Charles K. Landis purchased 30,000 acres (121 km2) of land in 1861 and another 23,000 acres (93 km2) in 1874, near Millville, New Jersey, and along the West Jersey railroad line with service between Camden and Cape May, to create his own alcohol-free utopian society based on agriculture and progressive thinking. The first houses were built in 1862, and train service was established to Philadelphia and New York City, with the population reaching 5,500 by 1865 and 11,000 by 1875.
Established as a Temperance Town, where the sale of alcohol was prohibited, Landis required that purchasers of land in Vineland had to build a house on the purchased property within a year of purchase, that 2 1⁄2 acres (10,000 m2) of the often-heavily wooded land had to be cleared and farmed each year, and that adequate space be placed between houses and roads to allow for planting of flowers and shade trees along the routes through town. Landis Avenue was constructed as a 100-foot (30 m) wide and about 1-mile (2 km) long road running east-west through the center of the community, with other, narrower roads connecting at right angles to each other.
After determining that the Vineland soil was well-suited for growing grapes (hence the name), Landis started advertising to attract Italian grape growers to Vineland, offering 20 acres (81,000 m2) of land that had to be cleared and used to grow grapes. Thomas Bramwell Welch founded Welch's Grape Juice, and purchased the locally grown grapes to make "unfermented wine" (or grape juice). The fertile ground also attracted the glass-making industry and was home to the Progresso soup company. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, most of the city was involved in the poultry industry, which led to the city being dubbed "The Egg Basket of America."
Vineland Poultry Laboratories (now Lohman Animal Health) was started by Arthur Goldhaft. Dr. Goldhaft is credited with putting "a chicken in every pot" after developing the fowl pox chicken vaccine that saved millions of chickens from death. Dr. Goldhaft's work at Vineland Poultry Laboratories in Vineland, helped protect the world's chicken supply from the fowl pox disease.
Vineland had New Jersey's first school for the intellectual disabled, the Vineland Developmental Center, which now has an east and west campus. These institutions housed mentally handicapped women in fully staffed cottages. Henry H. Goddard, an American psychologist, coined the term "Moron" while directing the Research Laboratory at the Training School for Backward and Feeble-minded Children in Vineland. This facility was so sufficiently well known that one American Prison Association pamphlet in 1955 heralded Vineland as "famous for its contributions to our knowledge of the feebleminded".
The city of Vineland celebrated its 150th birthday in 2011. Mayor Robert Romano initially ordered a custom cake from Buddy Valastro of Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken, the business featured in the TLC reality television series Cake Boss. After outcry from local business owners, the order was canceled and five Vineland bakeries were commissioned to create elaborate cakes for the event.