Somerset County, New Jersey
|Founded||May 14, 1688|
|Named for||English county of Somerset|
|Largest city||Franklin Township (population)|
Hillsborough Township (area)
|• Total||304.86 sq mi (789.6 km2)|
|• Land||301.81 sq mi (781.7 km2)|
|• Water||3.04 sq mi (7.9 km2) 1.00%|
| • Estimate |
|• Density||1,100/sq mi (410/km2)|
|Congressional districts||7th, 12th|
Somerset County is a county located in the north-central part of the U.S. state of New Jersey. As of the 2019 Census estimate, the county's population was 328,934, a 1.7% increase from the 2010 United States Census, making it the 13th most populous of the state's 21 counties. Somerset County is part of the New York Metropolitan Area. Its county seat is Somerville. The most populous place was Franklin Township, with 62,300 residents at the time of the 2010 Census, while Hillsborough Township, covered 55.00 square miles (142.4 km2), the largest total area of any municipality.
In 2015, the county had a per capita personal income of $86,468, the second highest in New Jersey and ranked 25th of 3,113 counties in the United States. Somerset County, as of the 2000 Census, was the seventh wealthiest county in the United States by median household income at $76,933 (third in New Jersey behind Hunterdon County at $79,888 and Morris County at $77,340), fourth in median family income at $90,655 (second in New Jersey behind Hunterdon County at $91,050) and ranked seventh by per capita income at $37,970 (highest in New Jersey). The Bureau of Economic Analysis ranked the county as having the 11th-highest per capita income of all 3,113 counties in the United States (and the highest in New Jersey) as of 2009.
In 2012, 49.8 percent of Somerset County residents were college graduates, the highest percentage in the state. Somerset County was recently ranked number 3 of 21 NJ counties as one of the healthiest counties in New Jersey, according to an annual report by County Health Rankings and Roadmaps. Somerset County was created on May 14, 1688, from portions of Middlesex County.
Somerset County is one of America's oldest counties, and is named after the English county of Somerset. The area was first settled in 1681, in the vicinity of Bound Brook, and the county was established by charter on May 22, 1688. Most of the early residents were Dutch. General George Washington and his troops marched through the county on several occasions and slept in many of the homes located throughout the area. Somerset County also played an important part during both World War I and World War II with weapons depots and the manufacturing of the army's woolen blankets.
For much of its history, Somerset County was primarily an agricultural county. In the late 19th century, the Somerset Hills area of Somerset County became a popular country home for wealthy industrialists. Into the 21st century, the area is still the home of wealthy businessmen.
In 1917, Somerset County, in cooperation with Rutgers University, hired its first agricultural agent to connect local farmers with expert advice. The Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Somerset County, located in Bridgewater, serves residents in the areas of agriculture and natural resources, 4-H youth development and family and community health sciences.
In the 1960s, townships that were once exclusively agricultural were quickly transformed into suburban communities. Examples include Bridgewater Township and the Watchung Hills communities of Watchung, Green Brook and Warren Township. This growth was aided by the development of the county's very strong pharmaceutical and technology presence. Warren Township used to be considered "the greenest place in New Jersey." More recently, there has been an influx of New York City commuters who use NJ Transit's Raritan Valley Line and Gladstone Branch or use Interstate 78.
According to the 2010 Census, the county had a total area of 304.86 square miles (789.6 km2), including 301.81 square miles (781.7 km2) of land (99.0%) and 3.04 square miles (7.9 km2) of water (1.0%).
The high point is on Mine Mountain in Bernardsville, at approximately 860 feet (260 m) above sea level. The lowest point is just above sea level on the Raritan River at the Middlesex County line.
Somerset County borders the following counties:
- Morris County – north
- Union County – east
- Middlesex County – southeast
- Mercer County – south
- Hunterdon County – west
Climate and weather
|Somerville, New Jersey|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
In recent years, average temperatures in the county seat of Somerville have ranged from a low of 18 °F (−8 °C) in January to a high of 85 °F (29 °C) in July, although a record low of −16 °F (−27 °C) was recorded in January 1984 and a record high of 105 °F (41 °C) was recorded in August 1955. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 2.84 inches (72 mm) in February to 4.83 inches (123 mm) in July. The county has a humid continental climate which is hot-summer (Dfa) except on Mine Mountain west of Bernardsville where it is warm-summer (Dfb).
|Historical sources: 1790-1990|
1970-2010 2000 2010-2018 2000-2010
* = Lost territory in previous decade.
The 2010 United States census counted 323,444 people, 117,759 households, and 84,669 families in the county. The population density was 1,071.7 per square mile (413.8/km2). There were 123,127 housing units at an average density of 408 per square mile (158/km2). The racial makeup was 70.06% (226,608) White, 8.95% (28,943) Black or African American, 0.17% (556) Native American, 14.11% (45,650) Asian, 0.03% (94) Pacific Islander, 4.13% (13,360) from other races, and 2.55% (8,233) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13.01% (42,091) of the population.
Of the 117,759 households, 35.9% had children under the age of 18; 58.8% were married couples living together; 9.5% had a female householder with no husband present and 28.1% were non-families. Of all households, 23.3% were made up of individuals and 8.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.71 and the average family size was 3.22.
25% of the population were under the age of 18, 6.5% from 18 to 24, 26.4% from 25 to 44, 29.8% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40.2 years. For every 100 females, the population had 95.1 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 91.8 males.
At the 2000 United States Census there were 297,490 people, 108,984 households and 78,359 families residing in the county. The population density was 976 per square mile (377/km2). There were 112,023 housing units at an average density of 368 per square mile (142/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 79.34% White, 7.53% Black or African American, 0.13% Native American, 8.38% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 2.74% from other races, and 1.83% from two or more races. 8.68% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. Among those residents listing their ancestry, 18.7% were of Italian, 15.6% Irish, 14.5% German, 9.6% Polish and 7.1% English ancestry according to Census 2000.
There were 108,984 households, of which 36.20% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.60% were married couples living together, 8.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.10% were non-families. 22.80% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.00% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.19.
Age distribution was 25.50% under the age of 18, 5.90% from 18 to 24, 33.80% from 25 to 44, 23.50% from 45 to 64, and 11.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.40 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.10 males.
The median household income was $76,933 and the median family income was $90,605. Males had a median income of $60,602 versus $41,824 for females. The per capita income for the county was $37,970. About 2.3% of families and 8.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.7% of those under age 18 and 4.9% of those age 65 or over.
Parks and recreation
Somerset County parks are under the administration of the Somerset County Parks Commission. General parks are Natirar, Duke Island Park, Lord Stirling Park (part of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge), Colonial Park, North Branch Park, Skillman Park, East County Park and a park in development called Raritan River Greenway. Leonard J. Buck Garden is a botanical garden of the county. In addition, the Commission manages natural parks such as the Washington Valley Park (with biking and hiking trails) and the Sourland Mountain Preserve (hiking and mountain biking trails).
The Parks Commission operates five public golf courses. Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster is an exclusive golf club owned by Donald Trump. Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster was dubbed The Summer White House for President Donald Trump. Fiddlers Elbow Country Club is an exclusive golf and indoor/outdoor wedding venue.
The Somerset Patriots are a professional baseball team who plays at the 6,100-seat TD Bank Ballpark, located on the border of Bridgewater and Bound Brook. They played in the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball until they became the Double-A afifilates of the New York Yankees in 2021.
Somerset County is governed by a five-member Board of County Commissioners (New Jersey), whose members are elected at-large to three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with one or two seats coming up for election each year. At an annual reorganization meeting held on the first Friday of January, the board selects a Director and Deputy Director from among its members. In 2016, commissioners were paid $21,902 and the commissioner director was paid an annual salary of $22,902.
The Commissioners employ a full-time County Administrator who manages the day-to-day operations of County government. The County Administrator is Colleen Mahr. The Clerk of the County Commissioners oversees the work of their offices. Department heads are appointed in accordance with statute and by resolution of the board. Somerset County currently has approximately 1,100 full-time and 130 part-time employees in 52 divisions (including the Library System).
- Shanel Robinson (D, Franklin Township, 2021; term as commissioner director ends 2021)
- Sara Sooy (D, Basking Ridge in Bernards Township, 2021)
- Melonie Marano (D, Green Brook Township, 2022)
- Paul Drake (D, Hillsborough, 2023)
- Douglas Singleterry (D, North Plainfield, 2023)
Pursuant to Article VII Section II of the New Jersey State Constitution, each county in New Jersey is required to have three elected administrative officials known as "constitutional officers." These officers are the County Clerk and County Surrogate (both elected for five-year terms of office) and the County Sheriff (elected for a three-year term). Constitutional officers, elected on a countywide basis are:
- County Clerk Steve Peter (D, Somerville, 2022)
- Sheriff Darrin Russo (D, Franklin Township, 2022)
- Surrogate Bernice Jalloh (D, Franklin Township, 2025)
Somerset County is a part of Vicinage 13 of the New Jersey Superior Court (along with Hunterdon County and Warren County), which is seated at the Somerset County Courthouse in Somerville; the Assignment Judge for Vicinage 15 is Thomas C. Miller.
The 7th and 12th Congressional Districts cover the county. For the 117th United States Congress. New Jersey's Seventh Congressional District is represented by Tom Malinowski (D, East Amwell Township). For the 117th United States Congress, New Jersey's Twelfth Congressional District is represented by Bonnie Watson Coleman (D, Ewing Township).
The 21 municipalities of Somerset County are represented by six legislative districts.
|16th||Christopher Bateman (R)||Andrew Zwicker (D)
Roy Freiman (D)
|Branchburg (14,657), Hillsborough (39,702), Manville (10,230), Millstone Borough (498), Montgomery (23,269), Rocky Hill (636) and Somerville (12,085). The remainder of this district covers portions of Hunterdon County, Mercer County and Middlesex County.|
|17th||Bob Smith (D)||Joesph V. Egan (D)||Franklin Township (65,300). The remainder of this district covers portions of Middlesex County.|
|21st||Thomas Kean Jr (R)||Jon Bramnick (R)
Nancy Munoz (R)
|Bernards Township (27,605), Far Hills (860), Warren Township (15,745) and Watchung. The remainder of this district covers portions of Morris County and Union County.|
|22nd||Nicholas Scutari (D)||James J. Kennedy (D)
Linda S. Carter (D)
|Green Brook (7,090) and North Plainfield (21,501). The remainder of this district covers portions of Middlesex County and Union County.|
|23rd||Michael J. Doherty (R)||John DiMaio (R)
Erik Peterson (R)
|Bedminster (8,067), Bound Brook (10,288), Bridgewater (44,646), Peapack-Gladstone (2,575), Raritan Borough (7,865) and South Bound Brook (4,534). The remainder of this district covers Huntderton County and Warren County.|
|25th||Tony Bucco (R)||Brian Bergen (R)
Aura K. Dunn (R)
|Bernardsville (7,678). The remainder of this district covers portions of Morris County.|
As of November 2, 2020, there were a total of 258,975 registered voters in Somerset County, of whom 90.014 (34.8%) were registered as Democrats, 65,262 (25.2%) were registered as Republicans and 101,149 (39.1%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 2,550 (1.0%) voters registered to other parties. Among the county's 2010 Census population, 67.1% were registered to vote, including 75.% of those ages 18 and over.
In the 2004 presidential election, George W. Bush carried Somerset County by a 4.3% margin over John Kerry, with Kerry carrying the state by 6.7% over Bush. However, in 2008, Barack Obama became the first Democratic presidential nominee to carry the county since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and only the second since 1936. Obama won Somerset by a 6.1% margin over John McCain, with Obama carrying the state by 15.5% over McCain. Somerset's growing Democratic trend at the presidential level has largely been spurred by the rapid growth of the overwhelmingly Democratic Franklin Township in the county's southeast corner.
In the 2009 Gubernatorial Election, Republican Chris Christie received 56% of the vote, defeating Democrat Jon Corzine, who received around 34%. In the 2012 presidential election, the county was carried by Barack Obama, winning 52.8% of the vote to Mitt Romney's 47.2%, a 5.6% gap that represented a 0.5% drop off for Obama from his 2008 margin of victory in the county.
In 1996, Nicholas L. Bissell Jr., then county prosecutor, was charged with embezzlement, tax fraud and abuse of power. He fled to Laughlin, Nevada, near Las Vegas and took his own life when the federal authorities attempted to arrest him.
Based on IRS data for the 2004 tax year, Somerset County taxpayers had the ninth-highest average federal income tax liability per return in the country. Average tax liability was $16,502, representing 16.8% of Adjusted Gross Income.
Somerset County is home to two colleges:
- Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC), North Branch section of Branchburg Township (public). Rutgers University has a partnership with Raritan Valley Community College which allows students who have an accredited associate degree to complete a bachelor's degree by attending Rutgers classes at RVCC's North Branch campus. The degree completion program is specifically designed to cater to the transfer student looking to complete their bachelor's degree while staying close to home.
- Somerset Christian College, now known as Pillar College, is located in the Zarephath section of Franklin Township (private).
Alma White College (which operated from 1921 to 1978) was a private college located in Zarephath. Beginning in 1931 the college operated WAWZ 1380 on the AM radio dial. The station continued to 1984 after the school closed. The building is now occupied by Somerset Christian College.
Somerset Hills Learning Institute, founded in 1998 and now located in Bedminster Township, is a state-of-the-art program dedicated to educating children on the autism spectrum by utilizing the principles of applied behavior analysis.
Municipalities in Somerset County (with 2010 Census data for population, housing units, and area) are listed below. Other unincorporated communities in the county are listed alongside their parent municipality (or municipalities, as the case may be). These areas include census-designated places (CDPs), which the United States Census Bureau created for enumeration purposes within a Township. Other communities, historical areas, unincorporated areas, and enclaves that exist within a municipality are also listed.
(with map key)
|Bedminster Township||21||township||8,067||4,349||26.30||0.22||26.08||313.1||166.8||Somerset Hills (9-12) (S/R)
Bedminster Township (PK-8)
|Bernards Township||20||township||26,652||10,103||24.06||0.13||23.93||1,113.6||422.1||Bernards Township||Basking Ridge|
|Bound Brook||6||borough||10,402||3,816||1.69||0.04||1.66||6,269.6||2,300.0||Bound Brook|
|Branchburg Township||16||township||14,459||5,419||20.28||0.24||20.04||721.4||270.4||Somerville (9-12) (S/R)
|Bridgewater Township||17||township||44,464||16,657||32.51||0.47||32.04||1,387.9||519.9||Bridgewater-Raritan||Bradley Gardens CDP (14,206)|
Finderne CDP (5,600)
Green Knoll CDP (6,200)
Martinsville CDP (11,980)
|Far Hills||3||borough||919||418||4.88||0.08||4.80||191.6||87.1||Somerset Hills|
|Franklin Township||14||township||62,300||24,426||46.85||0.70||46.15||1,350.0||529.3||Franklin Township||Blackwells Mills CDP (803)|
Clyde CDP (213)
East Franklin CDP (8,669)
East Millstone CDP (579)
East Rocky Hill CDP (469)
Franklin Center CDP (4,460)
Franklin Park CDP (13,295)
Griggstown CDP (819)
Kingston CDP (part; 271)
Middlebush CDP (2,326)
Pleasant Plains CDP (922)
Six Mile Run CDP (3,184)
Somerset CDP (22,083)
Ten Mile Run CDP (1,959)
Voorhees CDP (976)
Weston CDP (1,235)
Zarephath CDP (37)
|Green Brook Township||19||township||7,203||2,448||4.48||0.01||4.47||1,610.5||547.3||Watchung Hills (9-12)
Green Brook (PK-8)
Belle Mead CDP (216)
Blawenburg CDP (280)
Harlingen CDP (297)
Skillman CDP (242)
|North Plainfield||5||borough||21,936||7,848||2.81||0.01||2.79||7,850.0||2,808.5||North Plainfield|
|Rocky Hill||12||borough||682||292||0.62||0.00||0.62||1,101.4||471.6||Montgomery (S/R)|
|South Bound Brook||7||borough||4,563||1,865||0.75||0.10||0.66||6,933.8||2,834.0||Bound Brook (9-12) (S/R)
South Bound Brook (PK-8)
|Warren Township||18||township||15,311||5,258||19.64||0.08||19.57||782.5||268.7||Watchung Hills (9-12)
Warren Township (PK-8)
|Watchung||4||borough||5,801||2,234||6.05||0.03||6.03||962.7||370.7||Watchung Hills (9-12)
Roads and highways
Somerset County is served by a number of different routes. As of May 2010[update], the county had a total of 1,714.99 miles (2,760.01 km) of roadways, of which 1,370.80 miles (2,206.09 km) were maintained by the local municipality, 234.23 miles (376.96 km) by Somerset County and 109.96 miles (176.96 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Major county roads that pass through include County Route 512, County Route 514, County Route 518, County Route 523, County Route 525, County Route 527, County Route 529, County Route 531 and County Route 533.
Interstate 95 was planned to run along the Somerset Freeway from its proposed southern end in Hopewell Township, Mercer County to Franklin Township at I-287 in the 1960s. However, this plan was cancelled in 1983.
NJ Transit provides bus service to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan, as well as service to major cities in New Jersey and within Somerset County. Ridewise provides three SCOOT shuttles as well as DASH buses and CAT buses.
- Colonel Routh Goshen
- Duke Gardens
- Hall-Mills Murder
- Meadows Foundation (New Jersey)
- National Register of Historic Places listings in Somerset County, New Jersey
- Old Dutch Parsonage
- Six-Mile Run Reservoir
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- Somerset County Parks Commission
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- Welcome, Trump National Golf Club. Accessed October 6, 2013. "Greetings from Donald J. Trump: When I saw this beautiful piece of property in Bedminster, New Jersey, I knew that it deserved only the best."
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- Glaberson, William. "In Prosecutor's Rise and Fall, a Story of Ambition, Deceit and Shame. ", The New York Times, December 1, 1996. Accessed August 30, 2014. "When Nicholas L. Bissell Jr. put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger in a $20 room on a neon strip here, it was almost the cliche ending to an ambitious man's rise and fall. An unexceptional child of New Jersey's modest suburbs, he rose to become a feared prosecutor in Somerset County known for his swaggering assault on drug dealers."
- Biggest Income Tax Burdens: Top 10 Places, CNN Money. Accessed April 28, 2007.
- RVCC: History, Mission, Diversity Statement & Core Values, Raritan Valley Community College. Accessed October 6, 2013.
- Rutgers Off Campus - Raritan Valley, Rutgers University. Accessed October 28, 2013.
- About Pillar College Archived December 7, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, Pillar College. Accessed October 6, 2013.
- Closed & Renamed New Jersey Colleges & Universities, New Jersey Department of State Office of the Secretary of Higher Education. Accessed October 30, 2017.
- History, Somerset Hills Learning Institute. Accessed October 29, 2017.
- GCT-PH1: Population, Housing Units, Area, and Density: 2010 - County -- County Subdivision and Place from the 2010 Census Summary File 1 for Somerset County, New Jersey, United States Census Bureau. Accessed May 14, 2015.
- Locality Search, State of New Jersey. Accessed May 11, 2015.
- Somerset County Mileage by Municipality and Jurisdiction, New Jersey Department of Transportation, May 2010. Accessed July 24, 2014.
- Gladstone Branch Raritan Valley Line, NJ Transit. Accessed October 6, 2013.
- Raritan Valley Line, NJ Transit. Accessed October 6, 2013.
- Transportation Services Archived August 29, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Somerset County, New Jersey. Accessed October 1, 2013.
- Somerset County Bus / Rail Connections, NJ Transit, backed up by the Internet Archive as of May 22, 2009. Accessed October 6, 2013.
- Scoot, Ridewise. Accessed October 1, 2013.
- DASH, Ridewise. Accessed October 1, 2013.
- CAT, Ridewise. Accessed January 19, 2015.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Somerset County, New Jersey.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Somerset County (New Jersey).|
- Somerset County website
- Somerset County National Historic Places
- Somerset County Parks Commission
- The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills – Includes Bedminster, Bernardsville, Basking Ridge, Far Hills, Peapack/Gladstone
- Hills List is a local informational website for the Bedminster and Basking Ridge areas
- Rutgers at Raritan Valley Community College