Plainfield, New Jersey
|Plainfield, New Jersey|
|City of Plainfield|
Aerial photograph of Plainfield
|Nickname(s): The Queen City|
Map of Plainfield in Union County. Inset: Location of Union County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Plainfield, New Jersey
|Coordinates: Coordinates: |
|Incorporated||April 21, 1869|
|• Type||Special Charter|
|• Body||City Council|
|• Mayor||Adrian Mapp (term ends December 31, 2017) (Democrat)|
|• Administrator||Rick Smiley|
|• Clerk||Abubakar Jalloh|
|• Total||6.034 sq mi (15.626 km2)|
|• Land||6.023 sq mi (15.599 km2)|
|• Water||0.011 sq mi (0.027 km2) 0.18%|
|Area rank||256th of 566 in state
8th of 21 in county
|Elevation||95 ft (29 m)|
|Population (2010 Census)|
|• Estimate (2015)||51,217|
|• Rank||35th of 566 in state
3rd of 21 in county
|• Density||8,270.1/sq mi (3,193.1/km2)|
|• Density rank||45th of 566 in state
4th of 21 in county
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||Eastern (EDT) (UTC-4)|
|Area code(s)||732 and 908|
|GNIS feature ID||0885355|
Plainfield is a city in Union County, New Jersey, United States, known by its nickname as "The Queen City". As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population increased to 49,808, its highest ever recorded population in any decennial census, with the population having increased by 1,979 (+4.1%) from the 47,829 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 1,262 (+2.7%) from the 46,567 counted in the 1990 Census.
The area of present-day Plainfield was originally formed as Plainfield Township, a township that was created on April 5, 1847, from portions of Westfield Township, while the area was still part of Essex County. On March 19, 1857, it became part of the newly created Union County.
Plainfield was incorporated as a city by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 21, 1869, from portions of Plainfield Township, based on the results of a referendum held that same day. The city and township coexisted until March 6, 1878, when Plainfield Township was dissolved and parts were absorbed by Plainfield city, with the remainder becoming Fanwood Township (now known as Scotch Plains).
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Economy
- 5 Arts and culture
- 6 Media
- 7 Government
- 8 Education
- 9 Infrastructure
- 10 Plainfield Teacher's College hoax
- 11 Notable people
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Plainfield was settled in 1684 by Quakers, and incorporated as a city in 1869. Formerly a bedroom suburb in the New York metropolitan area, it has become the urban center of 10 closely allied municipalities, with diversified industries, including printing and the manufacture of chemicals, clothing, electronic equipment, and vehicular parts. Among the several 18th-century buildings remaining are a Friends' meetinghouse (1788), the Martine house (1717), and the Nathaniel Drake House (1746), known as George Washington's headquarters during the Battle of Short Hills in June 1777. Nearby Washington Rock is a prominent point of the Watchung Mountains and is reputed to be the vantage point from which Washington watched British troop movements.
In 1902, the New Jersey Legislature approved measures that would have allowed the borough of North Plainfield to become part of Union County (a measure repealed in 1903) and to allow for a merger of North Plainfield with the City of Plainfield subject to the approval of a referendum by voters in both municipalities.
Plainfield is the birthplace of P-Funk. George Clinton founded The Parliaments while working in a barber shop in Plainfield. Parliament-Funkadelic was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Plainfield has been home to former New Jersey governor James McGreevey.
In sports history, Plainfield is the birthplace and/or home of several current and former athletes, including professionals and well-known amateurs. Included in their number are Milt Campbell, the 1956 Olympic Decathlon gold medalist (the first African-American to earn this title), Joe Black, the first African-American pitcher to win a World Series game, Jeff Torborg, former MLB player, coach and manager, and Vic Washington, NFL player.
Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor appointed to oversee prosecutions in the Watergate break-in and related criminal activity during the Nixon administration, was born in Plainfield.
There are numerous sites, including homes, parks, and districts in the city that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While not listed, the Plainfield Armory, a prominent landmark completed in 1932, was sold by the state in 2013 as surplus property.
Plainfield's northeast corner, known as the "Sleepy Hollow" section of the city, was and still is characterized by its array of finely landscaped streets and neighborhoods with homes defined by a broad array of architectural styles, most built during the first half of the twentieth century. As one browses the tree-lines neighborhoods, it is obvious that the lot sizes vary, but the stateliness and distinction of each house is distinct evident, whether a stately Queen Anne mansion or gingerbread cottage. Most lots are nicely landscaped and semi or fully private. Sleepy Hollow has withstood the test of time, remaining a visual destination and a desirable place to buy and live despite the decay in other parts of the city.
In its heyday, Plainfield was a regional shopping and entertainment center. Residents of nearby Union, Middlesex and Somerset counties would drive to shop and explore the business districts of Plainfield. Other than during the holidays, peak shopping times in Plainfield were Thursday nights and Saturday, when Front Street and the areas around it bustled. Parking spots were at a premium downtown during the fifties and early sixties. Businesses of note included Tepper's, Rosenbaum's, Sears, Montgomery Wards, Bamberger's and the Surprise Store department stores, Browning King, Lippit's and Robert Hall clothiers, Dreier's and Buck and Benny sporting goods, Lipton's fine jewelry, Lazaar's, Boise's and Park Stationers office supplies, Watchung and Thomas Furniture, Coward, A&S Beck, Kinney and David Bruce Shoes, Brooks and Gregory Music stores, Lafayette Radio and Electronics, Safeway, A&P, Acme and Finast food stores and Thule auto parts. Eateries of note, (but not necessarily gastronomic quality) included Larry's Kosher Deli, the Capital Bakery, Grunning's, The Brass rail, The Frontier Diner, Conca D'Oro Pizza, The Red Tower, the Park Luncheonette, Frank and Vicky's Luncheonette,(referred to as "The Press Club" by employees of the Courier News) and Texas Lunch. Other businesses of note included the Plainfield Courier News (bought by Gannett, regionalized and moved to Bridgewater, NJ), Wald, Sav-On and Strand Drug, multiple 5 & 10 retail stores (at various times, Woolworth, LL Green, McCrory and others), Loizeaux lumber, The Model Railroad Shop, Park Hardware, Nechin's, The Millenary Shop, the Sam-O-Set Laundry, Desnoyer's and Park (Uneeda) Appliance, The Nearly New Shop and numerous other small businesses.
Plainfield had plenty of entertainment venues. At the peak, there were four operating movie theaters: the Strand, the Liberty, the Paramount and the Oxford theaters. Prior to 1960, Cedarbrook park, at the south end of town, and Greenbrook park, at the north end of town, provided every opportunity for recreation, including ice skating in the winter, fishing, hiking, visits to the ice cream vendor, playgrounds and quiet walks. As with much else in Plainfield, the ability to use the parks without the fear of predators eroded beginning in the early 1960s.
Manufacturers of heavy goods included Chelsea Fan Corp., Mack Truck and National Starch and Chemical Corp. Plainfield Iron and Metal maintained a large scrapyard on the west end of town.
Plainfield was affected by the Plainfield riots in July 1967. This civil disturbance occurred in the wake of the larger Newark riots. A Plainfield police officer died, about fifty people were injured, and several hundred thousand dollars of property was damaged by looting and arson. The New Jersey National Guard restored order after three days of unrest. This civil unrest caused a massive white flight, characterized by the percentage of black residents rising from 40% in 1970 to 60% a decade later.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city had a total area of 6.034 square miles (15.626 km2), including 6.023 square miles (15.599 km2) of land and 0.011 square miles (0.027 km2) of water (0.18%).
The city is located in Central Jersey on the southwestern edge of Union County and is bordered by nine municipalities. Scotch Plains lies to the north and east, and Fanwood to the northeast. Bordered to the south are South Plainfield, and Piscataway. To the southwest lies Dunellen and to the southeast, Edison. All which are in Middlesex County. Green Brook Township lies to the northwest, North Plainfield lies to the north and Watchung borders to the northwest. All three of these municipalities are in Somerset County. Plainfield is in the Raritan Valley, a line of cities in central New Jersey, and lies on the east side of the Raritan Valley along with Edison.
Plainfield has a humid continental climate, characterized by brisk to cold winters and hot, muggy summers. The lowest temperature ever recorded was −17 °F (−27 °C) on February 9, 1934, and the highest temperature ever recorded was 106 °F (41 °C) on July 10, 1936, and August 11, 1949. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Plainfield has a humid subtropical climate, which is abbreviated as "Cfa" on climate maps.
|Climate data for Plainfield, New Jersey (1981–2010 normals)|
|Average high °F (°C)||39.3
|Average low °F (°C)||23.3
|Average precipitation inches (mm)||3.70
|Average snowfall inches (cm)||8.0
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in)||9.7||8.3||9.5||10.9||10.3||10.0||9.4||8.8||8.3||8.3||9.1||9.7||112.3|
|Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in)||2.9||2.0||1.4||.2||0||0||0||0||0||0||.2||1.4||8.1|
|Population sources: 1870-1920
1860-1870 1870 1880-1890
1930-1990 2000 2010
At the 2010 United States Census, there were 49,808 people, 15,180 households, and 10,884 families residing in the city. The population density was 8,270.1 per square mile (3,193.1/km2). There were 16,621 housing units at an average density of 2,759.8 per square mile (1,065.6/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 23.54% (11,724) White, 50.20% (25,006) Black or African American, 0.91% (455) Native American, 0.95% (474) Asian, 0.05% (26) Pacific Islander, 20.13% (10,024) from other races, and 4.21% (2,099) from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 40.37% (20,105) of the population.
There were 15,180 households, of which 35.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.9% were married couples living together, 24.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.3% were non-families. 21.3% 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 3.23 and the average family size was 3.60.
In the city, 25.8% of the population were under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 30.7% from 25 to 44, 23.5% from 45 to 64, and 9.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33.3 years. For every 100 females there were 101.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 100.4 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $52,056 (with a margin of error of +/- $3,048) and the median family income was $58,942 (+/- $4,261). Males had a median income of $33,306 (+/- $4,132) versus $37,265 (+/- $3,034) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $23,767 (+/- $1,013). About 12.2% of families and 16.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.5% of those under age 18 and 16.0% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 United States Census of 2000, there were 47,829 people, 15,137 households, and 10,898 families residing in the city. The population density was 7,921.7 people per square mile (3,057.4/km²). There were 16,180 housing units at an average density of 2,679.8 per square mile (1,034.3/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 21.45% White, 61.78% African American, 0.41% Native American, 0.93% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 10.78% from other races, and 4.55% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 25.16% of the population.
There were 15,137 households out of which 35.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 39.3% were married couples living together, 24.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.0% were non-families. 21.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.10 and the average family size was 3.49.
In the city the population was spread out with 27.5% under the age of 18, 10.2% from 18 to 24, 32.6% from 25 to 44, 20.5% from 45 to 64, and 9.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33 years. For every 100 females there were 95.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $46,683, and the median income for a family was $50,774. Males had a median income of $33,460 versus $30,408 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,052. About 12.2% of families and 15.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 21.3% of those under age 18 and 12.6% of those age 65 or over.
Portions of Plainfield are part of an Urban Enterprise Zone. In addition to other benefits to encourage employment within the Zone, shoppers can take advantage of a reduced 3½% sales tax rate (versus the 7% rate charged statewide) at eligible merchants.
Arts and culture
The Plainfield Symphony performs concerts at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church. The orchestra was founded in 1919, making it one of the oldest continuously operating orchestras in the United States.
In October 2010, former Plainfield music teacher Anwar Robinson and performer Yolanda Adams joined with community residents to try to be recognized by Guinness World Records for assembling the world's largest gospel chorus.
- In the teaser trailer for the film, A Good Day to Die Hard, John McClane remarks "the 007 of Plainfield, New Jersey" thus confirming this as his fictional birthplace.
From 1961 to 1996, Plainfield was home to WERA at 1590 on the AM dial. Today, WKMB-AM 1070 broadcasts from the former WERA studios at 120 West 7th Street.
Plainfield is governed under a Special Charter granted by the New Jersey Legislature by a mayor and a seven-member City Council, all of whom serve four-year terms in office. There are four wards, with one ward seat up for election each year. There are three at-large seats: one from the First and Fourth Wards; one from the Second and Third Wards; and one from the City as a whole. The three at-large seats and mayoral seat operate in a four-year cycle, with one seat up for election each year.
As of 2015[update], the Mayor of the City of Plainfield is Democrat Adrian O. Mapp, whose term of office ends December 31, 2017. Members of the Plainfield City Council are Council President Bridget B. Rivers (Ward 4; D, 2017), Tracey L. Brown (At Large All Wards; D, 2016), Vera Greaves (At Large Wards 1 and 4; D, 2015), Cory Storch (Ward 2; D, 2015), Gloria Taylor (Ward 3; D, 2016, serving an unexpired term), Diane Toliver (Ward 1; D, 2018) and Rebecca Williams (At Large Wards 2 and 3; D, 2018).
Gloria Taylor was appointed in January 2014 to fill the council seat expiring in 2016 of Adrian Mapp who resigned to take office as mayor. Taylor was chosen in a special election in November 2014 to serve the balance of the term.
Federal, state and county representation
Plainfield is located in the 12th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 22nd state legislative district. Prior to the 2010 Census, Plainfield had been part of the 6th 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 Twelfth Congressional District is represented by Bonnie Watson Coleman (D, Ewing 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 22nd Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Nicholas Scutari (D, Linden) and in the General Assembly by Jerry Green (D, Plainfield) and James J. Kennedy (D, Rahway). The Governor of New Jersey is Chris Christie (R, Mendham Township). The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Kim Guadagno (R, Monmouth Beach).
Union County is governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders, whose nine members are elected at-large to three-year terms of office on a staggered basis with three seats coming up for election each year, with an appointed County Manager overseeing the day-to-day operations of the county. At an annual reorganization meeting held in the beginning of January, the board selects a Chairman and Vice Chairman from among its members. As of 2014[update], Union County's Freeholders are Chairman Christopher Hudak (D, Linden, term ends December 31, 2014), Vice Chairman Mohamed S. Jalloh (D, Roselle, 2015), Bruce Bergen (D, Springfield Township, 2015), Linda Carter (D, Plainfield, 2016), Angel G. Estrada (D, Elizabeth, 2014), Sergio Granados (D, Elizabeth, 2016) Bette Jane Kowalski (D, Cranford, 2016), Alexander Mirabella (D, Fanwood, 2015) and Vernell Wright (D, Union, 2014). Constitutional officers elected on a countywide basis are County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi (D, Union, 2015), Sheriff Ralph Froehlich (D, Union, 2016) and Surrogate James S. LaCorte (D, Springfield Township, 2014). The County Manager is Alfred Faella.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 20,722 registered voters in Plainfield, of which 12,078 (58.3% vs. 41.8% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 947 (4.6% vs. 15.3%) were registered as Republicans and 7,693 (37.1% vs. 42.9%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 4 voters registered to other parties. Among the city's 2010 Census population, 41.6% (vs. 53.3% in Union County) were registered to vote, including 56.1% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 70.6% countywide).
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 14,640 votes (93.3% vs. 66.0% countywide), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 909 votes (5.8% vs. 32.3%) and other candidates with 46 votes (0.3% vs. 0.8%), among the 15,683 ballots cast by the city's 22,555 registered voters, for a turnout of 69.5% (vs. 68.8% in Union County). In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 15,280 votes (92.3% vs. 63.1% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 1,110 votes (6.7% vs. 35.2%) and other candidates with 56 votes (0.3% vs. 0.9%), among the 16,548 ballots cast by the city's 22,516 registered voters, for a turnout of 73.5% (vs. 74.7% in Union County). In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 11,508 votes (85.4% vs. 58.3% countywide), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 1,773 votes (13.2% vs. 40.3%) and other candidates with 88 votes (0.7% vs. 0.7%), among the 13,480 ballots cast by the city's 20,445 registered voters, for a turnout of 65.9% (vs. 72.3% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Democrat Barbara Buono received 75.9% of the vote (5,757 cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 22.7% (1,723 votes), and other candidates with 1.4% (104 votes), among the 8,174 ballots cast by the city's 21,996 registered voters (590 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 37.2%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 7,140 ballots cast (81.3% vs. 50.6% countywide), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 1,057 votes (12.0% vs. 41.7%), Independent Chris Daggett with 355 votes (4.0% vs. 5.9%) and other candidates with 84 votes (1.0% vs. 0.8%), among the 8,786 ballots cast by the city's 21,738 registered voters, yielding a 40.4% turnout (vs. 46.5% in the county).
The Plainfield Public School District serves students in pre-Kindergarten through twelfth grade. The district is one of 31 former Abbott districts statewide, which are now referred to as "SDA Districts" based on the requirement for the state to cover all costs for school building and renovation projects in these districts under the supervision of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority.
As of the 2011-12 school year, the district's 15 schools had an enrollment of 6,407 students and 501.0 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 12.79:1. Schools in the district (with 2011-12 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are DeWitt D. Barlow Elementary School (334; K-5), Cedarbrook Elementary School (576; K-8), Clinton Elementary School (335; K-8), Frederic W. Cook Elementary School (264; K-7), Emerson Community School (483; K-5), Evergreen Elementary School (555; K-5), Jefferson Elementary School (395; K-5), Charles H. Stillman Elementary School (280; K-5), Washington Community School (585; PreK-5), Woodland Elementary School (252; K-5), Hubbard Middle School (324; 6-8), Maxson Middle School (314; 6-8), Plainfield High School (1,367; 9-12), Barack Obama Academy for Academic & Civic Development (79; 9-12) and Plainfield Academy for the Arts and Advanced Studies (237; 7-10, to be expanded to 7-12).
The district's main high school was the 318th-ranked public high school in New Jersey out of 339 schools statewide in New Jersey Monthly magazine's September 2014 cover story on the state's "Top Public High Schools", using a new ranking methodology. The school had been ranked 280th in the state of 328 schools in 2012, after being ranked 307th in 2010 out of 322 schools listed. The school was removed in 2009 from the list of persistently dangerous schools in New Jersey.
Roads and highways
As of May 2010[update], the city had a total of 101.79 miles (163.82 km) of roadways, of which 87.58 miles (140.95 km) were maintained by the municipality, 14.21 miles (22.87 km) by Union County.
Plainfield is one of the few large suburban cities in central New Jersey to have no federal highway within it. The only major thoroughfare through Plainfield is U.S. Route 22, connecting Easton, Pennsylvania with Newark and U.S. Route 1/9. Route 22, a mecca for highway shopping and dining, is accessible from Plainfield through North Plainfield, Dunellen and Fanwood. In the early 1960s, Interstate highways were completed near, but not through Plainfield. Interstate 287 is accessible through South Plainfield and Piscataway, while Interstate 78 is accessible through Watchung / Warren Township and neighboring communities. The busiest connecting thoroughfares in Plainfield are Park Avenue (north-south), traversing from U.S. 22 to and into South Plainfield and Edison; Front Street (east-west), connecting Fanwood with Dunellen; South Avenue and 7th Street, both of which parallel Front Street, connecting Scotch Plains/Fanwood with Piscataway, South Plainfield and the Middlesex County border.
Plainfield has two NJ Transit rail stations on the Raritan Valley Line, formerly the mainline of the Central Railroad of New Jersey. The main Plainfield station is in the downtown and a second, smaller Netherwood station is in the Netherwood section, east of downtown and within a mile of the Fanwood border. A third station, located in the west end of town, was closed long ago. The New Brunswick train station is approximately 15 minutes away.
The Central Railroad of New Jersey first offered service to Plainfield in 1839. At the height of popularity, the Plainfield "Jersey Central" train station, with its main station building constructed in 1902, was a hub for commuting to Newark and New York. (The Central Railroad of New Jersey terminal was in Jersey City, where ferries would take the rail passengers to New York City.) The station was located near the main post office and downtown stores. The station was serviced by the now defunct Railway Express postal carrier company.
NJ Transit provides bus service on the 113 and 114 to and from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan; the 59, 65 and 66 (Limited) to Newark; and local service on the 819 and 822 routes.
In years past, Plainfield was serviced by the Somerset Bus Company with service from Union County to Essex and New York City, the Public Service Bus Company with similar service and Plainfield Transit, providing local service.
Newark Liberty International Airport is approximately 30 minutes away.
Solaris Health System, a nonprofit company which owns Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center, a hospital in Plainfield, asked for permission to close the hospital. This request has been opposed by People's Organization for Progress, an advocacy group based in Newark, New Jersey. The closing has been attributed to the large number of uninsured patients served by the hospital.
At the height of popularity in the 1950s through the 1970s, Plainfield was a hub for medical practices. Park Avenue was lined with doctors and medical offices and was nicknamed "Doctors Row".
Plainfield Teacher's College hoax
Plainfield Teacher's College was a mythical institution created as a hoax by a duo of college football fans in 1941. The phony college's equally nonexistent football team had its scores carried by major newspapers including The New York Times before the hoax was discovered.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Plainfield include:
- Ernest R. Ackerman (1863–1931), represented New Jersey's 5th congressional district from 1919-1931.
- John Adams (1772–1863), educator who taught at the Plainfield Academy.
- Erika Amato (born 1969), actress, singer and founder of Velvet Chain.
- Donald C. Backer (1943–2010), radio astronomer and professor at University of California, Berkeley who was discoverer of millisecond pulsars and pioneer in pulsar-based searches for gravitational waves.
- Rich Bagger (born 1960), former mayor of Westfield, New Jersey.
- John Drayton Baker (1915-1942), American Naval aviator who was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during World War II.
- Jeff Barry (born 1938), pop music songwriter, singer and record producer.
- Charlie Bicknell (1928–2013), MLB pitcher who played for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1948 and 1949.
- Joe Black (1924–2002), professional baseball player for the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds.
- Judy Blume (born 1938), author.
- Jon Bramnick (born 1953), member of the New Jersey General Assembly since 2003 who served on the Plainfield City Council fron 1984 to 1991.
- Anthony Branker (born 1958), jazz musician and educator.
- Van Wyck Brooks (1886–1963), author.
- Brock Brower (1931–2014), novelist, magazine journalist and TV writer.
- Glenwood Brown (born 1967), former professional boxer in the welterweight (147lb) division.
- Taiwan Brown (born 1987), television personality, former mtvU VJ.
- Milt Campbell (1933–2012), 1956 Olympic decathlon gold medalist.
- Pete Carmichael (born 1941), former football coach.
- Jeremiah E. Cary (1803–1888), member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York's 21st congressional district.
- James Herbert Case, Jr. (1906–1965), 8th president of Washington & Jefferson College.
- Diane Chamberlain, author of adult fiction.
- DJ Cheese, first world champion of the DMC World DJ Championships, in 1986.
- John Chironna (1928–2010), head coach of the Rhode Island Rams football team in 1961 and 1962.
- Earl Clark (born 1988), basketball player for the Los Angeles Lakers, formerly for the University of Louisville Cardinals.
- George Clinton (born 1941), founder of Parliament-Funkadelic, childhood home.
- Manny Collins (born 1984) American football cornerback.
- Richard Guy Condon (1952–1995), anthropologist who specialized in the study of Inuit.
- Archibald Cox (1912–2004), Watergate special prosecutor.
- William Archibald Dunning (1857–1922), historian best known for his work on the Reconstruction Era.
- Bill Evans (1929–1980), jazz pianist.
- J. Michael Fay (born 1956), conservationist.
- Jan Groover (born 1943) photographer noted for her use of emerging color technologies.
- Mark Haines (1946–2011), former host of the CNBC shows Squawk Box and Squawk on the Street.
- Bret Harte (1836–1902), author and poet.
- Eddie Hazel (1950–1992), lead guitarist and founding member of Parliament-Funkadelic.
- Byron Hurt (born 1969), documentary filmmaker.
- Donald Jones (born 1987), former professional football player with the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots.
- Robyn Kenney (born 1979), field hockey player.
- Phyllis Kirk (1927–2006), actress.
- Peter Liske (born 1942), former professional football player.
- Randolph Manning (1804–1864), Michigan Supreme Court justice.
- Burke Marshall (1922–2003), head of the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice during the Civil Rights Era.
- James Edgar Martine (1850–1925), United States Senator from New Jersey.
- Robert Mason (born 1942), author of Chickenhawk.
- Mary McCormack (born 1969), actress.
- Jim McGreevey (born 1957), former Governor of New Jersey.
- Eugene Monroe (born 1987), professional football player for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
- Dudley Moore (1935–2002), actor who resided there at time of death.
- Nonnie Moore (1922–2009), fashion editor at Mademoiselle, Harper's Bazaar and GQ. "
- Cordell Mosson (1952–2013), vocalist and bassist for Parliament-Funkadelic.
- James S. Negley (1826–1901), Civil War General, farmer, railroader, and U.S. Representative from the state of Pennsylvania.
- Billy Bass Nelson (born 1951), bassist, founding member of Parliament-Funkadelic.
- Andrew P. O'Rourke (1933–2013), former Westchester County Executive.
- Montell Owens (born 1984), professional football player for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
- Irving Penn (1917–2009), photographer.
- Elizabeth Price (born 1996), gymnast.
- Kasim Reed (born 1969), birthplace, current Mayor of Atlanta.
- Edward Regan (1930–2014), politician who served for 15 years as New York State Comptroller.
- Jane Rule (1931–2007), author of lesbian-themed novels and non-fiction.
- William Nelson Runyon (1871–1931), Acting Governor of New Jersey from 1919 to 1920.
- Justin Sears, basketball player at Yale University.
- Robert Shapiro (born 1942), lawyer.
- Garry Shider (1953–2010), musical director of P-Funk.
- Percy Hamilton Stewart (1867–1951), mayor of Plainfield in 1912 and 1913, represented New Jersey's 5th congressional district from 1931-1933.
- Edward Herbert Thompson (1856–1935), archaeologist and diplomat.
- Jeff Torborg (born 1941), former professional baseball player and manager.
- Fred Van Eps (1878–1960), banjoist and early recording artist.
- Rich Vos (born 1957), comedian.
- Helen Walulik (1929–2012), All-American Girls Professional Baseball League player.
- David S. Ware (born 1949), jazz saxophonist.
- Vic Washington (born 1946), former professional football player.
- James Edward Maceo West (born 1941), co-inventor of the foil electret microphone and member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
- Harrison A. Williams (1919–2001), U.S. Senator who resigned following the Abscam scandal.
- Jay Williams (born 1981), former professional basketball player with the Chicago Bulls.
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- Goldblatt, Jennifer. "Blume's Day", The New York Times, November 14, 2004. Accessed February 5, 2008. "It wasn't until after Ms. Blume had gotten her bachelor's degree in education from New York University in 1961, was married and raising her son, Larry, and her daughter, Randy, and living in Plainfield and later Scotch Plains, that she started to commit her stories and characters to paper, cramming writing sessions in while the children were at preschool and at play."
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- About DJ Cheese, King Kut DJ Cheese. Accessed September 21, 2015. "DJ Cheese has a long history in this thing We call the 'HIP HOP' He was born in W. Virginia then raised in Potters Crossing – Edison, N.J. and Later Move To Plainfield, N.J. when he was 8Yrs Old."
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- "71st Annual Hot Stove Awards Dinner, Feb. 11, Honors Union County Athletes, Young and Old", Union County, New Jersey press release dated February 2, 2007. Accessed November 14, 2007. "Manny Collins was a standout at both wide receiver and defensive back for the Plainfield High School Cardinals and earned All-County, All-Conference and All-Area honors."
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- Nissen, Axel. Bret Harte: Prince and Pauper, p. 244. University Press of Mississippi, 2000. ISBN 1578062535. Accessed August 6, 2012. "By April 1884, both the Knauffts and the Hartes had removed to Plainfield, New Jersey..."
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- Barnes, Bart. "Burke Marshall, 80, Dies; JFK's Civil Rights Enforcer", The Washington Post, June 3, 2003. Accessed November 21, 2008. "Mr. Marshall, a native of Plainfield, N.J., graduated from Yale University."
- James Edgar Martine, Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Accessed April 16, 2008.
- Prendergast, MArk. "HIS LONG FLIGHT HOME FOR ROBERT MASON, WAR WAS HELL AND PEACE HARD TO FIND. NOW HE THINKS HE KNOWS WHERE TO LOOK. AND WHERE NOT TO LOOK.", Orlando Sentinel, September 1, 1985. Accessed April 10, 2012. "Robert Mason was born 43 years ago in Plainfield, NJ. When he was 8, his family moved to a chicken farm west of Delray Beach."
- Mary McCormack cast member profile, The West Wing. Accessed September 30, 2007. "Born in Plainfield, New Jersey, McCormack is a graduate of Trinity College and resides in Los Angeles."
- van Esselstyn, Drew. "Plainfield's Eugene Monroe selected No. 8 overall by Jacksonville Jaguars", The Star-Ledger, April 25, 2009. Accessed October 26, 2011.
- Brush, Pete. "Actor Dudley Moore Dies", CBS News, February 11, 2009. Accessed May 21, 2013.
- Hevesi, Dennis. "Nonnie Moore, Fashion Editor at Magazines, Dies at 87", The New York Times, February 24, 2009. Accessed June 15, 2014. "Born Marjorie Eilers on Jan. 21, 1922, in Plainfield, N.J., Ms. Moore was one of two daughters of Henry and Lovinia Burton Eilers."
- McCall, Tris. "Cordell 'Boogie' Mosson, P-Funk bassist, dies at 60", The Star-Ledger, April 21, 2013. Accessed May 21, 2013. "Cordell 'Boogie' Mosson (born Cardell Mosson), a Plainfield musician whose rubbery bass guitar gave the classic albums by Parliament and Funkadelic much of their buoyant, elastic, bouncing-off-of-the-walls character, died on Thursday at 60."
- Staff. "$50,000 IN BONDS IN A BAG; STOLEN FROM GEN. JAMES S. NEGLEY IN PLAINFIELD. Found in a House in Madison Avenue -- With Them an Insurance Policy for $1,000 and Gen. Negley's Commission, Signed by President Lincoln -- Coachman Was the Thief -- He Was Dismissed from Gen. Negley's Service Last Month.", The New York Times, April 20, 1894. Accessed December 3, 2012. "Gen. Negley was the manager of the Home for Decrepit Veteran Soldiers at Pittsburg, Penn. He has an office at 136 Liberty Street, this city, and lives in Plainfield, N. J."
- Britannica Educational Publishing. The 100 Most Influential Musicians of All Time, p. 273. The Rosen Publishing Group, 2009. ISBN 1615300562. "Billy Bass Nelson (b. Jan. 28, 1951, Plainfield, N.J., U.S.)"
- Berger, Joseph. 'Andrew P. O'Rourke, Longtime Westchester County Leader, Dies at 79", The New York Times, January 4, 2013. Accessed May 24, 2016. "Andrew Patrick O'Rourke was born in Plainfield, N.J., on Oct. 26, 1933, the youngest of five children."
- Montell Owens, NFL.com. Accessed May 21, 2013.
- Via Associated Press. "Fashion, celebrity photographer Irving Penn dies", USA Today, October 7, 2009. Accessed October 26, 2011. "Born in Plainfield, N.J., in 1917, Penn studied at the Philadelphia Museum School of Industrial Art from 1934 to 1938, and worked as an assistant at Harper's Bazaar in 1939."
- "The Official Website of Elizabeth 'Ebee' Price" - About Elizabeth. Accessed August 5, 2012. "Elizabeth Nicole Price was born on May 28, 1996 in Planfield, New Jersey to Diane and David Price."
- Stevens, Andrew. "Kasim ReedMayor of Atlanta", City Mayors Foundation, March 29, 2010. Accessed October 26, 2011. "Though born in the New Jersey suburb of Plainfield, Reed was raised in Fulton County, Georgia and schooled at the Westlake High School locally."
- McFadden, Robert D. "Edward V. Regan, Longtime New York State Comptroller, Dies at 84", The New York Times, October 18, 2014. Accessed October 19, 2014. "Edward Van Buren Regan was born in Plainfield, N.J., on May 14, 1930, the oldest of five children of William and Caroline Van Buren Regan."
- Fox, Margalit. "Jane Rule, Canadian Novelist, Dies at 76", The New York Times, December 29, 2007. Accessed October 26, 2011. "Jane Vance Rule was born on March 28, 1931, in Plainfield, N.J., and raised in the Midwest and California."
- New Jersey Governor William Nelson Runyon, National Governors Association. Accessed August 3, 2007.
- "Justin Sears Bio". YaleBulldogs.com. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
- Staff. "Stars shine to 'ultimate deal maker'", Boston Herald, June 30, 1994. Accessed January 12, 2011. "Born into a working-class family in Plainfield N.J. Shapiro came to Los Angeles as a boy and later attended UCLA as a finance major."
- McCall, Tris. "Garry Shider of P-Funk fame dies at 56", The Star-Ledger, June 16, 2010. Accessed January 12, 2011. "The Plainfield native and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, best known as the musical director of George Clinton's Parliament and Funkadelic bands, died today at the age of 56, from complications arising from brain and lung cancer. "
- Percy Hamilton Stewart, Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Accessed July 10, 2007.
- Staff. "MAYA RUINS DESCRIBED.; Explorer in Yucatan Speaks Before New Jersey Archaeologists.", The New York Times, March 11, 1932. Accessed January 12, 2011. "The seventy-five persons present heard talks by Dr. Edward Herbert Thompson of Plainfield, lecturer on archaeology and former United States Consul at Merida."
- Spivey, Mark. "Hillsborough man pens sports book on notable New Jersey athletes", Home News Tribune, November 28, 2008. Accessed January 12, 2011. "Milt Campbell and MLB catcher and manager Jeff Torborg, who caught a perfect game from Sandy Koufax, both called Plainfield home."
- Gracyk, Tim. Fred Van Eps -- Banjoist, Biography by Tim Gracyk. Accessed May 24, 2008.
- Staff. "Comics wait to see who'll be standing ", Atlanta Journal-Constitution, August 5, 2003. Accessed November 21, 2008. "Two grizzled veteran comics with minimal name recognition until a few weeks ago -- Dave Mordal of Elk River, Minn., and Rich Vos of Plainfield, N.J. -- have found a higher level of fame thanks to NBC's moderately successful reality show 'Last Comic Standing'."
- All-American Girls Professional Baseball League official website – Helen Walulik profile
- Freeman, Phil. "Free at LastAvant-jazz titans the David S. Ware Quartet triumphantly disband—sort of", The Village Voice, May 29, 2007. Accessed October 26, 2011. "'I didn't disband the group,' says saxophonist David S. Ware by phone from his home in Plainfield, N.J. "
- Six Individuals, One Team Inducted into the 13th Hall of Fame Class, University of Wyoming, February 19, 2005. Accessed July 10, 2007. "Vic Washington. Hometown: Plainfield, N.J."
- The National Medal of Technology and Innovation Recipients: 2006 Laureates, United States Patent and Trademark Office. Accessed January 12, 2011.
- Harrison Arlington Williams, Jr., Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Accessed July 10, 2008.
- D'Allesandro, Dave. "Plainfield's Jay Williams thinks he's almost ready to let go of NBA dreams", The Star-Ledger, September 20, 2008. Accessed January 12, 2011.
- Daniels, Karu F. "A windfall indeed for Malinda Williams; BET celeb gift bags up for grabs; 'Hip Hop Wives' on TV; Danyel Smith's new Vibe", AOL Black Voices, July 6, 2006. Accessed January 12, 2011.
- Deggan, Eric. "The best keyboardist you've never heard of", St. Petersburg Times, June 28, 2002. Accessed January 12, 2011.
- CURRICULUM VITAE: JAMES A. YORKE, University of Maryland, College Park. Accessed July 11, 2013. "Born 1941 in Plainfield, N.J., U.S.A., U.S. Citizen"
- Plainfield, New Jersey's Homepage
- Plainfield Public School District
- Plainfield Public School District's 2014–15 School Report Card from the New Jersey Department of Education
- School Data for the Plainfield Public School District, National Center for Education Statistics
- Plainfield Symphony
- Plainfield Area YMCA
- Cedarbrook Park & Shakespeare Garden
- Plainfield High School - NJ's 2nd oldest
- The Alternative Press in Plainfield
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