The history of Rahway begins with the settlements of Elizabethtown and Woodbridge. The early settlers of those places were the founders of Rahway which began as outlying acreage and plantations.
The name "Rahwack" with several variants in spelling, appears to have been in use for this vicinity in very early days and is traditionally ascribed to an Indian chief who dwelt here.
By the 18th century, Rahway consisted of four distinct communities: Upper Rahway, Bridge Town, or Lower Rahway, Leesville, and Milton.
Throughout the War for Independence, Rahway was the scene of several skirmishes. In January 1777, the Battle of Spanktown, Rahway's most notable battle, was fought on St. Georges Avenue in the vicinity of the Union County Park. The battle lasted 12 hours, with the Americans getting the best of the British.
The City of Rahway is located in Union County, New Jersey, approximately 15 miles southwest of Manhattan. The city is served by the busy Northeast Corridor/North Jersey Coast rail lines, linking Rahway with Newark, Manhattan, Trenton and the Jersey Shore. Its busiest highway is Routes 1 and 9, and the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike are each located less than 2 miles from the city line.
The majority of the city is zoned for residential use, with smaller areas zoned for commercial and industrial use.