Facts About Somerville
Somerville was settled in colonial times primarily by the Dutch who purchased land from the English proprietors of the colony. The Dutch established their church near what is today Somerville and a Dutch Reformed minister or Domine lived at the Old Dutch Parsonage from about 1754. The early village grew up around a church, courthouse and a tavern built at a crossroads shortly after the American Revolution. No one knows who gave Somerville its name, but it was known by this name by about 1800. Somerville was originally a sparsely populated farming community but rapidly grew after the completion of the railroad in the 1840s and development of water power along the Raritan River in the 1850s. Early industry included brick making from the plentiful red clay and shale on which Somerville is built. While much of the borough features distinctive Victorian architecture in several neighborhoods and along its Main Street, other periods are represented. National Register sites in Somerville include the white marble1909 Somerville Court House and the wooden and stone colonial Wallace House (today a museum) where George Washington spent a winter during 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. Somerville celebrated it’s 100th Centennial Anniversary in 2009 with a Centennial Parade and the opening of the 1959 Time Capsule at Borough Hall.
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.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 12,098 people, 4,591 households, and 2,777.555 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. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 23.75% (2,873) of the population. There were 4,591 households out 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, the population was spread out with 21.3% 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 ages 18 and older 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.
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