RAHWAY, established in 1720, is one of the oldest settlements in New Jersey, lies on the Rahway River about 20 m. S.W. of New York City. Rahway and the surrounding area were once the home of the Lenni Lenape Native Americans, and named in honor of the Indian chief Rahwack, whose tribe owned the site and the surrounding territory; it was chartered as a city in 1858.
Formal European settlement began in 1664 with the purchase by the English from the Lenape of the Elizabethtown Tract, which encompassed lands from the mouth of the Raritan River and included all of present-day Union County as well as parts of Somerset, Middlesex, Morris and Essex counties.
For many years Rahway was popularly known as Spanktown, and in January 1777, during the War of Independence, a skirmish, known as the battle of Spanktown, was fought here.
Pop. 1890-7,105; 1900-7,935 of whom 1,345 were foreign-born; 1910 U.S. census 9,337, Rahway was served by the carriage route between New York and later by the Philadelphia main line of the Pennsylvania railroad. It has wide streets and attractive parks, and is, to some extent, is a residential suburb of New York and other neighboring cities.