Plainfield, New Jersey

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Plainfield, New Jersey
City
City of Plainfield
Aerial photograph of Plainfield
Aerial photograph of Plainfield
Nickname(s): The Queen City[1]
Map of Plainfield in Union County. Inset: Location of Union County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
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
Census Bureau map of Plainfield, New Jersey
Coordinates: 40°36′56″N 74°24′57″W / 40.615444°N 74.415775°W / 40.615444; -74.415775Coordinates: 40°36′56″N 74°24′57″W / 40.615444°N 74.415775°W / 40.615444; -74.415775[2][3]
Country  United States
State  New Jersey
County Union
Incorporated April 21, 1869
Government[8]
 • Type Special Charter
 • Body City Council
 • Mayor Adrian Mapp (D, term ends December 31, 2017)[4][5]
 • Administrator Tito Gonzalez[6]
 • Municipal clerk Abubakar Jalloh[7]
Area[2]
 • 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[2]
Elevation[9] 95 ft (29 m)
Population (2010 Census)[10][11][12][13]
 • Total 49,808
 • Estimate (2016)[14] 50,636
 • Rank 35th of 566 in state
3rd of 21 in county[15]
 • Density 8,270.1/sq mi (3,193.1/km2)
 • Density rank 45th of 566 in state
4th of 21 in county[15]
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (Eastern (EDT))
ZIP codes 07060-07063[16]
Area code(s) 732 and 908[17]
FIPS code 3403959190[2][18][19]
GNIS feature ID 0885355[2][20]
Website plainfieldnj.gov
Downtown Plainfield Train Station, one of two stations running to New York City on the Raritan Valley Line
Netherwood Station on the Raritan Valley Line to Newark/New York, one of two train stations in Plainfield

Plainfield is a city in Union County, New Jersey, United States, known by its nickname as "The Queen City".[1] As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population increased to 49,808, its highest ever recorded population in any decennial census,[11][12][13] 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.[21]

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, Plainfield Township became part of the newly created Union County.[22]

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).[22]

The name "Plainfield", also used in both North Plainfield and South Plainfield, is derived from a local estate[23] or from its scenic location.[24]

History[edit]

A typical Bungalow-style house
Home of former Governor Jim McGreevey

Plainfield was settled in 1684 by Quakers,[25] 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),[26] 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.[27][28] 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.[29][30]

The "Queen City" moniker arose in the second half of the 19th century. Plainfield had been developing a reputation during this period as featuring a climate that was beneficial for respiratory ailments. In 1886, in an effort to publicize the climate, local newspaper publisher Thomas W. Morrison began to use the slogan "Colorado of the East" to promote Plainfield. As Denver, Colorado, was known as the "Queen City of the Plains," the slogan for Plainfield eventually became abbreviated to "The Queen City." [31][32]

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.[33][34]

Plainfield is the birthplace of P-Funk. George Clinton founded The Parliaments while working in a barber shop. 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.[35]

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),[36] 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.[37]

Plainfield's history as a place to call home for the 19th and 20th century wealthy has led to a significant and preserved suburban architectural legacy. An influx of Wall Street money led to the creation of what was called Millionaires' Row after the opening of the railway in the 19th century.[38]

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.[39]

Plainfield's wealthy 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. From the tree-lines neighborhoods, it can be seen that the lot sizes vary, but the stateliness and distinction of each house is evident, whether a stately Queen Anne mansion or gingerbread cottage. Most lots are nicely landscaped and semi or fully private.[40]

Plainfield was affected by the Plainfield Rebellion in July 1967. This civil disturbance occurred in the wake of the larger Newark riots. A Plainfield police officer was killed, 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.[41] 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.[42]

Author and Plainfield native Isaiah Tremaine published Insurrection in 2017 as an mournful accounting of the Plainfield riots—and subsequent racial tensions at Plainfield High School—from his perspective as a black teenager living in the city with both white and black friends at the time.[43][44] Prior to the rebellion, 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 Plainfield were Thursday nights and Saturday, when Front Street and the areas around it bustled.[45]

Plainfield had several entertainment venues at that time. At the peak, there were four operating movie theaters: the Strand, the Liberty, the Paramount and the Oxford theaters.

Manufacturers of heavy goods included Chelsea Fan Corp., Mack Truck and National Starch and Chemical Corp. Plainfield Iron and Metal maintained a large scrapyard in the West End.

Geography[edit]

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%).[2][3]

Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the city include Netherwood.[46]

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.[47]

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.

Climate[edit]

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.[48] According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Plainfield has a humid subtropical climate, which is abbreviated as "Cfa" on climate maps.[49]

Climate data for Plainfield, New Jersey (1981–2010 normals)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 39.3
(4.1)
43.4
(6.3)
52.5
(11.4)
63.9
(17.7)
74.1
(23.4)
82.6
(28.1)
86.8
(30.4)
85.1
(29.5)
77.7
(25.4)
65.9
(18.8)
54.9
(12.7)
43.4
(6.3)
64.1
(17.8)
Average low °F (°C) 23.3
(−4.8)
25.4
(−3.7)
31.7
(−0.2)
41.0
(5)
50.2
(10.1)
59.8
(15.4)
65.0
(18.3)
63.4
(17.4)
55.7
(13.2)
44.2
(6.8)
36.0
(2.2)
27.8
(−2.3)
43.6
(6.5)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.70
(94)
2.91
(73.9)
4.29
(109)
3.77
(95.8)
4.22
(107.2)
4.12
(104.6)
5.30
(134.6)
3.58
(90.9)
4.64
(117.9)
4.30
(109.2)
3.90
(99.1)
3.72
(94.5)
48.44
(1,230.4)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 8.0
(20.3)
10.0
(25.4)
3.6
(9.1)
.8
(2)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
.8
(2)
4.0
(10.2)
27.2
(69.1)
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
Source: NOAA[48]

Demographics[edit]

Historical population
Census Pop.
18705,095
18808,12559.5%
189011,26738.7%
190015,36936.4%
191020,55033.7%
192027,70034.8%
193034,42224.3%
194037,4698.9%
195042,36613.1%
196045,3307.0%
197046,8623.4%
198045,555−2.8%
199046,5672.2%
200047,8292.7%
201049,8084.1%
Est. 201650,636[14][50]1.7%
Population sources: 1870–1920[51]
1860–1870[52][53] 1870[54] 1880–1890[55]
1890–1910[56] 1870–1930[57]
1930–1990[58] 2000[59][60] 2010[11][12][13]

2010 Census[edit]

As of 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. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 40.37% (20,105) of the population.[11]

There were 15,180 households out 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.[11]

In the city, the population was spread out with 25.8% 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 ages 18 and older there were 100.4 males.[11]

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.[61]

2000 Census[edit]

As of the 2000 United States Census[18] 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.[59][60]

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.[59][60]

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.[59][60]

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.[59][60]

Economy[edit]

The North Avenue Commercial District
North Avenue Commercial District
North Avenue Commercial Historic District

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.[62]

Orville Taylor Waring House; Plainfield, NJ

Downtown Plainfield has two historic commercial districts: the North Avenue Historic District and the Civic Historic District. Both are on the Registry of Historic Places.[63]</ref>[64]

  • The North Avenue Historic District features the Downtown train station, post office, and Plainfield National Bank (now PNC Bank). The architecture of the district reflects original exterior 19th and early 20th century facade architecture.
  • The Civic Historic District features architecture reflective of the turn-of-the-century City Beautiful Movement, including the City Hall building, YMCA, City Hall Annex, and World War I monument on Watchung Avenue.

Events such as the Christmas Tree Lighting, the Queen City 5k, Fire Safety Fair, and Mayor's Wellness Walk take place in the Downtown each year.[65]

Downtown Plainfield Alliance (DPA) is a "nonpolitical, nonprofit grassroots group that supports the improvement of Downtown Plainfield through beautification, volunteerism, economic development, marketing, community development, and activism." [65]

Historic districts[edit]

A home in the Van Wyck Brooks Historic District

The restoration of large 19th century-era Plainfield estates to their original glory, such as the Craig Marsh home, has been featured in various home design coverage.[66][67][68] Residential Districts include:

  • Van Wyck Brooks Historic District. The Van Wyck Brooks Historic District was listed in This Old House magazine's 2012 list of "Best Old House Neighborhoods." Roughly bounded by Plainfield Ave., W. Eighth St., Park Ave., W. Ninth St. and Madison Ave., and Randolph Rd, it was named for literary critic and native son Van Wyck Brooks.[69] In addition to the above-mentioned Craig Marsh home, it also contains the largest residence in Plainfield (The Coriell Mansion) and a wide variety of other historically and architecturally notable homes. The Van Wyck Brooks Historic District is the largest of the six residential Historic Districts in Plainfield, its oldest structure the Manning Stelle Farmhouse, parts of which date back to 1803. It has been a designated historic district by the City of Plainfield since 1982, and the District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

The West End[edit]

While the more affluent eastern part of the city has been relatively integrated over the decades, with both black and white upper-middle-class-to-wealthy families, the West End of Plainfield is the historically middle-class and working-class black district in the city and features a close-knit African-American community.[73]

Part of the West End is known to locals as Soulville.[74][75]

Mount Olive Baptist Church has been serving the West End as a community of faith since 1870.[76] It is considered Plainfield's first black church. As the black community grew, other congregations branched off from Mount Olive.

Calvary Baptist Church began in 1897 among a group of black congregants from Mount Olive, and celebrated its 120th anniversary in 2017 with a series of events.[77][78][79]

Nearby, Shiloh Baptist Church was founded in 1908, also by Mount Olive congregants, and offers many faith-based events to the community, including its Jazz for Jesus program.[80]

The West End has been eyed recently for redevelopment.[81][82][83]

The White Star, a diner in the West End on West Front Street near Green Brook Park, has been an area meeting spot and landmark for over half a century.[84][85]

The West End has grown more Latin in recent years. As of the 2010 census, 40% of all people living in Plainfield were of Hispanic origin. This was up from 25% ten years earlier.

In his book Insurrection, Isaiah Tremaine, an Afro-American Plainfield native, credits the influx of Latinos for breathing new life and energy into a city hurting from racism and racial strife in the 1970s.

The West End was once home to the Silk Palace, a barbershop at 216 Plainfield Avenue owned in part by funk's George Clinton, staffed by various members of Parliament-Funkadelic, and known as the "hangout for all the local singers and musicians" in Plainfield's 1950s and 1960s doo-wop, soul, rock and proto-funk music scene.[86][87][88]

Gay community[edit]

A sizable and diverse LGBTQ community contributes to the long-time perception of Plainfield as a stronghold of gay life and gay community in the suburbs of New Jersey.

Plainfield has one of the highest percentage of same-sex householders in the state of New Jersey.[89][90] The First Unitarian Society of Plainfield, the oldest such congregation in the United States, is certified as LGBTQ welcoming.

In 1986, The New York Times reported on what was termed at the time as the "growing homosexual population in Plainfield" drawn to the stock of aging Victorian, Tudor and colonial homes, and featured interviews with various gay men who lived in Plainfield and worked in Manhattan.[91]

One of the Queen City's elected leaders, former Councilwoman Rebecca Williams (who now represents all of Union County as a freeholder) is openly lesbian and the city honored its LGBT community at a flag-raising commemorating the victims of the Pulse Orlando massacre during Pride Month.[92]

Plainfield has also been recently described as part of some newly formed Catholic gay outreach, ministry, and acceptance efforts in New Jersey.[93][94]

In 2015, an openly gay Plainfielder ran for state Assemblyman.[95]

Plainfield has been home to openly gay former New Jersey governor James McGreevey and his longtime partner, an Australian-American business executive.[35]

Plainfield is also at the center of gay life in Union County, which hosts LGBTQ family events and opened the state's first county-wide office of LGBTQ services in 2018.[96]

Arts and culture[edit]

Plainfield's Lee Fields performing with The Expressions at Haldern Pop 2013
The Swain Galleries in the Crescent Area Historic District
The duCret Art School is the oldest art school in New Jersey
  • 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.
  • Acclaimed soul singer Lee Fields resides with his family in Plainfield and moved to the city as a teen inthe 1960s.[97][98][99]
  • 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.[100]
  • 1990s R&B girl group Total, of Bad Boy Records fame, is from Plainfield.[101]
Plainfield's Total performing at Legends of Bad Boy in 2014
  • In October 2010, former Plainfield music teacher and American Idol alum 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.[102]
  • The duCret School of Art was founded in 1926, making it the oldest art school in New Jersey.[103] Founded by Marjorie Van Emburgh Chargois as the Van Emburgh School of Art, it was purchased in the 1960s by Dudley duCret. A 1933 exhibition of nudes by the school's artists once led to a controversy, according to The New York Times.[104] Plainfield native Onyx Keesha, prior to her relocation to Atlanta, and members of the arts collective and production team M. PoWeR Arts have offered classes in filmmaking, acting, dance, writing and theater to Plainfield citizens at the duCret School of Art.[105]
  • The Swain Galleries was founded in 1868. The entity is the oldest privately owned art gallery in the state. The galleries are located in a Victorian structure in the Crescent Historic District of Plainfield[106]
  • Music in the Park is an annual summertime community concert event featuring the Plainfield Idol competition.
  • The Parish Hall Theater at the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield is a proscenium theater that seats approximately 125 people. Available for theatrical productions and musical performances, it features theatrical lighting, a spot light, separate lighting booth, an upright piano and a sound system.[107]
  • The historic Sanctuary at the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield offers prime acoustics for recordings by bands and vocalists. The Sanctuary at The First Unitarian Society of Plainfield seats approximately 140 people. It is available for rehearsals, concerts, recording sessions, spoken word events, recitals and meetings.[107]
  • The Plainfield Music Store was founded in 1951 and offers a vast archive of sheet music.[108]
  • The French School of Music offers music lessons and was founded in 1927 by Yvonne Comme, a pupil of Gabriel Fauré who performed for Debussy.;[109][110]
  • Begun in 1980, the annual Crescent Concerts series at Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church brings high-end vocal, instrumental, choral and orchestral music performances to the residents of the City of Plainfield and surrounding areas.[111][112][113]
  • The Queen City October Music Festival is an annual music festival that is spearheaded by the Plainfield Arts Council.[114][115]
  • The Shiloh Baptist Church, which has been worshiping together as a Plainfield community of faith since 1908, hosts Jazz In The Sanctuary as part of the Queen City October Music Festival as well as its Jazz for Jesus program.[116][117]
  • DreamHouse Theater Company is a theater company operated in partnership with the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield (FUSP). DreamHouse performs one-act and original plays, readings, spoken word and musical offerings.[118]
  • 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.[119]
  • J.M. Benjamin is a Plainfield author and filmmaker whose short film, ' 'Moves We Make' ', was filmed in Plainfield and won the Paul Robeson Award at the Newark Black Film Festival.[120]

Media[edit]

The LGBT-welcoming All Souls Church of the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield, New Jersey

Plainfield media includes:

  • TAP Into Plainfield is an online news site devoted to Plainfield.[121][122]
  • Union News Daily. A news outlet covering Union County news, it has a dedicated Plainfield section.[123] It is part of LocalSource and published by Worrall Community Newspapers of Union.
  • C L I P S is a daily online news round-up dedicated to local Plainfield news by Dan Damon, former City of Plainfield information officer. "Begun in 2003 as an email newsletter to Plainfield city council members… it was later offered to the general public by email and has been available as a blog since 2007."[124]
  • Queen City Pride is a local news and events blog.[125]
  • Plainfield Today is a city opinion blog also published by Damon.[126]
  • Plainfield View is another hyperlocal blog, published by David Marcus Rutherford.[127]
  • Remaining multi-community newspapers include the Courier News, a daily newspaper based in Bridgewater Township, and The Star-Ledger based in Newark.[128]
  • The Courier News is a consolidation of The Evening News (founded in 1884), the Plainfield Daily Press (founded in 1887) and the Plainfield Courier (founded in 1891). The paper was based in the city and called the Plainfield Courier News until 1972, when it moved westward to Bridgewater.[129][130]
  • PCTV. Plainfield also has its own channel, Plainfield Community Television (PCTV), which is available to Comcast and Verizon FiOS television subscribers on Comcast Cable Channel 96/Verizon FIOS Channel 34.[131]

As of 2017, local media in New Jersey has undergone dramatic shrinkage.[132]

Plainfield Plaintalker (2005–2010) and Plaintalker II (2010–2017) were two local blogs published by longtime local reporter Bernice Paglia.[133]

From 1961 to 1997, Plainfield was home to WERA at 1590 on the AM dial with studios at 120 West 7th Street.[134]

Places of worship[edit]

Saint Mary's Catholic Church; Plainfield, New Jersey
Grace Episcopal Church

Houses of worship include:

  • Saint Mary's Catholic Church
    Saint Mary's Rectory; Plainfield, New Jersey
    Built in the 1870s in what was then a heavily Irish neighborhood by Irish-born architect Jeremiah O'Rourke it is now a heavily Spanish-speaking parish.
  • Crescent Avenue Presbyterian.
    Crescent Avenue Presbyterian Church in the Plainfield Civic District
  • First Park Baptist.
  • Albaseerah Islamic Center is a mosque in the Sleepy Hollow district.
  • First Unitarian Society of Plainfield was founded in the 1880s. It is the oldest Unitarian congregation in the country. All Souls Church, which hosts First Unitarian was completed in the early 1890s. Magician and architect Oscar Teale designed the church in 1892.[135] With a history of involvement in the LGBTQ community and support for Black Lives Matter, it is certified as a Unitarian Universalist LGBTQ Welcoming Congregation.[136]
  • Grace Episcopal.
  • Mt. Olive Baptist.
  • Plainfield Friends Quaker Meeting House.
  • Seventh Day Baptist.
  • St. Bernard of Clairvaux & St. Stanislaus Kostka.
  • Shiloh Baptist Church established 1908.
  • United Presbyterian.
  • New Covenant Church, Pentecostal.[137]
  • Cross of Life Lutheran Church (ELCA)

Parks and recreation[edit]

Cedar Brook Park in winter
Green Brook Park Playground; Plainfield, New Jersey
Green Brook Park Drive; Plainfield, New Jersey
  • Cedar Brook Park lies on the east side of the city.
  • Green Brook Park offers hiking, sports, and picnicking in the West End.
  • The Plainfield Garden Club was founded in 1915. It has maintained the Shakespeare Garden in Cedar Brook Park since the garden's inception in 1927. Designed by the Olmsted Brothers firm, it is one of only 23 Shakespeare Gardens in the US. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is a part of the state's Women's Heritage trail.[138]
  • The hiking trails of the Watchung Reservation are located close to the city boundaries.
  • Plainfield Skatepark at Madison Park offers skateboarding and other wheeled activity.[139] In 2017, this state-of-the-art public skateboarding area opened inside Madison Park.[140] It is the first public skatepark in the city. Its modern California-style design was deemed by some skateboarders as a first in New Jersey.[141]
  • Milt Campbell Field in the East End, named for Plainfield legend and Olympic gold medalist Milt Campbell offers sports and nature walks.[142]
  • Hannah Atkins Center Pool, Rushmore Playground Pool, and Seidler Field Pool offer swimming, sports and other recreation.[143]

Government[edit]

Local government[edit]

A historic home

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.[8]

As of 2016, the Mayor of the City of Plainfield is Democrat Adrian O. Mapp, whose term of office ends December 31, 2021.[4] Members of the Plainfield City Council are Council President Charles McRae (Ward 3; D, 2020), Elton Armady (At Large All Wards; D, 2018) serving an unexpired term, Barry N. Goode (At Large Wards 1 and 4; D, 2019), Steve Hockaday (Ward 4; D, 2021), Cory Storch (Ward 2; D, 2019), Diane Toliver (Ward 1; D, 2018) and Joylette Mills-Ransome (At Large Wards 2 and 3; D, 2018).[144][145][146][147][148][149][150][151]

Gloria Taylor was appointed in January 2014 to fill the council seat expiring in December 2016 of Adrian Mapp who resigned to take office as mayor.[152] Taylor served on an interim basis until the November 2014 general election, when she was elected to serve the balance of the term of office.[149]

Federal, state and county representation[edit]

Plainfield is located in the 12th Congressional District[153] and is part of New Jersey's 22nd state legislative district.[12][154][155] 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.[156]

New Jersey's Twelfth Congressional District is represented by Bonnie Watson Coleman (D, Ewing Township).[157] New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Democrats Cory Booker (Newark, term ends 2021)[158] and Bob Menendez (Paramus, 2019).[159][160]

For the 2018–2019 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 Linda Carter (politician) (D, Plainfield) and James J. Kennedy (D, Rahway).[161][162] Carter was appointed in May 2018 to fill the vacant seat left following the death of Jerry Green the previous month after 26 years of service.[163] The Governor of New Jersey is Phil Murphy (D, Middletown Township).[164] The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Sheila Oliver (D, East Orange).[165]

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.[166] As of 2014, Union County's Freeholders are Chairman Christopher Hudak (D, Linden, term ends December 31, 2014),[167] Vice Chairman Mohamed S. Jalloh (D, Roselle, 2015),[168] Bruce Bergen (D, Springfield Township, 2015),[169] Linda Carter (D, Plainfield, 2016),[170] Angel G. Estrada (D, Elizabeth, 2014),[171] Sergio Granados (D, Elizabeth, 2016),[172] Bette Jane Kowalski (D, Cranford, 2016),[173] Alexander Mirabella (D, Fanwood, 2015)[174] and Vernell Wright (D, Union, 2014).[175][176] Constitutional officers elected on a countywide basis are County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi (D, Union, 2015),[177] Sheriff Ralph Froehlich (D, Union, 2016)[178] and Surrogate James S. LaCorte (D, Springfield Township, 2014).[179][180] The County Manager is Alfred Faella.[181]

Politics[edit]

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.[182] 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).[182][183]

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).[184][185] 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).[186] 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).[187]

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%.[188][189] 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).[190]

Education[edit]

Public schools[edit]

The Plainfield Public School District serves students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. The district is one of 31 former Abbott districts statewide,[191] 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.[192][193]

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.[194] Schools in the district (with 2011–12 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics[195]) are DeWitt D. Barlow Elementary School[196] (334; K-5), Cedarbrook Elementary School[197] (576; K-8), Clinton Elementary School[198] (335; K-8), Frederic W. Cook Elementary School[199] (264; K-7), Emerson Community School[200] (483; K-5), Evergreen Elementary School[201] (555; K-5), Jefferson Elementary School[202] (395; K-5), Charles H. Stillman Elementary School[203] (280; K-5), Washington Community School[204] (585; PreK-5), Woodland Elementary School[205] (252; K-5), Hubbard Middle School[206] (324; 6-8), Maxson Middle School[207] (314; 6-8), Plainfield High School[208] (1,367; 9-12), Barack Obama Academy for Academic & Civic Development[209] (79; 9-12) and Plainfield Academy for the Arts and Advanced Studies[210] (237; 7-12).[211]

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.[212] 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.[213] The school was removed in 2009 from the list of persistently dangerous schools in New Jersey.[214]

Plainfield is also home to New Jersey's first high school focused on sustainability, the Barack Obama Green Charter High School.[215]

Private schools[edit]

Established in 1984, Koinonia Academy moved to Plainfield in 1997, where it serves students in PreK through twelfth grades and operates under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark.[216][217]

Higher education[edit]

Union County College, a community college headquartered in nearby Cranford, maintains a campus in downtown Plainfield.[218]

Infrastructure[edit]

Transportation[edit]

Roads and highways[edit]

As of May 2010, 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.[219]

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 are Park Avenue (north-south), traversing from U.S. 22 to and into South Plainfield and Edison; Front Street (east-west), connecting Scotch Plains 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.

Public transportation[edit]

Plainfield Station, ca. 1910

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.[220]

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.[221]

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. A proposed PATH train extension to Plainfield in the 1970s, with stops at the airport and at Elizabeth, was canceled in 1976.[222]

Health care[edit]

Solaris Health System, the nonprofit company that owns Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center, 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.[223][224][225] The closing has been attributed to the large number of uninsured patients served by the hospital.[226]

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".[227]

North Avenue Commercial District
North Avenue Commercial Historic District

Plainfield Teacher's College hoax[edit]

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.[228][229]

Notable people[edit]

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

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  4. ^ a b Mayor's Bio, City of Plainfield. Accessed August 4, 2016.
  5. ^ 2017 New Jersey Mayors Directory, New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. Accessed May 30, 2017.
  6. ^ City Administrator, City of Plainfield. Accessed August 4, 2016.
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  8. ^ a b 2012 New Jersey Legislative District Data Book, Rutgers University Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, March 2013, p. 98.
  9. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: City of Plainfield, Geographic Names Information System. Accessed March 11, 2013.
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  284. ^ 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."
  285. ^ via Associated Press. "Peter McDonough, 73, Retired Legislator", The New York Times, September 1, 1998. Accessed November 9, 2017. "Mr. McDonough was a lifelong resident of Plainfield and was a champion high school swimmer."
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  287. ^ Brush, Pete. "Actor Dudley Moore Dies", CBS News, February 11, 2009. Accessed May 21, 2013.
  288. ^ 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."
  289. ^ 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."
  290. ^ 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 August 26, 2018. "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."
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  292. ^ 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."
  293. ^ Montell Owens, NFL.com. Accessed May 21, 2013.
  294. ^ 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."
  295. ^ "The Official Website of Elizabeth 'Ebee' Price" - About Elizabeth Archived August 4, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.. Accessed August 5, 2012. "Elizabeth Nicole Price was born on May 28, 1996 in Planfield, New Jersey to Diane and David Price."
  296. ^ Stevens, Andrew. "Kasim Reed; Mayor 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."
  297. ^ 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."
  298. ^ Erik Rosenmeier, Pro-Football-Reference.com. Accessed September 6, 2017.
  299. ^ 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."
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  301. ^ Justin Sears, Yale Bulldogs men's basketball. Accessed March 20, 2017. "Hometown: Plainfield, NJ"
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  303. ^ 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."
  304. ^ "Rev. Henry Soles Jr., Longtime Chicago Bulls Chaplain, Dies at 82", Earned Media, January 29, 2018. Accessed February 4, 2018. "Reverend Henry Soles, Jr. (photo) was born on August 17, 1935 in Anniston, Ala. He grew up in Plainfield, N.J. and attended Plainfield High School, Manhattan Bible Institute, and Rutgers University."
  305. ^ Percy Hamilton Stewart, Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Accessed July 10, 2007.
  306. ^ 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."
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  310. ^ 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'."
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  313. ^ 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."
  314. ^ The National Medal of Technology and Innovation Recipients: 2006 Laureates, United States Patent and Trademark Office. Accessed January 12, 2011.
  315. ^ Harrison Arlington Williams Jr., Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Accessed July 10, 2008.
  316. ^ 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.
  317. ^ 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.
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External links[edit]

Media related to Plainfield, New Jersey at Wikimedia Commons