New Brunswick is a city in Middlesex County, New Jersey, United States. It is the county seat of Middlesex, and the home of Rutgers University. The city is located on the Northeast Corridor rail line, southwest of Manhattan, on the southern bank of the Raritan River. At the 2010 United States Census, the population of New Brunswick was 55,181, reflecting an increase of 6,608 (+13.6%) from the 48,573 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 6,862 (+16.5%) from the 41,711 counted in the 1990 Census. Due to the concentration of medical facilities in the area, including Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Saint Peter's University Hospital, as well as the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ)-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick is known as "the Healthcare City", The corporate offices or production facilities of several large pharmaceutical companies are within the city limits, including Johnson & Johnson and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
New Brunswick was formed by Royal charter on December 30, 1730, within other townships in Middlesex County and Somerset County and was reformed by Royal charter with the same boundaries on February 12, 1763, at which time it was divided into north and south wards. New Brunswick was incorporated as a city by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on September 1, 1784.
New Brunswick is noted for its ethnic diversity. At one time, one quarter of the Hungarian population of New Jersey resided in the city and in the 1930s one out of three city residents were Hungarian. Today, much of that Hungarian community continues to thrive as well as a growing Hispanic community that has developed around French Street near Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.
Origins of the name
Originally inhabited by the Lenape Native Americans, the first European settlement at the site of New Brunswick was made in 1681. The settlement here was first called Prigmore's Swamp (1681–97) then Inian's Ferry (1691–1714). In 1714, the village was given the name New Brunswick after the city of Braunschweig (called Brunswick in the Low German language), in state of Lower Saxony, in Germany. Braunschweig was an influential and powerful city in the Hanseatic League, later in the Holy Roman Empire, and was an administrative seat for the Duchy (and later Principality) of Hanover. Shortly after the first settlement of New Brunswick in colonial New Jersey, George, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and Elector of Hanover, of the House of Hanover (also known as the House of Brunswick), became King George I of Great Britain (1660–1727).
During the Colonial and Early American periods
Centrally located between New York City and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania along an early thoroughfare known as the King's Highway and situated along the Raritan River, New Brunswick became an important hub for Colonial travelers and traders. New Brunswick was incorporated as a town in 1736 and chartered as a city in 1784. It was occupied by the British in the winter of 1776-1777 during the Revolutionary War.
The Trustees of Queen's College (now Rutgers University), founded in 1766, voted to locate the young college in New Brunswick, selecting this city over Hackensack, in Bergen County, New Jersey. Classes began in 1771 with one instructor, one sophomore, Matthew Leydt, and several freshmen at a tavern called "The Sign of the Red Lion" on the corner of Albany and Neilson Streets (now the grounds of the Johnson & Johnson corporate headquarters). Classes were held through the American Revolution in various taverns and boarding houses, and at a building known as College Hall on George Street, until Old Queens was erected in 1808. It remains the oldest building on the Rutgers University campus. The Queen's College Grammar School (now Rutgers Preparatory School) was established also in 1766, and shared facilities with the College until 1830, when it located in a building (now known as Alexander Johnston Hall) across College Avenue from Old Queens. After Rutgers University became the state university of New Jersey in 1956, the Trustees of Rutgers divested it of the Rutgers Preparatory School, which relocated in 1957 to an estate purchased from the Colgate-Palmolive Company in Franklin Township in neighboring Somerset County.
The New Brunswick Theological Seminary, founded in 1784, moved to New Brunswick in 1810, sharing its quarters with the fledgling Queen's College (Queens would close from 1810 to 1825 due to financial problems, and reopen in 1825 under the name Rutgers College). The Seminary, due to overcrowding and differences over the mission of Rutgers College as a secular institution, moved to a seven acre (28,000 m2) tract of land less than one-half mile (800 m) west, which it still occupies, although the land is now in the middle of Rutgers University's College Avenue campus.
New Brunswick began attracting a Hungarian immigrant population around the turn of the 20th century. Hungarians were primarily attracted to the city by employment at Johnson & Johnson factories located in the city. Hungarians settled mainly in what today is the fifth ward.
The immigrant population grew until the end of the early century immigration boom. During the Cold War, the community was revitalized by the decision to house refugees from the failed 1956 Hungarian Revolution at Camp Kilmer, in nearby Edison. Even though the Hungarian population has been largely supplanted by newer immigrants, there continues to be a Hungarian Festival in the city held on Somerset Street on the first Saturday of June each year. Many Hungarian institutions set up by the community remain and active in the neighborhood, including: Magyar Reformed Church, Ascension Lutheran Church (Elso Magyar Evangélikus Egyhaz) St. Ladislaus Roman Catholic Church, St. Joseph Byzantine Catholic Church, Hungarian American Athletic Club, Aprokfalva Montessori Preschool (Aprokfalva Mindennapos Magyar Óvoda),Széchenyi Hungarian Community School & Kindergarten (Széchenyi Magyar Iskola és Óvoda), Teleki Pál Scout Home, Hungarian American Foundation, Vers Hangja, Hungarian Poetry Group, Bolyai Lecture Series on Arts and Sciences (Bolyai Kör),Hungarian Alumni Association (Magyar Öregdiák Szövetség - Bessenyei György Kör), Hungarian Radio Program, Hungarian Civic Association, Committee of Hungarian Churches and Organizations of New Brunswick, Csűrdöngölő Folk Dance Ensemble.
Several landmarks in the city also testify to its Hungarian heritage. There is a street and a recreation park named after Lajos Kossuth, the famous leader of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. The corner of Somerset Street and Plum Street is named Mindszenty Square where the first ever statue of Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty was erected. A stone memorial to the victims of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution also stands nearby.
Since the 1960s, many of the new residents of New Brunswick have come from Latin America. Many citizens moved from Puerto Rico in the 1970s. In the 1980s, many immigrated from the Dominican Republic, and still later from Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador and Mexico. There are many Latino businesses on and around French Street (NJ Rt. 27).
Demolition, revitalization and redevelopment
New Brunswick contains a number of examples of urban renewal in the United States. In the 1960s-1970s, the downtown area became blighted as middle class residents moved to newer suburbs surrounding the city, an example of the phenomenon known as "white flight". Beginning in 1975, Rutgers University, Johnson & Johnson, and the local government collaborated through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to form the New Brunswick Development Company (DevCo), with the goal of revitalizing the city center and redeveloping neighborhoods considered to be blighted and dangerous (via demolition of existing buildings and construction of new ones) Johnson & Johnson decided to remain in New Brunswick and built a new World Headquarters building in the area between Albany Street, Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, Route 18, and George Street, requiring many old buildings and historic roads to be removed. The Hiram Market area, a historic district which by the 1970s had become a mostly Puerto Rican and Dominican-American neighborhood, was demolished to build a Hyatt hotel and conference center, and upscale housing. Johnson & Johnson guaranteed Hyatt Hotels' investment as they were wary of building an upscale hotel in a run-down area.
The redevelopment process has been controversial. Devco, the hospitals, and the city government continue to draw ire from both historic preservationists, those opposing gentrification, and those concerned with eminent domain abuses, and tax abatements for developers.
The Gateway tower, a 22 story redevelopment project next to the train station, was completed in 2012.