Old Bridge Township is a township in Middlesex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township had a total population of 65,375, reflecting an increase of 4,919 (+8.1%) from the 60,456 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 3,981 (+7.0%) from the 56,475 counted in the 1990 Census. As of the 2010 Census, the township was the state's 18th largest municipality, after being the state's 21st most-populous municipality in 2000. Old Bridge is a bedroom suburb of New York City located across the Raritan Bay from Staten Island, and it is about from Manhattan, and about south of Newark.
It was named as a contender for the title of one of the best places to live in the United States by Money magazine in both 2005 and 2007.
What is now Old Bridge Township was originally incorporated as Madison Township by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 2, 1869, from portions of South Amboy Township (now City of South Amboy). In a referendum held on November 5, 1975, voters approved changing the township's name to Old Bridge Township by a margin of 7,150 votes to 4,888. The township's name was changed to avoid confusion with the borough of Madison in Morris County. Use of the name Old Bridge for a location "on the Camden and Amboy Railroad, about eight miles (13 km) beyond South Amboy" or "about seven miles (11 km) from South Amboy" goes back, however, to at least 1853. Initially, the township was made up of farms and the population grew slowly. In 1880, the population was 1,662 and in 1950 it had reached only 7,365. Then the building boom started and farms gave way to developments. In 1960, the population was 22,772. The 1980 census cited 51,406 people. A lot of the town changed with the extension of Route 18 to the shore.
The first inhabitants of the area known as Old Bridge, were the Lenni Lenape Native Americans. Those who settled in Old Bridge were known as the Unami, or "people down the river." They, like many people today, migrated to the shore along the Raritan each summer from their hunting grounds in the north. When the English gained control from the Dutch in 1664, the state was divided into two provinces, East Jersey and West Jersey. In 1683, the general assembly of East Jersey defined the boundaries of Middlesex County and the three other original counties (Bergen, Essex and Monmouth) as containing all plantations on both sides of the Raritan River, as far as Cheesequake Harbor to the east, then southwest to the Provincial line, with the southwest line being the border of Monmouth and Middlesex Counties and the Township's southern border.
Thomas Warne, one of the original 24 proprietors of East Jersey, was listed as a landowner of this area, and his son is said to have been the earliest white resident residing in the Cheesequake area in 1683. John and Susannah Brown were granted a land grant from the King of England in 1737. They called the area Brownville, and today this part of town is now known as Browntown. Other important proprietors of Old Bridge were the Bowne, Morgan, Letts, Brown, Tone, Herbert and Cottrell families, who date back as some of the first landowners of Old Bridge.
In 1684, South Amboy Township was formed. At that time, it covered an area that now consists of the Townships of Monroe and Old Bridge, the Borough of Sayreville and the City of South Amboy. The Township covers that separated from South Amboy on March 2, 1869, and was originally called Madison Township. In 1975, the name was changed by referendum to the Township of Old Bridge. The purpose of doing this was to formulate just one postal designations and ZIP code for the township and to differentiate the township from the Borough of Madison in Morris County. Old Bridge derives its name from the fact that the first bridge spanning the South River was built there, and as other bridges were built across the river the first one became known as "the Old Bridge." Prior to that, it was known as South River Bridge."