EST April 4, 1749
Bridgewater New Jersey
Bridgewater Township is a township in Somerset County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 44,464, reflecting an increase of 1,524 (+3.5%) from the 42,940 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 10,431 (+32.1%) from the 32,509 counted in the 1990 Census. As of the 2016 Population Estimates Program census estimate, the township's population was 44,999.
Bridgewater Township was originally created by Royal charter on April 4, 1749, from portions of the Northern precinct. It was incorporated as one of New Jersey's initial group of 104 townships by the New Jersey Legislature on February 21, 1798, under the Township Act of 1798. During the nineteenth century, portions of the township were taken to form Warren Township (March 5, 1806), Branchburg Township (April 5, 1845), Somerville (March 25, 1863), Raritan (April 3, 1868) and Bound Brook (March 24, 1869).
Bridgewater is a relatively large, suburban township located in the center of Somerset County. The area of the present Township of Bridgewater was originally purchased from a local Lenape Native American tribe. Bridgewater was chartered by George II of Great Britain in 1749, and incorporated on February 21, 1798, as one of New Jersey's 104 original townships. It is named after the town of Bridgwater in the English county of Somerset.
Tradition holds that it was at the Middlebrook encampment that the first official flag of the United States was unfurled, after a law to adopt a national flag had been passed by Congress on June 14, 1777. By special order of Congress, a Thirteen Star Flag is flown 24 hours a day at the Washington Camp Ground, part of the former Middlebrook encampment, in Bridgewater. Since 1889, the first hoisting of the flag is commemorated annually each July 4 with a changing of the flag, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and the delivery of an historical address.
Until the 1960s, Bridgewater was largely known as a farming community. In the 1970s its population began to grow when residents of larger cities such as Plainfield and Newark started to migrate into Bridgewater as a result of the 1967 Plainfield Riots and 1967 Newark riots. Subsequently, Bridgewater started to receive an influx of residents who worked in the strong pharmaceutical, telecommunications and financial industries in Bridgewater and the Raritan Valley. More recently, there has also been growth as Bridgewater has become more popular with New York City commuters who use Bridgewater Station on New Jersey Transit's Raritan Valley Line or Interstate 78 East to commute to New York City. Bridgewater is now a fairly developed suburban community, with only a few traces of its rural past still evident in the town (particularly in its northwestern section). Bridgewater is now Somerset County's second-most populous municipality, after Franklin Township.
Bridgewater is part of the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District, which serves students in pre-Kindergarten through twelfth grade from Bridgewater and Raritan Borough. As of the 2014-15 school year, the district and its 11 schools had an enrollment of 8,691 students and 763.9 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 11.4:1.Schools in the district (with 2014-15 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Adamsville Primary School (521 students in K-4), Bradley Gardens Primary School (290; K-4), Crim Primary School (344; K-4), Hamilton Primary School (475; K-4), John F. Kennedy Primary School (428; K-4), Milltown Primary School (429; K-4), Van Holten Primary School (398; K-4), Eisenhower Intermediate School (773; 5-6), Hillside Intermediate School (578; 5-6), Bridgewater-Raritan Middle School (1,411; 7-8) and Bridgewater-Raritan High School (2,882; 9-12). The overwhelming majority of students in the district are from Bridgewater, with approximately 1,000 students from Raritan. All schools in the district are in Bridgewater except for Kennedy, which is in Raritan.
During the 1999-2000 school year, Bridgewater-Raritan High School was recognized with the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence by the United States Department of Education, the highest award an American school can receive from the federal government.
Bridgewater is the home of the Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School, a four-year magnet school that provides occupational and academic training to students from Somerset County.
Little Friends of Jesus Nursery School (preschool, non-parochial) operates under the supervision of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen.
The headquarters of the Somerset County Library System is located in Bridgewater.
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