Metuchen is a borough in Middlesex County, New Jersey, United States, which is northeast of New Brunswick, miles southwest of Newark, southwest of Jersey City, and southwest of Manhattan, all part of the New York metropolitan area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 13,574, reflecting an increase of 734 (+5.7%) from the 12,840 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 36 (+0.3%) from the 12,804 counted in the 1990 Census.
Until 1870, what is now Metuchen was part of Woodbridge Township. Because the settlers in the western part of the township were so far removed from the village of Woodbridge, they early developed a separate identity. The name "Metuchen" first appeared in 1688/1689, and its name was derived from the name of a Native American chief, known as Matouchin. In 1701, an overseer of roads was appointed for "Metuchen district". In 1705, Main Street was laid out at the same time as the road from Metuchen to Woodbridge, which one source calls a "reworking of the original road".
Sometime between 1717 and 1730, a meeting house was constructed for weekday meetings conducted by the pastor of the Woodbridge Presbyterian Church. In 1756, Metuchen Presbyterians succeeded in forming their own congregation, attesting to their growing numbers. In 1770, the congregations merged, with Metuchen getting 2/5 of the pastor's services and Woodbridge 3/5s; by 1772 Metuchen had grown sufficiently to warrant 50% of his time. In 1793, the two churches again separated.
From the late 18th to the early 19th century Metuchen grew little. A map of 1799 shows ten buildings in the center of town along Main Street. By 1834, a Presbyterian church, a store, two taverns and about a dozen dwellings could be found. The opening of the Middlesex and Essex Turnpike (now Middlesex Avenue, portions in concurrency with Route 27) in 1806, and the Perth Amboy and Bound Brook Turnpike in 1808 seem not to have spurred growth to any appreciable extent. Not until the beginning of the railroad era did commercial and residential development surge.
In 1836, the New Jersey Railroad was completed to New Brunswick. The construction of a station at Main Street made it inevitable that this would develop as the principal street. A business section soon began to appear between Middlesex Avenue and the railroad tracks, and commercial and service establishments gradually began to assume a more modern aspect (the typical 18th century tavern, for example, was replaced by the equally typical 19th century hotel).
The second half of the 19th century was a period of social, cultural and religious diversification in Metuchen. Between 1859 and 1866 the Reformed Church was organized, the first Catholic mass was celebrated and St. Luke's Episcopal Church was founded. In 1870 both the Building and Loan Association and the library opened, the same year that Raritan Township was incorporated. As the largest village in the new township, Metuchen naturally became its commercial and cultural center and acquired substantial political control. In 1879, the literary and debating society was formed, and in 1883 the Village Improvement Society. By 1882, Metuchen School #15 had an enrollment of 256 pupils, and by 1885 the New Jersey Gazette listed thirty-seven businesses.
The decade of the 1890s was a period of expansion for public utilities. In 1894, telegraph service was begun and in 1897 telephone service begun by the N.Y. and N.J. Telephone Company. In the same year the Midland Water Company commenced operation and supplied hydrants for "newly formed" volunteer fire companies. In 1899, new street lighting system installed. At about the same time the Metuchen Wheelmen, a bicycling organization was formed, which lobbied for improved roads. Trolley service began in 1900. In addition, by the end of the decade, commerce had grown to such an extent that the New Brunswick Directory listed 91 businesses in 1899.
Metuchen attracted an influx of artists, literary figures and noted intellectuals during this time, acquiring the nickname "the Brainy Boro". One of the Borough's two post offices is named Brainy Boro Station.
The new century began with what residents saw as the biggest improvement of all, incorporation, in 1900.
On November 19, 1981, Metuchen became the Seat of the newly established Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen. The diocese includes Hunterdon, Middlesex, Somerset and Warren counties and more than 500,000 Catholics.