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Freehold Borough, New Jersey facts for kids

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See also: Freehold Township, New Jersey
Freehold Borough, New Jersey
Borough of Freehold
South Street in Downtown Freehold
South Street in Downtown Freehold
Map of Freehold Borough in Monmouth County. Inset: Location of Monmouth County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Map of Freehold Borough in Monmouth County. Inset: Location of Monmouth County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Freehold Borough, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Freehold Borough, New Jersey
Country  United States
State  New Jersey
County Monmouth
Incorporated March 25, 1869 (as town)
Reincorporated April 15, 1919 (as borough)
 • Total 1.952 sq mi (5.055 km2)
 • Land 1.950 sq mi (5.050 km2)
 • Water 0.002 sq mi (0.005 km2)  0.09%
Area rank 416th of 566 in state
31st of 53 in county
Elevation 171 ft (52 m)
Population (2010 Census)
 • Total 12,052
 • Estimate (2015) 11,959
 • Rank 204th of 566 in state
17th of 53 in county
 • Density 6,180.8/sq mi (2,386.4/km2)
 • Density rank 81st of 566 in state
8th of 53 in county
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (EDT) (UTC-4)
ZIP code 07728
Area code(s) 732/848
FIPS code 3402525200
GNIS feature ID 0885226

Freehold is a borough in Monmouth County, New Jersey, United States. It is the county seat of Monmouth County. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 12,052, reflecting an increase of 1,076 (+9.8%) from the 10,976 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 234 (+2.2%) from the 10,742 counted in the 1990 Census.

What is now Freehold Borough was originally incorporated as a town by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 25, 1869, from portions within Freehold Township. The town became independent of the township in 1888. On April 15, 1919, Freehold was incorporated as a borough, including all of Freehold and additional portions of Freehold Township, based on the results of a referendum held on July 8, 1919. Additional portions of Freehold Township were annexed on September 7, 1926.

The Hispanic population is rapidly growing in Freehold Borough, making up 4.6% (0.2% Mexican) in the 1980 Census, 11.3% (2.8% Mexican) in the 1990 Census, 28.0% (17.3% Mexican) in 2000 and recently 42.9% (29.6% Mexican) in 2010. On the contrary, the Black or African American population has decreased in recent decades: 17.1% in 1970, 19.8% in 1980, 18.2% in 1990, 15.8% in 2000 and 12.6% in 2010.


Early history

The Lenni Lenape Native Americans were the earliest known people to live in the area that became Freehold. The Lenape were a hunter-gatherer society. They were largely sedentary, changing campsites seasonally. They were prolific hunters of small game and birds. They were also skilled fisherman, and were known to harvest vast amounts of clams from the bays and inlets on the Jersey Shore. They also practiced some agriculture to augment their food supply. During this time, an important crossroad of two major Lenape trails was located in the area of Freehold.

In 1498, John Cabot became the first European to sight this land. The Dutch were the first to settle and develop the area. By the 17th Century, the English had taken over the area. In 1664, the Duke of York (later James II & VII) granted a patent to Sir George Carteret to develop the area. In 1685, Scottish immigrants, fleeing religious persecution at home, became the first to settle the area. In 1693, Along with Middletown and Shrewsbury, Freehold was established by act of legislature as one of the three original townships in Monmouth County. The name of the borough comes from the word Freehold, an English legal term describing fee simple property ownership.

Colonial Freehold

In 1714, when the colonial government was deciding where to locate the county seat and courthouse, Freeholder John Reid, the first Surveyor General of East Jersey, wanted the county seat located in Freehold Township. Reid sold land suitable for use as a courthouse to the Board of Chosen Freeholders at a bargain price, and this may have been the deciding factor why Freehold was selected over Middletown and Shrewsbury. In return for the heavily discounted price, Reid placed a restrictive covenant in the deed that, should the property ever cease being used as a courthouse, ownership would revert to the Reid family. Direct descendants of John Reid still reside in Freehold Township.

Freehold was officially designated as the seat of the Monmouth County government, and a court house was commissioned to be built on the land purchased from John Reid. The Monmouth Courthouse opened in 1715. A small village quickly began to develop around the courthouse. At first, the village was called Monmouth Courthouse. Over time, other government buildings opened near the courthouse, including a sheriff's office, a prison and a post office. A number of homes and commercial businesses also sprang up in the village, including a blacksmith, a general store, a bank, a hotel, and saloon.

In the area surrounding Monmouth Courthouse, many successful farms began to appear. The farms in Freehold were particularly well known for the production of potatoes, beans, and rye, which were sold in the markets of nearby cities. Freehold also became known for its excellent horse farms. The differences within Freehold between growing village around the courthouse and the surrounding farmland were the seeds for the eventual division of Freehold into two separate municipalities in the early 20th century.

As of 1745, the majority of families in Freehold were still Scottish immigrants. In modern Freehold today, many important streets bear the name of early colonial families, including Barkalow, Applegate, Rhea, Throckmorton, and Schanck.

The Revolutionary War in Freehold

See also: Battle of Monmouth

Freehold was deeply impacted by the American Revolution. By the early 1770s, the Sons of Liberty were actively recruiting local members in Freehold, and were agitating the relationship between the British government and the colonists. In 1775, immediately after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Capt. Elias Longstreet recruited the first company of Freeholders to join the Continental Army. Freehold was a known center of patriot activity. The Declaration of Independence was publicly proclaimed, read aloud, from the steps of the Freehold Courthouse just a few days after being signed in Philadelphia.

However, after British success at the Battle of Long Island, Freehold and all of Monmouth County fell under the control of Loyalists. The British government continued to operate the Freehold Courthouse, and several people involved in revolutionary activism were arrested and tried for treason at the courthouse. The success of the Continental Army at the Battle of Trenton helped to weaken loyalist control of Freehold.

In June 1778, the British Army began a major strategic evacuation of the city of Philadelphia. They attempted to protect a long, slow moving column of loyalist families, equipment, and other supplies seized in Philadelphia, as they moved towards ships in New York Harbor. On June 28, 1778, the Continental Army intercepted the column in Freehold. The Battle of Monmouth was one of the largest battles of the Revolutionary War, involving over 25,000 soldiers combined in Continental, British, and Hessian forces. The Continental Army was able to repel the British forces, and hold their ground on the battlefield. However, the British forces were successful in completing their primary goal, the evacuation of Philadelphia. Both sides claimed victory in the battle.

Molly Pitcher currier ives
Molly Pitcher fighting at the Battle of Monmouth in Freehold, New Jersey

Several famous figures from the Revolutionary War fought at the Battle of Monmouth. British forces were commanded by Sir Henry Clinton and Charles Cornwallis. The Continental Army was commanded by George Washington and Charles Lee. Charles Lee was court martialed by the Continental Army for his behavior at the Battle of Monmouth. Nathaniel Greene, Alexander Hamilton, the Marquis de Lafayette and Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben also fought for the Continental Army at the Battle of Monmouth. Another famous figure at the Battle of Monmouth was Molly Pitcher, who manned a cannon during the battle after her husband was wounded.

In the aftermath of the Battle of Monmouth, Loyalist control of Freehold faltered. The town ceased to have a functioning municipal government, and the courthouse was closed until the end of the war. Minor clashes between loyalists and continentals flared up in town, with the violence peaking around 1780. Colonel Tye, an escaped slave and leader of a prominent loyalist guerilla force, conducted several raids in and around Freehold. One famous incident was the capture and hanging of Joshua Huddy by British Loyalists under the direction of Richard Lippincott. Colonel Tye was killed during the raid on Huddy's home. Patriots later cut down Huddy's body hanging from the gallows and buried it in Freehold, at Old Tennent Church. At the end of the war, the community was deeply divided, and nearly 120 loyalist families left Freehold, fearing persecution from their neighbors. Most of these families re-settled in Canada.

Freehold in 19th century

During the early 1800s, Freehold steadily grew in size. The village around the courthouse was now called Freehold, along with the surrounding farmland. In 1852, when long distance railroad systems were first being developed, a railroad station, with trains making regular stops, was built near the courthouse in Freehold. Freehold soon had public sewers in the village and in some of the outlying farmland. By 1883, there was an electrical grid and a telephone switchboard, at a time when these inventions were still brand new. These public advancements caused rapid economic growth in Freehold. The village of Freehold became an important commercial and industrial hub in central New Jersey. The farms in the rest of Freehold benefitted greatly by being able to sell their products more easily in New York and Philadelphia. Both the village and the farms prospered together, however the public policies sought by the two different communities continued to grow further apart. The municipal government was increasingly divided between the villagers and farmers.

In 1824, the American Hotel opened on Main Street in Freehold. It is still standing today, and is one of the oldest buildings in Freehold. In 1853, the Freehold Raceway opened. Though the original grandstand burned down in a fire, the racetrack is still open today, and is one of the oldest harness racetracks in America. The Great Fire of Freehold happened on October 30, 1873. The fire reportedly began in a commercial building on Main Street. It soon spread to engulf a large section of the village, and many wooden buildings, including Monmouth Courthouse, were burned down.

Freehold also has a relatively forgotten but important place in the history of the bicycle. Cycling champion Arthur Augustus Zimmerman resided in the town during his racing career in the 1880s and 1890s, and from 1896–1899 operated the Zimmerman Bicycle Co.; the company's bicycles were known as the "Zimmy." Today, Freehold Borough is home to the Metz Bicycle Museum, where the only extant "Zimmy" can be seen.

Freehold divided

At the beginning of the 20th Century, Freehold was an increasingly divided community. The issue of local tax dollars, used as funding for public works and infrastructure projects, was the primary point of contention. The Freeholders living in the downtown area, around the courthouse had very different ideas about how to spend public money compared to the Freeholders living in the surrounding farmland. Tension within the community increased greatly in 1916 when a severe polio epidemic swept through Freehold. After contentious public debate, a referendum was held to on the future of Freehold, and voters overwhelmingly decided to split the town into two separate municipalities.

On April 15, 1919, Freehold Borough formally separated from Freehold Township. Freehold residents generally refer to the different municipalities simply as the Borough and the Township. The Borough, the downtown area around the courthouse, retained all the existing government buildings around Court Street and Main Street. The Borough also kept the designation as county seat. Freehold Township, the farming communities that surrounded the courthouse, set up a new city hall complex on Schanck Road. The Township completely encircles the Borough. On September 7, 1926, Freehold Borough annexed additional territory from the Township.

The Borough in the 20th century

Freehold Borough initially prospered in the early 20th century. However, by mid-century, the Borough began to decline as downtown areas across the country shrank, and suburban areas began growing. In 1961, the A & M Karagheusian rug factory closed. This factory had long been the largest employer in the area, and its closure had a devastating effect on the economic stability of the Borough. The Borough managed to turn around its economic decline by establishing the downtown area as a center for restaurants and nightlife. Several well-known local restaurants on Main Street are now crowded every night of the week.

Freehold Borough was an important center of African American civil rights activity in New Jersey during the years leading up to the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954. In 2007, Jaye Sims became the first African American official to be elected to office.

Bruce Springsteen grew up in the Borough and lived on South Street. In 1963, he graduated eighth grade from St. Rose of Lima School, and graduated from Freehold Borough High School in 1967. In 1973, he released his first album, and rocketed to international fame. Springsteen has always remained loyal to Freehold and makes reference to it in several of his famous songs, including "My Hometown". In 1996, he conducted a small benefit concert in Freehold for St. Rose of Lima.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 1.952 square miles (5.055 km2), including 1.950 square miles (5.050 km2) of land and 0.002 square miles (0.005 km2) of water (0.09%). It is situated in the heart of Monmouth County and is located approximately 40 miles (64 km) south of New York City and 65 miles (105 km) northeast of Philadelphia. Freehold is also about 16 miles (26 km) west of Asbury Park on the Jersey Shore.

Freehold has an elevation of 174 feet (53 m) above sea level at its center.

The borough is completely surrounded by Freehold Township, making it part of 21 pairs of "doughnut towns" in the state, where one municipality entirely surrounds another.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 2,432
1890 2,932 20.6%
1900 2,934 0.1%
1910 3,233 10.2%
1920 4,768 47.5%
1930 6,894 44.6%
1940 6,952 0.8%
1950 7,550 8.6%
1960 9,140 21.1%
1970 10,545 15.4%
1980 10,020 −5.0%
1990 10,742 7.2%
2000 10,976 2.2%
2010 12,052 9.8%
Est. 2015 11,959 −0.8%
Population sources:
1880-1920 1880-1890
1890-1910 1910-1930
1930-1990 2000 2010

2010 Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 12,052 people, 4,006 households, and 2,660 families residing in the borough. The population density was 6,180.8 per square mile (2,386.4/km2). There were 4,249 housing units at an average density of 2,179.1 per square mile (841.4/km2)*. The racial makeup of the borough was 65.72% (7,920) White, 12.57% (1,515) Black or African American, 0.52% (63) Native American, 2.89% (348) Asian, 0.07% (8) Pacific Islander, 15.35% (1,850) from other races, and 2.89% (348) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 42.87% (5,167) of the population.

There were 4,006 households out of which 33.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.3% were married couples living together, 13.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.6% were non-families. 26.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.98 and the average family size was 3.48.

In the borough, the population was spread out with 24.5% under the age of 18, 10.4% from 18 to 24, 32.4% from 25 to 44, 21.7% from 45 to 64, and 11.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33.3 years. For every 100 females there were 111.7 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 112.0 males.

The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $52,000 (with a margin of error of +/- $3,634) and the median family income was $60,471 (+/- $3,989). Males had a median income of $29,752 (+/- $8,068) versus $34,976 (+/- $8,305) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $23,331 (+/- $1,602). About 13.1% of families and 16.01% of the population were below the poverty line, including 20.5% of those under age 18 and 14.2% of those age 65 or over.

2000 Census

As of the 2000 United States Census there were 10,976 people, 3,695 households, and 2,571 families residing in the borough. The population density was 5,501.1 people per square mile (2,118.9/km2). There were 3,821 housing units at an average density of 1,915.1 per square mile (737.6/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 71.02% White, 15.83% Black, .55% Native American, 2.45% Asian, .02% Pacific Islander, 6.64% from other races, and 3.49% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 28.07% of the population.

There were 3,695 households out of which 32.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.4% were non-families. 24.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.6% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.96 and the average family size was 3.39.

In the borough the population was spread out with 24.8% under the age of 18, 10.9% from 18 to 24, 34.4% from 25 to 44, 19.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 33.0 years. For every 100 females there were 106.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.7 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $48,654, and the median income for a family was $53,374. Males had a median income of $35,855 versus $30,377 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $19,910. About 7.7% of families and 12% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.8% of those under age 18 and 9.2% of those age 65 or over.


Roads and highways

As of May 2010, the borough had a total of 31.31 miles (50.39 km) of roadways, of which 26.60 miles (42.81 km) were maintained by the municipality, 1.30 miles (2.09 km) by Monmouth County and 3.41 miles (5.49 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

U.S. Route 9 passes through Freehold, as do Route 33 Business, Route 79, County Route 522 and County Route 537. The Henry Hudson Trail runs north along an abandoned rail line to Matawan.

Freehold Circle

Freehold Circle was located near the western boundary of Freehold Borough near the Freehold Raceway. The circle carried traffic between US 9, Business Route 33 and Manalapan Avenue (CR 24); it was eliminated in the 1980s due to the increased traffic load caused by a boom in commercial and residential development. Most notable of the commercial development is the Freehold Raceway Mall, in Freehold Township just south of the old circle on US 9, whose development in the late 1980s was a major impetus to redesign the circle. The former circle now features several jughandles, and most Manalapan Avenue traffic must use a connector road to Business Route 33 to reach the main intersection, but it is still known by locals as Freehold Circle. In the early 1940s, the Freehold Circle was the planned terminus of highway that would funnel traffic from South Amboy to the Jersey Shore by way of Matawan and Marlboro Township.

See also
  • List of traffic circles in New Jersey

Public transportation

The railroad that ran through Freehold was originally a Central Railroad of New Jersey branch connecting the still-active former Penn Central line from Jamesburg to CNJ's Seashore Branch and the New York and Long Branch line (now owned by NJ Transit) at Matawan. The Central Railroad of New Jersey went into bankruptcy in the early 1970s and entered into Conrail on April 1, 1976. Freight service on the rails from Freehold to Matawan was terminated in 1979 and the rails removed in 1980. Today, it is mostly a rail-trail. Freehold's former train station now serves as its central bus station.

NJ Transit bus service connects Freehold with towns along U.S. Route 9, Newark Liberty International Airport and New York City, to Philadelphia (via transfer in Lakewood) and to Six Flags Great Adventure located in Jackson Township. The 131, 135 and 139 provide service to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan, on the 67 to Newark, on the 64 and 67 to Jersey City and local service on the 833 and 836 routes.

Points of interest

  • Freehold Public Library
  • Monmouth County Historical Association, a museum and library dedicated to the history of Monmouth County.
  • Freehold Raceway, the oldest harness racetrack in the United States, dating to 1853.
  • Hankinson-Moreau-Covenhoven House was constructed in the 1750s and used by the British as a headquarters during the Battle of Monmouth. The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
  • St. Peter's Episcopal Church was built in 1771 based on a design by architect Robert Smith and was added to the National Register in 1998 as one of one five churches in the state dating back to the 1700s still standing.
  • Freehold Jewish Center, a synagogue established in 1911 which was constructed as the Orthodox Jewish Congregation Agudath Achim.
  • Metz Bicycle Museum exhibits antique bicycles dating back to the 1850s.
  • Olive Branch Lodge No. 16 Free and Accepted Masons was instituted October 20, 1849.

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