Rahway, New Jersey

Coordinates: 40°36′26″N 74°16′50″W / 40.607152°N 74.280531°W / 40.607152; -74.280531
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Rahway, New Jersey
The historic Merchants' and Drovers' Tavern
Flag of Rahway, New Jersey
Official seal of Rahway, New Jersey
Location of Rahway in Union County, New Jersey (left). Inset map: Location of Union County in New Jersey.
Location of Rahway in Union County, New Jersey (left). Inset map: Location of Union County in New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Rahway, New Jersey Interactive map of Rahway, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Rahway, New Jersey
Interactive map of Rahway, New Jersey
Rahway is located in Union County, New Jersey
Location in Union County
Rahway is located in New Jersey
Location in New Jersey
Rahway is located in the United States
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 40°36′26″N 74°16′50″W / 40.607152°N 74.280531°W / 40.607152; -74.280531[1]
Country United States
State New Jersey
IncorporatedApril 19, 1858
 • TypeFaulkner Act (mayor–council)
 • BodyCity Council
 • MayorRaymond A. Giacobbe Jr. (D, term ends December 31, 2026)[2][3]
 • Business administratorJonathan Parham[4]
 • Municipal clerkJeffrey Jotz[5]
 • Total4.04 sq mi (10.47 km2)
 • Land3.90 sq mi (10.09 km2)
 • Water0.14 sq mi (0.38 km2)  3.59%
 • Rank295th of 565 in state
12th of 21 in county[8]
Elevation23 ft (7 m)
 • Total29,556
 • Estimate 
 • Rank81st of 565 in state
6th of 21 in county[12]
 • Density7,586.2/sq mi (2,929.0/km2)
  • Rank58th of 565 in state
7th of 21 in county[12]
Time zoneUTC−05:00 (Eastern Standard Time (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−04:00 (Eastern (EDT))
ZIP Code
Area code(s)732[15]
FIPS code3403961530[8][16][17]
GNIS feature ID0885363[1]
Location map of Rahway from 1922. The present-day ride to New York by train is typically 38 minutes.
An engraving from 1857 of Main Street in Rahway from Ballou's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion.
The Rahway rail station as it was depicted by an artist in 1857. Flatt's carriage warehouse is at left and Degraw's Hotel is center.
Elm Avenue, looking west, c. early 1900s

Rahway (/ˈrɔːw/) is a city in southern Union County, in the U.S. state of New Jersey. A bedroom community of New York City, it is centrally located in the Rahway Valley region, in the New York metropolitan area.[18] The city is 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Manhattan and 5 miles (8.0 km) west of Staten Island.

Built on the navigable Rahway River, it was an industrial and artisanal craft city for much of its history. The city has increasingly reinvented itself in recent years as a diverse regional hub for the arts[19][20] and biological sciences, with a new global headquarters for Merck & Co.

As of the 2020 United States census, the city's population was 29,556,[9][10] its highest decennial count ever and an increase of 2,210 (+8.1%) from the 27,346 recorded at the 2010 census,[21][22] which in turn reflected an increase of 846 (+3.2%) from the 26,500 counted in the 2000 census.[23]


The old Rahway library. Built in 1869, the building is now home to an art gallery, The Gallery Space.[24]

Indigenous presence[edit]

Rahway and the surrounding area were once the home of the Lenape Native Americans, and tradition states that the city was named after Rahwack (or Ra-wa-rah), a local tribal chief.[25][26][27]

English colonization[edit]

Formal European colonization began in 1664 with the purchase by the English from the Lenape of the Elizabethtown Tract, which encompassed lands from the mouth of the Raritan River and included all of present-day Union County as well as parts of Somerset, Middlesex, Morris and Essex counties. The early settlers of Elizabethtown and Woodbridge were the founders of Rahway which began as outlying acreage and plantations.[28] The Seventeenth Century Clark House is one of the oldest buildings in the state.[29]

By the 18th century, Rahway consisted of four distinct communities: Upper Rahway, Bridge Town (or Lower Rahway), Leesville, and Milton.[28]

Revolutionary War and the Battle of Spanktown[edit]

Rahway saw action during the American Revolutionary War because of its proximity to Staten Island, Elizabethtown and Perth Amboy. In January 1777, rebels were victorious against the British in the Battle of Spanktown, which resulted in the death of some 100 British troops.[30] The battle was named this after Rahway's original name given to it by the first settlers, Spanktown,[25] which is said to have been chosen "because an early settler publicly took his spouse across his knee and chastised her".[31] Spanktown was mentioned in Revolutionary War military dispatches from January 5, 1777, through March 14, 1782.[32]

The Merchants' and Drovers' Tavern is located at the corner of St. Georges and Westfield Avenues. The earliest buildings at the site date to 1795 and the property remains one of Rahway's most prominent historical landmarks.[33] George Washington visited Rahway during his travel to New York City prior to his presidential inauguration in 1789. A marker across the street from the tavern reads:[34]

Here, on April 23, 1789, on his way to New York City, Washington was received by troops from Elizabethtown and Newark. He was entertained at the inn kept by Samuel Smith by gentlemen of the town.

Following the Revolution, Rahway became the home of the first national mint to create a coin bearing the inscription E pluribus unum.[35] A United States Post Office established in Rahway was one of only six in the entire state in 1791.

Various historical place markers in town document Rahway Revolutionary War history.[36]

Stagecoach era and corporate growth[edit]

The Wheatena breakfast cereal plant in 1923, with the Rahway River at left. The brand promoted a popular radio series starring Raymond Knight: "Wheatenaville, the Rahway factory complex, transformed into Wheatenaville, the 1930s radio serial about a perfect family in a perfect town that ate Wheatena for strength and prosperity."[37]
The title page of a work by Henry Drummond and published by the Mershon Company of Rahway, which began as bookbinder W. L. Mershon & Co. in 1877 and became a book publisher in the 1890s.[38]

Rahway grew due to its location along the major stagecoach and railroad lines between New York City and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The navigable Rahway River, which flows through the city, also aided the city's commercial growth.

As immigrants from Britain, Ireland and Germany streamed into what was then Rahway Township in the 1850s, Rahway became incorporated as a city by an act of the State Legislature on April 19, 1858, from portions of Rahway Township in Union and Woodbridge Township in Middlesex County. In 1860, the portion of Rahway that had been part of Middlesex County was transferred to Union. On March 13, 1861, the remainder of Rahway Township became part of Rahway City. Clark Township was formed from portions of the city on March 23, 1864.[39]

The first municipal elections for the mayor and council were conducted on April 19, 1858, and the council held its first meeting on May 3, 1858. The city's police department and its initial group of four constables were created at that first council meeting.[40]

The city became home to dozens of major manufacturers, including the Regina Music Box Company, Wheatena, Mershon Bros. and, most importantly, Merck & Co., which was established in Rahway in 1903, when George W. Merck moved his small chemical company to Rahway from New York City.[41]

Postwar era[edit]

The national decline in industry after World War II led to the closure of most of Rahway's major manufacturing facilities (except for Merck) and a general deterioration of the city's central business district.[42]


The Regina Music Box Company at 54 Cherry Street Rahway in 1895. The former factory building has been converted to the Heritage Square condos.

Beginning in the late 1990s, the city launched a plan to revitalize the downtown area and authorized the construction of hundreds of new market-rate housing units, a hotel, art galleries and additional retail space.[43]


The Rahway welcome sign

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city had a total area of 4.04 square miles (10.47 km2), including 3.90 square miles (10.09 km2) of land and 0.15 square miles (0.38 km2) of water (3.59%).[8][44]

Rahway is bordered by the municipalities of Clark to the northwest and Linden to the northeast in Union County; and by Woodbridge Township to the south in Middlesex County.[45][46][47]

Rahway River and water tower

The Rahway River travels through Rahway, entering from Clark at Rahway River Parkway. The river receives the waters of Robinsons Branch at Elizabeth Avenue between West Grand Avenue and West Main Street, and then receives the waters of the South Branch at East Hazlewood Avenue and Leesville Avenue. The river leaves Rahway at the city limits of Linden and Woodbridge before flowing into the Arthur Kill.[48]

Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the city include Inman Heights and North Rahway.[49]


The current Rahway Public Library
Historical population
2022 (est.)29,693[9][11]0.5%
Population sources: 1860–1920[50]
1860–1960[51] 1860–1870[52] 1870[53]
1890–1910[54] 1860–1930[55]
1900–1990[56] 2000[57][58]
2010[21][22] 2020[9][10]
* = Lost territory in previous decade.[39]

2010 census[edit]

The 2010 United States census counted 27,346 people, 10,533 households, and 6,815 families in the city. The population density was 7,016.8 per square mile (2,709.2/km2). There were 11,300 housing units at an average density of 2,899.5 per square mile (1,119.5/km2). The racial makeup was 52.30% (14,301) White, 30.93% (8,457) Black or African American, 0.31% (84) Native American, 4.30% (1,175) Asian, 0.02% (5) Pacific Islander, 8.37% (2,288) from other races, and 3.79% (1,036) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 23.52% (6,433) of the population.[21]

Of the 10,533 households, 28.1% had children under the age of 18; 42.4% were married couples living together; 16.8% had a female householder with no husband present and 35.3% were non-families. Of all households, 29.5% were made up of individuals and 11.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.58 and the average family size was 3.23.[21]

21.8% of the population were under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 27.5% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38.8 years. For every 100 females, the population had 91.1 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 87.1 males.[21]

The Census Bureau's 2006–2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $58,551 (with a margin of error of +/− $3,355) and the median family income was $77,268 (+/− $9,506). Males had a median income of $56,572 (+/− $3,375) versus $47,832 (+/− $3,542) for females. The per capita income for the city was $28,855 (+/− $1,981). About 5.4% of families and 8.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.9% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.[59]

2000 census[edit]

As of the 2000 United States census[16] there were 26,500 people, 10,028 households, and 6,728 families residing in the city. The population density was 6,642.7 inhabitants per square mile (2,564.8/km2). There were 10,381 housing units at an average density of 2,602.2 per square mile (1,004.7/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 60.19% White, 27.07% African American, 0.16% Native American, 3.58% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 5.62% from other races, and 3.33% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino people of any race were 13.87% of the population.[57][58]

There were 10,028 households, out of which 30.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.7% were married couples living together, 15.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.9% were non-families. 28.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.24.[57][58]

In the city the population was spread out, with 23.9% under the age of 18, 7.8% from 18 to 24, 32.0% from 25 to 44, 21.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.5 males.[57][58]

The median income for a household in the city was $50,729, and the median income for a family was $61,931. Males had a median income of $41,047 versus $32,091 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,481. About 5.4% of families and 7.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.3% of those under age 18 and 8.2% of those age 65 or over.[57][58]



Main Street in 1920. The red storefront third down from the right is now cigar lounge Sticks Cigars. Next to it is the building where present-day Romero's 1947 serves Portuguese cuisine. The building across the street at the corner of Cherry (1510 Main) is now a seafood market.
The Rahway National Bank, built in 1900 and renovated for office, retail, and restaurant space in the 2020s as The National building.[60]

In 2020, downtown Rahway received accolades as a Great Downtown by the American Planning Association:

"Downtown Rahway is a great place. It is a place that emphasizes livability, walkability, shopping, food, art, diversity and a destination. Centered in the heart of the bustling City of Rahway, next to the NJ Transit Station, Rahway's downtown is the building block for this diverse city."[61]

In 2019, the Watt Hotel opened across from the train station, with 100 rooms managed by Hilton on the third and fourth floors of a 17-story building, a lobby cocktail lounge and a rooftop terrace with a seasonal bar offering views of the city, river and outwards to the Watchung Mountains.[62][63]

Beginning in the early 1990s and continuing through the present day, the City of Rahway has rebounded as its downtown began to see the construction of new restaurants, art galleries, market-rate housing and the old Rahway Theatre reopening as the Union County Performing Arts Center. The theater underwent a $6.2-million renovation and expansion project, completed in 2007. As part of the expansion, the facility was purchased by the County of Union for $1.3 million and leased back for $1 a year.[64]

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Rahway[edit]

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Rahway, formerly Rahway Hospital, is a 122-bed[65] non-profit, public, research and academic teaching hospital located in Rahway. The medical center is a part of the RWJBarnabas Health System. It is affiliated with the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.[66] It also has an emergency department for area residents.[67]

Merck & Co.[edit]

In 2021, Merck & Co. announced that it would be returning its global headquarters to its Rahway research campus (currently the largest private employer in Rahway) and former headquarters.[68] By 2024, Merck plans to complete the move of headquarters to Rahway.[69]

Arts and culture[edit]

Local news media[edit]

The Gallery Space, an art gallery in Rahway. The building was erected in 1869 as the Rahway library and is the second oldest building in New Jersey specifically built as a library.[70]
  • TAPInto Rahway is a local news site covering Rahway news exclusively, part of the TAPinto network of news in Central and Northern New Jersey.[71]
  • Rahway Rising is a longstanding news site run by the former editor of the now-defunct newspaper The Rahway Progress and covering city council meetings with a focus on redevelopment.[72]
  • Rahway Is Happening! is the news release arm of the Rahway Special Improvement District, announcing and promoting the arts, festivals, dining, shopping, new and established local businesses, and other downtown culture.[73][74]
  • Our Town Rahway is a free monthly community newspaper mailed out to residents and published by Renna Media.[75]
  • Union News Daily. A news outlet covering Union County news, it has a dedicated Rahway section.[76] It is part of LocalSource and published by Worrall Community Newspapers of Union.
  • Remaining multi-community newspapers that cover Rahway include the Courier News, a daily newspaper based in Bridgewater Township, and The Star-Ledger and the Suburban News based in Newark.[77]

Library and other media[edit]

The book bindery room at Quinn & Boden Company in Rahway in the early 1920s.

In September 1999, remnants of Hurricane Floyd swept across New Jersey and caused severe damage. The Rahway Public Library was on a flood plain and suffered over US$1 million in flood damage. The building was demolished in October 2001 and a new library was constructed and opened on March 22, 2004, behind the city's municipal building along a less flood-prone area of the Rahway River.[78] The site of the former Rahway Public Library now contains tennis courts and a small playground. The new library opened in 2004.[79]

Historian and Rahway native Eva Bridges opened the city's Black-owned bookstore, Bridges Book Center Afro-American Research Library & Museum, located at 1480 Main Street, in 1970.[80][81]

Performing and visual arts[edit]

Hamilton Stage for the Performing Arts at UCPAC in Rahway

As of the early 2020s, downtown Rahway has become a regional hub in the performing and visual arts.[82] In 2021, Rahway was named the #2 Best Small Town Arts Scene in the country by USA Today.[83]

The landmarked Rahway Theatre building is home to the Union County Performing Arts Center.[84]

Houses of worship[edit]

The First Presbyterian Church of Rahway in an engraving from 1857, looking much the same as it does today.
An engraving from 1857 of St. Paul's Church at 80 Elm Street, erected in 1842. The church is the present-day home to the Word of Life congregation.
  • The First Presbyterian Church of Rahway was established in 1741 and its current church on Grand and Church Street was built in 1832. It was extensively remodeled in 1876.[85][86][87]
  • Divine Mercy Parish is a Roman Catholic community of faith in Rahway. Its church on Central Avenue was built in 1888 by Irish architect Jeremiah O'Rourke. It was formerly known as St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, which was merged by the Archdiocese with the former St. Mark's German Catholic Church around 2010 to form Divine Mercy Parish.[88][89][90][91]
  • Built in 1865, the Seventh-day Adventist Church stands at the intersection of Main Street and West Emerson (1221 New Brunswick Avenue).[92] It was formerly the Second Presbyterian, but that congregation merged with the First Presbyterian in 2012.[93]
  • Established in 1826, the Ebenezer AME Church in Rahway is one of the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the country[94]
  • Trinity Methodist. Founded in 1849, this Methodist group was called Second Methodist. In 1893, the group changed its name to Trinity United Methodist and built the large brick, Romanesque-styled church on the corner of E. Milton Avenue and Main Street.

Parks and recreation[edit]

City parks[edit]

The city is home to more than ten parks. The best-known is Rahway River Park, which is maintained by Union County, and is also partially located in Clark. The Robinson's Branch Reservoir abuts the city at the Madison Hill Bridge on the Clark-Rahway border.

The pool at Rahway River Park[edit]

The Walter E. Ulrich swimming pool in Rahway River Park was extensively renovated and retiled in 2021. A beach-style splash feature for children, with an "ocean-like" sloping entry without stairs, was added to the pool that year. The pool is available to Union County residents and their guests for a daily fee.[95] Built in 1929, it was documented by the Historic American Engineering Record in 1985.[96]


Rahway City Hall

Local government[edit]

The City of Rahway is governed under the Faulkner Act system of municipal government under the Mayor-Council (Plan F), implemented as of January 1, 1955, based on the recommendations of a Charter Study Commission.[97] The township is one of 71 municipalities (of the 564) statewide that use this form of government.[98] The city's governing body is comprised of the Mayor and the nine-member City Council. The Mayor is elected directly by the voters. The City Council is comprised of nine members, all elected to four-year terms of office. Six members of the council are elected from each of six wards. The other three members are elected to represent the entire city on an at-large basis. Elections are in even-numbered years, with the six ward seats up together, followed two years later by the three at-large seats and the mayoral seat.[6][99][100][101] Under the City of Rahway's form of government, all executive and administrative authority is vested in the office of the mayor, who appoints the Business Administrator and department directors. The Business Administrator develops an annual budget for the city, manages the city's departments and oversees its employees. This form of government gives citizens a centralized line of authority for the efficient management of the city's business.[2]

As of 2022, the mayor of Rahway is Democrat Raymond A. Giacobbe Jr., whose term of office ends December 31, 2026.[2] The members of the Municipal Council are Jeffrey Brooks (At Large; D, 2026), David Brown (Fourth Ward; D, 2024), Michael W. Cox (Second Ward; D, 2024), Joseph D. Gibilisco (Sixth Ward; D, 2024), Joanna Miles (At Large; D, 2026), Jeremy E. Mojica (At Large; D, 2026), Danielle "Danni" Newbury (Fifth Ward; D, 2024), Al Parker (First Ward; D, 2024) and Vannie Deloris Parson (Third Ward; D, 2024).[102][103][104][105][106]

In January 2022, Jeffrey Brooks was appointed from a list of three candidates nominated by the Democratic municipal committee to the fill the at-large seat expiring in December 2022 that had been held by James E. Baker until he stepped down from office to take a seat on the Union County Board of County Commissioners.[107]

Federal, state, and county representation[edit]

Rahway is located in the 7th Congressional District[108] and is part of New Jersey's 22nd state legislative district.[109][110][111]

For the 118th United States Congress, New Jersey's 7th congressional district is represented by Thomas Kean Jr. (R, Westfield).[112] New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Democrats Cory Booker (Newark, term ends 2027)[113] and Bob Menendez (Englewood Cliffs, term ends 2025).[114][115]

For the 2024-2025 session, 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 S. Carter (D, Plainfield) and James J. Kennedy (D, Rahway).[116]

Union County is governed by a Board of County Commissioners, 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 Chair and Vice Chair from among its members.[117] As of 2024, Union County's County Commissioners are:

Rebecca Williams (D, Plainfield, 2025),[118] Joesph Bodek (D, Linden, 2026),[119] James E. Baker Jr. (D, Rahway, 2024),[120] Michele Delisfort (D, Union Township, 2026),[121] Sergio Granados (D, Elizabeth, 2025),[122] Bette Jane Kowalski (D, Cranford, 2025),[123] Vice Chair Lourdes M. Leon (D, Elizabeth, 2026),[124] Alexander Mirabella (D, Fanwood, 2024)[125] and Chair Kimberly Palmieri-Mouded (D, Westfield, 2024).[126][127]

Constitutional officers elected on a countywide basis are: Clerk Joanne Rajoppi (D, Union Township, 2025),[128][129] Sheriff Peter Corvelli (D, Kenilworth, 2026)[130][131] and Surrogate Christopher E. Hudak (D, Clark, 2027).[132][133]


As of March 2011, there were a total of 15,719 registered voters in Rahway, of whom 7,159 (45.5% vs. 41.8% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 1,675 (10.7% vs. 15.3%) were registered as Republicans and 6,880 (43.8% vs. 42.9%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 5 voters registered as Libertarians or Greens.[134] Among the city's 2010 Census population, 57.5% (vs. 53.3% in Union County) were registered to vote, including 73.5% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 70.6% countywide).[134][135]

In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 8,413 votes (74.7% vs. 66.0% countywide), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 2,648 votes (23.5% vs. 32.3%) and other candidates with 107 votes (0.9% vs. 0.8%), among the 11,269 ballots cast by the city's 16,730 registered voters, for a turnout of 67.4% (vs. 68.8% in Union County).[136][137] In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 8,340 votes (69.8% vs. 63.1% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 3,410 votes (28.5% vs. 35.2%) and other candidates with 115 votes (1.0% vs. 0.9%), among the 11,944 ballots cast by the city's 16,039 registered voters, for a turnout of 74.5% (vs. 74.7% in Union County).[138] In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 6,512 votes (63.1% vs. 58.3% countywide), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 3,668 votes (35.5% vs. 40.3%) and other candidates with 92 votes (0.9% vs. 0.7%), among the 10,326 ballots cast by the city's 14,471 registered voters, for a turnout of 71.4% (vs. 72.3% in the whole county).[139]

In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Democrat Barbara Buono received 55.4% of the vote (3,211 cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 43.0% (2,494 votes), and other candidates with 1.6% (93 votes), among the 5,934 ballots cast by the city's 16,359 registered voters (136 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 36.3%.[140][141] In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 3,961 ballots cast (57.4% vs. 50.6% countywide), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 2,451 votes (35.5% vs. 41.7%), Independent Chris Daggett with 366 votes (5.3% vs. 5.9%) and other candidates with 68 votes (1.0% vs. 0.8%), among the 6,895 ballots cast by the city's 15,842 registered voters, yielding a 43.5% turnout (vs. 46.5% in the county).[142]


The Rahway Public Schools serve students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade.[143] As of the 2020–21 school year, the district, comprised of six schools, had an enrollment of 4,056 students and 325.5 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 12.5:1.[144] Schools in the district (with 2020–21 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics[145]) are Grover Cleveland Elementary School[146] with 513 students in grades PreK-6, Franklin Elementary School[147] with 618 students in grades PreK-6, Madison Elementary School[148] with 341 students in grades PreK-6, Roosevelt Elementary School[149] with 578 students in grades PreK-6, Rahway 7th & 8th Grade Academy[150] with 730 students in grades 7-8 and Rahway High School[151] with 1,124 students in grades 9-12.[152][153]


Marquis de Lafayette[edit]

From July 1824 to September 1825, the French Marquis de Lafayette, the last surviving major general of the American Revolutionary War, made a tour of the 24 states in the United States, stopping at the Peace Tavern in Rahway.[154][155][156]

Nikola Tesla[edit]

In the 1880s, Nikola Tesla opened Tesla Electric Light & Manufacturing in Rahway.

Legends of pirate treasure[edit]

According to recently resurfaced 19th century lore, Captain William Kidd buried treasure in the Rahway area, alongside the body of one of his men he had just murdered.

The location of this pirate treasure was said to be on the southern banks of the Rahway River at a spot called Price's or Post's Woods, said to be midway between Rahway and the Arthur Kill.

The murder and burial of treasure was witnessed secretly from a tree, allegedly, by a Lenape chieftain known as Ra-wa-rah who is the namesake of the city of Rahway. Ra-wa-rah allegedly witnessed the murder and burial of treasure while returning from a fishing journey.[157]

East Jersey State Prison[edit]

East Jersey State Prison, formerly known as Rahway State Prison, actually is located in Woodbridge Township at the border with Rahway. The prison's mailing address is in Rahway, leading many to believe the facility was located there. The prison's official name was changed to East Jersey State Prison as of November 30, 1988, at the request of the citizens of Rahway.[158] East Jersey State Prison is seen at the beginning of the movie Ocean's Eleven, starring George Clooney. The 1978 documentary Scared Straight was filmed there, as was the 1989 movie Lock Up, starring Sylvester Stallone. The prison was briefly mentioned in John Sayles City of Hope (1991).[159]

The Unknown Woman[edit]

The Rahway murder of 1887 was the unsolved murder of an unidentified young woman whose body was found in the city on March 25, 1887, garnering attention from the press and the public.[160]


U.S. Route 1/9 northbound in Rahway

Roads and highways[edit]

As of 2010, the city had a total of 73.67 miles (118.56 km) of roadways, of which 59.18 miles (95.24 km) were maintained by the municipality, 10.45 miles (16.82 km) by Union County and 4.04 miles (6.50 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.[161]

Rahway is served by U.S. Route 1/9, Route 27, and Route 35. The city is sandwiched between the Garden State Parkway and the New Jersey Turnpike, which are each located about two miles outside of the city limits. There are several crossings of the Rahway River in the city.

Public transportation[edit]

The Rahway Station of NJ Transit

NJ Transit 115 route provides local service and interstate service to and from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan, with service on the 48 line to Elizabeth and Perth Amboy.[162]

Rahway Train Station[163] serves NJ Transit's North Jersey Coast Line and Northeast Corridor Line.[164][165] The City of Rahway and NJ Transit helped fund a $16 million renovation for the station in 1999 and a public plaza in front of the station was completed in 2001, changes that have spurred cleanup and revitalization downtown.[166] A new US$11.2 million 524-space parking deck opened across the street from the station in January 2005, helping train commuters and allowing the city to transform old parking lot space into new buildings and residences.[167] A typical train ride to New York City's Pennsylvania Station takes 38 minutes.


Newark Liberty International Airport is 10.2 miles (16.4 km) northeast of Rahway, approximately a 20-minute drive by car,[168] or approximately 16 minutes by Coast or Northeast Corridor Line.[169]


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Rahway has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.[170]

Climate data for Rahway, New Jersey
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 4
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) −4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 74
Source: Weatherbase[171]

Notable people[edit]

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

Marquis de Lafayette
Nikola Tesla
Juliette Atkinson
Milton Friedman
Carl Sagan
Antonio Garay
Dion Dawkins


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  185. ^ Carino, Jerry. "In Jeff Lubreski, Plainfield's loss is Rahway's gain", Courier News, July 1, 2015. Accessed September 21, 2015. "Not that Rahway is a basketball wasteland. The Indians produced Earl Clark and Louis Campbell, among others, and achieved steady success under previous coach Kevin Conroy."
  186. ^ Staff. "Case: Eisenhower Stalwart and McCarthy Foe; Republican Nominee for Senate Big Vote Getter in Jersey", The New York Times, October 28, 1954. Accessed April 15, 2011. "Clifford P. Case of Rahway is a lean scholarly looking man, whose quiet manner, philosophical speeches and natural inclination for unostentatious campaigning hardly fit the mold of political orthodoxy."
  187. ^ Staff. "House Of Abraham Clark, A Signer, Will Be Rebuilt; Duplicate of Rahway Home to Memorialize Him and Two Sons as Revolutionary Patriots", The New York Times, February 6, 1927. Accessed September 21, 2015. "Abraham Clark, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, is to be honored by the erection of a memorial house in his home town, Rahway, N.J."
  188. ^ Earl Clark Archived 2011-02-21 at the Wayback Machine, University of Louisville. Accessed June 17, 2009.
  189. ^ McCullough, Andy. Rahway's Earl Clark picked by Phoenix Suns in first round of NBA Draft", The Star-Ledger, June 25, 2009. Accessed September 21, 2015.
  190. ^ Fowler, Henry. The American Pulpit: Sketches, Biographical and Descriptive, of Living American Preachers, and of the Religious Movements and Distinctive Ideas which They Represent, p. 351. J.M. Fowler, 1856. Accessed September 21, 2015. "They were members of the Society of Friends; were married February 13, 1791; removed from Philadelphia March 23, 1792, to Rahway, New Jersey, where, at Leesville, as now called, Samuel H. Cox was born."
  191. ^ Gado, Mark. Death Row Women: Murder, Justice, and the New York Press, p. 94. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008. ISBN 9780275993610. Accessed July 26, 2019. "Of all of the women executed in New York during the twentieth century, Mary Frances Creighton received the least sympathy from the public -- and this may be deservedly so. Mary Frances Avery was born in the suburban city of Rahway, New Jersey, in 1899."
  192. ^ American Ancestry. Vol. 4. Albany: Joel Munsell's Sons. 1889. p. 210.
  193. ^ Wallye. "The story of the Assemblyman who got caught stealing an air conditioner", PolitickerNJ, May 7, 2009. Accessed September 21, 2015. "Arnold D'Ambrosa was the 40-year-old Rahway Democratic Municipal Chairman and Public Works Director when he was elected to the State Assembly in 1973.... In July 1974, six months after taking office, D'Ambrosa was arrested on charges that he sold an air conditioner owned by Rahway for $600, pocketing the money, and he took a $200 bribe from a contractor."
  194. ^ Downer, Harry E. History of Davenport and Scott County Iowa: Illustrated, Volume 1, p. 856. S.J. Clarke, 1910. Accessed September 21, 2015. "Acting upon this advice he went to New Jersey and stopped at the pleasant village of Rahway, where he remained some time and then went to Carlisle, Pennsylvania."
  195. ^ Dion Dawkins, Temple Owls football. Accessed February 4, 2021. "Hometown: Rahway, N.J.; High School: Rahway"
  196. ^ Sutherland, Emily. "Hall of Honor: Evie", Homecoming magazine, August 1, 2011. Accessed September 21, 2015. "Born: 1957 in Rahway, New Jersey"
  197. ^ Bodovitz, Sandra. "'Forgotten' Sculptor Has Day In Gallery", The New York Times, June 15, 1986. Accessed September 21, 2015. "Born in the Union County community of Rahway in 1790, Frazee first demonstrated his novel style by carving tombstones, many of which still dot New Jersey cemeteries."
  198. ^ Washington, Ethel M. Union County's Black Soldiers and Sailors of the Civil War, p. 17. The History Press, 2011. ISBN 1596294469. Accessed September 19, 2012. "Ana Maria Weems escaped slavery through the Underground Railroad with the assistance of Rahway-born Amos Noe Freeman."
  199. ^ Milton Friedman – Biographical, Nobel Prize. Accessed August 4, 2013. "When I was a year old, my parents moved to Rahway, N.J., a small town about 20 miles from New York City."
  200. ^ Slotnik, Daniel E. "Leighton Gage, Crime Novelist, Dies at 71", The New York Times, August 2, 2013. Accessed August 4, 2013. "Leighton Gage was born on May 13, 1942, in Rahway, N.J."
  201. ^ Antonio Garay Archived 2007-03-28 at the Wayback Machine, Chicago Bears. Accessed May 17, 2007. "Earned Prep Star All-American and All-New Jersey Group III honors as a senior at Rahway H.S. in Rahway, N.J. after totaling 141 tackles and 10 sacks in his final season... Outstanding wrestler who was tabbed the 275-pound national champion by the National High School Coaches' Association"
  202. ^ About Wayne Archived 2007-09-26 at the Wayback Machine, Congressman Wayne Gilchrest. Accessed May 17, 2007. "Born in Rahway, New Jersey, he was the fourth of Elizabeth and Arthur Gilchrest's six boys."
  203. ^ Tucker, Spencer C. Persian Gulf War Encyclopedia: A Political, Social, and Military History: A Political, Social, and Military History, p. 175. ABC-CLIO, 2014. ISBN 9781610694162. Accessed November 20, 2017. "Alfred M. Gray Jr. was born on June 22, 1928, at Rahway, New Jersey. Raised in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, he attended Lafayette College but dropped out of school and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1950."
  204. ^ Kagan, Jerome. An Argument for Mind, p. 4. Yale University Press, 2007. ISBN 9780300126037. Accessed May 30, 2014. "Rahway, New Jersey, a town twenty miles south of New York City, with a population of about twenty thousand in my childhood, had a relatively large working-class population and a small group of Jewish merchants, including my father."
  205. ^ Copeland, Libby. "Prison Revolt: Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski Says the Abu Ghraib Investigation Is About Scapegoating, but She's Having None of It", The Washington Post, May 10, 2004. Accessed April 15, 2011. "As a child growing up in Rahway, N.J., Janis Beam once tried to jump from her second-story window because it didn't seem that far down."
  206. ^ Rahway, New Jersey Native, William H. Lash III Appointed as Assistant Secretary for Market Access and Compliance at the U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration Office of Public Affairs, August 30, 2001. Accessed May 22, 2013.
  207. ^ Moriarty, Thomas. "Trump will name this Christie ally from Jersey to federal judgeship", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, April 10, 2018, updated January 30, 2019. Accessed January 21, 2021. "Matey, a 47-year-old who was born in Edison and raised in Rahway, spent four years under Christie at the U.S. Attorney's Office before joining him in Trenton."
  208. ^ Murray, Constance P. From individual salvation to social salvation: Why evangelist B. Fay Mills changed his revival message, James Madison University, Fall 2011. Accessed February 16, 2020. "Mills was born in Rahway, New Jersey, in 1857, to parents who were deeply committed to the theology and work of the New School Presbyterian Church."
  209. ^ Jennings, Duffy. "Meet Richard Moran, Menlo College", Joint Venture Silicon Valley, April 2015. Accessed May 24, 2021. "Moran grew up in a traditional Irish Catholic family in the southern New Jersey town of Rahway, best known, he quickly points out, for the state penitentiary there."
  210. ^ "Nadel, Ira Bruce 1943-", in Contemporary Authors, backed up by the Internet Archive as of June 10, 2014. Accessed November 13, 2019. "Born July 22, 1943, in Rahway, NJ"
  211. ^ Dunleavy, Ryan. "'The Jersey in me'; Olsen Pierre born to be Giants’ pass-rusher but had to beat the football odds to get back home", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, June 27, 2019. Accessed February 9, 2022. "Pierre grew up in Rahway as a Giants fan during Umenyiora’s heyday and the beginning of Pierre-Paul’s career.... He left as a three-star recruit at Rahway High School who had to attend Fork Union Military Academy in order to become NCAA eligible."
  212. ^ Weber, Bruce. "Dory Previn, Songwriter, Is Dead at 86", The New York Times, February 14, 2012. May 20, 2012. "Dorothy Veronica Langan was born in New Jersey — sources differ on the town, Rahway or Woodbridge — on Oct. 22, 1925, and she grew up in Woodbridge."
  213. ^ Goldberg, Marv. "The Concords", Marv Goldberg's Yesterday's Memories Rhythm & Blues Party. Accessed September 21, 2015. "Enter Pearl Reaves, a singer originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, who had moved to Rahway, New Jersey in the late 40s."
  214. ^ Kochakian, Dan. "Pearl Reaves", Women, Whiskey and..., December 1985, Issue 15. pp. 25-27.
  215. ^ Jordan, Chris. "Rahway's Eric Roberson heads to L.A. for a possible Grammy", Courier News, January 30, 2010. Accessed December 28, 2010.
  216. ^ Freddie Russo, New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame. Accessed June 2, 2022. "Freddie Russo was born in Brooklyn, New York on October 3, 1924. His family moved to Rahway, New Jersey and that city became the home base for one of the classiest boxer-punchers of that era."
  217. ^ Oral history interview with Carl Sagan, 1991 August 27., American Institute of Physics. Accessed May 22, 2013.
  218. ^ Giase, Frank. "NY Red Bulls go for attacking players in MLS draft, trade for veteran defender Chris Albright", The Star-Ledger, January 14, 2010. Accessed November 11, 2017. "The only other player with New Jersey ties taken in the draft was Villanova midfielder Mike Seamon, a Rahway native who attended Union Catholic High."
  219. ^ Mark Slonaker, Georgia Bulldogs. Accessed July 12, 2016. "A native of Rahway, N.J., Slonaker lettered for the Bulldogs (1976–79) and was co-captain of coach Hugh Durham's first team at Georgia in '79."
  220. ^ Chris Smith, Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Accessed June 5, 2007.
  221. ^ Prunty, Brendan. "Rahway's Dexter Strickland enjoying quick basketball baptism with North Carolina", The Star-Ledger, November 19, 2009. Accessed April 23, 2011.
  222. ^ Staff. "Sagal adds edge to FX's new 'Sons'", Philadelphia Daily News, September 3, 2008. Accessed May 20, 2012. "Created by Kurt Sutter, a New Jersey native whose biography boasts that he was 'raised in the shadow of Rahway prison' and spent much of his childhood indoors, away from people, three feet from a TV screen."
  223. ^ Cheney, Margaret. "Tesla: Man Out of Time". Accessed June 5, 2007. "The Tesla Electric Light Company was formed, with headquarters at Rahway, New Jersey, and a branch office in New York.
  224. ^ Haley, John. "Q and A session with Marques Townes of St. Joseph (Met.), what sport will he play in college?", The Star-Ledger, January 28, 2014. Accessed March 26, 2018. "So that was the first thing I addressed with Townes, who grew up in Rahway, moved to South Amboy in the fifth grade and who now lives in Edison."
  225. ^ Warner, Bob. "Former Police Commissioner Kevin M. Tucker dies at 71", The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 20, 2012. Accessed July 6, 2012. "He was one of six children born to Irish immigrants William and Catherine Tucker. The family moved to Rahway, N.J., and Mr. Tucker attended St. Mary High School in Elizabeth."
  226. ^ a b Staff. "Vaches Now a Brother Act", St. Paul Pioneer Press, April 1, 1993. Accessed December 28, 2010. "The best place to freelance Allan figured is the New York area So he moved back to his and Warren's nearby hometown Rahway NJ."
  227. ^ Rodriguez, Alex W. "Jazz happenings for the week of Dec. 22", The Star-Ledger, December 22, 2010. Accessed December 28, 2010.
  228. ^ Johnson, Robert. "Looking Back Is Not an Option", The New York Times, November 28, 2004. Accessed October 19, 2007. "He is also promoting his new book "Medicine, Science and Merck" (Cambridge University Press), written with Louis Galambos, describing his path from son of a luncheonette owner in Rahway, N.J., to leader of a pharmaceutical giant."
  229. ^ Staff. "Carolyn Wells, Novelist, Dead; Noted for Mystery Stories and Nonsense Verse, Also for Children's Works Began Writing In Rahway Wrote 170 Books by 1937 and 70 Were Mysteries -- Widow of Publisher's Son", The New York Times, March 27, 1942. Accessed May 22, 2013.
  230. ^ Staff. "Rahway's Own, Shanice Williams plays 'Dorothy' in The Wiz Live", Suburban News, December 8, 2015. Accessed May 30, 2016. "On the evening of Dec. 4, the Rahway community gathered at the town's high school to celebrate the success of yet another of 'Rahway's Own', Shanice Williams, who won the coveted role of Dorothy in NBC's network television premiere of The Wiz Live!"
  231. ^ Rourke, Bryan. "At the Black Ships Festival: Saki, sushi, sumo and more", The Providence Journal, July 16, 2009. Accessed December 28, 2010. "Yarbrough, 44, of Rahway, N.J., is visiting Newport this weekend for the Black Ships Festival."
  232. ^ Robert Zakanitch, Ro Gallery. Accessed April 6, 2022. "Having grown up in Rahway, New Jersey, he has been an exhibitor in New York since 1968."

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