Federal Street was originally called Joseph Cooper’s Lane, and ran from the river to the old Haddonfield Road. In 1803 Joshua Cooper, who was an ardent Federalist, called it Federal Street. His father, Daniel Cooper, had, in 1764, built a large three-story brick house and established a ferry about the same time to Philadelphia. This lane was to provide the farmers in the area a way to get to the ferry.
When a new road was authorized between Mount Holly and Cooper’s Creek (known today as the Cooper River), the act stated that it should end at the Delaware River. On Oct 21, 1794 the route was laid out between Cooper’s Creek and Joshua Cooper’s Ferry.
Federal Street developed into one of the primary east-west streets in Camden. The intersection of Federal Street and Broadway is considered by most to be, in modern times, the “center of center city Camden.” At this intersection in past times stood Camden Catholic High School, the Camden County Courthouse, and the Munger & Long Department Store building, later the home of a J.C. Penney Department Store branch. Federal Street between the Delaware River and the Cooper featured many shops, home, and small businesses prior to being subjected to various urban renewal projects in the latter half of the 20th century.
Once built, Federal Street northeast of the Cooper River ran through Stockton Township (present-day East Camden), Merchantville, and Moorestown on its way to Mount Holly. In the 1800s a stage coach line was established, that ran from Cooper’s ferry to the Halfway Inn, which stood at 36th and Federal Streets, near the toll gate. The stage ran until the advent of horse cars, around 1890. George W. Loper was the last surviving stage driver, passing away in 1942. Stockton Township, which, in its last years consisted of all of present-day Camden northeast of the Cooper, was finally annexed to Camden in 1899. Shortly thereafter, the City of Camden built a library, police station, and fire house at the intersection of Federal Street and Westfield Avenue. These buildings are still standing in 2003, and the fire house has been in continuous use as such since its erection. Also still in existence, although the exterior has been extensively altered, is the toll house at 36th and Federal Street.
In the first part of the 29th Century, as Camden experienced its boom years, Federal Street between the Cooper River and 20th Street became the home of several large commercial enterprises, including the Warren Webster & Company plant, which manufactured heating systems, and the DuBell Lumber Company. There also were several new car dealerships, and a busy retail district between Marlton Pike and 27th Street.
Federal Street passes in front of where stood the estate of Thomas H. Dudley. Known in modern times as Dudley Grange, and the site of a Camden County owned and operated park, the Dudley mansion served as the East Camden branch of Camden’s public library system through the 1970s. Camden’s third public high school, Woodrow Wilson High School, also lies on Federal Streets, opposite Dudley Grange.