Greenwich was the principal colonial settlement of Cumberland County, serving as one of New Jersey's first official ports-of-entry under British rule. While other early settlers, primarily Dutch and Swedish, were the first Europeans to explore this region, it was English settlers that determined the primary character of Greenwich and the role it would play in the creation of a new nation.
Greenwich was founded by John Fenwick in 1675 and Ye Greate Street was laid out by 1684. For thousands of years prior to the arrival of the Europeans, this area supported large settlements of Native American Lenni-Lenape people. Colonization had dire effects on their culture, however, descendants of the Lenape still live throughout the region today and their heritage is preserved in several public collections.
Perhaps the best-known 18th century event was the Greenwich Tea Burning of 1774, one of the five major "tea incidents" in pre-Revolutionary America. In the 19TH century, the critical role that Greenwich played in the operation of the Underground Railroad has also been well-documented, including the fact that the crossing from Delaware to Greenwich, and the road north through Springtown, was a favored route of famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman and many others.
Greenwich was also a major 18th and 19th century Delaware Bay shipbuilding town and a center of the region's fishing, oystering and sturgeon industry. Railroad lines ran to Greenwich Piers on the Cohansey River to pick up sturgeon, sturgeon roe (caviar), shad and oysters. There was also a station on Ye Greate Street, located next to a large tomato cannery that served as the main shipping point for fruit and produce. The township's history and heritage are still evident, reflected in the architecture, the farmlands and the preserved landscapes that the residents of Greenwich have valued for centuries.
(Inscriptions under the images at the bottom-left to right) Greenwich, c. 1880; Greenwich Piers; Bayside; Ship John Light, Delaware Bay.
(Inscription under the map) In 1995, the PSEG Estuary Enhancement Program placed over 4,400 acres known as the Bayside Tract under deed of conservation restriction, thereby protecting the property in perpetuity. The Bayside Tract includes 2,585 acres of coastal wetlands that provide habitat for fish, mammals, migratory waterfowl and shorebirds, while supporting several protected bird species including the northern harrier and bald eagle. An additional 1,822 acres of uplands preserve vulnerable habitat for wildlife and allows for continued agricultural activities.