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Nassau Street, Princeton's main street.

Princeton, New Jersey is located in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States. Princeton University has been sited in the town since 1756. Although Princeton is a "college town", there are other important institutions in the area, including the Institute for Advanced Study, Educational Testing Service (ETS), Opinion Research Corporation, Siemens Corporate Research, Sarnoff Corporation, FMC Corporation, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Church and Dwight, Berlitz International, and Dow Jones & Company.

The town is roughly equidistant between New York and Philadelphia. Princeton has been home to New York commuters (via Princeton Junction) since the end of World War II.[1] The town is close to many major highways that can take residents to both cities. While the Amtrak ride time is similar to each city, the commuter train ride to New York — via New Jersey Transit's Northeast Corridor Line — is generally much shorter than the equivalent train ride to Philadelphia, which involves a transfer to SEPTA trains in Trenton. Princeton receives some TV and radio broadcasts from both cities.

New Jersey's capital is the city of Trenton, but the governor's official residence has been in Princeton since 1945, when Morven in the borough became the first Governor's mansion. It was later replaced by the larger Drumthwacket, a colonial mansion located in the township. Morven became a museum property of the New Jersey Historical Society.

Princeton was named #15 of the top 100 towns in the United States to Live and Work In by Money Magazine in 2005.[2]

Although residents of Princeton (Princetonians) traditionally have a strong community-wide identity, legally there is not one municipality, but two: a township and a borough. The central borough is completely surrounded by the township. The Borough seceded from the Township in 1894 in a dispute over school taxes; the two municipalities later formed the Princeton Regional Schools, and some other public services are conducted together. There have been three referenda proposing to reunite the two Princetons, but they have all been narrowly defeated. The Borough contains Nassau Street, the main commercial street, most of the University campus, and incorporated most of the urban area until the postwar suburbanization. Borough and Township now have roughly equal populations, together approaching 30,000.

United States Postal Zip Codes for Princeton include 08542 (largely the Borough), 08544 (the University), and 08540. The latter covers areas outside Princeton proper, including portions of Lawrence, Hopewell, and West Windsor Townships in Mercer County, Montgomery and Franklin Townships in Somerset County, and Plainsboro and South Brunswick Townships in Middlesex County. The resulting ambiguity is exploited by local real estate agents who will often advertise a property in these neighboring communities as having a "prestigious Princeton address".[3][4] Further adding to confusion is the spread of "Princeton" as part of business, church and residential development even further beyond the boundaries of the Township and Borough. Princeton lies at latitude 40°21' North, longitude 74°40' West.




Colleges and universities

Princeton University is a dominant feature of the town. Its main campus has its historic center on Nassau Street in the borough and stretches south into the township. Its James Forrestal satellite campus is located in Plainsboro Township, and some playing fields (and half of the University's Lake Carnegie) lie within adjacent West Windsor Township.

Westminster Choir College, part of Rider University, is located in the Borough. The remainder of Rider University is located in Lawrence Township.

Princeton Theological Seminary's academic campus is located in the Borough, and a residential campus is located just outside the Township in West Windsor Township.

The Institute for Advanced Study is in the Township and maintains extensive land holdings (the "Institute Woods") in the Township.

Mercer County Community College in West Windsor is the nearest public college to serve Princeton residents.

Primary and secondary schools

Public schools

The six public schools of the Princeton Regional Schools district serve both the borough and the township: four elementary schools (Community Park, Johnson Park, Littlebrook and Riverside), John Witherspoon Middle School, and Princeton High School. In the early 1990s, redistricting occurred between the Community Park and Johnson Park School districts, as the population within both districts had increased due to residential development. Concerns were also raised about the largely white, wealthy student population attending Johnson Park and the more racially and economically diverse population at Community Park. As a result of the redistricting, the wealthy Hodge Road/Library Place neighborhood was redistricted to CP, and portions of the racially diverse John Witherspoon Neighborhood were set to be bused to JP. The high school is located in the borough; the other schools are in the township. The high school also serves students from Cranbury Township as part of a sending/receiving relationship.[5]

The Princeton Charter School (grades K-8) is located in the township. The school operates under a charter granted by the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education. The school is a public school that operates independently of the Princeton Regional Schools, and is funded on a per student basis by locally-raised tax revenues.

New Jersey Monthly magazine ranked Princeton High School as the 6th best high school in New Jersey in its 2008 rankings of the "Top Public High Schools" in New Jersey.[6]

Private schools

Several private schools are located in the Township: American Boychoir School, Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart, Princeton Day School, Princeton Friends School, and Hun School of Princeton.

St. Paul School (K-8) and The Lewis School and Diagnostic Clinic are located in the Borough.

Schools that are outside the Township and Borough but have Princeton mailing addresses include Chapin School and Princeton Junior School in Lawrence Township, the Waldorf School of Princeton and Princeton Montessori School in Montgomery Township, and Eden Institute in West Windsor Township.

Public libraries

The Princeton Public Library, located in the borough, serves the borough and the township. The current facility was opened in April 2004 as part of the on-going downtown redevelopment project and replaced a building dating from 1966. The library itself was founded in 1909.

Sister cities

Noteworthy Princetonians

Note: this list does not include people whose only time in Princeton was as a student. Only selected faculty are shown, whose notability extends beyond their field into popular culture. See Faculty and Alumni lists above.

Princeton in popular culture


Princeton was the setting of the Academy Award-winning A Beautiful Mind about the schizophrenic mathematician John Nash. It was largely filmed in central New Jersey, including some Princeton locations.

The 1994 film I.Q., featuring Meg Ryan, Tim Robbins, and Walter Matthau as Albert Einstein, was also set in Princeton, and was filmed in the area. It includes some geographic stretches, including Matthau looking through a telescope from the roof of "Princeton Hospital" to see Ryan and Robbins' characters kissing on the Princeton Battlefield.

Historical films which used Princeton as a setting but were not filmed there include Wilson, a 1944 biographical film about Woodrow Wilson.

Scenes from the beginning of "Across the Universe" (2007) were filmed on the Princeton University campus.

Parts of Transformers 2 were filmed in Princeton.

Scenes from the 2008 movie The Happening where filmed in the town.

TV and radio

The 1938 Orson Welles radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds, is set partly in nearby Grover's Mill, and includes a fictional professor from Princeton University as a main character, but the action never moves directly into Princeton.

The TV show House is located in Princeton, at the fictional Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, and establishing shots for the hospital display the Frist Campus Center of Princeton University. However, the Princeton Plainsboro Hospital has been in the works for years now and is being built across the street from Princeton in West Windsor.

The 1980 television miniseries Oppenheimer is partly set in Princeton.


F. Scott Fitzgerald's literary debut, This Side of Paradise, is a loosely autobiographical story of his years at Princeton University.

Princeton University's Creative Writing program includes several nationally and internationally prominent writers, making the town a hub of contemporary literature.

Many of Richard Ford's novels are set in Haddam, New Jersey, a fictionalized Princeton.

Joyce Carol Oates 2004 novel Take Me, Take Me With You (written pseudonymously as Lauren Kelly) is set in Princeton.[10]

Points of interest

Preceded by
Capital of the United States of America
Succeeded by
Annapolis, Maryland

See also


  1. ^ Housing development boomed as postwar employment expanded in Princeton and nearby communities and as commuting to New York became more affordable and practical.
  2. ^ Best Places to Live 2005: No. 15 - Princeton, NJ, Money (magazine), accessed November 2, 2006
  3. ^ Garden Homes of New Jersey
  4. ^ The Estates at Princeton Junction - Heritage Collection - New Homes in Princeton, NJ by Toll Brothers
  5. ^ Princeton Regional Schools 2007 Report Card Narrative, New Jersey Department of Education. Accessed July 9, 2008. "Students from three communities in Central Jersey (Princeton Borough, Princeton Township, and Cranbury Township) attend the schools. (Cranbury students attend only the high school.)"
  6. ^ "Top New Jersey High Schools 2008", New Jersey Monthly, August 7, 2008. Accessed May 11, 2009.
  7. ^ Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963.  
  8. ^ Ethan Hawke IMDB bio
  9. ^
  10. ^ Altmann, Jennifer Greenstein (2004-10-11). "Oates chooses fresh identity but familiar setting for novel". Princeton Weekly Bulletin (Princeton University). Retrieved 2008-09-18.  


  • Clark, Ronald W. (1971) Einstein: The Life and Times. ISBN 0-380-44123-3
  • Gambee, Robert. (1987) "Princeton" ISBN 0-393-30433-7

External links

Coordinates: 40°21′08″N 74°39′25″W / 40.352206°N 74.657071°W / 40.352206; -74.657071


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