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New Brunswick

History of New Brunswick

In 1730, the City of New Brunswick was so named in honor of the English royal house of Brunswick and became a colonial center for trade and commerce. Rutgers University, founded in New Brunswick in 1766, was the eighth college to be founded in the colonies and the only state university to have existed before the Revolutionary War. New Brunswick figures prominently into the history of the American Revolution and early United States.

With the turn of the century and the Industrial Revolution, the city again grew to become a center of industry and commerce, utilizing the Raritan River, the Delaware & Raritan Canal, and the rail lines. The city grew industrially and its preeminence as a pharmaceutical town dates to 1885 when the Johnson brothers moved their adhesive tape and gauze business to an old mill in New Brunswick. Johnson and Johnson is now the world’s largest health care products manufacturer and retains its world headquarters in downtown New Brunswick.

The manufacturing industry needed a workforce and to meet this need, many new Americans settled in New Brunswick. Because of this, the city today has a diverse population which can trace its origins to countries in Europe, Africa, South American, Central America and Asia. As these immigrants and their families settled in the city, New Brunswick’s spirit of community was born. This spirit is evidenced throughout the city in our churches, schools, theaters, restaurants, social clubs, and business. The rich heritage of the people helps to make New Brunswick a great place to live, work and visit.

New Brunswick is rich in historic sites of local and national significance. For more information about points of interest in and around New Brunswick, please contact the Middlesex County Cultural & Heritage Commission at 732-745-4489. Portions of the material below have been reprinted from “Historic Stroll Through New Brunswick”, with permission from the Middlesex County Cultural & Heritage Commission.

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