Trenton, New Jersey
City of Trenton
Downtown on the Delaware River
Flag of Trenton, New Jersey
Nickname(s): 
Capital City
Turning Point of the Revolution.
Motto(s): 
"Trenton Makes, The World Takes"[1]
Location within Mercer County Interactive map of Trenton, New Jersey
Location within Mercer County
Interactive map of Trenton, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Trenton, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Trenton, New Jersey
Trenton is located in Mercer County, New Jersey
Trenton
Trenton
Location in Mercer County
Trenton is located in New Jersey
Trenton
Trenton
Location in New Jersey
Trenton is located in the United States
Trenton
Trenton
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 40°13′26″N 74°45′49″W / 40.223841°N 74.763624°W / 40.223841; -74.763624Coordinates: 40°13′26″N 74°45′49″W / 40.223841°N 74.763624°W / 40.223841; -74.763624[2][3]
Country United States
State New Jersey
County Mercer
FoundedJune 3, 1719
IncorporatedNovember 13, 1792
Named forWilliam Trent
Government
 • TypeFaulkner Act
 • BodyCity Council
 • MayorReed Gusciora (term ends June 30, 2022)[4][5]
 • AdministratorAdam E. Cruz[6]
 • Municipal clerkDwayne M. Harris[7]
Area
 • Total8.21 sq mi (21.25 km2)
 • Land7.58 sq mi (19.63 km2)
 • Water0.63 sq mi (1.62 km2)  7.62%
Area rank229th of 565 in state
9th of 12 in county[2]
Elevation49 ft (15 m)
Population
 • Total84,913
 • Estimate 
(2019)[13]
83,203
 • Rank413th in country (as of 2019)[14]
10th of 565 in state
2nd of 12 in county[15]
 • Density11,101.9/sq mi (4,286.5/km2)
 • Density rank26th of 565 in state
1st of 12 in county[15]
Time zoneUTC−05:00 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−04:00 (Eastern (EDT))
ZIP Codes
08608-08611, 08618-08620, 08625, 08628, 08629, 08638[16][17]
Area code609[18]
FIPS code3402174000[2][19][20]
GNIS feature ID0885421[2][21]
Websitetrentonnj.org

Trenton is the capital city of the U.S. state of New Jersey and the county seat of Mercer County.[22] It briefly served as the capital of the United States in 1784.[23] The city's metropolitan area, consisting of Mercer County, is grouped with the New York Combined Statistical Area by the United States Census Bureau,[24] but it directly borders the Philadelphia metropolitan area and was from 1990 until 2000 part of the Philadelphia Combined Statistical Area.[25] As of the 2010 United States Census, Trenton had a population of 84,913,[10][11][12] making it the state's 10th-largest municipality after having been the state's ninth-largest municipality in 2000.[26] The population declined by 490 (-0.6%) from the 85,403 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn declined by 3,272 (-3.7%) from the 88,675 counted in the 1990 Census.[27] The Census Bureau's Population Estimates Program calculated that the city's population was 83,203 in 2019,[13] ranking the city the 413th-most-populous in the country.[14]

Trenton dates back at least to June 3, 1719, when mention was made of a constable being appointed for Trenton while the area was still part of Hunterdon County. Boundaries were recorded for Trenton Township as of March 2, 1720.[28] A courthouse and jail were constructed in Trenton around 1720, and the Freeholders of Hunterdon County met annually in Trenton.[29] Trenton became New Jersey's capital as of November 25, 1790, and the City of Trenton was formed within Trenton Township on November 13, 1792. Trenton Township was incorporated as one of New Jersey's initial group of 104 townships by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on February 21, 1798. On February 22, 1834, portions of Trenton Township were taken to form Ewing Township. The remaining portion of Trenton Township was absorbed by the City of Trenton on April 10, 1837. A series of annexations took place over a 50-year period, with the city absorbing South Trenton borough (April 14, 1851), portions of Nottingham Township (April 14, 1856), both the Borough of Chambersburg Township, and Millham Township (both on March 30, 1888), as well as Wilbur Borough (February 28, 1898). Portions of Ewing Township and Hamilton Township were annexed to Trenton on March 23, 1900.[28][30]

History

The Old Barracks in Trenton, New Jersey

The earliest known inhabitants of the area that is today Trenton were the Lenape Native Americans.[31] The first European settlement in what would become Trenton was established by Quakers in 1679, in the region then called the Falls of the Delaware, led by Mahlon Stacy from Handsworth, Sheffield, England. Quakers were being persecuted in England at this time and North America provided an opportunity to exercise their religious freedom.[32]

By 1719, the town adopted the name "Trent-towne", after William Trent, one of its leading landholders who purchased much of the surrounding land from Stacy's family. This name later was shortened to "Trenton".[33][34][35]

During the American Revolutionary War, the city was the site of the Battle of Trenton, George Washington's first military victory. On December 25–26, 1776, Washington and his army, after crossing the icy Delaware River to Trenton, defeated the Hessian troops garrisoned there.[36] The second battle of Trenton, Battle of the Assunpink Creek, was fought here on January 2, 1777.[37] After the war, the Congress of the Confederation met for two months at the French Arms Tavern from November 1, 1784, to December 24, 1784.[23] While the city was preferred by New England and other northern states as a permanent capital for the new country, the southern states ultimately prevailed in their choice of a location south of the Mason–Dixon line.[38] On April 21, 1789, the city hosted a reception for George Washington on his journey to New York City for his first inauguration.[39]

Trenton became the state capital in 1790, but prior to that year the New Jersey Legislature often met in the city.[40] The city was incorporated in 1792.[28]

During the War of 1812, the United States Army's primary hospital was at a site on Broad Street.[41]

Throughout the 19th century, Trenton grew steadily, as European immigrants came to work in its pottery and wire rope mills. In 1837, with the population now too large for government by council, a new mayoral government was adopted, with by-laws that remain in operation to this day.[42]

The Trenton Six were a group of black men arrested for the alleged murder of an elderly white shopkeeper in January 1948 with a soda bottle. They were arrested without warrants, denied lawyers and sentenced to death based on what were described as coerced confessions. With the involvement of the Communist Party and the NAACP, there were several appeals, resulting in a total of four trials. Eventually the accused men (with the exception of one who died in prison) were released. The incident was the subject of the book Jersey Justice: The Story of the Trenton Six, written by Cathy Knepper.[43][44]

Riots of 1968

The Trenton Riots of 1968 were a major civil disturbance that took place during the week following the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis on April 4. Race riots broke out nationwide following the murder of the civil rights activist. More than 200 Trenton businesses, mostly in Downtown, were ransacked and burned. More than 300 people, most of them young black men, were arrested on charges ranging from assault and arson to looting and violating the mayor's emergency curfew. In addition to 16 injured policemen, 15 firefighters were treated at city hospitals for smoke inhalation, burns, sprains and cuts suffered while fighting raging blazes or for injuries inflicted by rioters. Citizens of Trenton's urban core often pulled false alarms and would then throw bricks at firefighters responding to the alarm boxes. This experience, along with similar experiences in other major cities, effectively ended the use of open-cab fire engines. As an interim measure, the Trenton Fire Department fabricated temporary cab enclosures from steel deck plating until new equipment could be obtained. The losses incurred by downtown businesses were initially estimated by the city to be $7 million, but the total of insurance claims and settlements came to $2.5 million.[45]

Trenton's Battle Monument neighborhood was hardest hit. Since the 1950s, North Trenton had witnessed a steady exodus of middle-class residents, and the riots spelled the end for North Trenton. By the 1970s, the region had become one of the most blighted and crime-ridden in the city.[46]

Geography

The "Falls of the Delaware" at Trenton

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city had a total area of 8.21 square miles (21.25 km2), including 7.58 square miles (19.63 km2) of land and 0.63 square miles (1.62 km2) of water (7.62%).[2][3]

Several bridges across the Delaware River connect Trenton to Morrisville, Pennsylvania, all of which are operated by the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.[47] The Trenton–Morrisville Toll Bridge, originally constructed in 1952, stretches 1,324 feet (404 m), carrying U.S. Route 1.[48] The Lower Trenton Bridge, bearing the legend "Trenton Makes The World Takes Bridge", is a 1,022-foot (312 m) span that was constructed in 1928 on the site of a bridge that dates back to 1804.[49] The Calhoun Street Bridge, dating back to 1884, is 1,274 feet (388 m) long.[50]

Trenton is located near the geographic center of the state, which is located 5 miles (8.0 km) southeast of the city.[51][52] The city is sometimes included as part of North Jersey and as the southernmost city of the Tri-State Region, while others consider it a part of South Jersey and thus, the northernmost city of the Delaware Valley.[53]

However, Mercer County constitutes its own metropolitan statistical area, formally known as the Trenton-Princeton MSA.[54] Locals consider Trenton to be a part of an ambiguous area known as Central Jersey, and thus part of neither region. They are generally split as to whether they are within New York or Philadelphia's sphere of influence. While it is geographically closer to Philadelphia, many people who have recently moved to the area commute to New York City, and have moved there to escape the New York region's high housing costs.

Trenton is one of two state capitals that border another state – the other being Carson City, Nevada.[55] It is also one of the seven state capitals located within the Piedmont Plateau.

Trenton borders Ewing Township, Hamilton Township and Lawrence Township in Mercer County; and Falls Township, Lower Makefield Township and Morrisville in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, across the Delaware River in Pennsylvania.[56][57][58]

The Northeast Corridor goes through Trenton. A straight line drawn between Center City, Philadelphia and Downtown Manhattan would pass within 2000 feet of the New Jersey State House.

Neighborhoods

The city of Trenton is home to numerous neighborhoods and sub-neighborhoods. The main neighborhoods are taken from the four cardinal directions (North, South, East, and West). Trenton was once home to large Italian, Hungarian, and Jewish communities, but, since the 1950s, demographic shifts have changed the city into a relatively segregated urban enclave of middle and lower income African Americans. Italians are scattered throughout the city, but a distinct Italian community is centered in the Chambersburg neighborhood, in South Trenton.[59] This community has been in decline since the 1970s, largely due to economic and social shifts to the suburbs surrounding the city. Today Chambersburg has a large Latino community. Many of the Latino immigrants are from Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua. There is also a significant and growing Asian community in the Chambersburg neighborhood primarily made up of Burmese and Bhutanese/Nepali refugees.

The North Ward, once a mecca for the city's middle class, is now one of the most economically distressed, torn apart by race riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. Nonetheless, the area still retains many important architectural and historic sites. North Trenton still has a large Polish-American neighborhood that borders Lawrence Township, many of whom attend St. Hedwig's Roman Catholic Church on Brunswick Avenue. St. Hedwig's church was built in 1904 by Polish immigrants, many of whose families still attend the church. North Trenton is also home to the historic Shiloh Baptist Church—one of the largest houses of worship in Trenton and the oldest African American church in the city, founded in 1888.[60] The church is currently pastored by Rev. Darrell L. Armstrong, who carried the Olympic torch in 2002 for the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Also located just at the southern tip of North Trenton is the city's Battle Monument, also known as "Five Points". It is a 150 ft (46 m) structure that marks the spot where George Washington's Continental Army launched the Battle of Trenton during the American Revolutionary War. It faces downtown Trenton and is a symbol of the city's historic past.[61]

South Ward is a diverse neighborhood, home to many Latin American, Italian-American, and African American residents.[62]

East Ward is the smallest neighborhood in Trenton and is home to the Trenton Transit Center and Trenton Central High School. The Chambersburg neighborhood is within the East Ward and was once noted in the region as a destination for its many Italian restaurants and pizzerias. With changing demographics, many of these businesses have either closed or relocated to suburban locations.

West Ward is the home of Trenton's more suburban neighborhoods.

Neighborhoods in the city include:[63]

Map of neighborhoods in Trenton, New Jersey.

Climate

According to the Köppen climate classification, Trenton lies in the transition from a humid subtropical (Cfa) to a cooler humid continental climate (Dfa), favoring the former, with four seasons of approximately equal length and precipitation fairly evenly distributed through the year. The Cfa climate is the result of adiabatic warming of the Appalachians, low altitude and proximity to the coast without being on the immediate edge for moderate temperatures.[64]

Winters are cold and damp: the daily average temperature in January is 32.0 °F (0.0 °C),[65] and temperatures at or below 10 °F (−12 °C) occur on 3.9 nights annually, while there are 17 days where the temperature fails to rise above freezing.[66] Episodes of extreme cold and wind can occur with wind chill values below 0 °F (−18 °C). The plant hardiness zone at the Trenton Municipal Court is 7a with an average annual extreme minimum air temperature of 1.2 °F (−17.1 °C).[67]

Summers are hot and humid, with a July daily average of 76.3 °F (24.6 °C); temperatures reaching or exceeding 90 °F (32 °C) occur on 21.8 days.[65] Episodes of extreme heat and humidity can occur with heat index values reaching 100 °F (38 °C). Extremes in air temperature have ranged from −14 °F (−26 °C) on February 9, 1934, up to 106 °F (41 °C) as recently as July 22, 2011.[68] However, air temperatures reaching 0 °F (−18 °C) or 100 °F (38 °C) are uncommon.

The average precipitation is 45.47 inches (115 cm) per year, which is fairly evenly distributed through the year.[65][66] The driest month on average is February, with 2.63 in (67 mm) of precipitation on average, while the wettest month is July with 4.39 in (11 cm) of rainfall on average which corresponds with the annual peak in thunderstorm activity.[65][66] The all-time single-day rainfall record is 7.25 in (18.4 cm) on September 16, 1999, during the passage of Hurricane Floyd.[66] The all-time monthly rainfall record is 14.55 in (37.0 cm) in August 1955, due to the passage of Hurricane Connie and Hurricane Diane. The wettest year on record was 1996, when 67.90 in (172 cm) of precipitation fell. On the flip side, the driest month on record was October 1963, when only 0.05 in (0.1 cm) of rain was recorded. The 28.79 in (73 cm) of precipitation recorded in 1957 were the lowest ever for the city.[69]

Snowfall can vary even more year to year. The average seasonal (November–April) snowfall total is 24 to 30 inches (61 to 76 cm), but has ranged from as low as 2 in (5.1 cm) in the winter of 1918–19 to as high as 76.5 in (194.3 cm) in 1995–96, which included the greatest single-storm snowfall, the Blizzard of January 7–8, 1996, when 24.2 inches (61.5 cm) of snow fell.[70] The average snowiest month is February which corresponds with the annual peak in nor'easter activity.

Climate data for Trenton, New Jersey (Trenton–Mercer Airport) 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1865–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 73
(23)
78
(26)
87
(31)
93
(34)
99
(37)
100
(38)
106
(41)
105
(41)
101
(38)
94
(34)
83
(28)
76
(24)
106
(41)
Mean maximum °F (°C) 62
(17)
62
(17)
73
(23)
84
(29)
88
(31)
93
(34)
96
(36)
94
(34)
90
(32)
82
(28)
72
(22)
65
(18)
97
(36)
Average high °F (°C) 39.7
(4.3)
42.8
(6.0)
50.8
(10.4)
62.9
(17.2)
72.4
(22.4)
81.0
(27.2)
86.0
(30.0)
84.0
(28.9)
77.1
(25.1)
65.5
(18.6)
54.5
(12.5)
44.4
(6.9)
63.4
(17.4)
Daily mean °F (°C) 32.0
(0.0)
34.3
(1.3)
41.7
(5.4)
52.5
(11.4)
62.0
(16.7)
71.0
(21.7)
76.3
(24.6)
74.4
(23.6)
67.4
(19.7)
55.7
(13.2)
45.4
(7.4)
36.8
(2.7)
54.1
(12.3)
Average low °F (°C) 24.3
(−4.3)
25.9
(−3.4)
32.7
(0.4)
42.1
(5.6)
51.6
(10.9)
60.9
(16.1)
66.6
(19.2)
64.8
(18.2)
57.7
(14.3)
45.9
(7.7)
36.3
(2.4)
29.3
(−1.5)
44.8
(7.1)
Mean minimum °F (°C) 8
(−13)
11
(−12)
19
(−7)
29
(−2)
38
(3)
49
(9)
58
(14)
55
(13)
45
(7)
32
(0)
23
(−5)
16
(−9)
6
(−14)
Record low °F (°C) −16
(−27)
−14
(−26)
0
(−18)
11
(−12)
31
(−1)
39
(4)
46
(8)
39
(4)
34
(1)
21
(−6)
9
(−13)
−8
(−22)
−16
(−27)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.29
(84)
2.63
(67)
3.97
(101)
3.63
(92)
3.99
(101)
4.25
(108)
4.39
(112)
4.22
(107)
4.09
(104)
3.79
(96)
3.18
(81)
4.04
(103)
45.47
(1,155)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 10.1 10.1 11.0 11.5 12.0 11.9 10.8 10.0 8.6 10.0 8.5 11.0 125.5
Average relative humidity (%) 65.4 61.7 58.0 57.0 62.1 66.1 66.2 68.8 69.8 68.8 66.9 66.5 64.8
Average dew point °F (°C) 21.7
(−5.7)
22.8
(−5.1)
28.1
(−2.2)
37.7
(3.2)
48.7
(9.3)
59.4
(15.2)
63.9
(17.7)
63.5
(17.5)
57.0
(13.9)
45.6
(7.6)
35.9
(2.2)
26.5
(−3.1)
42.7
(5.9)
Mean monthly sunshine hours 163.1 169.7 207.4 227.2 248.1 262.8 269.2 252.5 215.0 201.5 149.3 140.1 2,505.9
Percent possible sunshine 54 57 56 57 56 58 59 59 57 58 50 48 56
Source 1: NOAA (sun 1961–1981)[71][72][73]
Source 2: PRISM Climate Group (humidity and dew point)[74]


Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.

The 2010 United States census counted 84,913 people, 28,578 households, and 17,747 families in the city. The population density was 11,101.9 per square mile (4,286.5/km2). There were 33,035 housing units at an average density of 4,319.2 per square mile (1,667.7/km2). The racial makeup was 26.56% (22,549) White, 52.01% (44,160) Black or African American, 0.70% (598) Native American, 1.19% (1,013) Asian, 0.13% (110) Pacific Islander, 15.31% (13,003) from other races, and 4.10% (3,480) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 33.71% (28,621) of the population.[10]

Of the 28,578 households, 32.0% had children under the age of 18; 25.1% were married couples living together; 28.1% had a female householder with no husband present and 37.9% were non-families. Of all households, 30.8% were made up of individuals and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.79 and the average family size was 3.40.[10]

25.1% of the population were under the age of 18, 11.0% from 18 to 24, 32.5% from 25 to 44, 22.6% from 45 to 64, and 8.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32.6 years. For every 100 females, the population had 106.5 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 107.2 males.[10]

2006–2010 survey

The Census Bureau's 2006–2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $36,601 (with a margin of error of +/- $1,485) and the median family income was $41,491 (+/- $2,778). Males had a median income of $29,884 (+/- $1,715) versus $31,319 (+/- $2,398) for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,400 (+/- $571). About 22.4% of families and 24.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 36.3% of those under age 18 and 17.5% of those age 65 or over.[88]

2000 Census

As of the 2000 United States Census[19] there were 85,403, people, 29,437 households, and 18,692 families residing in the city. The population density was 11,153.6 inhabitants per square mile (4,306.4/km2). There were 33,843 housing units at an average density of 4,419.9/sq mi (1,706.5/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 52.06% Black, 32.55% White, 0.35% Native American, 0.84% Asian, 0.23% Pacific Islander, 10.76% from other races, and 3.20% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 21.53% of the population.[85][86] There were 29,437 households, 32.4% of which had children under the age of 18 living with them. 29.0% were married couples living together, 27.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.5% were non-families. 29.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75 and the average family size was 3.38.[85][86]

In the city the age distribution of the population shows 27.7% under the age of 18, 10.1% from 18 to 24, 31.9% from 25 to 44, 18.9% from 45 to 64, and 11.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.0 males.[85][86]

The median income for a household in the city was $31,074, and the median income for a family was $36,681. Males had a median income of $29,721 versus $26,943 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,621. About 17.6% of families and 21.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.8% of those under age 18 and 19.5% of those age 65 or over.[85][86]

Top 10 ethnicities reported during the 2000 Census by percentage were:[85][86]

  1. African American (50.1)
  2. Puerto Rican (14.5)
  3. Italian (4.6)
  4. Irish (3.5)
  5. Polish (3.0)
  6. Guatemalan (2.8)
  7. English (1.9)
  8. Jamaican (1.5)
  9. Hungarian (1.0)
  10. Mexican (1.0)

Economy

The Lower Trenton Bridge is commonly referred to among locals as the "Trenton Makes Bridge"

Trenton was a major manufacturing center in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One relic of that era is the slogan "Trenton Makes, The World Takes", which is displayed on the Lower Free Bridge (just north of the Trenton–Morrisville Toll Bridge).[89] The city adopted the slogan in 1917 to represent Trenton's then-leading role as a major manufacturing center for rubber, wire rope, ceramics and cigars. It was home to American Standards largest fixture factory.[90]

Along with many other United States cities in the 1970s, Trenton fell on hard times when manufacturing and industrial jobs declined. Concurrently, state government agencies began leasing office space in the surrounding suburbs. State government leaders (particularly governors William Cahill and Brendan Byrne) attempted to revitalize the downtown area by making it the center of state government. Between 1982 and 1992, more than a dozen office buildings were constructed primarily by the state to house state offices.[91] Today, Trenton's biggest employer is still the state of New Jersey. Each weekday, 20,000 state workers flood into the city from the surrounding suburbs.[92]

Notable businesses of the thousands based in Trenton include Italian Peoples Bakery, a wholesale and retail bakery established in 1936.[93] De Lorenzo's Tomato Pies and Papa's Tomato Pies were also fixtures of the city for many years, though both recently relocated to the suburbs.

Urban Enterprise Zone

Portions of Trenton are part of an Urban Enterprise Zone. The city was selected in 1983 as one of the initial group of 10 zones chosen to participate in the program.[94] In addition to other benefits to encourage employment within the Zone, shoppers can take advantage of a reduced 3.3125% sales tax rate (half of the 6+58% rate charged statewide) at eligible merchants.[95] Established in January 1986, the city's Urban Enterprise Zone status expires in December 2023.[96]

The UEZ program in Trenton and four other original UEZ cities had been allowed to lapse as of January 1, 2017, after Governor Chris Christie, who called the program an "abject failure", vetoed a compromise bill that would have extended the status for two years.[97] In May 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed a law that reinstated the program in these five cities and extended the expiration date in other zones.[98]

In 2018, the city had an average property tax bill of $3,274, the lowest in the county, compared to an average bill of $8,292 in Mercer County and $8,767 statewide.[99][100]

Television market

Trenton has long been part of the Philadelphia television market. However, following the 2000 United States Census, Trenton was shifted from the Philadelphia metropolitan statistical area to the New York metropolitan statistical area. With a similar shift by the New Haven, Connecticut, area to the New York area, they were the first two cases where metropolitan statistical areas differed from their defined Nielsen television markets.[101] Also, Trenton was the site of the studios of the former public television station New Jersey Network (aka NJN).

Landmarks