Plainfield is the birthplace of P-Funk. George Clinton founded The Parliaments while working ina barber shop in Plainfield. Parliament-Funkadelic was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of    Fame in 1997. Plainfield has been home to former New Jersey governor James McGreevey.

In sports history, Plainfield is the birthplace and/or home of several current and former athletes, including professionals and well-known amateurs. Included in their number are Milt Campbell, the 1956 Olympic Decathlon gold medalist (the first African-American to earn this title),[33] Joe Black, the first African-American pitcher to win a World Series game, Jeff Torborg, former MLB player, coach and manager, and Vic Washington, NFL player.[34]

Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor appointed to oversee prosecutions in the Watergate break-in and related criminal activity during the Nixon administration, was born in Plainfield. There are numerous sites, including homes, parks, and districts in the city that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While not listed, the Plainfield Armory, a prominent landmark completed in 1932, was sold by the state in 2013 as surplus property.

In its heyday, Plainfield was a regional shopping and entertainment center. Residents of nearby Union, Middlesex and Somerset counties would drive to shop and explore the business districts of Plainfield. Other than during the holidays, peak shopping times in Plainfield were Thursday nights and Saturday, when Front Street and the areas around it bustled. Parking spots were at a premium downtown during the fifties and early sixties. Businesses of note included Tepper's, Rosenbaum's, Sears, Montgomery Wards, Bamberger's and the Surprise Store department stores, Browning King and Robert Hall clothiers, Dreier's and Buck and Benny sporting goods, Lipton's fine jewelry, Lazaar's, Boise's and Park Stationers office supplies, Watchung and Thomas Furniture, Coward, A&S Beck, Kinney and David Bruce Shoes, Brooks and Gregory Music stores, Lafayette Radio and Electronics, Safeway, A&P, Acme and Finast food stores and Thule auto parts. Notable eateries included Larry's Kosher Deli, the Capital Bakery, Grunning's, The Frontier Diner, Conca D'Oro and Texas Lunch. Other businesses of note included the Plainfield Courier News (bought by Gannett, regionalized and moved to Bridgewater, NJ), Wald, Sav-On and Strand Drug, multiple 5 & 10 retail stores (at various times, Woolworth, LL Green, McCrory and others), Loizeaux lumber, The Model Railroad Shop, Park Hardware, Nechin's, The Millenary Shop, the Sam-O-Set Laundry and numerous other small businesses.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the city had a total area of 6.034 square miles (15.626 km2), including 6.023 square miles (15.599 km2) of land and 0.011 square miles (0.027 km2) of water (0.18%).

Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the city include Netherwood.

The city is located in Central Jersey on the southwestern edge of Union County and is bordered by nine municipalities. Scotch Plains lies to the north and east, and Fanwood to the northeast. Bordered to the south are South Plainfield, and Piscataway. To the southwest lies Dunellen and to the southeast, Edison. All which are in Middlesex County. Green Brook Township lies to the northwest, North Plainfield lies to the north and Watchung borders to the northwest. All three of these municipalities are in Somerset County. Plainfield is in the Raritan Valley, a line of cities in central New Jersey, and lies on the east side of the Raritan Valley along with Edison.


Plainfield has two New Jersey Transit rail stations on the Raritan Valley Line, formerly the mainline of the Central Railroad of New Jersey. The main Plainfield station is in the downtown and a second, smaller Netherwood station is in the Netherwood section, east of downtown and within a mile of the Fanwood border. A third station, located in the west end of town, was closed long ago. The New Brunswick train station is approximately 15 minutes away.

At the height of popularity, the Plainfield "Jersey Central" train station was a bustling hub for commuting to Newark and New York. The station was located in the middle of business commerce, a short walk from the main post office and downtown stores. The station was serviced by the now defunct Railway Express delivery company.

NJ Transit provides bus service on the 113 and 114 to and from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan; the 59, 65 and 66 (Limited) to Newark; and local service on the 819 and 822 routes.

In years past, Plainfield was serviced by the Somerset Bus Company with service from Union County to Essex and New York City, the Public Service Bus Company with similar service and Plainfield Transit, providing local service.[130]

Newark Liberty International Airport is approximately 30 minutes away.
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