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Princeton, New Jersey

Princeton, New Jersey
Nassau Street, Princeton's main street
Nassau Street, Princeton's main street
Location in Mercer County and the state of New Jersey
Location in Mercer County and the state of New Jersey
Census Bureau map of the former Princeton Township (and enclaved Borough in pink), New Jersey
Census Bureau map of the former Princeton Township (and enclaved Borough in pink), New Jersey
Princeton is located in Mercer County, New Jersey
Location in Mercer County
Princeton is located in New Jersey
Location in New Jersey
Princeton is located in the United States
Location in the United States
Coordinates: 40°21′30″N 74°40′00″W / 40.358244°N 74.666728°W / 40.358244; -74.666728Coordinates: 40°21′30″N 74°40′00″W / 40.358244°N 74.666728°W / 40.358244; -74.666728
Country United States
State New Jersey
County Mercer
IncorporatedJanuary 1, 2013
 • TypeBorough
 • MayorMark Freda (D, term ends December 31, 2024)
 • AdministratorBernard Hvozdovic Jr.
 • Municipal clerkDelores Williams
 • Total18.41 sq mi (47.69 km2)
 • Land17.95 sq mi (46.48 km2)
 • Water0.47 sq mi (1.21 km2)  2.53%
 • Rank154th of 565 in state
6th of 12 in county
 • Total28,572
 • Estimate 
 • Density1,600/sq mi (600/km2)
Time zoneUTC−05:00 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST)UTC−04:00 (Eastern (EDT))
ZIP Codes
Area code(s)609
FIPS code3402160900

Princeton is a municipality with a borough form of government in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States, that was established in its current form on January 1, 2013, through the consolidation of the now-defunct Borough of Princeton and Princeton Township. Centrally located within the Raritan Valley region, Princeton is a regional commercial hub for the Central New Jersey region and a commuter town in the New York metropolitan area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the municipality's population was 28,572, reflecting the former township's population of 16,265, along with the 12,307 in the former borough.

Princeton was founded before the American Revolutionary War. It is the home of Princeton University, which bears its name and moved to the community in 1756 from its previous location in Newark. Although its association with the university is primarily what makes Princeton a college town, other important institutions in the area include the Institute for Advanced Study, Westminster Choir College, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton Theological Seminary, Opinion Research Corporation, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Siemens Corporate Research, SRI International, FMC Corporation, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Amrep, Church and Dwight, Berlitz International, and Dow Jones & Company.

Princeton is roughly equidistant from New York City and Philadelphia. It is close to many major highways that serve both cities (e.g., Interstate 95 and U.S. Route 1), and receives major television and radio broadcasts from each. It is also close to Trenton, New Jersey's capital city, New Brunswick and Edison.

The New Jersey governor's official residence has been in Princeton since 1945, when Morven in what was then Princeton Borough became the first Governor's mansion. It was later replaced by the larger Drumthwacket, a colonial mansion located in the former Township. Morven became a museum property of the New Jersey Historical Society.

Princeton was ranked 15th of the top 100 towns in the United States to Live In by Money magazine in 2005. Throughout much of its history, the community was composed of two separate municipalities: a township and a borough. The central borough was 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 Public Schools, and some other public services were conducted together before they were reunited into a single Princeton in January 2013. Princeton Borough contained Nassau Street, the main commercial street, most of the university campus, and incorporated most of the urban area until the postwar suburbanization. The borough and township had roughly equal populations.


Early history

The Lenni Lenape Native Americans were the earliest identifiable inhabitants of the Princeton area.

Europeans settled into the area in the late part of the 17th century, arriving from Delaware to settle West Jersey, and from New York to settle East Jersey, with the site destined to become Princeton being amid the wilderness between these two boroughs. The first European to find his home in the boundaries of the future municipality was Henry Greenland. He built his house in 1683 along with a tavern, where representatives of West and East Jersey met to set the boundaries between the two provinces. Greenland's son-in-law Daniel Brimson inhabited the area by 1690, and left property in a will dated 1696.

Nassau Hall, which briefly served as the capitol of the United States of America in 1783

Then, Princeton was known only as part of nearby Stony Brook,. Nathaniel Fitz Randolph, a native of the town, attested in his private journal on December 28, 1758, that Princeton was named in 1724 upon the making/construction of the first house in the area by James Leonard, who first referred to the community as Princetown when describing the location of his large estate in his diary. The community was later known by a variety of names, including: Princetown, Prince's Town and finally Princeton. The name Princeton was first used in 1724 and became common within the subsequent decade. Although there is no official documentary backing, the municipality is said to be named after King William III, Prince William of Orange of the House of Nassau. Another theory suggests that the name came from a large land-owner named Henry Prince, the son-in-law of a well-known English merchant, but no evidence backs this contention. A royal prince seems a more likely eponym for the settlement, as three nearby towns had names for royalty: Kingston, Queenstown (in the vicinity of the intersection of Nassau and Harrison Streets) and Princessville (Lawrence Township).

The Princeton campus, December 2016
Nassau Street at night, 2016

Princeton was described by William Edward Schenck in 1850 as having attained "no very considerable size" until the establishment of the College of New Jersey in the town. When Richard Stockton, one of the founders of the township, died in 1709 he left his estate to his sons, who helped to expand property and the population. Based on the 1880 United States Census, the population of Princeton comprised 3,209 persons (not including students). Local population has expanded from the nineteenth century. According to the 2010 Census, Princeton Borough had 12,307 inhabitants, while Princeton Township had 16,265. The numbers have become stagnant; since the arrival of the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University, in 1756, the town's population spikes every year during the fall and winter and drops significantly over the course of the summer.

The Princeton campus was used as one of the sets for the film Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.
A light at the Princeton campus


Battle of Princeton, 1777

In the pivotal Battle of Princeton in January 1777, George Washington forced the British to evacuate southern New Jersey. After the victory, Princeton hosted the first Legislature under the State Constitution to decide the State's seal, Governor and organization of its government. In addition, two of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence—Richard Stockton and John Witherspoon lived in Princeton. Princetonians honored their citizens' legacy by naming two streets in the downtown area after them.

On January 10, 1938, Henry Ewing Hale called for a group of citizens to establish a "Historical Society of Princeton." Later the Bainbridge House, constructed in 1766 by Job Stockton, would be dedicated for this purpose. Previously the house was used once for a meeting of Continental Congress in 1783, a general office, and as the Princeton Public Library. The House is owned by Princeton University and is leased to the Princeton Historical Society for one dollar per year. The house has kept its original staircase, flooring and paneled walls. Around 70% of the house has been unaltered. Aside from safety features such as wheelchair access and electrical work, the house has been restored to its original look.

Government history

During the most stirring events in its history, Princeton was a wide spot in the road; the boundary between Somerset County and Middlesex County ran right through Princeton, along the high road between New York and Philadelphia, now Nassau Street. When Mercer County was formed in 1838, part of West Windsor Township was added to the portion of Montgomery Township which was included in the new county, and made into Princeton Township; the area between the southern boundary of the former Borough and the Delaware and Raritan Canal was added to Princeton Township in 1853. Princeton Borough became a separate municipality in 1894.

In the early nineteenth century, New Jersey boroughs had been quasi-independent subdivisions chartered within existing townships that did not have full autonomy. Princeton Borough received such a charter in 1813, as part of Montgomery and West Windsor Townships; it continued to be part of Princeton Township until the Borough Act of 1894, which required that each township to form a single school district; rather than do so, Princeton Borough petitioned to be separated. (The two Princetons combined their public school systems in the decades before municipal consolidation.) Two minor boundary changes united the then site of the Princeton Hospital and of the Princeton Regional High School inside the Borough, in 1928 and 1951 respectively.


According to the United States Census Bureau, Princeton had a total area of 18.41 square miles (47.69 km2), including 17.95 square miles (46.48 km2) of land and 0.47 square miles (1.21 km2) of water (2.53%).

Cedar Grove, Port Mercer, Princeton Basin, and Jugtown are unincorporated communities that have been absorbed into Greater Princeton over the years, but still maintain their own community identity.

Princeton borders the municipalities of Hopewell Township, Lawrence and West Windsor Townships in Mercer County; Plainsboro Township and South Brunswick Township in Middlesex County; and Franklin Township and Montgomery Township in Somerset County.

United States Postal ZIP codes for Princeton include 08540, 08541 (Educational Testing Service), 08542 (largely the old Borough), 08543 (PO boxes), and 08544 (the University).


Under the Köppen climate classification, Princeton falls within either a hot-summer humid continental climate (Dfa) if the 0 °C (32 °F) isotherm is used or a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) if the −3 °C (27 °F) isotherm is used. During the summer months, episodes of extreme heat and humidity can occur with heat index values ≥ 100 °F (≥ 38 °C). On average, the wettest month of the year is July which corresponds with the annual peak in thunderstorm activity. During the winter months, episodes of extreme cold and wind can occur with wind chill values < 0 °F (< -18 °C). The plant hardiness zone at the Princeton Municipal Court is 6b with an average annual extreme minimum air temperature of -0.9 °F (-18.3 °C). The average seasonal (November–April) snowfall total is 24 to 30 inches (610 to 760 mm) and the average snowiest month is February which corresponds with the annual peak in nor'easter activity.

Climate data for Princeton Municipal Court, Mercer County, NJ (1991-2020 Averages)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 39.7
Daily mean °F (°C) 31.1
Average low °F (°C) 22.6
Average precipitation inches (mm) 3.41
Average relative humidity (%) 66.0 62.3 58.3 58.2 63.0 67.4 67.5 70.0 71.2 70.2 68.4 67.8 65.9
Average dew point °F (°C) 20.5
Source: PRISM Climate Group


According to the A. W. Kuchler U.S. potential natural vegetation types, Princeton, New Jersey, would have an Appalachian Oak (104) vegetation type with an Eastern Hardwood Forest (25) vegetation form.


Historical population
Census Pop.

As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough and township had a combined population of 28,572.

According to the website Data USA, Princeton has a population of 30,168 people, of which 85% are US citizens. The ethnic composition of the population is 20,393 White residents (67.6%), 4,636 Asian residents (15.4%), 2,533 Hispanic residents (8.4%), 1,819 Black residents (6.03%), and 618 Two+ residents (2.05%). The most common foreign languages are Chinese (1,800 speakers), Spanish (1,429 speakers), and French (618 speakers), but compared to other places, Princeton has a relatively high number of speakers of Scandinavian languages (425 speakers), Italian (465 speakers), and German (1,000 speakers).[citation needed]

Government and politics

Local government

Princeton is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government, which is used in 218 municipalities (of the 565) statewide, making it the most common form of government in New Jersey. The governing body is comprised of the Mayor and the Borough Council, with all positions elected at-large on a partisan basis as part of the November general election. The Mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office. The Borough Council is comprised of six members elected to serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with two seats coming up for election each year in a three-year cycle. The Borough form of government used by Princeton is a "weak mayor / strong council" government in which council members act as the legislative body with the mayor presiding at meetings and voting only in the event of a tie. The mayor can veto ordinances subject to an override by a two-thirds majority vote of the council. The mayor makes committee and liaison assignments for council members, and most appointments are made by the mayor with the advice and consent of the council.

The Mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office, serves as Princeton's chief executive officer and nominates appointees to various boards and commissions subject to approval of the council. The Mayor presides at Council meetings and votes in the case of a tie or a few other specific cases. The Council consists of six members elected to serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with two seats coming up for election each year in a three-year cycle. The council has administrative powers and is the policy-making body for Princeton. The Council approves appointments made by the Mayor. Council Members serve on various boards and committees and act as liaisons to certain Departments, Committees or Boards.

As of 2022, the mayor of Princeton is Democrat Mark Freda, who is serving a four-year term expiring on December 31, 2023. Members of the Princeton Council are Council President Leticia Fraga (D, 2023), David F. Cohen (D, 2023), Eve Niedergang (D, 2024), Michelle Pirone Lambros (D, 2022), Leighton Newlin (D, 2024) and Mia Sacks (D, 2022).

In 2018, Princeton had an average property tax bill of $19,388, the highest in the county, compared to an average bill of $8,767 statewide.

Merger of borough and township

After four previous efforts at consolidation had failed, the residents of both the Borough of Princeton and the Township of Princeton voted on November 8, 2011, to merge the two municipalities into one. In Princeton Borough 1,385 voted for and 902 voted against, while in Princeton Township 3,542 voted for and 604 voted against. Proponents of the merger asserted that when the merger is completed the new municipality of Princeton would save $3.2 million as a result of some scaled down services including layoffs of 15 government workers including 9 police officers (however the measure itself does not mandate such layoffs). Opponents of the measure challenged the findings of a report citing a cost savings as unsubstantiated, and noted that voter representation would be reduced in a smaller government structure. The merger was the first in the state since 1997, when Pahaquarry Township voted to consolidate with Hardwick Township The consolidation took effect on January 1, 2013.

Federal, state and county representation

Princeton is located in the 12th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 16th state legislative district. Prior to the 2011 reapportionment following the 2010 Census, the former Princeton Borough and Princeton Township had both been in the 15th state legislative district.

For the 117th United States Congress, New Jersey's Twelfth Congressional District is represented by Bonnie Watson Coleman (D, Ewing Township). New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Democrats Cory Booker (Newark, term ends 2027) and Bob Menendez (Harrison, term ends 2025).

For the 2022–2023 session, the 16th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the New Jersey Senate by Andrew Zwicker (D, South Brunswick) and in the General Assembly by Roy Freiman (D, Hillsborough Township) and Sadaf Jaffer (D, Montgomery Township).

Mercer County is governed by a County Executive who oversees the day-to-day operations of the county and by a seven-member Board of County Commissioners that acts in a legislative capacity, setting policy. All officials are chosen at-large in partisan elections, with the executive serving a four-year term of office while the freeholders serve three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either two or three seats up for election each year as part of the November general election. As of 2022, the County Executive is Brian M. Hughes (D, Princeton, term of office ends December 31, 2023). Mercer County's Commissioners are Commissioner Chair Nina D. Melker (D, Hamilton Township, 2022), Vice Chair Lucylle R. S. Walter (D, Ewing Township, 2023), John A. Cimino (D, Hamilton Township, 2023), Samuel T. Frisby Sr. (D, Trenton, 2024), Andrew Koontz (D, Princeton, 2022), Kristin L McLaughlin (D, Hopewell Township, 2024) and Terrance Stokes (D, Ewing Township, 2024). Mercer County's constitutional officers are County Clerk Paula Sollami-Covello (D, Lawrence Township, 2025), Sheriff John A. Kemler (D, 2023) and Surrogate Diane Gerofsky (D, 2026).


As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 18,049 registered voters in Princeton (a sum of the former borough and township's voters), of which 9,184 (50.9%) were registered as Democrats, 2,140 (11.9%) were registered as Republicans and 6,703 (37.1%) were registered as unaffiliated. There were 22 voters registered to other parties.

Presidential Elections Results*
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2016 14.1% 1,817 81.8% 10,548 4.1% 527
2012 23.0% 2,882 75.4% 9,461 1.6% 205

In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 75.4% of the vote (9,461 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 23.0% (2,882 votes), and other candidates with 1.6% (205 votes), among the 14,752 ballots cast by the municipality's 20,328 registered voters (2,204 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 72.6%.

Gubernatorial Elections Results
Year Republican Democratic Third Parties
2017 17.9% 1,491 80.0% 6,648 2.0% 169
2013 39.2% 2,780 58.8% 4,172 2.7% 145

In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Democrat Barbara Buono received 58.8% of the vote (4,172 cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 39.2% (2,780 votes), and other candidates with 2.0% (145 votes), among the 7,279 ballots cast by the municipality's 18,374 registered voters (182 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 39.6%.


Colleges and universities

Princeton University's Cuyler, Class of 1903, and Walker Halls are dormitories with Collegiate Gothic architecture
Princeton University's Fine Hall, home of its Department of Mathematics
Fuld Hall, home of the Institute for Advanced Study
The Princeton campus is known for having Albert Einstein lecture as well as being one of the eight Ivy League schools.

Princeton University, one of the world's most prominent research universities, is a dominant feature of the community. Established in 1746 as the College of New Jersey and relocated to Princeton ten years later, Princeton University's main campus has its historic center on Nassau Street and stretches south from there. Its James Forrestal satellite campus is located in Plainsboro Township, and some playing fields lie within adjacent West Windsor Township. Princeton University is often featured at or near the top of various national and global university rankings, topping the 2019 list of U.S. News & World Report.

Westminster Choir College, a school of music presently owned by Rider University, was established in Princeton in 1932. Before relocating to Princeton, the school resided in Dayton, Ohio and then briefly in Ithaca, New York.

Princeton Theological Seminary, the first and oldest seminary in America of the Presbyterian Church (USA), has its main academic campus in Princeton, with residential housing located just outside of Princeton in West Windsor Township.

The Institute for Advanced Study maintains extensive land holdings (the "Institute Woods") there covering 800 acres (320 ha).

Mercer County Community College in West Windsor is a two-year public college serving Princeton residents and all those from Mercer County.

Primary and secondary schools

Public schools

The Princeton Public Schools serve students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of the 2018–19 school year, the district, comprising six schools, had an enrollment of 3,809 students and 341.9 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 11.1:1.

Schools in the district (with 2017-18 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Community Park Elementary School (376 students in; grades K-5), Johnson Park Elementary School (391; PreK-5), Littlebrook Elementary School (358; K-5), Riverside Elementary School (304; PreK-5), John Witherspoon Middle School with 719 students in grades 6-8 and Princeton High School with 1,610 students in grades 9-12.

New Jersey Monthly magazine ranked Princeton High School as the 20th best high school in New Jersey in its 2018 rankings of the "Top Public High Schools" in New Jersey. The school was also ranked as the 10th best school in New Jersey by U.S. News & World Report. Niche ranked Princeton High School as the 47th best public high school in America in its "2021 Best Public High Schools in America" rankings.

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 (JP) and the more racially and economically diverse population at Community Park (CP). As a result of the redistricting, portions of the affluent Western Section neighborhood were redistricted to CP, and portions of the racially and economically diverse John Witherspoon neighborhood were redistricted to JP.

The Princeton Charter School (grades K-8) 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.

Eighth grade students from all of Mercer County are eligible to apply to attend the high school programs offered by the Mercer County Technical Schools, a county-wide vocational school district that offers full-time career and technical education at its Health Sciences Academy, STEM Academy and Academy of Culinary Arts, with no tuition charged to students for attendance.

Private schools

Private schools located in Princeton include The Lewis School of Princeton, Princeton Day School, Princeton Friends School, Hun School of Princeton, and Princeton International School of Mathematics and Science (PRISMS).

St. Paul's Catholic School (pre-school to 8th grade) founded in 1878, is the oldest and only coeducational Catholic school, joining Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart (K-8, all male) and Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart (coed for Pre-K, and all-female K-12), which operate under the supervision of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton.

Schools that are outside of Princeton but have Princeton addresses include the Wilberforce School, Chapin School in Lawrence Township, Princeton Junior School in Lawrence Township, the French-American School of Princeton, the Laurel School of Princeton, the Waldorf School of Princeton, YingHua International School, Princeton Latin Academy in Hopewell, Princeton Montessori School in Montgomery Township, Eden Institute in West Windsor Township, and the now-defunct American Boychoir School in Plainsboro Township,.

Public libraries

The Princeton Public Library's current facility on Witherspoon Street was opened in April 2004 as part of the ongoing downtown redevelopment project and replaced a building dating from 1966. The library itself was founded in 1909.

Miscellaneous education

The Princeton Community Japanese Language School teaches weekend Japanese classes for Japanese citizen children abroad to the standard of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), and it also has classes for people with Japanese as a second language. The main office of the school is in Princeton although the office used on Sundays is in Memorial Hall at Rider University in Lawrence Township in Mercer County. Courses are taught at Memorial Hall at Rider University.

The Princeton Learning Cooperative provides support for student-directed learning as "a hybrid of homeschooling and school" for teens.


Roads and highways

U.S. Route 206 in Princeton

As of May 2010, the borough had a total of 126.95 miles (204.31 km) of roadways, of which 118.36 miles (190.48 km) were maintained by the municipality, 3.93 miles (6.32 km) by Mercer County, and 8.66 miles (13.94 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

US 206 and Route 27 pass through Princeton, along with County Routes 583, 526/571 (commonly known as Washington Road) and 533.

Other major roads that are accessible outside the municipality include US 1 (in Lawrence, West Windsor & South Brunswick), I-295 (in Lawrence), and the New Jersey Turnpike/I-95 (in South Brunswick). The closest Turnpike exits are Exit 8A in Monroe Township, Exit 8 in East Windsor, and Exit 7A in Robbinsville.

A number of proposed highways around Princeton have been canceled. The Somerset Freeway (I-95) was to pass just outside the municipality before ending in Hopewell (to the south) and Franklin (to the north). This project was canceled in 1980. Route 92 was supposed to remedy the lack of limited-access highways to the greater Princeton area. The road would have started at Route 1 near Ridge Road in South Brunswick and ended at Exit 8A of the Turnpike. However, that project was cancelled in 2006.

Public transportation

The "Dinky" at the Princeton Branch platform at Princeton Junction

Princeton is roughly equidistant from New York City and Philadelphia. Since the 19th century, it has been connected by rail to both of these cities by the Princeton Branch rail line to the nearby Princeton Junction Station on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. The Princeton train station was moved from under Blair Hall to a more southerly location on University Place in 1918, and was moved further southeast in 2013. Commuting to New York from Princeton became commonplace after the Second World War. While the Amtrak ride time is similar to New York and to Philadelphia, the commuter-train ride to New York — via NJ Transit's Northeast Corridor Line — is generally much faster than the equivalent train ride to Philadelphia, which involves a transfer to SEPTA trains in Trenton. NJ Transit provides shuttle service between the Princeton and Princeton Junction stations; the train is locally called the "Dinky", and has also been known as the "PJ&B" (for "Princeton Junction and Back"). Two train cars, or sometimes just one, are used.

NJ Transit provides bus service to Trenton on the 606 route and local service on route 605.

Coach USA Suburban Transit operates frequent daily service to midtown NYC on the 100 route, and weekday rush-hour service to downtown NYC on the 600 route.

Princeton and Princeton University provide the FreeB and Tiger Transit local bus services.


Princeton Airport is a public airport located 3 miles (4.8 km) north of Downtown Princeton in Montgomery Township. The private Forrestal Airport was located on Princeton University property, 2 miles (3.2 km) east of the main campus, from the early 1950s through the early 1990s.

The closest commercial airport is Trenton-Mercer Airport in Ewing Township, about 15 miles (24 km) from the center of Princeton, which is served by Frontier Airlines nonstop to and from 17 cities. Other nearby major airports are Newark Liberty International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport, located 39 miles (63 km) and 52 miles (84 km) away, respectively.

Sister cities

Notable people

People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Princeton include: 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.


  • All of the members of Blues Traveler, as well as Chris Barron (see above) are from Princeton and were high school friends.
  • All sitting New Jersey governors since 1945 have had their official residence in Princeton, first at Morven and since 1982 at Drumthwacket, but not all have actually lived in these houses.

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. However, many scenes of "Princeton" were actually filmed at Fordham University's Rose Hill campus in the Bronx.[citation needed]

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.

In his 1989 independent feature film Stage Fright, independent filmmaker Brad Mays shot a drama class scene in the Princeton High School auditorium, using PHS students as extras. On October 18, 2013, Mays' feature documentary I Grew Up in Princeton had its premiere showing at Princeton High School. The film, described in one Princeton newspaper as a "deeply personal 'coming-of-age story' that yields perspective on the role of perception in a town that was split racially, economically and sociologically", is a portrayal of life in the venerable university town during the tumultuous period of the late sixties through the early seventies.

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

Parts of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen were filmed in Princeton. Megan Fox and Shia LaBeouf were filming on Princeton University campus for two days during the summer of 2008.

Scenes from the 2008 movie The Happening were filmed in Princeton.

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 was set in Princeton, at the fictional Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital, and establishing shots for the hospital display the Frist Campus Center of Princeton University. The actual University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro opened on May 22, 2012, exactly one day after the finale of House aired.

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 community 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.

New Jersey author Judy Blume set her novel Superfudge in Princeton.

Points of interest


Educational institutions


Historic sites



Local media

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