Freehold Borough, New Jersey
Freehold Borough, New Jersey
|Borough of Freehold|
Map of Freehold Borough in Monmouth County. Inset: Location of Monmouth County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
|Coordinates: Coordinates: |
|Incorporated||March 25, 1869 (as town)|
|Reincorporated||April 15, 1919 (as borough)|
|• Body||Borough Council|
|• Mayor||Kevin A. Kane (D, term ends December 31, 2023)|
|• Administrator||Stephen J. Gallo|
|• Municipal clerk||Traci L. DiBenedetto|
|• Total||1.93 sq mi (5.01 km2)|
|• Land||1.93 sq mi (5.00 km2)|
|• Water||0.00 sq mi (0.00 km2) 0.10%|
|Area rank||419th of 565 in state|
32nd of 53 in county
|Elevation||171 ft (52 m)|
| • Estimate |
|• Rank||204th of 566 in state|
17th of 53 in county
|• Density||6,180.8/sq mi (2,386.4/km2)|
|• Density rank||81st of 566 in state|
8th of 53 in county
|Time zone||UTC−05:00 (Eastern (EST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−04:00 (Eastern (EDT))|
|GNIS feature ID||0885226|
Freehold is a suburban borough in Monmouth County, New Jersey, United States. It is the county seat of Monmouth County. Located about 35 miles (56 km) from Manhattan and 15 miles (24 km) from Staten Island, the borough has grown to become a bedroom suburb of New York City. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 12,052, reflecting an increase of 1,076 (+9.8%) from the 10,976 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 234 (+2.2%) from the 10,742 counted in the 1990 Census.
The Freeholds region, which includes the borough and Freehold Township (which completely surrounds the borough), is a commercial hub for Central New Jersey. The borough is located within the larger Raritan Valley region, while also being relatively close to the Raritan Bayshore communities to the north, such as The Amboys, Old Bridge, Matawan, Keyport, Keansburg, and Middletown, along with being relatively close to the Tri-City region of Jersey Shore municipalities (and their vicinities) to the east, including Red Bank, Long Branch, and Asbury Park.
What is now Freehold Borough was originally incorporated as a town by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 25, 1869, from portions within Freehold Township. The town became independent of the township in 1888. On April 15, 1919, Freehold was incorporated as a borough, including all of Freehold and additional portions of Freehold Township, based on the results of a referendum held on July 8, 1919. Additional portions of Freehold Township were annexed on September 7, 1926.
The Hispanic and Latino population has been rapidly growing in Freehold Borough for the last 30 years. The Hispanic population making up 4.6% (0.2% Mexican) in the 1980 Census, 11.3% (2.8% Mexican) in the 1990 Census, 28.0% (17.3% Mexican) in 2000 and recently 42.9% (29.6% Mexican) in 2010. Meanwhile, the Black or African American population has decreased in recent decades: 17.1% in 1970, 19.8% in 1980, 18.2% in 1990, 15.8% in 2000 and 12.6% in 2010.
The Lenni Lenape Native Americans were the earliest known people to live in the area that became Freehold. The Lenape were a hunter-gatherer society. They were largely sedentary, changing campsites seasonally. They were prolific hunters of small game and birds. They were also skilled fisherman, and were known to harvest vast amounts of clams from the bays and inlets on the Jersey Shore. They also practiced some agriculture to augment their food supply. During this time, an important crossroad of two major Lenape trails was located in the area of Freehold.
By the late 17th century, the English had begun to take over the area. In 1664, the Duke of York (later James II & VII) granted a patent to Sir George Carteret to develop the area. In 1685, Scottish Presbyterians from Scotland, along with English Baptists and Quakers from New England fleeing religious persecution at home, became the first to settle within the area. In 1693, Along with Middletown and Shrewsbury, Freehold was established by act of legislature as one of the three original townships in Monmouth County. The name of the borough comes from the word Freehold, an English legal term describing fee simple property ownership.
In 1714, when the colonial government was deciding where to locate the county seat and courthouse, Freeholder John Reid, the first Surveyor General of East Jersey, wanted the county seat located in Freehold Township. Reid sold land suitable for use as a courthouse to the Board of Chosen Freeholders at a bargain price, and this may have been the deciding factor why Freehold was selected over Middletown and Shrewsbury. In return for the heavily discounted price, Reid placed a restrictive covenant in the deed that, should the property ever cease being used as a courthouse, ownership would revert to the Reid family. Direct descendants of John Reid still reside in Freehold Township.
Freehold was officially designated as the seat of the Monmouth County government, and a court house was commissioned to be built on the land purchased from John Reid. The Monmouth Courthouse opened in 1715. A small village quickly began to develop around the courthouse. At first, the village was called Monmouth Courthouse. Over time, other government buildings opened near the courthouse, including a sheriff's office, a prison and a post office. A number of homes and commercial businesses also sprang up in the village, including a blacksmith, a general store, a bank, a hotel, and saloon.
In the area surrounding Monmouth Courthouse, many successful farms began to appear. The farms in Freehold were particularly well known for the production of potatoes, beans, and rye, which were sold in the markets of nearby cities. Freehold also became known for its excellent horse farms. The differences within Freehold between growing village around the courthouse and the surrounding farmland were the seeds for the eventual division of Freehold into two separate municipalities in the early 20th century.
As of 1745, the majority of families in Freehold were still Scottish immigrants. In modern Freehold today, many important streets bear the name of early colonial families, including Barkalow, Applegate, Rhea, Throckmorton, and Schanck.
The Revolutionary War in Freehold
Freehold was deeply impacted by the American Revolution. By the early 1770s, the Sons of Liberty were actively recruiting local members in Freehold, and were agitating the relationship between the British government and the colonists. In 1775, immediately after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Capt. Elias Longstreet recruited the first company of Freeholders to join the Continental Army. Freehold was a known center of patriot activity. The Declaration of Independence was publicly proclaimed, read aloud, from the steps of the Freehold Courthouse just a few days after being signed in Philadelphia.
However, after British success at the Battle of Long Island, Freehold and all of Monmouth County fell under the control of Loyalists. The British government continued to operate the Freehold Courthouse, and several people involved in revolutionary activism were arrested and tried for treason at the courthouse. The success of the Continental Army at the Battle of Trenton helped to weaken loyalist control of Freehold.
In June 1778, the British Army began a major strategic evacuation of the city of Philadelphia. They attempted to protect a long, slow moving column of loyalist families, equipment, and other supplies seized in Philadelphia, as they moved towards ships in New York Harbor. On June 28, 1778, the Continental Army intercepted the column in Freehold. The Battle of Monmouth was one of the largest battles of the Revolutionary War, involving over 25,000 soldiers combined in Continental, British, and Hessian forces. The Continental Army was able to repel the British forces, and hold their ground on the battlefield. However, the British forces were successful in completing their primary goal, the evacuation of Philadelphia. Both sides claimed victory in the battle.
Several famous figures from the Revolutionary War fought at the Battle of Monmouth. British forces were commanded by Sir Henry Clinton and Charles Cornwallis. The Continental Army was commanded by George Washington and Charles Lee. Charles Lee was court martialed by the Continental Army for his behavior at the Battle of Monmouth. Nathaniel Greene, Alexander Hamilton, the Marquis de Lafayette and Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben also fought for the Continental Army at the Battle of Monmouth. Another famous figure at the Battle of Monmouth was Molly Pitcher, who manned a cannon during the battle after her husband was wounded.
In the aftermath of the Battle of Monmouth, Loyalist control of Freehold faltered. The town ceased to have a functioning municipal government, and the courthouse was closed until the end of the war. Minor clashes between loyalists and continentals flared up in town, with the violence peaking around 1780. Colonel Tye, an escaped slave and leader of a prominent loyalist guerilla force, conducted several raids in and around Freehold. One famous incident was the capture and hanging of Joshua Huddy by British Loyalists under the direction of Richard Lippincott. Colonel Tye was killed during the raid on Huddy's home. Patriots later cut down Huddy's body hanging from the gallows and buried it in Freehold, at Old Tennent Church. At the end of the war, the community was deeply divided, and nearly 120 loyalist families left Freehold, fearing persecution from their neighbors. Most of these families re-settled in Canada.
Freehold in 19th century
During the early 1800s, Freehold steadily grew in size. The village around the courthouse was now called Freehold, along with the surrounding farmland. In 1852, when long distance railroad systems were first being developed, a railroad station, with trains making regular stops, was built near the courthouse in Freehold. Freehold soon had public sewers in the village and in some of the outlying farmland. By 1883, there was an electrical grid and a telephone switchboard, at a time when these inventions were still brand new. These public advancements caused rapid economic growth in Freehold. The village of Freehold became an important commercial and industrial hub in central New Jersey. The farms in the rest of Freehold benefitted greatly by being able to sell their products more easily in New York and Philadelphia. Both the village and the farms prospered together, however the public policies sought by the two different communities continued to grow further apart. The municipal government was increasingly divided between the villagers and farmers.
In 1824, the American Hotel opened on Main Street in Freehold; It is still standing today, and is one of the oldest buildings in Freehold. In 1853, the Freehold Raceway opened. Though the original grandstand burned down in a fire, the racetrack is still open today, and is one of the oldest harness racetracks in America. The Great Fire of Freehold happened on October 30, 1873. The fire reportedly began in a commercial building on Main Street. It soon spread to engulf a large section of the village, and many wooden buildings, including Monmouth Courthouse, were burned down.
Freehold also has a relatively forgotten but important place in the history of the bicycle. Cycling champion Arthur Augustus Zimmerman resided in the town during his racing career in the 1880s and 1890s, and from 1896 to 1899 operated the Zimmerman Bicycle Co.; the company's bicycles were known as the "Zimmy." Today, Freehold Borough is home to the Metz Bicycle Museum, where the only extant "Zimmy" can be seen.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Freehold was an increasingly divided community. The issue of local tax dollars, used as funding for public works and infrastructure projects, was the primary point of contention. The Freeholders living in the downtown area, around the courthouse had very different ideas about how to spend public money compared to the Freeholders living in the surrounding farmland. Tension within the community increased greatly in 1916 when a severe polio epidemic swept through Freehold.
After contentious public debate, a referendum was held to on the future of Freehold, and voters overwhelmingly decided to split the town into two separate municipalities.
On April 15, 1919, Freehold Borough formally separated from Freehold Township. Freehold residents generally refer to the different municipalities simply as the Borough and the Township. The Borough, the downtown area around the courthouse, retained all the existing government buildings around Court Street and Main Street. The Borough also kept the designation as county seat. Freehold Township, the farming communities that surrounded the courthouse, set up a new city hall complex on Schanck Road. The Township completely encircles the Borough. On September 7, 1926, Freehold Borough annexed additional territory from the Township.
The Borough in the 20th century
Freehold Borough initially prospered in the early 20th century. However, by mid-century, the Borough began to decline as downtown areas across the country shrank, and suburban areas began growing. In 1961, the A & M Karagheusian rug factory closed. This factory had long been the largest employer in the area, and its closure had a devastating effect on the economic stability of the Borough. The Borough managed to turn around its economic decline by establishing the downtown area as a center for restaurants and nightlife. Several well-known local restaurants on Main Street are now crowded every night of the week.
Freehold Borough was an important center of African American civil rights activity in New Jersey during the years leading up to the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954. In 2007, Jaye Sims became the first African American official to be elected to office.
Bruce Springsteen grew up in the Borough and lived on South Street. In 1963, he graduated eighth grade from St. Rose of Lima School, and graduated from Freehold Borough High School in 1967. In 1973, he released his first album, and rocketed to international fame. Springsteen has always remained loyal to Freehold and makes reference to it in several of his famous songs, including "My Hometown". In 1996, he conducted a small benefit concert in Freehold for St. Rose of Lima.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 1.93 square miles (5.01 km2), including 1.93 square miles (5.00 km2) of land and <0.01 square miles (<0.01 km2) of water (0.10%). It is situated in the heart of Monmouth County and is located approximately 35 miles (56 km) south of New York City and 50 miles (80 km) northeast of Philadelphia. Freehold is also about 16 miles (26 km) west of Asbury Park on the Jersey Shore.
Freehold has an elevation of 174 feet (53 m) above sea level at its center.
According to the A. W. Kuchler U.S. potential natural vegetation types, Freehold Borough, New Jersey would have an Appalachian Oak (104) vegetation type with an Eastern Hardwood Forest (25) vegetation form.
1930-1990 2000 2010
The 2010 United States census counted 12,052 people, 4,006 households, and 2,660 families in the borough. The population density was 6,180.8 per square mile (2,386.4/km2). There were 4,249 housing units at an average density of 2,179.1 per square mile (841.4/km2). The racial makeup was 65.72% (7,920) White, 12.57% (1,515) Black or African American, 0.52% (63) Native American, 2.89% (348) Asian, 0.07% (8) Pacific Islander, 15.35% (1,850) from other races, and 2.89% (348) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 42.87% (5,167) of the population.
Of the 4,006 households, 33.6% had children under the age of 18; 44.3% were married couples living together; 13.6% had a female householder with no husband present and 33.6% were non-families. Of all households, 26.2% were made up of individuals and 13.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.98 and the average family size was 3.48.
24.5% of the population were under the age of 18, 10.4% from 18 to 24, 32.4% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 11.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33.3 years. For every 100 females, the population had 111.7 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 112.0 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $52,000 (with a margin of error of +/- $3,634) and the median family income was $60,471 (+/- $3,989). Males had a median income of $29,752 (+/- $8,068) versus $34,976 (+/- $8,305) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $23,331 (+/- $1,602). About 13.1% of families and 16.01% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.5% of those under age 18 and 14.2% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 United States Census there were 10,976 people, 3,695 households, and 2,571 families residing in the borough. The population density was 5,501.1 people per square mile (2,118.9/km2). There were 3,821 housing units at an average density of 1,915.1 per square mile (737.6/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 71.02% White, 15.83% Black, .55% Native American, 2.45% Asian, .02% Pacific Islander, 6.64% from other races, and 3.49% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 28.07% of the population.
There were 3,695 households, out of which 32.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.4% were non-families. 24.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.96 and the average family size was 3.39.
In the borough the population was spread out, with 24.8% under the age of 18, 10.9% from 18 to 24, 34.4% from 25 to 44, 19.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33.0 years. For every 100 females, there were 106.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.7 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $48,654, and the median income for a family was $53,374. Males had a median income of $35,855 versus $30,377 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $19,910. About 7.7% of families and 12% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.8% of those under age 18 and 9.2% of those age 65 or over.
Suburbanization within the vicinity of the Freeholds region has been due to its convenient location near the Jersey Shore, and location to cities such as New York City, Trenton, and Philadelphia. The region has, thus, been a longtime premier shopping destination in Central New Jersey.
The borough is home to Downtown Freehold, located on East and West Main Street (County Route 537). This downtown section has various eateries, bars, boutiques, historical sites, and other excursions. Within this section of town, there have been plans to revitalize the downtown area, as outlined in the Freehold Center Core Revitalization Plan (2008), in which NJ Transit has sponsored a project in transforming the Freehold Center Bus Station into a Transit Village.
This new designation would foster in the creation of a transit-oriented development zoning district around by the Freehold Center Bus Station between West Main Street (County Route 537) and Throckmorton Street (County Route 522). This would have a huge positive impact to the Freehold area economy.
There are many other shopping destinations outside of the borough, including the Freehold Raceway Mall in neighboring Freehold Township, the Manalapan EpiCentre (formerly, the Manalapan Mall) in nearby Manalapan Township, the Jackson Premium Outlets in nearby Jackson Township, and The Shoppes in nearby Old Bridge Township.
Freehold is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government, which is used in 218 municipalities (of the 565) statewide, making it the most common form of government in New Jersey. The governing body is comprised of the Mayor and the Borough Council, 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 is comprised 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 Freehold 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.
As of 2020[update], the Mayor of Freehold Borough is Democrat Kevin A. Kane, whose term of office ends December 31, 2023. Members of the Freehold Borough Council are Council President Michael DiBenedetto (D, 2020), Annette Jordan (D, 2021), Adam Reich (D, 2022), Margaret Rogers (D, 2022), George Schnurr (D, 2020) and Sharon C. Shutzer (D, 2021).
Federal, state and county representation
Freehold Borough is located in the 4th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 11th state legislative district. Prior to the 2011 reapportionment following the 2010 Census, Freehold Borough had been in the 12th state legislative district.
For the 117th United States Congress, New Jersey's Fourth Congressional District is represented by Chris Smith (R, Hamilton Township). New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Democrats Cory Booker (Newark, term ends 2027) and Bob Menendez (Harrison, term ends 2025).
For the 2018–2019 session (Senate, General Assembly), the 11th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Vin Gopal (D, Long Branch) and in the General Assembly by Joann Downey (D, Freehold Township) and Eric Houghtaling (D, Neptune Township).
Monmouth County is governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders consisting of five members who are elected at-large to serve three year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either one or two seats up for election each year as part of the November general election. At an annual reorganization meeting held in the beginning of January, the board selects one of its members to serve as Director and another as Deputy Director. As of 2020[update], Monmouth County's Freeholders are Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone (R, Neptune City, term as freeholder ends December 31, 2022; term as freeholder director ends 2021), Freeholder Deputy Director Susan M. Kiley (R, Hazlet Township, term as freeholder ends December 31, 2021; term as deputy freeholder director ends 2021), Lillian G. Burry (R, Colts Neck Township, 2020), Nick DiRocco (R, Wall Township, 2022), and Patrick G. Impreveduto (R, Holmdel Township, 2020).
Constitutional officers elected on a countywide basis are County clerk Christine Giordano Hanlon (R, 2020; Ocean Township), Sheriff Shaun Golden (R, 2022; Howell Township), and Surrogate Rosemarie D. Peters (R, 2021; Middletown Township).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 5,108 registered voters in Freehold, of which 1,459 (28.6%) were registered as Democrats, 820 (16.1%) were registered as Republicans and 2,827 (55.3%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 2 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2016 presidential election, Democrat Hillary Clinton received 54.5% of the vote (1,958 cast), ahead of Republican Donald Trump with 41.8% (1,501 votes), and other candidates with 3.7% (134 votes), among the 3,593 cast by the borough's voters. In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 61.4% of the vote (2,182 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 37.3% (1,326 votes), and other candidates with 1.3% (48 votes), among the 3,591 ballots cast by the borough's 5,270 registered voters (35 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 68.1%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 57.7% of the vote (2,222 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 39.0% (1,500 votes) and other candidates with 1.4% (53 votes), among the 3,849 ballots cast by the borough's 5,390 registered voters, for a turnout of 71.4%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 52.3% of the vote (1,955 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 45.6% (1,705 votes) and other candidates with 0.9% (50 votes), among the 3,737 ballots cast by the borough's 5,316 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 70.3.
In the 2017 gubernatorial election, Democrat Phil Murphy received 50.7% of the vote (1,064 cast), ahead of Republican Kim Guadagno with 46.2% of the vote (969 votes), and other candidates with 3.1% (64 votes), among the 2,097 cast by the borough's voters. In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 61.7% of the vote (1,264 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 36.6% (750 votes), and other candidates with 1.6% (33 votes), among the 2,093 ballots cast by the borough's 5,279 registered voters (46 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 39.6%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 55.0% of the vote (1,360 ballots cast), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 36.6% (906 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 6.9% (170 votes) and other candidates with 1.1% (26 votes), among the 2,474 ballots cast by the borough's 5,178 registered voters, yielding a 47.8% turnout.
Freehold Borough's public school students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade attend the Freehold Borough Schools. As of the 2018–19 school year, the district, comprised of three schools, had an enrollment of 1,698 students and 140.0 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 12.1:1. Schools in the district (with 2018–19 school enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Freehold Learning Center with 619 students in grades PreK-2, Park Avenue Elementary School with 532 students in grades 3-5 and Freehold Intermediate School with 515 students in grades 6–8.
Students in public school for ninth through twelfth grades attend Freehold High School, as part of the Freehold Regional High School District (FRHSD). The Freehold Regional High School District also serves students from Colts Neck Township, Englishtown, Farmingdale, Freehold Township (which also has some students at Freehold Borough High School), Howell Township, Manalapan Township and Marlboro Township. As of the 2018–19 school year, Freehold Borough High School had an enrollment of 1,422 students and 103.8 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 13.7:1. Students may apply to attend one of the district's six specialized learning centers, including the Medical Sciences Learning Center hosted at Freehold High School. The FRHSD board of education has nine members, who are elected to three-year terms from each of the constituent districts. Each member is allocated a fraction of a vote that totals to nine points, with Freehold Borough allocated one member, who has 1.0 votes.
The independent Freehold Public Library is one of the remaining Carnegie-funded libraries in the state and is believed to be the only one with the name "Carnegie Library" engraved on its front. It is not part of the Monmouth County Library system.
Roads and highways
As of May 2010[update], the borough had a total of 31.31 miles (50.39 km) of roadways, of which 26.60 miles (42.81 km) were maintained by the municipality, 1.30 miles (2.09 km) by Monmouth County and 3.41 miles (5.49 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Freehold Circle was located near the western boundary of Freehold Borough near the Freehold Raceway. The circle carried traffic between US 9, Business Route 33 and Manalapan Avenue (CR 24); it was eliminated in the 1980s due to the increased traffic load caused by a boom in commercial and residential development. Most notable of the commercial development is the Freehold Raceway Mall, in Freehold Township just south of the old circle on US 9, whose development in the late 1980s was a major impetus to redesign the circle. The former circle now features several jughandles, and most Manalapan Avenue traffic must use a connector road to Business Route 33 to reach the main intersection, but it is still known by locals as Freehold Circle. In the early 1940s, the Freehold Circle was the planned terminus of highway that would funnel traffic from South Amboy to the Jersey Shore by way of Matawan and Marlboro Township.
- See also
The railroad that ran through Freehold Borough and Freehold Township was originally a Central Railroad of New Jersey branch connecting the still-active former Penn Central line from Jamesburg to CNJ's Seashore Branch and the New York and Long Branch line (now owned by NJ Transit) at Matawan. The Central Railroad of New Jersey went into bankruptcy in the early 1970s and entered into Conrail on April 1, 1976. Freight service on the rails from Freehold to Matawan was terminated in 1979 and the rails removed in 1980. Today, it is mostly a rail-trail . Freehold's former train station now serves as its central bus station. The Monmouth Ocean Middlesex Line is a New Jersey Transit proposal to restore passenger service to the region.
NJ Transit bus service connects Freehold with towns along U.S. Route 9, Newark Liberty International Airport and New York City, to Philadelphia (via transfer in Lakewood) and to Six Flags Great Adventure located in Jackson Township. The 131, 135 and 139 provide service to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan, on the 67 to Newark, on the 64 and 67 to Jersey City and local service on the 836 and 838 routes.
Proposed NJ Transit Village
With the Borough of Freehold's determination to revitalize its downtown area, as outlined in the Freehold Center Core Revitalization Plan (2008), NJ Transit has sponsored a project in transforming the Freehold Center Bus Station into a "Transit Village". This new designation would foster in the creation of a Transit-oriented development (TOD) zoning district around by the Freehold Center Bus Station between West Main Street (County Route 537) and Throckmorton Street (County Route 522).
In 2019, Freehold Borough Council members began to authorize Planning Board members "to investigate if properties in the downtown district constitute an area in need of redevelopment. If board members determine redevelopment is warranted, they will prepare a redevelopment plan for the designated area." On April 20, 2020, Borough council members had reached an agreement in adopting an ordinance that would purchase a new building to house as the municipal complex. The hopes of relocating the current municipal complex on West Main Street to this new location on Mechanic street would be in opening up more space for potential developers that could bid for the NJ 'Transit Village'.
Points of interest
- Freehold Public Library
- Monmouth County Historical Association, a museum and library dedicated to the history of Monmouth County.
- Freehold Raceway, the oldest harness racetrack in the United States, dating to 1853.
- Hankinson-Moreau-Covenhoven House was constructed in the 1750s and used by the British as a headquarters during the Battle of Monmouth. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
- St. Peter's Episcopal Church was built in 1771 based on a design by architect Robert Smith and was added to the National Register in 1998 as one of one five churches in the state dating back to the 1700s still standing.
- Freehold Jewish Center, a synagogue established in 1911 which was constructed as the Orthodox Jewish Congregation Agudath Achim.
- Metz Bicycle Museum exhibits antique bicycles dating back to the 1850s.
- Monmouth County Courthouse and Battle of Monmouth Monument
- Olive Branch Lodge No. 16 Free and Accepted Masons was instituted October 20, 1849.
Covenhoven House, 2012
In popular culture
Bruce Springsteen often incorporated Freehold into his music, including the entire song "My Hometown". His connection to Freehold was documented by the Monmouth County Historical Society in a 2019 exhibition titled "Bruce Springsteen: His Hometown". In the film Blinded by the Light, Javed, the protagonist of the film who falls in love with Springsteen's music, visits Freehold. Many local sights such as Randolph Street (the street on which Springsteen was born), Springsteen's childhood home, and a Downtown Freehold sign (which Javed is photographed next to) are briefly featured.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Freehold Borough include:
- Scott Conover (born 1968), former Detroit Lions offensive tackle and author of the children's book Can I Play Too? was raised in Freehold.
- Anthony DeSclafani (born 1990), starting pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds.
- Danny Lewis (1936-2015), NFL running back from 1958 to 1966, playing for the Detroit Lions, the Washington Redskins, and the New York Giants.
- Joel Parker (1816-1888), 20th Governor of New Jersey, elected to two non-consecutive terms (1863–1866 and 1871–1874). A lawyer by profession, he served as Attorney General of New Jersey in 1875 and as a justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, from 1880 to 1888.
- Tim Perry (born 1965), former NBA player, most notably with the Phoenix Suns.
- Darrell Reid (born 1982), defensive tackle for the Indianapolis Colts.
- Nehemiah Shumway (1761-1843), composer, farmer, principal of Freehold Academy.
- J. R. Smith (born 1985), professional basketball player who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers.
- Rebecca Soni (born 1987), Olympic gold medalist at the 2012 London Olympic Games who set world records in the 100-meter breaststroke (short course) and the 200-meter breaststroke (short and long course).
- Bruce Springsteen (born 1949), rock musician, was raised in Freehold Borough. The borough is the subject of his song "My Hometown," from the Born in the U.S.A. album, which described racial and economic tensions in the 1960s (the "textile mill being closed" was the A & M Karagheusian rug mill at Center and Jackson Streets). Springsteen has also performed the humorous song about the borough called "In Freehold", which can be found on some bootleg live recordings.
- 2019 Census Gazetteer Files: New Jersey Places, United States Census Bureau. Accessed July 1, 2020.
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- Celano, Clare Marie. "Colts' Reid returns home with plan to help youths", News Transcript, June 21, 2006. Accessed May 15, 2007. "Reid, a former Freehold High School football player, is currently a member of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts but a piece of his heart remains in the town in which he grew up – Freehold Borough."
- Berman, Marc. "J.R. Smith knows he would make the absolute worst Army cadet", New York Post, September 30, 2014. Accessed November 26, 2020. "J.R. Smith grew up not so far away, in Freehold, NJ, but had never stepped foot on the post of West Point."
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