Bridgewater is a relatively large, suburban township located in the center of Somerset County. The area of the present Township of Bridgewater was originally purchased from a local Lenape Native American tribe. Bridgewater was chartered by George II of Great Britain in 1749, and incorporated on February 21, 1798, as one of New Jersey's 104 original townships. It is named after the town of Bridgwater in the English county of Somerset.
Tradition holds that it was at the Middlebrook encampment that the first official flag of the United States was unfurled, after a law to adopt a national flag had been passed by Congress on June 14, 1777. By special order of Congress, a Thirteen Star Flag is flown 24 hours a day at the Washington Camp Ground, part of the former Middlebrook encampment, in Bridgewater. Since 1889, the first hoisting of the flag is commemorated annually each July 4 with a changing of the flag, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and the delivery of an historical address.
Until the 1960s, Bridgewater was largely known as a farming community. In the 1970s its population began to grow when residents of larger cities such as Plainfield and Newark started to migrate into Bridgewater as a result of the 1967 Plainfield Riots and 1967 Newark riots. Subsequently, Bridgewater started to receive an influx of residents who worked in the strong pharmaceutical, telecommunications and financial industries in Bridgewater and the Raritan Valley. More recently, there has also been growth as Bridgewater has become more popular with New York City commuters who use Bridgewater Station on New Jersey Transit's Raritan Valley Line or Interstate 78 East to commute to New York City. Bridgewater is now a fairly developed suburban community, with only a few traces of its rural past still evident in the town (particularly in its northwestern section). Bridgewater is now Somerset County's second-most populous municipality, after Franklin Township.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 32.510 square miles (84.200 km2), including 32.037 square miles (82.974 km2) of land and 0.473 square miles (1.226 km2) of water (1.46%).
While much of Bridgewater has relatively flat terrain, the northeastern portion of the township is very hilly, with the First Ridge of the Watchung Mountains (sometimes known as the First Watchung Mountain) passing through the township. Additionally the Second Ridge (Second Mountain) passes just north of the township border.
The Raritan River and its branches and tributaries form much of Bridgewater's borders with other municipalities and a number of smaller rivers and streams run through Bridgewater. The Raritan itself runs along Bridgewater's southern border (except where Somerville and Raritan were carved out as separate boroughs) and the North Branch of the Raritan River forms the township's western border with Branchburg. The North Branch and South Branch of the Raritan River meet at the extreme southwestern corner of Bridgewater at the border with both Branchburg Township and Hillsborough Township, and this point known as the Raritan River Confluence was once intended to be a major reservoir.
Bradley Gardens (with a 2010 Census population of 14,206), Finderne (5,600), Green Knoll (6,200) and Martinsville (11,980) are census-designated places and unincorporated communities located within Bridgewater Township. Other unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Chimney Rock, Middle Brook Heights, Milltown and Sunset Lake.
Bridgewater borders 13 other municipalities. Its longest borders are with Branchburg Township, Bedminster Township, Bernards Township, Warren Township, Bound Brook, Somerville and Raritan. It also borders Green Brook (though connected only by Route 22), Middlesex (though connected only by one local street), South Bound Brook (a very short border in the middle of the Raritan River), Franklin Township (the only street connection is Interstate 287), Manville (the only street connection is Finderne Avenue, a county highway), and Hillsborough Township (no direct street connection).
Bridgewater Township's ZIP Code is 08807, with 08836 used in the community of Martinsville, and 08805 used in the Thomae Park section (mailing address of Bound Brook). Bridgewater's area codes are 908 and 732/848. Bridgewater is in Raritan Valley (a line of cities in Central New Jersey). Bridgewater lies in the western division of the Raritan Valley along with Branchburg and Raritan.
Bridgewater contains a number of communities and sections, many of which do not have officially defined boundaries. They include:Bradley Gardens: Located in southwestern Bridgewater, bordered on the east by Raritan and Branchburg to the west. This is one of Bridgewater's older residential areas but also includes some newer developments as well as a commercial area along Old York Road.
North Branch (eastern portion): Most of North Branch is in Branchburg, but a portion lies to the east of the North Branch of the Raritan River, in Bridgewater Township.
Finderne: Located in southeastern Bridgewater between Bound Brook and Somerville. This is a diverse area with older neighborhoods bordering Foothill Road, newer developments, multi-unit housing near the Raritan River/Manville border, as well as commercial and industrial areas. The Middlebrook Crossing industrial park, the Promenade shopping center and TD Bank Ballpark, home to the Somerset Patriots, are located here.
Thomae Park: In the extreme eastern portion of Bridgewater, bordering Bound Brook and Middlesex. Residents there have a Bound Brook ZIP code. One of their main attractions is Thomae Park, which has a playground, basketball court, baseball field, and hiking trail.
Green Knoll: Located in central Bridgewater, this is a residential area with many major commercial developments and government facilities, including the Bridgewater Commons Mall at the intersection of U.S. Route 22 and U.S. Route 202-206, a large office park just west of the Commons across 202-206, the municipal building and police station, and Bridgewater-Raritan High School.
Country Club/Meadow Road Area: This area is referred to by some as the "Country Club-Meadow Road area" or similar names, after the major north-south streets there. Some also refer to it as "the Van Holten area" after the elementary school located there. It borders Bedminster and Branchburg.
Milltown/Vanderveer Road Area: This area is known to some as the "Milltown-Vanderveer" area, or "Chindia" to some residents. The area is northeast of Bradley Gardens bordering Raritan and Branchburg. It is mainly a residential community with many new homes.
Martinsville: Located in northeastern Bridgewater near Warren Township and Bernards Township. This is an affluent, predominantly residential area, though it does have its own commercial center along Washington Valley Road, and its own post office and ZIP code. This also is a very hilly area; it is the portion of Bridgewater through which the Watchung Mountains pass.
Sunset Lake: Built around a man-made lake in the extreme northern part of Bridgewater, near the interchange of Interstate 287 and Interstate 78. Some of its residents have the Basking Ridge ZIP code 07920.
According to National Geographic magazine, Bridgewater has an unusually high number of twins and triplets.
The 2010 United States Census counted 44,464 people, 16,111 households, and 12,035 families residing in the township. The population density was 1,387.9 per square mile (535.9/km2). The township contained 16,657 housing units at an average density of 519.9 per square mile (200.7/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 76.46% (33,996) White, 2.38% (1,059) Black or African American, 0.10% (46) Native American, 17.83% (7,927) Asian, 0.00% (2) Pacific Islander, 1.46% (647) from other races, and 1.77% (787) from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 6.76% (3,004) of the population.
Out of a total of 16,111 households, 38.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 64.1% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.3% were non-families. 21.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.72 and the average family size was 3.21.
In the township, 25.5% of the population were under the age of 18, 5.6% from 18 to 24, 23.7% from 25 to 44, 30.5% from 45 to 64, and 14.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42.2 years. For every 100 females the census counted 91.8 males, but for 100 females at least 18 years old, it was 87.8 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $108,680 (with a margin of error of +/- $5,095) and the median family income was $130,594 (+/- $6,507). Males had a median income of $90,875 (+/- $4,851) versus $65,501 (+/- $4,264) for females. The per capita income for the township was $46,994 (+/- $1,811). About 1.6% of families and 2.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.1% of those under age 18 and 5.4% of those age 65 or over.
At the 2000 United States Census, there were 42,940 people, 15,561 households and 11,888 families residing in the township. The population density was 1,323.4 per square mile (510.9/km²). There were 15,879 housing units at an average density of 489.4 per square mile (188.9/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 83.07% White, 2.17% African American, 0.08% Native American, 11.54% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.89% from other races, and 1.25% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.79% of the population. 21.3% were of Italian, 17.1% Irish, 16.7% German and 11.8% Polish ancestry.
There were 15,561 households of which 38.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.6% were married couples living together, 7.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.6% were non-families. 19.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.6% 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 3.14.
25.7% of the population were under the age of 18, 4.9% from 18 to 24, 32.6% from 25 to 44, 24.2% from 45 to 64, and 12.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 92.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.4 males.
The median household income was $88,308 and the median family income was $99,832. Males had a median income of $67,089 versus $49,096 for females. The per capita income for the township was $39,555. About 1.6% of families and 2.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.7% of those under age 18 and 3.7% of those age 65 or over.
Sanofi's US headquarters are in Bridgewater. Medicis Pharmaceutical is based in Bridgewater.
Bridgewater Commons is a large regional shopping mall anchored by Bloomingdale's, Lord & Taylor and Macy's, with a gross leasable area of 994,000 square feet (92,300 m2).
Washington Camp Ground (also known as Middlebrook encampment), just north of Bound Brook, is a preserved portion of the land on which the army of George Washington encamped during the winter of 1778-79, though the general himself stayed in a house in Somerville.
The area also offers many parks and other recreational facilities, including Washington Valley Park.
TD Bank Ballpark is home of the Somerset Patriots (originally Commerce Bank Ballpark). The 6,100-seat stadium was constructed in 1999.
Bridgewater Township is governed within the Faulkner Act (formally known as the Optional Municipal Charter Law), under the mayor-council system of municipal government plan 2, as implemented on January 1, 1984, based on actions of the Township Committee. The township is governed by a mayor and a five-member township council. All members of the governing body are chosen at-large on a partisan basis as part of the November general election. The mayoral seat comes up for vote every four years and council members are elected to serve four-terms of office on a staggered basis, with two seats coming up for election in odd-numbered years. At a reorganization meeting held in January after each election, the committee selects a council president from among its members
As of 2016, the mayor of Bridgewater Township is Republican Daniel J. Hayes Jr., whose term of office ends December 31, 2019. Members of the Bridgewater Township Council are Council President Filipe Pedroso (R, 2017), Council Vice President Allen F. Kurdyla (R, 2017), Matthew Moench (R, 2019) Howard V. Norgalis (R, 2017) and Christine Henderson Rose (R, 2019).
Bridgewater Township is located in the 7th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 23rd state Legislative District. Prior to the 2011 reapportionment following the 2010 Census, Bridgewater Township had been in the 16th state legislative district. Prior to the 2010 Census, Bridgewater Township had been part of the 7th Congressional District and 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 2016–2017 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). The Governor of New Jersey is Chris Christie (R, Mendham Township). The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Kim Guadagno (R, Monmouth Beach).
Somerset County is governed by a five-member Board of Chosen Freeholders, whose members are elected at-large to three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with one or two seats coming up for election each year. At an annual reorganization meeting held in the beginning of January, the board selects a Director and Deputy Director from among its members. As of 2016, Somerset County's Freeholders are Freeholder Director Patricia L. Walsh (R, Green Brook Township, term ends December 31, 2016), Freeholder Deputy Director Peter S. Palmer (R, Bernardsville, 2017), Patrick Scaglione (R, Bridgewater Township, 2018), Mark Caliguire (R, Skillman in Montgomery Township, 2018), and Brian D. Levine (R, Franklin Township, 2017), Constitutional officers elected on a countywide basis are County Clerk Brett A. Radi (R, Somerville, 2017), Sheriff Frank J. Provenzano (R, Raritan, 2016) and Surrogate Frank Bruno (R, Branchburg, 2018). Scaglione is a Bridgewater Township resident and former councilman.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 28,049 registered voters in Bridgewater Township, of which 6,468 (23.1% vs. 26.0% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 7,618 (27.2% vs. 25.7%) were registered as Republicans and 13,947 (49.7% vs. 48.2%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 16 voters registered to other parties. Among the township's 2010 Census population, 63.1% (vs. 60.4% in Somerset County) were registered to vote, including 84.7% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 80.4% countywide).
In the 2012 presidential election, Republican Mitt Romney received 52.1% of the vote (10,664 cast), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 46.7% (9,561 votes), and other candidates with 1.1% (227 votes), among the 20,592 ballots cast by the township's 29,510 registered voters (140 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 69.8%. In the 2008 presidential election, Republican John McCain received 11,346 votes (51.3% vs. 46.1% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 10,357 votes (46.8% vs. 52.1%) and other candidates with 267 votes (1.2% vs. 1.1%), among the 22,110 ballots cast by the township's 27,378 registered voters, for a turnout of 80.8% (vs. 78.7% in Somerset County). In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 11,641 votes (55.5% vs. 51.5% countywide), ahead of Democrat John Kerry with 9,104 votes (43.4% vs. 47.2%) and other candidates with 170 votes (0.8% vs. 0.9%), among the 20,985 ballots cast by the township's 25,218 registered voters, for a turnout of 83.2% (vs. 81.7% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 72.7% of the vote (9,213 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 25.7% (3,261 votes), and other candidates with 1.5% (193 votes), among the 12,834 ballots cast by the township's 29,774 registered voters (167 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 43.1%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 9,542 votes (61.7% vs. 55.8% countywide), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 4,491 votes (29.0% vs. 34.1%), Independent Chris Daggett with 1,238 votes (8.0% vs. 8.7%) and other candidates with 89 votes (0.6% vs. 0.7%), among the 15,462 ballots cast by the township's 27,822 registered voters, yielding a 55.6% turnout (vs. 52.5% in the county).
Bridgewater is part of the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District, which serves students in pre-Kindergarten through twelfth grade from Bridgewater and Raritan Borough. As of the 2013-14 school year, the district's 11 schools had an enrollment of 8,617 students and 760.1 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 11.3:1. The overwhelming majority of students in the district are from Bridgewater, with approximately 1,000 students from Raritan. All schools in the district are in Bridgewater except for Kennedy, which is in Raritan. Schools in the district (with 2013-14 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Adamsville Primary School (604 students; in grades PreK-4), Bradley Gardens Primary School (285; K-4), Crim Primary School (351; K-4), Hamilton Primary School (488; K-4), John F. Kennedy Primary School (406; K-4), Milltown Primary School (434; K-4), Van Holten Primary School (433; K-4), Eisenhower Intermediate School (768; 5-6), Hillside Intermediate Schooll (592; 5-6), Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School (1,480; 7-8) and Bridgewater-Raritan High SchoolBridgewater-Raritan High School (2,866; 9-12) (2,907; 9-12).
During the 1999-2000 school year, Bridgewater-Raritan High School was recognized with the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence by the United States Department of Education, the highest award an American school can receive from the federal government.
Bridgewater is the home of the Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School, a four-year magnet school that provides occupational and academic training to students from Somerset County.
Little Friends of Jesus Nursery School (preschool, non-parochial) operates under the supervision of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen.
The headquarters of the Somerset County Library System is located in Bridgewater.
As of May 2010, the township had a total of 239.75 miles (385.84 km) of roadways, of which 189.03 miles (304.21 km) were maintained by the municipality, 23.49 miles (37.80 km) by Somerset County and 27.23 miles (43.82 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Bridgewater is crisscrossed by several major highways, including Interstate 287, Interstate 78, U.S. 22, Route 202-206 and Route 28.
The Raritan Valley Line of NJ Transit provides service at the Bridgewater station, located on the old American Cyanamid property. NJ Transit ended service at the Finderne station, off Finderne Avenue, in October 2006.
NJ Transit bus service is provided on the 114 route to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan, to Newark on the 65 line (Limited) and local Wheels service on the 884 and 989 bus routes.
Bridgewater Township is serviced by three local airports, Solberg-Hunterdon Airport to the west in Readington, Somerset Airport to the north in Bedminster Township, and Central Jersey Regional Airport to the south in Manville. These airports are open to the public and offer charter flight services as well as flight training and other aviation related services. They operate in all weather conditions and have instrument approaches available for use by pilots in bad weather.
Scheduled commercial passenger service is provided by Morristown Airport, located approximately 17 miles (27 km) away in Morristown.
The township's Communications Center handles all emergency calls with 11 full-time dispatchers and five part-time dispatchers. The Bridgewater emergency dispatch is being transitioned to Somerset County at an unknown time frame, joining nine other county municipalities that have emergency calls handled centrally and dispatched to each individual police department. The move is expected to save the township $4.5 million over 10 years, saving $4.50 on the average tax bill.
Bridgewater has 75 officers who are a part of the Bridgewater Township Police Department, which includes a patrol division, a detective bureau, a traffic unit, a communications bureau, a youth services bureau and other divisions.
Bridgewater has six all-volunteer fire companies, which provide fire suppression and assist in vehicle extrication and rescue attempts:Country Hills Fire Company (District 3)
Green Knoll Fire Company (District 3)
North Branch Fire Company (District 3)
Bradley Gardens Fire Company (District 2)
Finderne Fire Company (District 4)
Martinsville Fire Company (District 1)
Bridgewater is served by five volunteer BLS rescue squads, which provide EMS coverage as well as vehicle extrication, water rescue, and other rescue services. ALS (paramedics) are dispatched from Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital - Somerset. During daytime hours, RWJ - Somerset also provides Basic Life Support coverage for a portion of the township.Martinsville Rescue Squad
Green Knoll Rescue Squad
Finderne First Aid & Rescue Squad
Bradley Gardens First Aid & Rescue Squad
Bound Brook First Aid Squad
Places of worship in Bridgewater include churches for a number of Christian denominations, a Jewish synagogue, a Hindu temple (Balaji Temple) and a Sikh temple.
Bridgewater is the setting for a concept album by the band The World/Inferno Friendship Society. Titled The True Story of the Bridgewater Astral League, the album talks about a gang of young people who like to get together and create all sorts of mischief.
It was one the filming locations for the Columbia Pictures 1994 comedy film North, which used the Bridgewater Commons Mall as the setting for a discussion between characters.
In August 2011, Hurricane Irene submerged the former American Cyanamid Superfund site, causing chemicals to leak into the nearby Raritan River. It could cost Pfizer up to $205 million and take a decade to clean up nearly all of the contaminated American Cyanamid site in Bridgewater—of which 560 acres (230 ha) are in the township and 10 acres (4.0 ha) are in Bound Brook—according to a company study awaiting federal approval.
In early 2011, application was made to turn the former inn/reception center, the Redwood Inn, into a mosque, the town's first. The township council passed an ordinance that required houses of worship, country clubs and other such businesses only be built on locations with access to major roads, which would directly impact the application by the mosque. The planning board then immediately dismissed the application, averting state statute that would become effective on May 5 that would have made rejection much more difficult. The applicant, Al Falah Center, then filed a lawsuit against the township.
In December 2014, the case was settled out of court, with the township agreeing to purchase a 15-acre (6.1 ha) lot between Routes 202-206 and Route 287 for $2.75 million and give it to the organization to build a mosque, as well as provide $5 million paid by its insurer for reimbursement for legal fees and alleged damages. In return, the case was dropped and the township was given ownership of the original Mountaintop Road property, with the zoning ordinance law left intact.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Bridgewater Township include:Hank Beenders (1916–2003), early professional basketball player.
Herman Carr (1924–2008), physicist who was an inventor and early pioneer of magnetic resonance imaging.
Frank DiPascali (born 1956), CFO of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, LLC and key lieutenant of Bernard Madoff.
Paul Heck (born 1967), music producer and artist liaison for the Red Hot Organization, also an independent sound manager.
Elena Kampouris (born 1997), film and television actress, best known for her appearances in the films My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 and Men, Women & Children, and the TV series American Odyssey.
Andrea Kane, author of romance novels.
Matt Kassel (born 1989), soccer player for the Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer.
Andy Kessler (born 1958), businessman, investor, and author.
Paul Laird (born 1958), musicologist at the University of Kansas who has published several books, on Leonard Bernstein, American musicals and other classical music topics.
Derek Luke (born 1993), professional soccer who plays for FC Cincinnati in the United Soccer League.
Saul Marantz (1911–1997), musician, inventor and engineer who founded audio manufacturer Marantz in 1948.
Eric Murdock (born 1968), former professional basketball player. Star point guard at Bridgewater-Raritan High School West, and later Providence College. Played nine seasons in the NBA.
Varun Sandesh (born 1989), actor in Telugu cinema.
Scott Schwartz (born 1968), former child actor who appeared in 1980s films The Toy and A Christmas Story, the latter as Flick, the boy who gets his tongue stuck to a telephone pole.
Adam Small, composer, producer and instrumentalist with film and television credits.
Jack Terricloth (born 1970), pseudonym of Pete Ventantonio, frontman of the band The World/Inferno Friendship Society.
David Wiesner (born 1956), author and illustrator of children's books and publications. His work has won several honors, including three Caldecott Medals.