Edison Township (usually known as Edison) is a township in Middlesex County, New Jersey. What is now Edison Township was originally incorporated as Raritan Township by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 17, 1870, from portions of both Piscataway Township and Woodbridge Township. Portions of the township were taken to form Metuchen on March 20, 1900, and Highland Park on March 15, 1905. The name was officially changed to Edison Township on November 10, 1954, in honor of inventor Thomas Edison, who had his main laboratory in the Menlo Park section of the township. As of the 2010 United States Census, Edison had a total population of 99,967, adding 2,280 residents (2.3%) from its 2000 Census population of 97,687 and retaining its position as the fifth-most populous municipality in New Jersey.
Edison was ranked the 28th most livable small city in the United States by CNN Money Magazine, and the 2nd in New Jersey in 2006 in Money Magazine's "Best Places To Live". In 2008 two years later, Money Magazine changed the town's ranking to 35 out of the top 100 places to live in the United States of America. Edison Township was not on the 2007 list because that year's list included only municipalities with a population of 50,000 or less. In the 2006 survey of America's Safest Cities, the township was ranked 23rd, out of 371 cities included nationwide, in the 13th annual Morgan Quitno survey. In 2009, Edison was ranked as one of "America's 10 Best Places to Grow Up" by U.S. News and World Report. The rankings focused on low crime, strong schools, green spaces, and abundance of recreational activities.
Edison Township, comprising former sections of Piscataway and Woodbridge townships, was settled in the 17th Century. The earliest village was Piscatawaytown, which is centered around St. James Church and the Piscatawaytown Common near the intersection of Plainfield and Woodbridge avenues in south Edison. The Laing House of Plainfield Plantation, the Benjamin Shotwell House, and the Homestead Farm at Oak Ridge, are buildings from the colonial era included in National Register of Historic Places listings in Middlesex County.
The community was previously known as "Raritan Township", not be confused with the current-day Raritan Township in Hunterdon County.
The Edison era
Replica of Edison's laboratory, where he invented the first commercially practical lightbulb. Henry Ford, Edison's longtime friend, built it at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan. In 1876, Thomas Alva Edison set up his home and research laboratory on the site of an unsuccessful real estate development in Raritan Township called Menlo Park. While there he earned the nickname "the Wizard of Menlo Park." Before his death at age 83 in 1931, the prolific inventor amassed a record 1,093 patents for creations including the phonograph, a stock ticker, the motion-picture camera, the incandescent lightbulb, a mechanical vote counter, the alkaline storage battery including one for an electric car, and the first commercial electric light.
It was in his Menlo Park (N.J.) Laboratory that Thomas Edison came up with the phonograph and a commercially viable incandescent light bulb filament. Christie Street was the first street in the world to use electric lights for illumination. Edison subsequently left Menlo Park and moved his home and laboratory to West Orange in 1886. His Menlo Park lab has been called one of the greatest laboratories ever.
Near Piscatawaytown village, a portion of the Township was informally known as "Nixon," after Lewis Nixon, a manufacturer and community leader. Soon after the outbreak of World War I, Nixon established a massive volatile chemicals processing facility there, known as the Nixon Nitration Works. It was the site of the 1924 Nixon Nitration Works disaster, a massive explosion and resulting fire that killed 20 persons and destroyed several square miles of the Township.
In 1954, the township's name was changed to honor inventor Thomas A. Edison. Also on the ballot in 1954 was a failed proposal to change the community's name to Nixon.
Edison has been one of the fastest growing towns in New Jersey. As of the United States 2000 Census, it was the fifth most-populated municipality in the state, after the cities of Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, and Elizabeth.
Edison is primarily a middle-class community with more than 75 ethnic communities represented. Edison has a large Jewish community next to Highland Park, with multiple synagogues located in Edison. Edison also has a growing Indian community and a number of temples serving the religious needs of the community. Reflecting the number of Edison's residents from India and China, the township has sister city arrangements with Shijiazhuang, China, and Baroda, India.
Edison is located at (40.503991,-74.349411). According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 30.638 square miles (79.351 km2), of which, 29.940 square miles (77.543 km2) of it is land and 0.698 square miles (1.808 km2) of it (2.28%) is water.
Roosevelt Park in Edison
Edison is on the east side of Raritan Valley (a line of cities in central New Jersey), along with Plainfield, and completely surrounds Metuchen.
Extreme temperatures in Edison have ranged from , recorded in February 1934, to , recorded in July 1936 and August 1949.
Edison is a transportation hub, with an extensive network of highways passing through the township and connecting to major Northeast cities, New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Trenton, Washington, D.C. and others.
Edison Township hosts various roadways. State roads include Route 27, and 440, both of which are state-maintained. U.S. Route 1 also passes through the township. Interstate 287 passes through Edison, where it houses its southern end at I-95. The municipality also houses about a section of the New Jersey Turnpike (Interstate 95). Exit 10 is located in Edison, featuring a 13-lane toll gate and a unique interchange design. When the dual-dual setup of the turnpike was created, it first started in Edison Township, and continued north to Exit 14 in Newark. It wasn t until 1973 that the dual-dual was extended south of 10 to Exit 9 in East Brunswick Township (and then extended further south in 1990 to Exit 8A in Monroe Township).
Since Interstate 287 connects to Interstate 87 (the New York State Thruway), Exit 10 (of the turnpike) is one of the busiest interchanges to be used by tractor-trailers as it connects the New Jersey Turnpike to the New York Thruway. For truck drivers, it is the only connection they have to the Thruway as the Garden State Parkway, which has its northern terminus at the Thruway, prohibits trucks from using the roadway north of Exit 105. Due to Interstate 95's discontinuity in New Jersey, U.S. 1 serves as a regional artery linking the New Jersey Turnpike and Interstate 287 to Interstate 95 and Interstate 295.
Edison station, located in South Edison, is served by New Jersey Transit northbound trains to Newark Penn Station and Penn Station New York, and southbound to the Trenton Transit Center via the Northeast Corridor Line, with connecting service to Amtrak. Some passengers in North Edison may actually live closer to, and prefer to use, the Metropark (in neighboring Iselin) or Metuchen stations.
NJ Transit bus service is provided on the 62 route to Newark, with local service available on the 801, 804, 805, 810, 813, 814, 819, 978 and 979 routes.
In addition, China Airlines provides private bus service to John F. Kennedy International Airport from the Kam Man Food Inc. at 511 Old Post Road in Edison to feed its flight to Taipei, Taiwan.
Edison was selected as one of the first communities by the New Jersey Department of Transportation to have a red light camera enforcement system operated by RedFlex Traffic Systems, Inc. The three year contract, which allows for up to two one-year extensions, provides for the system to be installed at up to 75 locations.
Majesco Entertainment, a video game company, has its corporate headquarters in Edison. Other companies have warehouse operations within Edison. These companies include the regional hubs for FedEx, UPS, and Newegg. In addition Edison is home to the State's largest private convention center, the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center located within the Raritan Center Business Park. The United States headquarters of the international company Zylog Systems is located in Edison.
Edison is one of the more diverse townships in New Jersey, hosting one of the region's main centers of Asian American cultural diversity.
As part of the 2010 Census, 28.3% of Edison residents identified themselves as being Indian American. In the 2000 Census, 17.75% of Edison residents identified themselves as being Indian American, the highest percentage of Indian American people of any place in the United States with 1,000 or more residents identifying their ancestry.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $86,725 (with a margin of error of +/- $3,000) and the median family income was $100,008 (+/- $2,624). Males had a median income of $66,898 (+/- $4,094) versus $50,953 (+/- $1,462) for females. The per capita income for the township was $36,464 (+/- $1,184). About 3.5% of families and 7.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.6% of those under age 18 and 6.3% of those age 65 or over.
As of the census of 2000, there were 97,687 people, 35,136 households, and 25,881 families residing in the township. The population density was 3,243.0 people per square mile (1,252.2/km2). There were 36,018 housing units at an average density of 1,195.7 per square mile (461.7/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 59.49% White, 29.27% Asian, 06.89% African American, 0.14% Native American, .04% Pacific Islander, 2.02% from other races, and 2.15% from two or more races. 6.37% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 35,136 households out of which 34.3% had children under the age of 18 living in them, 61.1% were married couples living together, 9.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.3% were non-families. 21.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.2% 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 3.19.
In the township the population was spread out with 22.9% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 34.0% from 25 to 44, 23.4% from 45 to 64, and 11.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 96.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.0 males.
The median household income in the township is $69,746, and the median income for a family was $77,976. Males had a median income of $53,303 versus $36,829 for females. The per capita income for the township was $30,148. About 3.3% of families and 4.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.3% of those under age 18 and 6.3% of those age 65 or over.
Edison Township is governed under the Faulkner Act (Mayor-Council) system with a strong Mayor-Council form of government, and is governed by a mayor and a seven-member Township Council. Members of the council are elected at-large in partisan elections to three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with three or four seats coming up for election every other year.
, the Mayor of Edison is Antonia "Toni" Ricigliano, its first female mayor. Members of the Municipal Council are Council President Robert Karabinchak (term ends 2015), Vice President Wayne Mascola (2015), Robert Diehl (2013), Alvaro Gomez, Thomas Lankey, Michael Lombardi (2015) and Sudhanshu Prasad.
Running on a good government platform and a call to reform the Democratic Party, Jun Choi won the June 2005 primary by a 56 44% margin, defeating longtime incumbent Mayor George A. Spadoro, the first time in Edison history that a challenger won the Democratic primary. Choi won endorsements from mainstream Democratic leaders including Bill Bradley, for whom he worked on the 2000 presidential campaign, and was unexpectedly endorsed by a number of traditionally candidate-neutral unions in Edison.
In the ensuing general election, Choi did not face a Republican candidate, but instead faced a former Democrat turned Independent, William (Bill) Stephens. An article in The American Prospect details aspects that Choi brought together in his 2005 mayoral campaign, including 1) attracting new voters into the process, 2) a good government message, 3) anti-Wal-Mart or economic justice theme and 4) an effective Internet-based progressive mobilization.
On Election Day, November 8, 2005, Jun Choi declared victory, leading in unofficial results with a vote of 12,126 to 11,935. However, due to the small margin of victory, candidate William Stephens pursued a recount and subsequently, an election contest, both without success. On January 1, 2006, at age 34, Mayor Choi was sworn-in by Governor Jon Corzine as the youngest Mayor in Edison history. Choi ran for re-election in 2009, but was defeated in the primary election by Antonia "Toni" Ricigliano, who went on to win the general election, and took office January 1, 2010.
Recent politics in Edison have concerned plans for zoning the township to facilitate the creation of "walkable" communities that will attract businesses, while still maintaining open spaces and parks and easy access to commuter transit. This strategy is meant to encourage "Smart Growth."
Politics in Edison since the 2005 mayoral election have been polarized by an attempt by retail giant Walmart to open a store in central Edison near the junction of Interstate 287 and New Jersey Route 27. Even though Jun Choi stated in his Mayoral Campaign that he would stop Walmart from being built, Walmart filed suit and won, and Choi was there to cut the yellow ribbon when the store was opened.
Federal, state, and county representation
Edison is split between the 6th and 7th Congressional districts and is part of New Jersey's 18th state legislative district.
In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 58.8% of the vote here (22,409 ballots cast), ahead of Republican John McCain, who received 39.3% of the vote (14,986 ballots), with 38,129 (68.9%) of the township's 55,305 registered voters participating. With 55.2% of the vote (20,000 cast), Democrat John Kerry carried the township over George W. Bush who received 43.1% (15,615 votes), in the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election, with 36,205 (69.2%) of Edison's 52,308 registered voters participating.
The two public high schools separate the South and North ends of Edison. In the Edison High School zone to the south, there are six K 5 elementary schools, while in the J.P. Stevens High School zone there are five K-5 elementary schools. Schools in the district (with 2009-10 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are 11 elementary schools covering grades PreK-5 Benjamin Franklin Elementary (574 students), Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary (598; PreK-5), Lincoln Elementary (747), Lindeneau Elementary (479), James Madison Primary School (654; PreK-2), who then move on to James Madison Intermediate School (547; 3 5), John Marshall Elementary (592), Menlo Park Elementary (809), James Monroe Elementary (429), Washington Elementary (604; PreK-5) and Woodbrook School with 855 students John Adams Middle School (729; from James Madison Intermediate and MLK Jr.), Herbert Hoover Middle School (832; from Franklin, Lincoln and Monroe), Thomas Jefferson Middle School (716; from Lindeneau, Marshall and Washington) and Woodrow Wilson Middle School (8657; from Menlo Park and Woodbrook) for grades 6 8 and both Edison High School (2,039; from Hoover and Jefferson) and J. P. Stevens High School (2,168; from Adams and Wilson) for grades 9 12.
J.P. Stevens was the 65th-ranked public high school in New Jersey out of 322 schools statewide, in New Jersey Monthly magazine's September 2010 cover story on the state's "Top Public High Schools", after being ranked 52nd in 2008 out of 316 schools. Edison High School was ranked 169th in 2010 and 177th in 2008.
Other schools/private schools
Middlesex County College is also home to the Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Technologies, an engineering-based high school, which is part of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical High Schools. The high school is free for all Middlesex County residents, but admission is based on a test, past grades, and other academic and extracurricular activities. About 160 students, 40 per grade from around the county attend the Academy.
There are many private schools in Edison, including the Wardlaw-Hartridge School, Bishop George Ahr High School, Rabbi Jacob Joseph School, Yeshiva Shaarei Tzion, Rabbi Pesach Raymon Yeshiva, St. Helena School, St. Matthew School, Lakeview School and Our Lady Of Peace School. Additionally, the private for-profit technical school Lincoln Tech (formerly the Cittone Institute) has a campus on Oak Tree Road in Edison. Lincoln Tech in Edison offers various programs in Nursing, Medical and Computer and Networking.
In Edison the sizable Asian/Chinese population had pushed for years to establish a Chinese School where students could learn the Chinese language. In 1998, Huaxia Edison Chinese School (which teaches Simplified Chinese) was established in Thomas Jefferson Middle School. Huaxia currently resides in Edison High School. However, many families from Taiwan send their children to Edison Chinese School, located at John Adams Middle School, or Tzu Chi, located at Woodrow Wilson Middle School. These schools both teach Traditional Chinese. JP Stevens High School also offers Hindi as an elective language for students that are interested in learning it.
Middlesex County College (MCC) is a public, two-year community college located in Edison at the intersection of Woodbridge Avenue and Mill Road.
Rutgers University's Livingston campus is located on the former Kilmer Army Base, partially located in Edison.
Notable current and former residents of Edison Township include:
- Peter J. Barnes II (born 1928), Chairman of the New Jersey State Parole Board who had served in New Jersey's General Assembly from 1996 to 2007.
- Peter J. Barnes III (born 1956), represents the 18th Legislative District in the New Jersey General Assembly, and served on the Edison Township Council from 1996 to 2007.
- Gayleatha B. Brown, diplomat who has served as the United States Ambassador to Benin and the United States Ambassador to Burkina Faso.
- David Bryan (born 1962), keyboardist, founding member of Bon Jovi.
- Al Chez, trumpet player for the Late Show with David Letterman.
- Rich Clementi (born 1976), mixed martial arts fighter.
- Ken Cuccinelli (born 1968), Attorney General of Virginia.
- Tom Dwan (born 1986), professional poker player.
- Bernard J. Dwyer (1921-1998), served in the United States House of Representatives from 1981 to 1993.
- Frank Guinta (born 1970), serves in the United States House of Representatives from New Hampshire's 1st congressional district.
Thomas Edison (1847 1931), inventor, the township's namesake.
- Patrick McDonnell (born 1956), cartoonist, creator Mutts comics.
- Earl Schenck Miers (1910-1972), historian who wroye extensively about the American Civil War.
- Victor Mitchell (born 1965), former member of the Colorado House of Representatives.
- Brittany Murphy (1977 2009), actress.
- Jim Norton (born 1968), stand-up comedian.
- Margie Palatini, author of books for children.
- Marc Pisciotta (born (1970), former Major League Baseball pitcher.
- Mark L. Polansky (born 1956), NASA astronaut.
- Susan Sarandon (born 1946), actress.
- Nancy Shevell (born 1959), third wife of Paul McCartney and a leader in the trucking industry.
- Chris Snee (born 1982), guard who has played for the New York Giants.
- George A. Spadoro, former Mayor of Edison, Council President and Assemblyman.
- Joel Stein (born 1971), Los Angeles Times columnist.
- Mike Vallely (born 1970), professional skateboarder.
- Darrin Winston (1966 2008), Major League Baseball player who played two seasons in Major League Baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies.
- Jeremy Zuttah (born 1986), offensive lineman for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- Udipi Sri Krishna Temple housing First Tulsi Mrithika Brindavana (Mobile) of Guru Raghavendra in the U.S. is a Hindu temple on May Street
- Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) has a Hindu temple on Woodbridge Avenue
- Bonhamtown, a neighborhood which is the site of an old Native American village and later a Continental Army camp and battleground during the Revolutionary War.
- Camp Kilmer, a World War II era army post, was partially located in what is now Edison.
- The Clara Barton downtown area, a community with its own downtown area near Woodbridge.
- Dismal Swamp, preserved wetlands area that also includes portions of Metuchen and South Plainfield.
- Durham Woods, a complex of several apartment buildings and scene of the Edison, New Jersey natural gas explosion in 1994, in which a 36-inch natural gas pipeline burst and exploded, destroying buildings in the area.
- Edison Landfill, landfill site undergoing environmental cleanup since it was ordered closed in 1977.
- Edison has three public libraries: the Main Library is on Plainfield Avenue in South Edison, near Edison station; North Edison Branch is on Grove Avenue, and the Clara Barton Branch is in the Clara Barton downtown area, on Hoover Avenue. Library service also includes a popular Bookmobile.
- The Edison Municipal Complex, located off Route 27 next to the Edison Square/Clarion Hotel office park.
- Edison Station in south Edison, offering service on New Jersey Transit's Northeast Corridor Line.
- Ford Motor Company had a plant here, the Ford Assembly Plant on U.S. Route 1, assembling the Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series trucks. The plant closed in 2004, with about 1,420 workers losing their jobs. Hartz Mountain purchased the property and is proposing a mixed-use retail center that began construction in 2007. Township officials have negotiated no housing on the site, to be called "Edison Towne Square." Instead, it is hoped that a community center can be built at no cost to taxpayers alongside the retail and commercial space. So far Sam's Club is the only retail store built on the property.
- John F. Kennedy Hospital, located on James Street off Parsonage Road is a 498-bed hospital founded in 1967.
- Laing House of Plainfield Plantation, historic home built in the early 1700s when the region was being settled by Scottish Quakers in the late 17th and early 18th century.
- ILR Landfill, closed landfill site owned by Industrial Land Reclaiming (ILR) providing power to Middlesex County's wastewater treatment operations from methane gas recovery.
- Inman Sports Club, Located off Inman Avenue. Some of the best in the world make appearances here, for the wrestling promotion, Ring of Honor
- Jewish Community Center/YMCA or Community Campus located off Oak Tree Road.
- Nixon Park, a large neighborhood surrounding Lincoln School. A "cookie-cutter" development of three-bedroom homes built in the very early 1950s, homes there were largely purchased by WWII veterans using the GI Bill. Constructed at the same time, and adjoining Nixon Park, were the Lincoln Village, Vineyard Village and Washington Park developments. Children from Lincoln and Vineyard Villages attended Lincoln School. Washington Park surrounded both the Washington School and the Saint Matthew's Catholic School (grades 1 8).
- Kin-Buc Landfill, former landfill and Superfund site site where of hazardous waste was dumped.
- Menlo Park Mall, one of the more popular malls in New Jersey, located at the intersection of Route 1 and Parsonage Road.
- Oak Tree Pond, site of a minor battle of the American Revolutionary War and whose conversion into a park ended a real estate development controversy.
- Oak Tree Road in Edison and Iselin is known for its large concentration of Indian stores and restaurants.
- Raritan Center, a major industrial park anchored by the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center.
- Roosevelt Hospital, a hospice located just East of Roosevelt Park.
- Roosevelt Park, located between Parsonage Road and Route 1, west of the Mall.
St. Helena Roman Catholic Church, off New Dover Road.
- The Thomas Alva Edison Memorial Tower and Museum, in Menlo Park, dedicated in 1938.
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