Woodbridge’s rich heritage began with the arrival of its first settlers in 1664. Traveling from Massachusetts, the pioneers put down roots on land acquired from the Lenni Lenape Indians. It is thought that the settlement chose the name of Woodbridge, honoring Newbury, Massachusetts, Reverend John Woodbridge.
In 1666, the Governor of New Jersey accorded the newly formed village permission to allocate land parcels, appoint a pastor and submit militia officers, followed shortly by the granting of a charter to the township by King Charles of England in 1669 – making Woodbridge the oldest original township in New Jersey.
In the next several decades, the town of Woodbridge grew, with the establishment of the state’s first permanent printing house by James Parker in 1751, resulting in the first published magazine, The New American Magazine, in 1758.
As additional municipalities, including Carteret, Rahway, Edison and Metuchen, were formed in the 1800s, Woodbridge Township lost land, though the community remained one of the largest in the state. However, Woodbridge benefited from its access to the natural resource of fine clay deposits, placing it as one of the world’s largest producers of fire bricks.
Over the next 100 years, the township opened School #1 and its first public library, what is now known as the Barron Arts Center (1877) and a high school (1911). The township also built the first U.S. cloverleaf at the intersection of U.S. Route 1 and State Route 35 (1929) and received esteemed awards recognizing its advanced growth and contemporary governance in the mid 1960s. Among other achievements, the Woodbridge Metro Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1964, the extensive indoor shopping mall Woodbridge Center was established in 1971 and in the same year, the modern $2.6 million Woodbridge Metro Park train station was opened. In 1999, the community collectively built a community playground in Merrill Park.
A new town hall was built in 1996 and the Woodbridge Community Center was built in 2002. The Barron Arts Center and the Trinity Episcopal Church have been placed on the State and National Historic Registers. In 2010 and 2011, the New Jersey League of Municipalities named Woodbridge the “New Jersey Sustainability Champion.” In 2017, the Avenel Arts Village opened its doors. This project will bring top plays and entertainment to our community.
Woodbridge has experienced a number of significant benchmarks since its original settlers came to the area in the late 1600s, and continues to progress into a future just as bright as its vibrant past. Woodbridge still has many businesses serving the community for decades. Vito Mazza Salon and Spa celebrated 50 years in 2017. Vaticano and Son Shoe repair has been on Main Street for over 50 years. The downtown is steeped in history. w