Raritan, New Jersey – A Lovable Town

Barstool Pizza Review, DeLucia’s, Raritan, NJ

Raritan Borough in a Nutshell

Raritan Borough is known for its small-town feel, where neighbors know each other’s names and keep an eye on each other’s kids as they play in the quiet side streets off the main drag. The town takes pride in its Italian heritage, celebrating WWII hero and congressional Medal of Honor recipient John Basilone in a parade every September. Everyone shows up to the family-friendly annual St. Ann’s Italian Festa during four days each June to play festival games, enjoy locally-made Italian delicacies, and gossip with friends and neighbors. Italian family-owned and operated businesses like Randazzo’s Bakery, DeLucia’s Pizza, and Espo’s Restaurant and Bar are mainstays of the town’s commercial life. While you can still hear elderly residents speaking Italian on their porches, these days you’re just as likely to hear Spanish and Tagalog while walking down the town’s main street, as new immigrants arrive, open up businesses, and contribute to the town’s economy and cultural life. Raritan residents enjoy all the conveniences of modern suburban life while maintaining more of a walkable, neighborhood feel than is found in neighboring towns.

The borough, which contains affordable mid 20th century homes on small lots and a small, walkable downtown, is beginning to transition to a transit-oriented commuter hub. A brand new apartment complex on First Ave is only one block from the NJ Transit train station for trips to Newark and NYC along the Raritan Valley Line. The station has fairly ample permit parking for commuters and NYC entertainment seekers especially on weekends. 

The borough’s central avenue (called Somerset St., not Main St) has a medium sized downtown area with some restaurants, bakeries, an ice cream shop, pizza places, convenience stores, a public library, post office, a liquor and wine shop and more, interspersed with residences and a few office buildings nearby. The NJ Transit train station is only a few blocks from Somerset St. and an easy walk from any neighborhood (a mile or less). Just a block off Somerset Street is the picturesque, turned pedestrian-only Nevius Street Bridge constructed in 1886. It spans over the Raritan River and to a paved walking path leading to Duke Farms, a major outdoor recreation and environmental education destination, in neighboring Hillsborough. Great spot to go in the afternoon or evening any time of year. 

Apartment Buildings in Raritan Borough

Crossings at Raritan:  A brand new apartment complex between 1st and 2nd Avenues (59 2nd Ave. address) about a quarter mile from Rt. 202, and within a few blocks of the NJ transit station, and walkable to downtown.  Apartments will be available any day now. The rents are not yet listed. Pets allowed. Dog Park is across the street.

River Park at Raritan, an approximately 10 year old apartment complex a short block away from downtown and close to a strip mall and golf driving range. It has not become the high end residences once touted, but its prices still are high for the location.  One and 2 bedroom apts. Rents from $1,660 to $2200 and 2 bedroom loft units orig at $2800.

The Lena Apartments (100 River Park Dr.; 1-3 bedroom units range from $1676 to $2629. Units are large and fairly recent (10 years old); less than a block from main street.

Stone Ridge in Raritan (luxury apts a few years old) are on the outskirts of the borough along Rt 202 (925 US Rt 202) not far from the Wegman’s and Home Depot shopping center. They are located a little over a half mile from the NJ Transit station.  Apartments rent for about $2,225 for 2 brm/2 baths with 1,315 sq ft.

Other apartments in nearby Somerville and Bridgewater round out the range of apartment options in the area. See those town profiles on our website for more information.

The Commute to NYC and Newark

Train:   NJ Transit Raritan Valley Line station is located a few short blocks from downtown; shortest trip to NYC is a bit over 80 minutes. Most trains to New York City require a transfer at Newark Penn Station which may add 10+ minutes to a trip. A few trains go straight through to NYC during weekday rush hour. Proposals exist to improve the commute by: adding a second tunnel under the Hudson River, but construction has not started. Additional NJ transit stations with parking nearby are in Somerville and Bridgewater. Details about those stations, including their parking fees, can be found in their profiles on our website.

Bus routes:  Rush hour commuter buses are available to Port Authority/NYC: from the Bridgewater Commons mall, from the Park & Ride lot on Rt.22, and from The Hills in Bedminster (Lakeland Bus) for a 70 min. trip costing $13.75 one way and $118.50 for a 10 trip ticket.

Automobile:  Major Highways dot the Raritan/Bridgewater area: for commuting there are Rts. 287 and 78.  Time to Newark Liberty Airport is about 40 minutes. Key local roads are Rt 22, Rt. 28 and Rt 202/206.  By car the shortest time to NYC is about 1 hour.  

Schools

Raritan and Bridgewater have a highly revered combined public school system; Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District. According to Niche.com ratings: overall rating of A+ and 4th best system in Somerset County, with an A+ in academics and college preparation, A in sports, B in diversity and B+ in food. The schools are a central attraction for newcomers looking for great towns to raise school-aged children.

Elementary:  

VanderVeer: preK-5th grade, 900 students, rated 4 of 10 by GreatSchools.
John F. Kennedy: K-4th grade, 400 students, rated 4 of 10.
Eisenhower: 5-6th grade, 800 students, rated 5 of 10.

Middle:  

Bridgewater-Raritan, located in neighboring Bridgewater, 7-8th grade, 1400 students, rated 7 of 10.

High school:

Bridgewater-Raritan, located in Bridgewater, 9-12th grade, 2800 students, rated 8 of 10.

Parochial schools: 

St. Ann’s School, preK- 8th grade, located in Raritan.
Immaculate Conception preK-8th grade, located in nearby Somerville.
Immaculata High School, 9-12th grade, located in nearby Somerville.
Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School, located in Bridgewater, see full description in our Bridgewater profile.

Public Colleges in the area:

Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC): two-year community college at attractive tuition rates is about 5 miles away in Branchburg, offers associate’s degrees and certificate programs, very cost effective way to complete first two years of a bachelor’s degree. Partnered with Rutgers and NJIT gives students full credit transfer in several degree programs. 

Rutgers University, about 13 miles drive to New Brunswick.

Parks and Recreation

Several small parks in town offer recreational activities (pools, basketball courts, tennis courts, etc.). Duke Island Park is in neighboring Bridgewater but very close to Raritan; North Branch Park also in Bridgewater is the location of the annual Somerset County 4H Fair in August. Duke Farms is a closeby outdoor recreation destination with environmental education programs for children and adults. Drive time to Jersey shore towns like Bradley Beach and Belmar is about 1 hour even on weekends.

Key Employers

LabCorp, large facility off 1st Ave., particularly important for Coronavirus testing.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals is a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Beerse, Belgium and owned by Johnson & Johnson.

Ortho Clinical Diagnostics is an in vitro diagnostics company that makes products and diagnostic equipment for blood testing. 

Many more large employers in the area as described in our Bridgewater profile for local job opportunities.  Industries are in the county:  insurance (MetLife, Aon Hewitt), technology (Qualcomm, Juniper Networks), financial (Merrill Lynch), pharma (Roche) and the Bridgewater Commons Mall.

More

Population (2010 census) of 6,881 up 8.6% from year 2000. 

Distribution 2010 census: 76% white, 16% Latino and Hispanic, 2% African-American.

Size: 2.037 square mile borough.

Area cultural attractions:  RVCC theater, Princeton McCarter theater, Patriots independent league baseball in Somerville, Rutgers sports in New Brunswick, for more see our regional profile.

Library system:  The Raritan Library is part of the Raritan Valley Federation of Municipal Libraries. One of two or so large library systems in the area. 

Hospital: RWJ/ Barnabas has one of its large hospitals in East Main St. Somerville, just a few miles from Raritan.