American, 0.34% (41) Native American, 11.37% (1,375) Asian, 0.07% (9) Pacific Islander, 6.34% (767) from other races, and 4.09% (495) from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 23.75% (2,873) of the population.
There were 4,591 households, of which 28.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.7% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.5% were non-families. 30.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.20.
In the borough, 21.3% of the population were under the age of 18, 8.9% from 18 to 24, 34.0% from 25 to 44, 24.8% from 45 to 64, and 11.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.5 years. For every 100 females there were 107.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 106.7 males.
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.
As of the 2000 United States Census 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.
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.
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.
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.
Somerville is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government. The governing body 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. 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. The Borough form of government used by Somerville, the most common system used in the state, is a "weak mayor / strong council" government in which council members act as the legislative body with the mayor presiding at meetings and voting only in the event of a tie. The mayor can veto ordinances subject to an override by a two-thirds majority vote of the council. The mayor makes committee and liaison assignments for council members, and most appointments are made by the mayor with the advice and consent of the council. 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 2015, the Mayor of Somerville is Republican Brian G. Gallagher, whose 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, 2016; Administration/Personnel), Thompson Mitchell (D, 2015; Property), Amanda O'Neill (R, 2017; Public Works), Dennis Sullivan (D, 2017; Finance), Kenneth G. Utter (D, 2016; Fire) and Robert G. Wilson (D, 2015; Police).
Federal, state and county representation
Somerville is located in the 7th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 16th state legislative district. 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.
New Jersey's Seventh Congressional District is represented by Leonard Lance (R, Clinton Township). New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Cory Booker (D, Newark, term ends 2021) and Bob Menendez (D, Paramus, 2019).
For the 2014-2015 Session, the 16th 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).  The Governor of New Jersey is Chris Christie (R, Mendham Township). The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Kim Guadagno (R, Monmouth Beach).
- Borough of Somerville official web site
- Somerville Cable Television
- Downtown Somerville Shopping, Dining & Business Information
- Somerville Public Schools
- Somerville Public Schools's 2012–13 School Report Card from the New Jersey Department of Education
- School Data for the Somerville Public Schools, National Center for Education Statistics
- Somerville Police Department
- Somerset Medical Center
- Somerville Rescue Squad
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- via Associated Press. "Lee Van Cleef, Actor, Dies at 64; Played Villains in Many Westerns", The New York Times, December 17, 1989. Accessed May 3, 2012. "Lee Van Cleef was born in Somerville, N.J., on Jan. 9, 1925. His first job was as a farm worker in his home state. He then worked as an accountant in Somerville before beginning in his movie career in 1950."
- Fred Van Eps -- Banjoist, Biography by Tim Gracyk. Accessed May 24, 2008.
- Kendall, Leslie. "JERSEY FOOTLIGHTS; Opera Star in Her Home State", The New York Times, April 1, 2001. Accessed May 3, 2012. "Even as a child, Frederica Von Stade, the Somerville-born mezzo-soprano loved to dress up and entertain."
- Scannell, John James. Scannell's New Jersey's First Citizens and State Guide: Biographies of the Notable Living Men and Women of New Jersey with informing glimpses into the State's History, Affairs, Officialism and Institutions 1919-1920 (Volume II), p. 634. J. J. Scannell, 1919. Accessed December 1, 2013. "DANIEL S VOORHEES - Morristown, (32 Maple Avenue) - Lawyer. Born at Somerville, on August 15, 1852."
- Jon Williams, new England Patriots. Accessed August 13, 2013. "By the time Jon was in third grade, his Dad was in prison on a murder charge. Three of his six siblings would become drug addicts and the streets of Somerville, N.J., were calling for more victims."
- Staff. "HER WORDS GAIN FAVOR", The Times Leader, June 1, 2003. Accessed April 4, 2011. "According to Elinor Wylie A Biography by Stanley Olson, Wylie was born in 1885 in Somerville, N.J., but spent much of her youth in Philadelphia."
- Alicia Albe (born 1977), competitor in rhythmic gymnastics.
- Mary Ellicott Arnold (1876-1968), social activist, teacher and writer best known for her memoir In the Land of the Grasshopper Song.
- Nicole Arendt (born 1969), professional tennis player.
- Frank Asch (born 1946), author of children's literature.
- Christopher "Kip" Bateman (born 1957), politician who has served in the New Jersey Senate since 2008, where he represents the 16th Legislative District.
- Raymond Bateman (norn 1927), politician who served in the New Jersey Senate in the 1960s and 1970s, who was the Republican nominee for Governor of New Jersey in 1977.
- Nicholas L. Bissell, Jr. (1947-1996), county prosecutor of Somerset County who fled to Laughlin, Nevada and took his own life after being charged with embezzlement, tax fraud and abuse of power.
- New Jersey's 4th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1853 to 1855.
- Clarence E. Case (1877-1961), politician who served as acting Republican Governor of New Jersey in 1920, succeeding William Nelson Runyon.
- Alvah A. Clark (1840–1912), represented New Jersey's 4th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 1877 to 1881.
- Kate Claxton (1848–1924), stage actress.
- Royal Page Davidson (1870-1943), educator and inventor.
- Don Elliott (1926–1984), jazz trumpeter, vibraphonist, vocalist, and mellophone player.
- Kevin Foley (born 1987), professional golfer.
- Gene Freed (1930-2009), bridge player and physician.
- Frederick Frelinghuysen, (1753-1804), lawyer, soldier, and senator from New Jersey.
- Mary Exton Gaston (1855–1956), first female physician in Somerville and a "major force in the borough's development".
- Reggie Harrison (born 1951), former professional American football running back for four seasons in the National Football League for the Pittsburgh Steelers and St. Louis Cardinals.
- Naomi Jakobsson, member of the Illinois House of Representatives, representing the 103rd District since 2003.
- Walter J. Kavanaugh (1933–2008), member of the State Senate who represented New Jersey's 16th Legislative District who had been a successful businessman in Somerville and a life member of the Somerville First Aid & Rescue Squad.
- Joyce Kozloff (born 1942),artist whose politically engaged work has been based on cartography since the early 1990s..
- Joe Lis (born 1946), Major League Baseball player who played for Philadelphia, Minnesota, Cleveland and Seattle.
- John Mack (1926–2006), principal oboist with the Cleveland Orchestra.
- Eric Murdock (born 1968), NBA player for the Utah Jazz, Milwaukee Bucks, Vancouver Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets, Miami Heat, New Jersey Nets, and the Los Angeles Clippers.
- Steven J. Ostro (1946-2008), scientist specializing in radar astronomy.
- Paul Robeson (1898–1976), actor, athlete, bass-baritone concert singer, writer, civil rights activist, Fellow traveler, Spingarn Medal winner, and Stalin Peace Prize laureate.
- Brian E. Rumpf (born 1964), represents the 9th Legislative District in the New Jersey General Assembly.
- Ruth St. Denis (1879–1968), modern dance pioneer, was born in Somerset County near Somerville.
- William Gaston Steele, (1820–92), represented New Jersey's 3rd congressional district from 1861 to 1865.
- Lee Van Cleef (1925–1989), actor, featured in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, For a Few Dollars More, Escape from New York and many other films and TV series, was an accountant in his hometown before his movie career began.
- Fred Van Eps (1878–1960), banjoist and early recording artist.
- Frederica von Stade (born 1945), mezzo-soprano.
- Daniel Spader Voorhees (1852-1935), New Jersey State Treasurer from 1907 to 1913.
- Craig Walsh (born 1971), composer.
- Jon Williams (born 1961), NFL player for the New England Patriots.
- Elinor Wylie (1885–1928), poet and novelist, author of Angels and Earthly Creatures, The Orphan Angel and other works.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Somerville include:
- Duke Gardens - Estate of the late tobacco heiress Doris Duke, located in neighboring Hillsborough.
- The Wallace House New Jersey State Historic House Museum- Washington's Headquarters during the Middlebrook Encampment of 1778-1779.
- Old Dutch Parsonage Hew Jersey State Historic Site — First parsonage of the Dutch Reformed Church in Somerset County and home of Rev. Jacob Hardenburgh, a founder and later first President of Queens College (now Rutgers University).
- The Robert Mansion (Somerville Municipal Building) - National Register Property, Alexander Jackson Davis design, classic example of American Gothic architecture
Points of interest
The closest airport with scheduled service is Newark Liberty International Airport.
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.
Interstate 287 is outside in neighboring Bridgewater Township and is accessible via US Routes 22 and 202/206.
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.
As of May 2010, the borough had a total of 36.16 miles (58.19 km) of roadways, of which 30.96 miles (49.83 km) were maintained by the municipality, 1.90 miles (3.06 km) by Somerset County and 3.30 miles (5.31 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Roads and highways
Immaculata High School is a private, coeducational, Roman Catholic high school, founded in 1962. The school enrolls approximately 850 students in grades 9 to 12. 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.
The Somerville Public Schools serve students in pre-Kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of the 2012-13 school year, the district's three schools had an enrollment of 2,247 students and 180.8 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 12.43:1. Schools in the district (with 2012-13 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Van Derveer Elementary School (PreK-5; 953 students), Somerville Middle School (6-8; 332) and Somerville High School for grades 9-12 (1,229). Students from Branchburg Township attend the district's high school as part of a sending/receiving relationship with the Branchburg Township School District.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 59.0% of the vote (1,707 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 38.8% (1,123 votes), and other candidates with 2.2% (64 votes), among the 2,972 ballots cast by the borough's 7,019 registered voters (78 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 42.3%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 1,465 votes (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).
 In the
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. 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).
, 2015).Branchburg and Surrogate Frank Bruno (R, , 2016)Raritan Sheriff Frank J. Provenzano (R, , 2017),Somerville Constitutional officers elected on a countywide basis are County Clerk Brett A. Radi (R, , 2014),Franklin Township in Somerset and Robert Zaborowski (R, , 2016)Green Brook Township Patricia L. Walsh (R, , term ends December 31, 2014),Bernardsville, R Peter S. Palmer (, 2015),Montgomery Township in Skillman Freeholder Deputy Director Mark Caliguire (R, , 2015),Bridgewater Township As of 2014, Somerset County's Freeholders are Freeholder Director Patrick Scaglione (R,