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By 1719, the town adopted the name "Trent-towne", after William Trent, one of its leading landholders who purchased much of the surrounding land from Stacy's family. During the American Revolutionary War, the city was the site of the Battle of Trenton, George Washington's first military victory.

Locals consider Trenton to be a part of an ambiguous area known as Central Jersey, and thus part of neither region.They are generally split as to whether they are within New York or Philadelphia's sphere of influence.This community has been in decline since the 1970s, largely due to economic and social shifts to the suburbs surrounding the city. Many of the Latino immigrants are from Mexico, Guatemala and Nicaragua.There is also a significant and growing Asian community in the Chambersburg neighborhood primarily made up of Burmese and Bhutanese/Nepali refugees.Eventually the accused men (with the exception of one who died in prison) were released.

The incident was the subject of the book Jersey Justice: The Story of the Trenton Six, written by Cathy Knepper.

In 1837, with the population now too large for government by council, a new mayoral government was adopted, with by-laws that remain in operation to this day.

The Trenton Six were a group of black men arrested for allegedly murdering a white man with a soda bottle.

A series of annexations took place over a 50-year period, with the city absorbing South Trenton borough (April 14, 1851), portions of Nottingham Township (April 14, 1856), both the Borough of Chambersburg Township and Millham Township (both on March 30, 1888), as well as Wilbur Borough (February 28, 1898).

Portions of Ewing Township and Hamilton Township were annexed to Trenton on March 23, 1900.

Trenton was once home to large Italian, Hungarian, and Jewish communities, but since the 1950s, demographic shifts have changed the city into a relatively segregated urban enclave of middle and lower income African Americans.