Willingboro Township, New Jersey

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Willingboro Township, New Jersey
Township of Willingboro
Motto: "A Naturally Better Place to Be"
Willingboro Township highlighted in Burlington County. Inset map: Burlington County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Willingboro Township highlighted in Burlington County. Inset map: Burlington County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Willingboro Township, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Willingboro Township, New Jersey
Coordinates: 40°01′41″N 74°53′13″W / 40.02795°N 74.886984°W / 40.02795; -74.886984Coordinates: 40°01′41″N 74°53′13″W / 40.02795°N 74.886984°W / 40.02795; -74.886984[1][2]
Country United States
State New Jersey
County Burlington
Formed November 6, 1688
Incorporated February 21, 1798
Renamed November 3, 1959 to November 5, 1953 as Levittown Township
Named for Wellingborough
 • Type Faulkner Act (Council-Manager)
 • Mayor Jacqueline Jennings (term ends December 31, 2013)[3]
 • Manager Joanne G. Diggs[4]
 • Clerk Sarah Wooding[4]
 • Total 8.150 sq mi (21.108 km2)
 • Land 7.738 sq mi (20.042 km2)
 • Water 0.412 sq mi (1.066 km2)  5.05%
Area rank 230th of 566 in state
22nd of 40 in county[2]
Elevation[6] 30 ft (9 m)
Population (2010 Census)[7][8][9]
 • Total 31,629
 • Estimate (2012[10]) 31,844
 • Rank 70th of 566 in state
3rd of 40 in county[11]
 • Density 4,087.3/sq mi (1,578.1/km2)
 • Density rank 150th of 566 in state
6th of 40 in county[11]
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (EDT) (UTC-4)
ZIP code 08046[12][13]
Area code(s) 609 and 856[14]
FIPS code 3400581440[15][2][16]
GNIS feature ID 0882099[17][2]
Website www.willingborotwp.org

Willingboro Township is a township in Burlington County, New Jersey, United States and a suburb of Philadelphia. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 31,629[7][8][9] reflecting a decline of 1,379 (-4.2%) from the 33,008 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn declined by 3,283 (-9.0%) from the 36,291 counted in the 1990 Census.[18]

Abraham Levitt and Sons purchased and developed Willingboro land in the 1950s and 1960s as a planned community in their Levittown model. With residential development, the 1950 population of 852 rapidly climbed to 11,861 in 1960; and 43,386 in 1970. The community used the name "Levittown, New Jersey" in 1958, and "Levittown Township" from 1959 to 1963.[19]


Willingboro was one of the original nine divisions in the organization of Burlington County within West Jersey, and was originally formed as the "Constabulary of Wellingborrow" on November 6, 1688.[20] At the time, it included present day Delanco Township, New Jersey. The original name of Wellingborough was after the community in England. This was the hometown of Thomas Ollive, who led the original settlers into what would become Willingboro Township. Other spellings were used at different times.

After the establishment of the United States and the State of New Jersey, the community was formally incorporated as "Willingborough Township", one of New Jersey's initial group of 104 townships, on February 21, 1798, by the New Jersey Legislature when it enacted "An Act incorporating the Inhabitants of Townships, designating their Powers, and regulating their Meetings", P.L. 1798, p. 289.[20] This makes Willingboro one of the oldest townships in the State.

Portions of the township were taken to form Beverly borough (March 5, 1850, now Beverly city) and Beverly Township (March 1, 1859, now known as Delanco Township).[20]

In the 1950s and 1960s, Willingboro was the location for a massive residential development by Levitt & Sons. The town was to be Levitt & Sons' third and largest Levittown development, following similar projects in New York and Pennsylvania. Levitt acquired the great majority of the land in Willingboro; the historic community of Rancocas, in the southeast portion of the township, was annexed to Westampton Township to keep it from being bulldozed, as Levitt wished to keep the development within the boundaries of a single municipality. The first Levittown homes were sold in June 1958, at which time the community was already known as Levittown, New Jersey.[21]

The town's name was changed from the original Willingboro to "Levittown Township" by a referendum of township residents held on November 3, 1959. Willingboro was less than 12 miles (19 km) from Levittown, Pennsylvania and this occasionally caused confusion. A referendum held on the issue on November 5, 1963, changed the name back to Willingboro.[20][22] The name change was passed by a narrow margin of 3,123 to 3,003.[22] In retaliation, Levitt refused to donate any more schools to the fast growing community.[22]

The sociologist Herbert J. Gans used Willingboro as the subject of his 1967 book, The Levittowners: Ways of Life and Politics in a New Suburban Community. In his book, he discusses a community frozen in time as an ideal representation of past, present and future America. At the same time, he analyzes the perpetuating American tradition and capacity to changes. In The Levittowners, Gans studies three major aspects of the life in Willingboro. He first deals with the development and growth of this new suburban community, particularly involvement in community organizations. Later, he describes the qualities and the characteristics of such a life. Finally, Gans focuses on the effects that suburbia will have on its inhabitants. According to the author, the Levittowners are the archetypical American characters, sharing the same way of life, values, religion, beliefs, ethnicity and living standards. They represent the American Way of Life. However, Levittown isn’t homogenous in a sense that it still embodies a constructive individualism. Gans draws a positive portrait of those citizens who are there to cement a stable society. They are an epitome of the “traditional” values, but they are also capable of opening up to changing times. They represent modernity. Gans only portrays a certain “half” of the population. The “other half”[23] is left apart and ignored, which shows that Levittown was in a sense an enclave and represents American exceptionalism. He did not examine racial discrimination, although he wrote that a racial disturbance broke out in Levittown, Pennsylvania when a white family sold their home to African Americans.

When homes for the new Levittown were first being sold in 1958, Levitt and Sons had a policy against sales to African Americans.[24] W. R. James, an African-American officer in the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division, was stationed at nearby Fort Dix and applied to purchase a Levittown home. On June 29, 1958, an agent of Levitt and Sons told him that the new Levittown development would be an all-white community. James filed suit against the company challenging their policy. A friend of his, who worked at the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights, said that it was illegal in New Jersey to discriminate in federally-subsidized housing. At the time, de facto racial segregation in housing existed in many areas in the United States. Levittown was receiving mortgage insurance from the Federal Housing Administration. But as of 1958, the law had not been tested.[24]

James sued Levitt in a case that ultimately went to the New Jersey Supreme Court, which upheld lower court rulings in favor of James.[22] James was not the first African American to move into Willingboro. Given James' success in his suit, Charles and Vera Williams purchased a house and moved into the community in 1960, the first African-American family in Willingboro.[24] James eventually moved into Millbrook Park in 1960.[24] He served as head of the local chapter of the NAACP and eventually became a minister. An elementary school in Willingboro was named in his honor.[21][25]

Following the court case, Levitt developed a thorough integration program. The company set up an integration committee headed by Howard Lett, an African American.[22] Lett created a five-point program, which included the announcement by community leaders of Levitt’s plan to desegregate housing, and a thorough briefing program for Levitt employees, government officials, the police and the press. Lett recommended an attempt to discourage anti-integration activities known as “Operation Hothead”.[24] Lett created a Human Relations Council to oversee possible disputes in community. James served as a member of that committee.[22] The committee tried to solve problems of juvenile delinquency in the township. It opposed a curfew passed by the Township Council in the early 1970s. The curfew was later dropped, but reintroduced later on.[22] One area that the committee oversaw was the practice of blockbusting.

The African-American population of Willingboro increased throughout the 1960s; by 1964 there were 50 African-American families. By 1970, African Americans represented about 11% of the population.[26] During the early 1970s, several homeowners said they were approached by local real estate agents and told that their neighborhood was becoming increasingly African-American and home values could decline if they did not sell quickly; a practice known as blockbusting. While the Human Relations Council could not prove these claims, it made recommendations to help foster better relations between ethnic communities in the township and calm concerns.[27]

To maintain integration, the township in 1974 enacted an ordinance that prohibited the posting of "for sale" or "sold" signs on real estate. Many other communities had enacted similar laws in reaction to the practice of blockbusting in the 1960s and 1970s. The Supreme Court in the 1977 case of Linmark Associates, Inc. v. Willingboro ruled that the ordinance violated the First Amendment protections for free speech, which applied to commercial needs.[28]


Willingboro Township is located at 40°01′41″N 74°53′13″W / 40.02795°N 74.886984°W / 40.02795; -74.886984 (40.02795,-74.886984). According to the United States Census Bureau, Willingboro township had a total area of 8.150 square miles (21.108 km2), of which, 7.738 square miles (20.042 km2) of it was land and 0.412 square miles (1.066 km2) of it (5.05%) was water.[1][2]

The township borders Edgewater Park Township, Burlington Township, Westampton Township, Mount Laurel Township, Moorestown Township, Delran Township, and Delanco Township.

Parks and sections[edit]

Willingboro is divided into several sections, each section's street names beginning with the same letter as the corresponding section. For example, streets in Pennypacker Park all begin with the letter "P".[29] This is the case with all parks, excluding Martin's Beach and certain streets in Rittenhouse Park.

Originally each Park or section had its own swimming pool for residents' use. Residents' families would receive free swim tags after showing applicable IDs at each section's school or the community office. Free lessons and other events were focused on these "park" pools during the summer months. By the 1990s, only Pennypacker Park and Country Club Park had operating summer pools. Finally, Country Club Park has been denoted the "community pool" at this time.

  • Buckingham Park
  • Country Club Ridge
  • Pennypacker Park
  • Millbrook Park
  • Martin's Beach
  • Deer Park
  • Somerset Park (First house was occupied here.[30])
  • Windsor Park
  • Garfield Park
  • Garfield Park East
  • Garfield Park North
  • Rittenhouse Park
  • Twin Hill Park
  • Ironside Court (Non-residential, Public Works Department and some industry.)
  • Hawthorne Park
  • Fairmount Park

A section without a name is located near Olympia Lakes. This is the only part of the town with the area code 856. The rest of Willingboro is in area code 609.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1800 495
1810 619 25.1%
1820 787 27.1%
1830 782 −0.6%
1840 900 15.1%
1850 1,596 77.3%
1860 643 * −59.7%
1870 750 16.6%
1880 743 −0.9%
1890 739 −0.5%
1900 673 −8.9%
1910 562 −16.5%
1920 601 6.9%
1930 613 2.0%
1940 642 4.7%
1950 852 32.7%
1960 11,861 1,292.1%
1970 43,386 265.8%
1980 39,912 −8.0%
1990 36,291 −9.1%
2000 33,008 −9.0%
2010 31,629 −4.2%
Est. 2012 31,844 [10] 0.7%
Population sources:1800-2000[31]
1800-1920[32] 1840[33] 1850-1870[34]
1850[35] 1870[36] 1880-1890[37]
1890-1910[38] 1910-1930[39]
1930-1990[40] 2000[41][42] 2010[7][8][9]
* = Lost territory in previous decade.[20]

Census 2010[edit]

At the 2010 United States Census, there were 31,629 people, 10,884 households, and 8,283 families residing in the township. The population density was 4,087.3 per square mile (1,578.1 /km2). There were 11,442 housing units at an average density of 1,478.6 per square mile (570.9 /km2). The racial makeup of the township was 17.31% (5,475) White, 72.74% (23,007) Black or African American, 0.37% (117) Native American, 2.01% (635) Asian, 0.03% (10) Pacific Islander, 3.12% (988) from other races, and 4.42% (1,397) from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 8.65% (2,737) of the population.[7]

There were 10,884 households, of which 27.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.3% were married couples living together, 21.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.9% were non-families. 20.1% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.90 and the average family size was 3.32.[7]

In the township, 23.5% of the population were under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 22.8% from 25 to 44, 28.7% from 45 to 64, and 15.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.0 years. For every 100 females there were 85.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.2 males.[7] As of 2010, Willingboro has a large population of African, Afro-Caribbean, and Latino immigrants. The African community mostly consists of Liberians, Nigerians, Sierra Leoneans, as well as other West Africans. The Afro-Caribbean population mainly consists of Haitians, Jamaicans, Trinidadians, and Guyanese. The Latino population mainly consists of Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Colombians, Hondurans, and Salvadorans. Many of these immigrants have moved from New York City, Newark, Jersey City, Trenton, and Philadelphia.

The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $66,479 (with a margin of error of +/- $4,323) and the median family income was $73,968 (+/- $2,888). Males had a median income of $48,323 (+/- $2,553) versus $40,313 (+/- $3,074) for females. The per capita income for the township was $25,989 (+/- $1,048). About 6.9% of families and 8.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.5% of those under age 18 and 3.8% of those age 65 or over.[43]

Census 2000[edit]

As of the 2000 United States Census[15] there were 33,008 people, 10,713 households, and 8,784 families residing in the township. The population density was 4,292.7 people per square mile (1,657.3/km²). There were 11,124 housing units at an average density of 1,446.7 per square mile (558.5/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 66.71% African American, 24.67% White, 0.30% Native American, 1.70% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 2.62% from other races, and 3.95% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.05% of the population.[41][42]

There were 10,713 households out of which 33.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.1% were married couples living together, 18.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 18.0% were non-families. 15.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.07 and the average family size was 3.36.[41][42]

In the township the population was spread out with 27.5% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 26.0% from 45 to 64, and 12.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 90.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.4 males.[41][42]

The median income for a household in the township was $60,869, and the median income for a family was $64,338. Males had a median income of $39,963 versus $31,554 for females. The per capita income for the township was $21,799. About 3.5% of families and 5.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.3% of those under age 18 and 5.1% of those age 65 or over.[41][42]


Local government[edit]

The Township of Willingboro is governed within the Faulkner Act under the Council-Manager form of government (Plan E), enacted by direct petition and implemented as of January 1, 1962.[44] The current Council-Manager form of government was adopted by referendum in November 1960 based on the recommendations of a Charter Study Commission. The elections for the first council to operate under the new Council-Manager form of government took place in November 1961, with the new council taking office as of January 1, 1962, under the new form.[45] The five-member Township Council is elected in partisan elections to serve four-year terms in office on a staggered basis, with two or three seats coming up for election as part of the November general election during odd-numbered years. At a reorganization held during the first week of January after each election, the council selects a Mayor and Deputy Mayor from among its members.[5][45]

As of 2013, the members of the Willingboro Township Council are Mayor Jacqueline Jennings (D, term on council ends December 31, 2015; term as mayor ends 2013), Deputy Mayor Eddie Campbell, Jr. (D, 2015), Nathaniel Anderson (D, 2013), James E. Ayrer (D, 2015) and Chris Walker (D, 2013; serving an unexpired term).[4][46][47][48][49][50]

The Township Council appointed Chris Walker in October 2013 to fill the vacant seat of Ken Gordon, after a New Jersey Superior Court judge ruled that Gordon's seat was vacant based on his having missed a series of council meetings. Eddie Campbell was named to fill Gordon's former position as deputy mayor.[51]

Federal, state and county representation[edit]

Willingboro Township is located in the 3rd Congressional District[52] and is part of New Jersey's 7th state legislative district.[8][53][54]

New Jersey's 3rd Congressional District is represented by Jon Runyan (R, Mount Laurel Township).[55] New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Cory Booker (D, Newark; took office on October 31, 2013, after winning a special election to fill the seat of Frank Lautenberg)[56][57] and Bob Menendez (D, North Bergen).[58][59]

The 7th district of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Diane Allen (R, Edgewater Park Township) and in the General Assembly by Herb Conaway (D, Delanco Township) and Troy Singleton (D, Palmyra).[60] The Governor of New Jersey is Chris Christie (R, Mendham Township).[61] The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Kim Guadagno (R, Monmouth Beach).[62]

Burlington County is governed by a Board of chosen freeholders, whose five members are elected at-large to three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either one or two seats coming up for election each year.[63] The board choose a director and deputy director from among its seven members at an annual reorganization meeting held in January.[63] As of 2013, Burlington County's Freeholders are Freeholder Director Joseph B. Donnelly (R, 2013; Cinnaminson Township),[64] Deputy Director Leah Arter (R, 2014; Moorestown Township),[65] Aimee Belgard (D, 2015; Edgewater Park Township),[66] Joseph Howarth (R, 2014; Evesham Township)[67] and Joanne Schwartz (D, 2015; Southampton Township).[68][63]


The Willingboro Township Public Schools serves students in pre-Kindergarten through twelfth grade. Schools in the district (with 2010-11 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics[69]) are six pre-K to 5 elementary schools — Garfield East Elementary School[70] (399 students), Hawthorne Elementary School[71] (408), J.C. Stuart Elementary School[72] (417), Twin Hills Elementary School[73] (351) and W.R. James, Sr. Elementary School[74] (345) — Memorial Middle School[75] for grades 6, 7, and 8 (655), Willingboro High School[76] for grades 9-12 (928).[77][78]

During the early development of the township, all high school students attended Levittown High School for ninth through twelfth grades, until John F. Kennedy High School was opened in 1965. Levittown High became one of the two junior high schools; the other was Memorial. The substantial student population at JFK HS required that the school go to split sessions and only was able to house grades 10-12, with the freshmen classes divided between Memorial and Levitt junior high schools. In 1975, Willingboro HS was opened and became the "sister" school, located only about two miles apart - both on JFK Way. This is the way the township was until JFK HS became a middle school in 1990, leaving Willingboro as the only high school. By this time, the township population fell and Levitt Junior High School was closed to become township offices and storage. Memorial Junior High School would remain open for college classes for Burlington County College. Kennedy Middle School eventually closed and became Kennedy Center, a community center for the performing arts, an additional gym for events, and classrooms for college classes.

The S.W. Bookbinder, J.A. McGinley and Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary Schools were closed at the end of the 2005-06 school year as part of an effort to save the district an estimated $3.7 million, though the reduction of 70 staff members meant class sizes increased to as many as 28 at the five remaining elementary schools. The cuts were needed to fill a two-year budget deficit of nearly $10 million.[79]

Students from Springfield Township, and from all of Burlington County, are eligible to attend the Burlington County Institute of Technology, a countywide public school district that serves the vocational and technical education needs of students at the high school and post-secondary level at its campuses in Medford and Westampton Township.[80]

The Willingboro Public Library (WPL) is the municipal public library for the community. It first opened in 1960 and operates independently from the Burlington County Library System. Before 2003, the library was housed in the township’s municipal building on Salem Road. The current library building is 42,000 square feet (3,900 m2).[81] and is an anchor for the new Willingboro Town Center on Route 130.


Roads and highways[edit]

The township had a total of 122.11 miles (196.52 km) of roadways, of which 109.02 miles (175.45 km) are maintained by the municipality, 11.53 miles (18.56 km) by Burlington County and 1.56 miles (2.51 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.[82]

Public transportation[edit]

New Jersey Transit provides bus service on 409 / 417 / 418 routes between Trenton and Philadelphia.[83][84]

BurLink bus service is offered on the B1 route (between Beverly and Pemberton) and on the B2 route (between Beverly and Westampton Township).[85]

Academy Bus provides service from Willingboro and at the park-and-ride facility near Exit 5 of the New Jersey Turnpike in Westampton to the Port Authority Bus Terminal and other street service in Midtown Manhattan and to both Jersey City and the Wall Street area in Lower Manhattan.[86][87]

Notable people[edit]

People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Willingboro Township include:


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