History of Highland Park Borough

Middlesex County, New Jersey

Highland Park is a residential community of 1.8 square miles located between New Brunswick and Edison Township atop the wooded bank along the Raritan River. Highland Park’s main artery is Raritan Avenue (Route 27). There are commercial zones along both Raritan and Woodbridge Avenues.


Pre-Colonial period – the future Highland Park Boro was a meeting point for several famous Indian trails across New Jersey to New York, Pennsylvania, and many other points.

1667 – the future Highland Park Boro settled by a small group of dissident Baptists. Also settling in the area were George, Reverend John and Captain Francis Drake, all kinsmen to the famous explorer Sir Francis Drake..

Henry Greenland owned 384 acres of land and operated an inn (now a portion is part of the Cenacle Retreat House on River Road) along the Mill Brook section of the Assunpink Trail.

1685 – John Inian built two new landings further downstream from the Assunpink Trail's fording place and established a ferry service that would last until 1795 when it was replaced by a bridge.

Settlement period to 1905 – Highland Park was politically united to Woodbridge Township, then Piscataway Township, and finally Raritan Township, now known as Edison.

early 1700's to around 1850 – a few wealthy Europeans built large farmsteads thereby establishing a 150 year period of isolated farmsteads.

1775-1782 – American Revolution.

Hessian troops occupied Highland Park Boro,. These troops drove General Washington's army out of New Brunswick and on to Morristown. Col. Alexander Hamilton fought a rear guard action to protect Washington's retreat in Morristown. On Seminary Hill in New Brunswick, Hamilton fought an artillery duel with a Hessian artillery unit set up on a bluff overlooking the Raritan River (where the YM-YWHA now stands).

1795 – the ferry service replaced by a toll bridge.

1809 – the Reverend John H. Livingston, head of Queen's College, purchased a 150-acre plot of land now known as the Livingston Manor. (The gracious Greek Revival is at 81 Harrison Avenue).

1830's – the Delaware & Raritan Canal and the New Jersey Railroad constructed.

1836 – the New Jersey Railroad and Transportation Company built a rail line that terminated on the Highland Park side of the Raritan River at a station then known as "East New Brunswick."

1838 – the Camden and Amboy Railroad built a two-tiered, wooden bridge that eliminated the station stop at East New Brunswick.

1848 – the wood plank Albany Street Bridge dismantled.

Around 1860 – many farmsteads consolidated into estates for wealthy families. One of these, the Livingston Homestead, is listed in the New Jersey and National Registers.

Several stately homes built on South Adelaide Avenue and more modest houses constructed on Cedar, First , and Second Avenues, and Magnolia, Benner, and Johnson Streets.

1870 – community name changed from "East New Brunswick" to "Highland Park", the latter derived from the housing development on the south side streets.

1870 – Highland Park annexed to the newly formed Raritan Township.

1878 - the old Camden and Amboy Railroad bridge destroyed by fire. It was replaced by an iron truss bridge.

By 1885 – disputes over the schooling for the locality’s children led the ground for Highland Park's future independence from Raritan Township. Township officials granted the formation of Highland Park's own school district.

1886 – a one-story Queen Anne style schoolhouse opened to 33 students at the corner of Benner Street and South Second Avenue with teacher Miss Chrissie Bartle.

1892 – the Albany Street Bridge replaced by the present day stone arch road bridge. (It became the Lincoln Highway Bridge in 1914.)

1897 – arrival of the electric trolley. The community became more residential.

1897-1959 – the John Waldron Company.

1898-1964 – Turner Tubes factory.

1900-1930 – hundreds of single-family houses surrounded the estate houses and filled subdivisions: the Viehmann Tract, Riverview Terrace, East New Brunswick Heights, and Livingston Manor (Watson Whittlesey's private development).

1902 – the second railroad bridge, a twelve span stone arch railway bridge, replaced the old 1878 Camden and Amboy Railroad bridge.

1899 – fire department formed.

1905 – Highland Park separated from Raritan Township and incorporated as a borough with the "Weak Mayor-Council" form of government (consisting of 6 councilmen elected for 3 year terms and a mayor elected for a 4 year term).

most of the 20th century – Livingstons Manor house owned by the Waldron family.

1907-1931 – the Janeway and Carpender Wallpaper Company.

1920-1922 – the borough's most eminent mayor, Robert Wood Johnson, Jr., served the community.

1921 – inventors Earl E. Dickson (creator of the Band-Aid) Arthur McCallum (Flako Products packaged mixes) lived in the boro. The community was also home to two Nobel Laureates, Selman Waksman and Arno Penzias.

1925 – the Lincoln Highway Bridge widened..

2003 – Highland Park Borough and state officials broke ground today for the River Road Outdoor Learning Center along the Raritan River. Included will be a sculpture garden and historical markers. This is part of the borough’s plan to become the state's first green community, said Mayor Meryl Frank. Part of the plan focuses on converting all public buildings to solar power. In addition there will be a downtown tree- planting project.

Today – the population is around 14,800. Many are employed at Rutgers University, with campuses in New Brunswick and Piscataway. The population is 72 percent white, 14 percent Asian, and 8 percent black.


History of Highland Park, NJ http://www.westfieldnj.com/whs/history/highlandpark.htm

Jeanne Kolva. Encyclopedia of New Jersey. http://www.scc.rutgers.edu/njencyclopedia/entries.html

Jeanne Kolva. Highland Park, NJ: About Highland Park: History of Highland Park. http://hpboro.com/his.htm

Sharon Waters, Staff Writer, Home News Tribune, 4/22/03. Garden State EnviroNet. http://www.gsenet.org/library/11gsn/2003/gs030423.php#HIGHLAND%20PARK%20GOING%20GREEN