Streams

Middlesex County, New Jersey

Thursday, April 29, 2010 - 11:14 AM

Your Anecdotal Census: A People's History of the New York City Area 2000-2010

Tell us about change that matters in your community. Here are some possible questions to answer. Add your story to the comments below!

How is your community different today than it was 10 years ago?

Who's moving in and who's moving out? 

How has the housing boom/housing bust changed your community?

How have the politics of your community changed? If power has shifted in your community, how and why?

How has 9/11 changed your community? 

Do you have a story about change in your own life over the last decade that you think represents a larger trend?

What's an untold story of change in your community that needs to be told? 

Dante's Take

As part of the Patchwork Nation project, Dante Chinni has been exploring demographic trends around the country. He tells us what to watch for in Middlesex County...

→ Visit the Middlesex County page on Patchwork Nation for lots more!

By The Numbers:

What story do you think this data tells? Do you think the data reflects what's really going on in your community?

Middlesex County, NJ
1980199020002008/2009
Total Population 595,893 671,780 750,167 790,738
Median Household Income (2008 adjusted dollars) $67,800 $79,200 $79,400 $77,015
% Foreign Born 9.3% 14.2% 24.23% 28.2%
% Under 18 Years Old 25.9% 21.5% 23.7%

23.1%

Explore the Maps:

Middlesex County, NJ - Median Household Income (2007) - Go to the Interactive Maps at Social Explorer


More Resources:

US Census Bureau QuickFacts

Social Explorer

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Comments [24]

Garret Witte from Edison NJ

I grew up in Edison. I went into the US Navy in 1981 and was medically retired after I cane back from Operation Desert Storm(1991)Edison looks like some of the third world countries I visited,India,Pakistan,Africa etc. Some of you may like diversity and all that PC garbarge but not me. I liked it better when we all looked the same spoke the same language and celebrated the same holidays. Call me a racist if you want but this is how I feel. All my friends are of Euorpean-Christian backrounds and that is how it will always be. Both of my parents come from Berlin Germany(legally too I might add) so I was raised correctly. You can have all your mutli-cultural bs and shove it up your ass.
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Jan. 24 2011 12:44 PM
Sheila from Piscataway

I grew up in Beautiful Downtown Burbank (yes, really, I was born in the hospital across Buena Vista Street from Disney Studios) and moved to New Jersey in 1977, and to Piscataway in 1982. Here I remain!

My street near Rutgers Livingston College has gone from mostly white families to mostly Asian families, but it doesn't bother me. I'm still "different" as a single woman.

I enjoy the ethnic diversity and the ability to buy unusual grocery items both in the supermarkets and the local ethnic markets such as the Asian Food Center on Centennial Avenue.

One thing that's always amused me about the Nativist folks who want to "restore school prayer" is their assumption that such prayer would be Christian in nature. Do you suppose they would still be in favor when the most common surname in the schools is Patel?

Jul. 04 2010 06:12 PM
Lisa from New Brunswick, NJ

I came to New Brunswick, NJ in 1985 to attend Rutgers University. I immediately fell in love with a city that was vibrant, diverse, and more than a little off-center. There was a certain grungy oddness that made me feel like I was finally someplace I belonged. I decided to stay here. I became part of a booming independent music scene and made many life-long friends. I even got married and bought a house here.

25 years later, I still love my city, but you have to look much deeper now to see it's soul. Rampant over-development has seen to the destruction of many blocks of small businesses and low income housing to put up luxury high-rise apartments and overpriced restaurants. The gentrification has all but wiped out the spirit of this once great city of misfits.

Jul. 01 2010 04:34 PM
Pete from nyc

it's all about the food...that's all you liberals really care about anyway...

Jul. 01 2010 11:59 AM
georgiana ryan from Metuchen

Years ago using an Indian accent was a very popular character device in improvisation in my drama classes. For at least 5 years that has been out of vogue. A sign of tolerance. This generation of teenagers see ethnic diversity as a positive force.

Jul. 01 2010 11:36 AM
Justin Woo from Jersey City, NJ

I went to college at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ and watched the town transform from a rough and tumble college town full of culture, art, and vibrant struggle into a gentrified, polished, and often soulless and sterile place. The city is unrecognizable to me now.

I actually ended up writing a play with several NJ-area poets about it called New Street Poets that explores the consequences of this kind of gentrification. After premiering at the Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ in 2006, we are now going to be putting the show on again from July 22 to July 24 at the Clemente Soto Velez Community Center in the Lower East Side of NYC.

Jul. 01 2010 11:28 AM
Anthony S from Highland Park, NJ

I grew up in Metuchen (lol, Georgiana Ryan was my best English teacher, and a drama director who I drove to distraction!). Since graduating from high school almost a decade ago I've noticed:
-Increased immigration. I went to school in New Brunswick when I was a kid, and it was mostly black & white. Now it's substantially Latino. And especially in Iselin and the Edison/Metuchen area, the number of South Asians have increased.
-The cost of living has shot up. We were definitely affected by the housing bubble, & the effects still haven't worn off. Many people I went to high school are either living at home now or (like me) have moved out, because we can't afford to live where we grew up, even at decent salaries.

Jun. 30 2010 12:40 PM
A. C. from Edison, NJ

Here are some articles relevant to this week's discussion. You might want to get one of them as a guest:

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1999416,00.html

http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/006237.html#more

http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2010/06/29/indians-unamused-by-times-edison/

Jun. 30 2010 10:53 AM
Marcy Feldheim from North Brunswick, NJ

I graduated from Douglass College in '56, married a Rutgers grad who lived in Highland Park and raised a family of 4 children. A small town, with a diverse ethnic make-up, it offered our children the best possible education, and fostered community spirit and independence. For me, raising a family there was equal to the "village raising a child". Friendships made there have lasted many years. Attending School Board meetings and Council meetings were enlightening and townsfolk were encourged to speak out. When I moved to North Brunswick 27 years later, I found a diverse group of middle to lower class people who didn't speak to one another and members of council screamed at anyone who disagreed with them. Today the ethnic mix is changing and neighborhoods are more integrated. Any type of athletic event is opening supported, but there doesn't appear to be much money for the intellectual activiites, eg. millions were spent on a football field that is used occasionally, but funds can't be found to build a library to meet the demands of a community that has doubled in size.

Jun. 29 2010 08:31 PM
David Stein from Brooklyn

Growing up in Kendal Park NJ (Middlesex County) now I live in Brooklyn back to the place my parents haled from. The town I grew up in was just a bedroom community constructed in a farming community. I lived there from 1956-1974, was a fireman when I got my drivers license. The dirty little secret was the head of the Monmouth Junction Police was also part of the John Birch Society, and was the had of the local KKK. As a firemen and with the aid of the other Jewish fireman we put out the cross burning. There was an ongoing feud between the liberal of Kendall Park and the more redneck Monmouth Junction crowd. Now today Monmouth Junction is the up and coming area and Kendall Park is a blue collar enclave.

Jun. 28 2010 05:06 PM
Sara from Piscataway

I have lived in Middlesex County for 15 years. I feel proud and privileged to have grown up in such a diverse place. While we have so much cultural diversity, we lack open space to enjoy our leisure time. There is an overabundance of places to shop and dine, and nothing left to the imagination. Not an ideal place for a nature lover!

Jun. 28 2010 12:05 PM
Tamara Busch from Monroe, NJ

Moved to Monroe, in Middlesex County from Monmouth County five years ago and love the diversity of my children's school and our neighborhood - Americans moving south from Staten Island, Brooklyn and northern New Jersey and first generation families from India, Pakistan, China and Egypt. We are however all concerned about property taxes, cuts in our school district's budget and also living in a town where the population is half single family homes and half with active adult community dwellings. Our open spaces and farms are turning into subdivisions and the traffic is increasing.

Jun. 28 2010 11:39 AM

We've lived in Piscataway for the past 20 years and the biggest change has been the influx of large populations of Indians and Pakistanis . Generally speaking the Hindu Indian population is much more open and friendly and seems to integrate better into the community, whereas the Pakistanis seem be more closed and clannish. We've had some difficulty with the noise when they've had their large, and frequent, family and religious celebrations which can go on late into the night in the street with small children up until all hours. It's quite exotic but to me worrying to see some of the women walking around in full black burquas with only the eyes showing. The families keep to themselves and don't allow the children to play with other kids. Doesn't make for friendly neighbors.

Jun. 26 2010 01:03 PM
David Biddulph from Fredericksburg, VA

Anne Gordon:

I must heartily disagree. The lack of civility in the Piscataway/South Plainfield/Edison area is overwhelming. Example - go to a certain large home improvement chain store in South Plainfield and see yourself getting pushed out of the aisle because you - the customer - are interfering with them loading stock. I have been to many other home improvement stores in other parts of NJ and in various places in VA and I have never experienced the incredible rudeness as I have at that South Plainfield store. Saying all of Middlesex County has gotten ruder may have been too much of a generalization, but the center of the county has gotten unbearably rude.

Jun. 26 2010 11:32 AM
Anne Gordon from Piscataway, NJ

I have lived in Piscataway, NJ for over 50 years and while few people ever want to see their "home town" grow in any way you can't stop progress. We are the 5th oldest town in New Jersey (1666) and have lots of history. We have 26 neighborhood parks, easy access to the Turnpike and the Parkway and are less than an hour from Manhattan. We were chosen 23 of 100 best places to live by Money Magazine in 2006 and recently learned we are under consideration again.
We are the home of Rutgers University and we have almost every Fortune 500 corporation here in town. Over the last few years some of these companies have downsized and that has affected property taxes.There has been a major shift in the
population with an increased Muslim population moving to the area. I think one of the major changes I've noticed over time, and it is everywhere - the lack of civility. It permeates the entire country, not just Piscataway or Middlesex County. This is probably influenced by the movies, tv, music videos and the fact that most kids today have two working parents who have to work so hard just to survive. These are the real noticable changes in our society over the last many years.

Jun. 25 2010 04:20 PM
Tony Gruenewald from Edison, NJ

One major shift in Edison is demographic. The population of people of Asian descent has grown incredibly. This one-time lily white neighborhood on the south side has become a melting pot.

Another shift is the sprawl of big box and national chain stores. On Route 1 we have a brand new Walgreens right next to and even newer Rite Aid which is a quarter mile from a recently built CVS. I live a couple of blocks behind the old Ford Assembly Plant. The first thing being built in the proposed downtown business/cultural district that is supposed to take its place is a Sam's Club, which is down the road from a Costco and a BJ's Warehouse.

Jun. 25 2010 12:55 PM
David Biddulph from Fredericksburg, VA

I lived in Middlesex County for my entire life until 2004. The county as a whole & Piscataway township in particular are entirely overbuilt. Building was allowed to go on unabated w/ virtually no thought given to the transportation infrastructure. In addition, starting around 1995 the rudeness level increased dramatically. I can't STAND to go to businesses in the area - nearly universally you get treated like you're bothering the staff. I realized just how bad things got when I moved to Hunterdon County and met people who actually liked one another. I also had an "odd" experience when visiting businesses - service! I had to move to Virginia in 2006; I miss Hunterdon County terribly (and Middlesex County not one bit).

Jun. 25 2010 12:00 PM
Jean from Pisacataway

I've been at RU (specifically Busch campus, which is engineering/science campus) for over 9 years now. As one can imagine, this campus was always dominated by Asian population. What's different now than 9 years ago, however, is that we have a lot more Indian and Muslim population now than the Pacific Asians. The Islamic center near the campus has a lot more people gathering now (I didn't even know that was there up until 2 years ago or so; now you see people walking on Rt.18 highway to get to the center every week) and the Islamic religious movements are very visible all over the campus. Working at the Student Center up until 5 years ago, I've had a couple of Muslim students reserving rooms to pray, but now we have designated prayer rooms specifically for Muslims in the campus centers.
There is a definite shift in where the money is going at RU. Not many people cared about football when I was in undergrad here, but now football is the biggest event at RU, while the engineering dpt is closing classes and getting rid of land lines. Our annual bbq no longer exists and our buildings are not temperature regulated while we now have Rutgers Day and all kinds of public events. In a way, I feel like RU is becoming a public community center rather than an educational institution..

Jun. 25 2010 11:57 AM
Janine Erceg from Edison, NJ

The biggest change that I've seen in Middlesex County in the last 10 years is a dominance of the Asian population, e.g., Indian, Chinese and Korean— rather than the white, European-decent population that was originally here. Also, in terms of religion—there has been an increase of Muslim, Hindu & Sikh populations replacing Christian and Jewish faiths. There are many more delicious, ethnic food choices in the area as well! Even some of the architecture styles have changed a bit—to appear more Asian in appearance.

Jun. 25 2010 11:55 AM
George from middlesex nj

I have lived here for 32 years. The changes to New Brunswick are stunning. It is a destination location for arts, entertainment and restaurants. Rutgers University is gaining postive recognition in New Jersey.

Jun. 25 2010 11:54 AM
Osita Mbadugha from New Brunswick, NJ

When I left for college in the year 2000, my neighborhood in New Brunswick was quiet and diverse, an equal mix of older families and Rutgers University students renting houses. Ten years later, I am leaving my neighborhood once again for grad school; My street is still mostly families and students, but the families are a lot younger, primarily Mexican, and hold Latin music parties every Saturday morning through Sunday evening. I still love my street, but I do miss the quiet days of 2000...

Jun. 24 2010 12:02 PM
Edw from Woodbridge

When I first moved to Middlesex in 1972, I found myself a minority as a person of non-Italian, non-Irish legacy. Leaving for 25 years and returning in 2006 to the very same neighborhood, I now find myself as a minority as a person that has a non-Indian, non-African legacy.
This new blend of diversity is far more tolerant environment than what I experienced in the 70's.

Jun. 23 2010 11:42 AM
Laura Huzzy from Brooklyn

I grew up in Middlesex County and lived there until I was 27, when I moved to Brooklyn. The most recent change that has been jarring to me is the change in price for a ticket from New Brunswick to New York - Penn Station on a New Jersey Transit Train. I started at Rutgers - New Brunswick in 2000 and I remember being able to get an off-peak round-trip ticket for $11. I watched it go up to $13, to $16, to $17.75. A little over a month ago, they discontinued the discontinued the off-peak round-trip tickets and raised the price of a one-way ticket from $10.50 to $13. Going to New Brunswick and back is now $26.

Jun. 22 2010 12:14 PM
georgiana ryan from Metuchen, Middlesex County, NJ

As an English teacher of thirty-eight years, I have noticed a marked difference in the ethnic make up of the students in my class. For years I introduced THE GREAT GATSBY with a discussion of The American Dream. One year I noticed a lack of discussion and really looked at my class. I realized that the ethnic makeup of my class, the school, had shifted, and I was now looking at a group of students who had no idea what the phrase meant because they were not American born. That discussion had to be reoriented.

Jun. 01 2010 12:04 PM

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