A Brief History
of Pennington, NJ

Over the many years of its history, Hopewell Township has experienced a steady population growth. In the beginning the area was basically agricultural. However, as farming and transportation facilities expanded, settlements and villages (blacksmiths, wheelwrights, mills and general stores) became important as means of support to the livelihood of the farmer. The farmer also had religious and social needs, churches, schools and taverns became an important aspect of the village.

A description of Pennington in 1834 states that it was a very neat and pleasant village, surrounded by wealthy and liberal farms. At this time it contained two churches, three taverns, three stores, and about thirty dwellings.

Most of the urbanization of the crossroads areas of Pennington took place during the middle half of the 19th century -- so that in 1842, shortly as Mercer County split from Hunterdon County, Pennington contained two churches, two seminaries and about 60 dwellings. And as it continued to grow, by 1875, the village contained three general stores, two dry goods stores, one hardware store, two grocery stores, two confectionery stores, one drug store, two merchant tailoring establishments and a population of about 750.

In the last quarter of the 19th century, the railroad was the single most important factor stimulating the residential growth of Pennington. As this growth occurred, it became apparent that the village had needs differing from the Township, and in 1890, Pennington Borough was formally separated.

As the township moved into the 20th century, the expansion and improvement of the road systems and the automobile age brought with it suburban development. Many new homes were added to the fringe of the crossroads area. To answer to the needs of this expansion, not only were stores added, but social organizations and recreational facilities were expanded.

Closer to present day the introduction of the corporate research center has required an even greater expansion of the economic, educational, social and religious aspects of the Borough and its surroundings.

Through the course of history Pennington has evolved into today's borough containing its unusual and harmonious variety of 18th, 19th and 20th century architecture, with many locally owned stores, restaurants and offices. As in the 1834 description it can be said to be a very neat and pleasant village.

(The above information is taken from the Pennington Community Directory)

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