Plainsboro is a desirable residential community. The Township offers a blend of suburban and rural atmospheres influenced as much by its expansive farmland and open space as by its proximity to Princeton and its midway location between Philadelphia and New York City. It is within an hourís drive to the Atlantic Ocean, as well as to the rolling hills of North Jersey. The Township is 11.8 square miles with a population slightly over 16,000. Located in the southern section of Middlesex County, Plainsboro borders the Townships of Princeton, West Windsor and East Windsor in Mercer County and the Townships of Cranbury and South Brunswick in Middlesex County. Plainsboro is noted as a premier location for major corporate and (Princeton) University office and research facilities.
Historians differ as to how Plainsboro acquired its name. The oldest section of the community is the intersection of Plainsboro and Dey Roads. A tavern, constructed in the early 1700ís and still standing today, called "Plane Tavern" was at this location. Some historians argue that the old bottles found by local residents give evidence that the Township was first called "Planesborough" after the tavern. Other researchers maintain that the area was first called the "Borough of the Plains" or simply "The Plains." The first U.S.Post Office designated the area as "Plainsborough." A subsequent Presidential decree in 1894 shortened the name to "Plainsboro."
The Unami, a subtribe of the Lenni Lenape native Americans, were the first inhabitants of the Plainsboro area. The Lenape were a part of the larger Delaware tribe. The Plainsboro area offered fertile soil and ample water to suit this peace-loving tribeís agricultural interests.
The Dutch, migrating from the original settlement of Peter Minuet in New Amsterdam during the mid 1600ís, became the first European settlers. English settlers soon joined them. Given its climate, good soils, and available water, agriculture became the important economic focus. In 1897, the Walker-Gordon Laboratory Company selected Plainsboro as the site for its innovative certified dairy farm. Designed to produce clean, high quality milk and milk formulas for infant feeding at a time before pasteurization was a common practice, the farm grew to become the largest certified dairy farm in the world. The farmís "Rotary Combine Milking System," also known as the "Rotolactor," a 50 stall merry-go-round milking facility, went into operation in 1930. The farm and its Rotolactor became a novel tourist attraction. The dairy operation ceased in 1971, about the same time that the community transformed from a small farm area into a more modern suburban area.
During the 1970ís, the community experienced unprecedented residential development led by Lincoln Properties. During the 1970ís and 80ís, the communityís largest property owner, Princeton University, marketed and developed its prestigious office park , the Princeton Forrestal Center. Today, the community is noted for its balance of commercial-office/residential development and the preservation of open space. The end result is a quality suburban community that retains much of its agricultural and open-space heritage.