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History

Woodbridge Township traces its roots all the way back to 1664 when its very first settlers arrived. The land officially became the first New Jersey township on June 1, 1669 when it was granted a charter by King Charles of England. Though the township has become a bit smaller over the years, its 26 square miles make it not only the oldest, but also the largest township in New Jersey.

It is believed that the name Woodbridge was chosen in order to honor Rev. John Woodbridge of Newbury, Massachusetts. Other notable names in Woodbridge’s history include James Parker who established New Jersey’s first permanent printing house in 1751 where he printed “The New American Magazine”; M.D. Valentine and James R. Valentine who began their business of manufacturing lath brick in 1866. These bricks and their by-products are still Woodbridge’s leading industry to this day; Moses Bloomfield, a member of the Continental Army, whose farm was the site of a meeting on July 4, 1783 that is said to have been the first antislavery meeting held in the U.S.; and George Washington who spent the night at Cross Keys Tavern on April 22, 1789 during his journey to New York to take his oath of office as our first president.

With such a long and storied history, Woodbridge is littered with sites of historical importance. Many of these sites, including the James Parker Press Building and the Cross Keys Tavern where Washington stayed, are still standing today. The Woodbridge Township Historic Preservation Commission works hard to keep the history of the town alive and provides programs, historic markers and tour maps of the town’s most notable sites. Visit their website at www.wthpc.org.

For a glimpse into Woodbridge’s more recent history, head on over to Main Street in Downtown Woodbridge where residents can visit some of the same shops their grandparents frequented decades ago. From Neves Jewelers which has been in business for more than 25 years, to the more than 40-year-old Vito Mazza Spa, Salon & Hair Restoration, to Vaticano and Son Shoe Repair which opened its doors more than 50 years ago, the downtown area is steeped in history. w

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