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Bergen County is divided into 70 municipalities, but has no large cities. Its most populous place, with 43,010 residents at the time of the 2010 census, is Hackensack, which is also its county seat. Mahwah covered the largest area of any municipality, at 26.19 square miles (67.8 km2).
In 2015, the county had a per capita personal income of $75,849, the fourth-highest in New Jersey and ranked 45th of 3,113 counties in the United States. Bergen County is one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, with a median household income of $81,708 per the 2010 Census, increasing to an estimated $84,677 in 2014, which was almost 18% higher than the $71,919 median statewide. The county hosts an extensive park system totaling nearly 9,000 acres (3,600 ha).
The origin of the name of Bergen County is a matter of debate. It is believed that the county is named for one of the earliest settlements, Bergen, in modern-day Hudson County. However, the origin of the township's name is debated. Several sources attribute the name to Bergen, Norway, while others attribute it to Bergen, North Holland in the Netherlands. Some sources say that the name is derived from one of the earliest settlers of New Amsterdam (now New York City), Hans Hansen Bergen, a native of Norway, who arrived in New Netherland in 1633.
Bergen and Passaic counties, 1872.
Bergen County, 1896.
Bergen County, 1918.
The Atwood-Blauvelt Mansion in Oradell, circa 1909.
At the time of first European contact, Bergen County was inhabited by Native American people, particularly the Lenape Nation, whose sub-groups included the Tappan, Hackensack, and Rumachenanck (later called the Haverstraw), as named by the Dutch colonists. Some of their descendants are included among the Ramapough Mountain Indians, recognized as a tribe by the state in 1980. Their ancestors had moved into the mountains to escape encroachment by Dutch and English colonists. Their descendants reside mostly in the northwest of the county, in nearby Passaic County and in Rockland County, New York, tracing their Lenape ancestry to speakers of the Munsee language, one of three major dialects of their language. Over the years, they absorbed other ethnicities by intermarriage.
In the 17th century, the Dutch considered the area comprising today's Bergen and Hudson counties as part of New Netherland, their colonial province of the Dutch Republic. The Dutch claimed it after Henry Hudson (sailing for the Dutch East India Company) explored Newark Bay and anchored his ship at Weehawken Cove in 1609. From an early date, the Dutch began to import African slaves to fill their labor needs. Bergen County eventually was the largest slaveholding county in the state, with nearly 20% of its population consisting of slaves in 1800. The African slaves were used for labor at the ports to support shipping, as well as for domestic servants, trades, and farm labor.
Early settlement attempts by the Dutch included Pavonia (1633), Vriessendael (1640), and Achter Col (1642), but the Native Americans repelled these settlements in Kieft's War (1643–1645) and the Peach Tree War (1655–1660). European settlers returned to the western shores of the Hudson River in the 1660 formation of Bergen Township, which would become the first permanent European settlement in the territory of present-day New Jersey.
During the Second Anglo-Dutch War, on August 27, 1664, New Amsterdam's governor Peter Stuyvesant surrendered to the English Navy. The English organized the Province of New Jersey in 1665, later splitting the territory into East Jersey and West Jersey in 1674. On November 30, 1675, the settlement Bergen and surrounding plantations and settlements were called Bergen County in an act passed by the province's General Assembly. In 1683, Bergen (along with the three other original counties of East Jersey) was officially recognized as an independent county by the Provincial Assembly.
Initially, Bergen County consisted of only the land between the Hudson River and the Hackensack River, extending north to the border between East Jersey and New York. In January 1709, the boundaries were extended to include all of the current territory of Hudson County (formed in 1840) and portions of the current territory of Passaic County (formed in 1837). The 1709 borders were described as follows:
"Beginning at Constable's Hook, so along the bay and Hudson's River to the partition point between New Jersey and the province of New York; along this line and the line between East and West Jersey† to the Pequaneck River; down the Pequaneck and Passaic Rivers to the sound; and so following the sound to Constable's Hook the place of beginning."
† The line between East and West Jersey here referred to is not the line finally adopted and known as the Lawrence line, which was run by John Lawrence in September and October 1743. It was the compromise line agreed upon between Governors Daniel Coxe and Robert Barclay in 1682, which ran a little north of Morristown to the Passaic River; thence up the Pequaneck to forty-one degrees of north latitude; and thence by a straight line due east to the New York State line. This line being afterward objected to by the East Jersey proprietors, the latter procured the running of the Lawrence line.
Bergen was the location of several battles and troop movements during the American Revolutionary War. Fort Lee's location on the bluffs of the New Jersey Palisades, opposite Fort Washington in Manhattan, made it a strategic position during the war. In November 1776, the Battle of Fort Lee took place as part of a British plan to capture George Washington and to crush the Continental Army, whose forces were divided and located in Fort Lee and Hackensack. After abandoning the defenses in Fort Lee and leaving behind considerable supplies, the Continental forces staged a hasty retreat through present-day Englewood, Teaneck, and Bergenfield, and across the Hackensack River at New Bridge Landing, one of the few sites where the river was crossed by a bridge. They destroyed the bridge to delay the British assault on Washington's headquarters in the village of Hackensack. The next day, George Washington retreated to Newark and left Hackensack via Polifly Road. British forces pursued, and Washington continued to retreat across New Jersey. The retreat allowed American forces to escape capture and regroup for subsequent successes against the British elsewhere in New Jersey later that winter. Soon after the Battle of Princeton in January 1777, British forces realized that they couldn't spread themselves thin across New Jersey. Local militia retook Hackensack and the rest of Bergen County. Bergen County saw skirmishes throughout the war as armies from both sides maneuvered across the countryside.
The Baylor Massacre took place in 1778 in River Vale, resulting in severe losses for the Continentals.
In 1837, Passaic County was formed from parts of Bergen and Essex counties. In 1840, Hudson County was formed from Bergen. These two divisions took roughly 13,000 residents (nearly half of the previous population) from the county's rolls.
In 1852, the Erie Railroad began operating major rail services from Jersey City on the Hudson River to points north and west via leased right-of-way in the county. This became known as the Erie Main Line, and is still in use for passenger service today. The Erie later leased two other railroads built in the 1850s and 1860s, later known as the Pascack Valley Line and the Northern Branch, and in 1881 built a cutoff, now the Bergen County Line. There were two other rail lines in the county, ultimately known as the West Shore Railroad and the New York, Susquehanna, and Western.
In 1894, state law was changed to allow easy formation of municipalities with the Borough form of government. This led to the "boroughitis" phenomenon, in which many new municipalities were created in a span of a few years. There were 26 boroughs that were formed in the county in 1894 alone, with two more boroughs (and one new township) formed in 1895.
On January 11, 1917, the Kingsland Explosion took place at a munitions factory in what is today Lyndhurst. The explosion is believed to have been an act of sabotage by German agents, as the munitions in question were destined for Russia, part of the U.S.'s effort to supply allies before entrance into World War I. After the U.S. entry into the war in April 1917, Camp Merritt was created in eastern Bergen County for troop staging. Beginning operations in August 1917, it housed 50,000 soldiers at a time, staging them for deployment to Europe via Hoboken. Camp Merritt was decommissioned in November 1919.
The George Washington Bridge was completed in 1931, linking Fort Lee to Manhattan. This connection spurred rapid development in the post-World War II era, developing much of the county to suburban levels. Two lanes were added to the upper level in 1946 and a second deck of traffic on the bridge was completed in 1962, expanding its capacity to 14 lanes.
In 1955, the United States Army created a Nike Missile station at Campgaw Mountain (in the west of the county) for the defense of the New York Metropolitan Area from strategic bombers. In 1959, the site was upgraded to house Nike-Hercules Missiles with increased range, speed, and payload characteristics. The missile site closed in June 1971.
Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve
The Hackensack River and Passaic River watersheds.
Bergen County is located at the northeastern corner of the state of New Jersey and is bordered by Rockland County, New York to the north; by Manhattan and the Bronx in New York City, as well as by Westchester County, New York, across the Hudson River to the east; and within New Jersey, by Hudson County as well as a small border with Essex County to the south, and by Passaic County to the west.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the county had a total area of 246.671 square miles (638.87 km2), of which 233.009 square miles (603.49 km2) (94.5%) was land and 13.662 square miles (35.38 km2) (5.5%) was water.
Bergen County's highest elevation is Bald Mountain near the New York state line in Mahwah, at 1,164 feet (355 m) above sea level. The county's lowest point is sea level, along the Hudson River, which in this region is a tidal estuary.
The sharp cliffs of the New Jersey Palisades lift much of the eastern boundary of the county up from the Hudson River. The relief becomes less pronounced across the middle section of the county, much of it being located in the Hackensack River valley or the Pascack Valley. In the northwestern portion of the county, Bergen County becomes hilly again and shares the Ramapo Mountains with Rockland County, New York.
The damming of the Hackensack River and a tributary, the Pascack Brook, produced three reservoirs in the county, Woodcliff Lake Reservoir (which impounds one billion gallons of water), Lake Tappan (3.5 billion gallons), and Oradell Reservoir, which allows United Water to provide drinking water to 750,000 residents of northern New Jersey, mostly in Bergen and Hudson counties. The Hackensack River drains the eastern portion of the county through the New Jersey Meadowlands, a wetlands area in the southern portion of the county. The central portion is drained by the Saddle River and the western portion is drained by the Ramapo River. Both of these are tributaries of the Passaic River, which forms a section of the southwestern border of the county.
Southeastern Bergen County lies at the edge of the humid subtropical climate zone (Cfa) according to the K?ppen climate classification because its coldest month (January) averages above 26.6 °F / -3 °C. In part due to Bergen's coastal location, its lower elevation, and the partial shielding of the county from colder air by the three ridges of the Watchung Mountains as well as by the higher Appalachians, the climate of Bergen County is milder than in New Jersey counties further inland such as Sussex County. Bergen County has a moderately sunny climate, averaging between 2,400 and 2,800 hours of sunshine annually.
In recent years, average temperatures in the county seat of Hackensack have ranged from a low of 19 °F (?7 °C) in January to a high of 86 °F (30 °C) in July, although a record low of ?15 °F (?26 °C) was recorded in February 1934 and a record high of 106 °F (41 °C) was recorded in July 1936. Average monthly precipitation ranged from 3.21 inches (82 mm) in February to 4.60 inches (117 mm) in July.
Average monthly temperatures at the interchange of Route 17 and MacArthur Boulevard in Mahwah range from 28.5° F in January to 73.8° F in July. Using the 0° C January isotherm, most of Bergen has a hot-summer humid continental climate (Dfa) except for higher areas in the Ramapo Mountains which are Dfb and along the Hudson River from Cliffside Park down where Cfa exists. Due to its location and elevation span, Bergen is thus the only county in New Jersey to have all three of the state's K?ppen climate zones.
Bergen County is the most populous county in New Jersey, with an estimated population of 948,406 in 2017, 105,608 higher than Middlesex County, the second-ranked county. Bergen County accounted for 10.3% of the state's population in 2010, increasing to 10.5% in 2017.
Bergen County's annual property taxes were the second-highest of any New Jersey county in 2015 (after Essex County), averaging $11,078. Within Bergen County, Alpine residents paid the highest average property taxes in 2015, at $20,888, followed by Tenafly ($19,254) and Demarest ($17,937). Alpine had the fourth-highest average property taxes in the state in 2015 while Tenafly ranked sixth.
The 2010 United States Census counted 905,116 people, 335,730 households, and 238,704.030 families in the county. The population density was 3,884.5 per square mile (1,499.8/km2). There were 352,388 housing units at an average density of 1,512.3 per square mile (583.9/km2). The racial makeup was 71.89% (650,703) White, 5.80% (52,473) Black or African American, 0.23% (2,061) Native American, 14.51% (131,329) Asian, 0.03% (229) Pacific Islander, 5.04% (45,611) from other races, and 2.51% (22,710) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 16.05% (145,281) of the population.
Of the 335,730 households, 32% had children under the age of 18; 56.1% were married couples living together; 10.9% had a female householder with no husband present and 28.9% were non-families. Of all households, 24.6% were made up of individuals and 10.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.2.
22.6% of the population were under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 25.9% from 25 to 44, 29% from 45 to 64, and 15.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.1 years. For every 100 females, the population had 92.9 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 89.8 males.
As of the 2000 United States Census there were 884,118 people, 330,817 households, and 235,210 families residing in the county. The population density was 3,776 people per square mile (1,458/km?). There were 339,820 housing units at an average density of 1,451 per square mile (560/km?). The racial makeup of the county was 78.41% non-Hispanic white, 10.67% Asian, 5.27% black, 0.15% Native American, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 3.22% from other races, and 2.26% non-Hispanic reporting two or more races. 10.34% of the population was Hispanic or Latino of any race. Among those residents listing their ancestry, 22.0% were of Italian, 15.1% Irish, 11.2% German and 7.4% Polish ancestry.
There were 330,817 households out of which 32.10% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.90% were married couples living together, 9.70% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.90% were non-families. 24.70% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.17. The age distribution was 23.00% under the age of 18, 6.60% from 18 to 24, 30.60% from 25 to 44, 24.50% from 45 to 64, and 15.20% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.80 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.40 males.
The median income for a household in the county was $65,241, and the median income for a family was $78,079. Males had a median income of $51,346 versus $37,295 for females. The per capita income for the county was $33,638. About 3.4% of families and 5.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.9% of those under age 18 and 5.90% of those age 65 or over.
Given its location as a suburban extension of Manhattan across the George Washington Bridge, Bergen County has evolved a globally cosmopolitan ambience of its own, demonstrating a robust and growing demographic and cultural diversity with respect to metrics including nationality, religion, race, and domiciliary partnership. South Korea, Poland, and India are the three most common nations of birth for foreign-born Bergen County residents.
Italian Americans have long had a significant presence in Bergen County; in fact, Italian is the most commonly identified first ancestry among Bergen residents (18.5%), with 168,974 Bergen residents were recorded as being of Italian heritage in the 2013 American Community Survey.
To this day, many residents of the Meadowlands communities in the county's south are of Italian descent, most notably in South Hackensack (36.3%), Lyndhurst (33.8%), Carlstadt (31.2%), Wood-Ridge (30.9%) and Hasbrouck Heights (30.8%). Saddle Brook (29.8%), Lodi (29.4%), Moonachie (28.5%), Garfield, Hackensack, and the southeastern Bergen towns were Italian American strongholds for decades, but their Italo-American demographics have diminished in recent years as more recent immigrants have taken their place. At the same time, the Italian American population has grown in many of the communities in the northern half of the county, including Franklin Lakes, Ramsey, Montvale, and Woodcliff Lake.
See also: Puerto Rican migration to New York City and Hispanics and Latinos in New Jersey
The diverse Hispanic and Latin American population in Bergen is growing in many areas of the county but is especially concentrated in a handful of municipalities, including Fairview (37.1%), Hackensack (25.9%), Ridgefield Park (22.2%), Englewood (21.8%), Bogota (21.3%), Garfield (20.1%), Cliffside Park (18.2%), Lodi (18.0%), and Bergenfield (17.0%). Traditionally, many of the Latino residents were of Colombian and Cuban ancestry, although that has been changing in recent years. Englewood's Colombian community is the largest in Bergen County and among the top ten in the United States (7.17%); Hackensack, Fairview, Bergenfield, Bogota, and Lodi also have notable populations. The Cuban population is largest in Fairview, Ridgefield Park, Ridgefield, and Bogota, although the Cuban community is much bigger in Hudson County to the south. Since 2000, an increasing number of immigrants from other countries have entered the region, including people from Peru, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Chile, as well as from the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. The diverse backgrounds of the local Latino community are best exemplified in Fairview, where 10% of the overall population hails from Central America, 7% from South America, and 9% from other Latin American countries, mainly the Caribbean. Overall, Bergen County's Latino population has demonstrated a robust increase from 145,281 in the 2010 census count to an estimated 165,442 in 2013.
Western European American
Irish Americans and German Americans are the next largest individual ethnic groups in Bergen County, numbering 115,914 in 2013 (12.7% of the county's total population) and 80,288 (8.8%) respectively. As is the case with Italian Americans, these two groups developed sizable enclaves long ago and are now well established in all areas of the county.
Further information: Jews in New York City
Bergen County is home to the largest Jewish population in New Jersey. Many municipalities in the county are home to a significant number of Jewish Americans, including Fair Lawn, Teaneck, Tenafly, Closter, Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Fort Lee, Bergenfield, Woodcliff Lake, Paramus, and Franklin Lakes. Teaneck, Fair Lawn, Englewood, and Bergenfield in particular have become havens for Bergen County's growing Orthodox Jewish communities, with a rising number of synagogues as well as supermarkets and restaurants offering kosher foods. The largest Israeli American communities in Bergen County were in Fair Lawn (2.5%), Closter (1.4%), and Tenafly (1.3%) in 2000, representing three of the four largest in the state. Altogether, 83,700 Bergen residents identified themselves as being of Jewish heritage in 2000, a number expected to show an increase per a 2014 survey of Jews in the county.
Main articles: Koreatown, Palisades Park (?? ?? ?????); Koreatown, Fort Lee (?? ? ?????); and List of U.S. cities with significant Korean-American populations
See also: Koreatown, Manhattan; Koreatown, Long Island; and Korean Americans in New York City
The top ten municipalities in the United States as ranked by Korean American percentage of overall population in 2010 are illustrated in the following table:
Rank Municipality County State Percentage
1 Palisades Park Bergen County New Jersey 51.5%
2 Leonia Bergen County New Jersey 26.5%
3 Ridgefield Bergen County New Jersey 25.7%
4 Fort Lee Bergen County New Jersey 23.5%
5 Closter Bergen County New Jersey 21.2%
6 Englewood Cliffs Bergen County New Jersey 20.3%
7 Norwood Bergen County New Jersey 20.1%
8 Edgewater Bergen County New Jersey 19.6%
9 Cresskill Bergen County New Jersey 17.8%
10 Demarest Bergen County New Jersey 17.3%
One of the fastest-growing immigrant groups in Bergen County is the Korean American community, which is concentrated along the Hudson River – especially in the area near the George Washington Bridge – and represented more than half of the state's entire Korean population as of 2000. As of the 2010 Census, persons of Korean ancestry made up 6.3% of Bergen County's population (increasing to 6.9% by the 2011 American Community Survey to an estimated 63,247 individuals), which is the highest percentage for any county in the United States; while the concentration of Koreans in Palisades Park, within Bergen County, is the highest density and percentage of any municipality in the United States, at 52.5% of the population. Per the 2010 Census, Palisades Park was home to the highest total number (10,115) of individuals of Korean ancestry among all municipalities in the state, while neighboring Fort Lee had the second largest cluster (8,318), and fourth highest proportion (23.5%, trailing Leonia (26.5%) and Ridgefield (25.7%)). All of the nation's top ten municipalities by percentage of Korean population in 2010 were located in Bergen County, including Palisades Park, Leonia, Ridgefield, Fort Lee, Closter, Englewood Cliffs, Norwood, Edgewater, Cresskill, and Demarest, closely followed by Old Tappan. Virtually all of the municipalities with the highest Korean concentrations are located in the eastern third of the county, near the Hudson River, although Ridgewood has emerged as a Korean American nexus in western Bergen County, and Paramus and River Edge in central Bergen County. Beginning in 2012, county election ballots were printed in the Korean Hangul (??) language, in addition to English and Spanish, given the U.S Census Bureau's directive that Bergen County's Korean population had grown large enough to warrant language assistance during elections. Between 2011 and 2017, the Korean population of Fair Lawn was estimated to have more than doubled.
Korean chaebols have established North American headquarters operations in Bergen County, including Samsung, LG Corp, and Hanjin Shipping. In April 2018, the largest Korean-themed supermarket in Bergen County opened in Paramus. In January 2019, Christopher Chung was sworn in as the first Korean-American mayor of Palisades Park.
Polish Americans are well represented in western Bergen County and are growing as a community, with 59,294 (6.5%) of residents of Polish descent residing in the county as of the 2013 American Community Survey. The community's cultural and commercial heart has long been centered in Wallington, where 45.5% of the population is of Polish descent; this is the largest concentration among New Jersey municipalities and the seventh-highest in the United States. The adjacent city of Garfield has also become a magnet for Polish immigrants, with 22.9% of the population identifying themselves as being of Polish ancestry, the third highest concentration in the state.
The county's African American community is almost entirely concentrated in three municipalities: Englewood (10,215 residents, accounting for 38.98% of the city's total population), Teaneck (11,298; 28.78%), and Hackensack (10,518; 24.65%). Collectively, these three areas account for nearly 70% of the county's total African American population of 46,568, and in fact, blacks have had a presence in these towns since the earliest days of the county. In sharp contrast, African Americans comprise less than 2% of the total in most of Bergen's other municipalities. In Englewood, the African American population is concentrated in the Third and Fourth wards of the western half of the city, while the northeastern section of Teaneck has been an African American enclave for several decades. In 2014, Teaneck selected its first female African-American mayor. Hackensack's long-established African American community is primarily located in the central part of the city, especially in the area near Central Avenue and First Street. Bergen County's black population has declined from 52,473 counted in the 2010 Census to an estimated 50,478 in 2012. Other county municipalities with a sizeable minority of African-Americans include Bergenfield (7.7%), Bogota (9.4%), Garfield (6.5%), Lodi (7.5%) and Ridgefield Park (6.4%)
See also: Indians in the New York City metropolitan region
Indian Americans, or Asian Indians, represent a rapidly growing demographic in Bergen County, enumerating over 40,000 individuals in 2013, a significant increase from the 24,973 counted in the 2010 Census, and represent the second largest Asian ethnic group in Bergen County, after Korean Americans. The biggest clusters of Indian Americans are located in Hackensack, Ridgewood, Fair Lawn, Paramus, Teaneck, Mahwah, Bergenfield, Lodi, and Elmwood Park. Within the county's Indian population is America's largest Malayali community, and Kerala-based Kitex Garments, India's largest children's clothing manufacturer, opened its first U.S. office in Montvale in October 2015. Glen Rock resident Gurbir Grewal, a member of Bergen County's growing Indian American Sikh community, was sworn into the position of county prosecutor in 2016, and an architecturally notable Sikh gurudwara resides in Glen Rock, while a similarly prominent Hindu mandir has been built in Mahwah. The public library in Fair Lawn began a highly attended Hindi language (??????) storytelling program in October 2013. The affluent municipalities of northern Bergen County are witnessing significant growth in their Indian American communities, including Glen Rock, into which up to 90% of this constituency was estimated by one member in 2014 to have moved within the preceding two-year period alone. In February 2015, the board of education of the Glen Rock Public Schools voted to designate the Hindu holy day Diwali as an annual school holiday, making it the first district in the county to close for the holiday, while thousands celebrated the first county-wide celebration of Diwali under a unified sponsorship banner in 2016. An annual "Holi in the Village" festival of colors has been launched in Ridgewood.
Russian (and other former Soviet) American
See also: Russians in the New York City metropolitan region
Fair Lawn, Tenafly, Alpine, and Fort Lee are hubs for Russian Americans, including a growing community of Russian Jews. Garfield is home to an architecturally prominent Russian Orthodox church. Likewise, Ukrainian Americans, Georgian Americans, and Uzbek Americans have more recently followed the path of their Russian American predecessors to Bergen County, particularly to Fair Lawn. The size of Fair Lawn's Russian American presence has prompted an April Fool's satire titled, "Putin Moves Against Fair Lawn". The Armenian American population in Bergen is dispersed throughout the county, but its most significant concentration is in the southeastern towns near the George Washington Bridge. The victims of the Armenian Genocide are recognized annually at the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack.
See also: Filipinos in New Jersey and Filipinos in the New York City metropolitan region
Bergenfield, along with Paramus, Hackensack, New Milford, Dumont, Fair Lawn, and Teaneck, have become growing hubs for Filipino Americans. Taken as a whole, these municipalities are home to a significant proportion of Bergen County's Philippine population. A census-estimated 20,859 Filipino Americans resided in Bergen County as of 2013, embodying an increase from the 19,155 counted in 2010. Between 2000 and 2010, the Filipino-American population of Bergenfield grew from 11.7%, or 3,081 residents, to 17.1%, or 4,569, and increasing further to 5,062 (18.4%) by 2016. Bergenfield is informally known as the Little Manila of Bergen County, with a significant concentration of Filipino residents and businesses. In the late 1990s, Bergenfield became the first municipality on the East Coast of the United States to elect a Filipino mayor, Robert C. Rivas. The annual Filipino American Festival is held in Bergenfield. The Philippine-American Community of Bergen County (PACBC) organization is based in Paramus, while other Filipino organizations are based in Fair Lawn and Bergenfield. Bergen County's culturally active Filipino community repatriated significant financial assistance to victims of Typhoon Haiyan, which ravaged the Philippines in November 2013. Between 2011 and 2017, Fair Lawn's Filipino population was estimated to have more than doubled.
See also: Chinese Americans in New York City
The Chinese American population is also spread out, with sizable populations in Fort Lee, Paramus, Ridgewood, River Edge, and Englewood Cliffs. Fort Lee and Paramus have the highest total number of Chinese among Bergen municipalities while Englewood Cliffs has the highest percentage (8.42%). Several school districts throughout the county have added Mandarin Chinese to their curricula.
See also: Japanese in New York City
The Japanese community, which includes a significant number of Japanese nationals, has long had a presence in Fort Lee, with over a quarter of the county's total Japanese population living in that borough alone. Adjacent Edgewater has also developed an active Japanese American community, particularly after the construction of the largest Japanese-oriented commercial center on the U.S. East Coast in this borough. As of March 2011, about 2,500 Japanese Americans lived in Fort Lee and Edgewater combined; this is the largest concentration of Japanese Americans in New Jersey. The remainder of Bergen County's Japanese residents are concentrated in northern communities, including Ridgewood. The Japanese-American Society of New Jersey is based in Fort Lee.
Greek Americans have had a fairly sizable presence in Bergen for several decades, and according to 2000 census data, the Greek community numbered 13,247 county-wide. Greek restaurants are abundant in Bergen County. The largest concentrations of Greeks by percentage in the county are in Englewood Cliffs (7.2%), Alpine (5.2%), Fort Lee (3.7%), and Palisades Park (3.5%). Macedonian Americans and Albanian Americans have arrived relatively recently in New Jersey but have quickly established Bergen County enclaves, roughly in tandem, in Garfield, Elmwood Park, and Fair Lawn.
Bergen County also has a moderately sized Muslim population, which numbered 6,473 as of the 2000 census. Teaneck and Hackensack have emerged as the two most significant Muslim enclaves in the county, with the American Muslim Union's 18th annual brunch gathering held in Teaneck in 2016. Bergen's Muslim population primarily consists of Arab Americans, South Asians, African Americans, and more recently, Macedonian Americans and Albanian Americans, although many members of these groups practice other faiths. While Arab Americans have not established a significant presence in any particular municipality, in total there are 11,755 county residents who indicated Arab ancestry in the 2000 census. The overwhelming majority of Bergen's Arab American population (64.3%) is constituted by persons of Lebanese (2,576), Syrian (2,568), and Egyptian (2,417) descent. The county's diners provide late-night and pre-dawn dining options during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
A relatively recent community of Iranian Americans has emerged in Bergen County, including those in professional occupations scattered throughout the county.
Main article: Same-sex marriage in New Jersey
Same-sex couples headed one in 160 households in 2010, prior to the commencement of same-sex marriages in New Jersey on October 21, 2013. On June 28, 2016, Bergen County officials for the first time raised the rainbow-colored gay pride flag at the county administration building in Hackensack to commemorate the gay rights movement.
By national standards, housing is expensive in Bergen County. In May 2015, the median house price in Bergen County was $465,000; however, median figures belie the significant variation noted between more and less affluent towns in the county.
In the Forbes magazine 2012 ranking of the Most Expensive ZIP Codes in the United States, Alpine was ranked as the second most expensive in the country, with a median home sale price of $5,745,038. There were a total of 12 county municipalities listed in the top 500, which were Englewood Cliffs (#129; $1,439,115), Saddle River (#133; $1,427,515), Franklin Lakes (#190; $1,176,229), Tenafly (#286; $913,553), Demarest (#325; $852,010), Cresskill (#362; $794,073), Ho-Ho-Kus (#364; $788,626), Wyckoff (#376; $776,303), Woodcliff Lake (#391; $752,161), Montvale (#455; $640,825) and Allendale (#481; $579,081). In the magazine's 2006 listing, Alpine was ranked as the 15th most expensive in the country, with its median home sale price in 2005 of $1,790,000 ranking as the state's highest. In all, 11 Bergen County municipalities were also represented on the list in addition to Alpine, including Englewood Cliffs (ranked #78; median sale price of $1,112,500), Saddle River (#107; $997,000), Franklin Lakes (#111; $985,000), Woodcliff Lake (#266; $786,000), Haworth (#342; $747,500), Demarest (#350; $742,000), Ho-Ho-Kus (#353; $740,000), Wyckoff (#405; $700,000), Closter (#452; $684,000) and Ridgewood (#470; $675,000).
Construction of the first of two 47-story glass-sheathed luxury skyscrapers commenced in 2013 in Fort Lee, a borough where high-rise residential complexes are a prominent feature and one of Northern New Jersey's Hudson Waterfront communities that has been called New York City's Sixth Borough; these upscale apartment towers, located near the gateway to the George Washington Bridge leading to Manhattan, represented the tallest buildings to be built to date in Bergen County.
Glen Rock–Boro Hall station. The borough of Glen Rock is served by both the Bergen County Line (above) and the Main Line of the NJ Transit public transportation system.
The George Washington Bridge, connecting Fort Lee (above) in Bergen County across the Hudson River to New York City, is the world's busiest motor vehicle bridge. One of two 47-story residential skyscrapers, to be Bergen County's tallest, is seen under construction near the gateway to the bridge in December 2013.
Bergen County has a well-developed road network, including the northern termini of the New Jersey Turnpike (a portion of Interstate 95) and the Garden State Parkway, the eastern terminus of Interstate 80, and a portion of Interstate 287. US Highways 1/9, 9W, 46, 202, and New Jersey state highways 3, 4, 17, 120, 208, and the Palisades Interstate Parkway also serve the region. With an average volume of 210,000 vehicles passing through each day, the intersection of Routes 4 and 17 is one of the busiest in the world.
The George Washington Bridge, connecting Fort Lee in Bergen County across the Hudson River to the Upper Manhattan section of New York City, is the world's busiest motor vehicle bridge. Access to New York City is alternatively available for motorists through the Lincoln Tunnel and Holland Tunnel in Hudson County. Access across the Hudson River to Westchester County in New York is available using the Tappan Zee Bridge in neighboring Rockland County, New York.
As of May 2010, the county had a total of 2,988.59 miles (4,809.67 km) of roadways, of which 2,402.78 miles (3,866.90 km) are maintained by the municipality, 438.97 miles (706.45 km) by Bergen County, 106.69 miles (171.70 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation and 40.15 miles (64.62 km) by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
Train service is available on three lines from NJ Transit: the Bergen County Line, the Main Line, and the Pascack Valley Line. They run north–south to Hoboken Terminal with connections to the PATH train. NJ Transit also offers connecting service to New York Penn Station and Newark Penn Station at Secaucus Junction. Connections are also available at Hoboken Terminal to the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail and New York Waterways ferry service to the World Financial Center and other destinations.
The traffic intersection of Route 17 and Route 4 in Paramus is one of the busiest in the world.
Despite the name, the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail does not yet run into Bergen County, although a northward extension from Hudson County to Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, known as the Northern Branch Corridor Project, has been advanced to the draft environmental impact statement stage by NJ Transit. The proposed Passaic-Bergen Rail Line, with two station stops in Hackensack, has not advanced since its 2008 announcement. The Access to the Region's Core rail tunnel project would have allowed many Bergen County railway commuters a one-seat ride into Manhattan but was canceled in October 2010.
Local and express bus service is available from NJ Transit and private companies such as Academy Bus Lines, Coach USA, DeCamp Bus Lines and Red and Tan Lines, offering transport within Bergen County, elsewhere in New Jersey, and to the Port Authority Bus Terminal and George Washington Bridge Bus Station in New York City. In studies conducted to determine the best possible routes for the Bergen BRT (bus rapid transit) system, it has been determined the many malls and other "activity generators" in the vicinity of the intersection of routes 4 and 17 would constitute the core of any system. While no funding has for construction of the project has been identified, a study begun in 2012 will define the optimal routes.
There is one airport in the county, Teterboro Airport in Teterboro, which is operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The three busiest commercial airports in the New York City metropolitan area, namely JFK International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, and La Guardia Airport, are all located within 25 miles of Bergen County.
For the main surface-street routes through the county, see List of county routes in Bergen County, New Jersey.
Bergen County is home to several colleges and universities:
Bergen Community College – Paramus, with other centers in Hackensack and Lyndhurst
Fairleigh Dickinson University – Teaneck and Hackensack
Felician University – Lodi and Rutherford
Ramapo College – Mahwah
Saint Peter's University – Englewood Cliffs
Bergen has some 45 public high schools and at least 23 private high schools. Three of the top ten municipal high schools out of 339 schools in New Jersey were located in Bergen County, according to a 2014 ranking by New Jersey Monthly magazine, including Northern Highlands Regional High School in Allendale (#3), Pascack Hills High School in Montvale (#7), and Glen Rock High School in Glen Rock (#8). The magazine's list did not include the Bergen County Academies (BCA), which as the county's public magnet high school in Hackensack has continued to be recognized by various rankings as one of the best high schools in the United States. In 2014, BCA had an average HSPA score of 294 out of 300 and an average SAT score of 2103 out of 2400.
Arts and culture
The Bergen Performing Arts Center (PAC) is based in Englewood, while numerous museums are located throughout the county. In September 2014, the Englewood-based Northern New Jersey Community Foundation announced an initiative known as ArtsBergen, a centralizing body with the goal of connecting artists and arts organizations with one another in Bergen County.
Labeled outline map of Bergen County municipalities.
Constitution Park in Fort Lee. High-rise residential complexes are a prominent feature of this borough, with several over 300 feet tall.
The skyline of Manhattan as viewed from Mahwah, Bergen County's northernmost borough (above); and across the Hudson River from Cliffside Park, near the county's southeast border (below).
In the last decades of the 19th century, Bergen County, to a far greater extent than any other county in the state, began dividing its townships up into incorporated boroughs; this was chiefly due to the "boroughitis" phenomenon, triggered by a number of loopholes in state laws that allowed boroughs to levy lower taxes and send more members to the county's board of freeholders. There was a 10-year period in which many of Bergen County's townships disappeared into the patchwork of boroughs that exist today, before the state laws governing municipal incorporation were changed.
Municipalities in Bergen County (with 2010 Census data for population, housing units and area) are:
(with map key) Municipal
type Population Housing
Allendale borough 6,505 2,388 3.12 0.02 3.10 2,100.7 771.2
Alpine borough 1,849 670 9.23 2.82 6.41 288.4 104.5
Bergenfield borough 26,764 9,200 2.89 0.01 2.88 9,306.5 3,199.1
Bogota borough 8,187 2,888 0.81 0.05 0.76 10,702.5 3,775.4
Carlstadt borough 6,127 2,495 4.24 0.24 4.00 1,532.1 623.9
Cliffside Park borough 23,594 10,665 0.96 0.00 0.96 24,508.7 11,078.5 Grantwood (part)
Closter borough 8,373 2,860 3.30 0.13 3.16 2,646.0 903.8
Cresskill borough 8,573 3,114 2.07 0.01 2.06 4,154.5 1,509.0
Demarest borough 4,881 1,659 2.08 0.01 2.07 2,361.8 802.7
Dumont borough 17,479 6,542 1.99 0.00 1.98 8,814.7 3,299.2
East Rutherford borough 8,913 4,018 4.05 0.34 3.71 2,403.2 1,083.4
Edgewater borough 11,513 6,282 2.42 1.49 0.94 12,312.0 6,718.0
Elmwood Park borough 19,403 7,385 2.76 0.11 2.65 7,327.9 2,789.1
Emerson borough 7,401 2,552 2.40 0.20 2.20 3,358.9 1,158.2
Englewood city 27,147 10,695 4.94 0.02 4.91 5,524.6 2,176.5
Englewood Cliffs borough 5,281 1,924 3.33 1.24 2.09 2,528.1 921.0
Fair Lawn borough 32,457 12,266 5.20 0.06 5.14 6,315.4 2,386.7 Radburn
Fairview borough 13,835 5,150 0.84 0.00 0.84 16,421.8 6,112.9
Fort Lee borough 35,345 17,818 2.89 0.35 2.54 13,910.9 7,012.7
Franklin Lakes borough 10,590 3,692 9.85 0.47 9.38 1,129.1 393.6
Garfield city 30,487 11,788 2.16 0.06 2.10 14,524.8 5,616.1
Glen Rock borough 11,601 4,016 2.74 0.02 2.71 4,275.2 1,480.0
Hackensack city 43,010 19,375 4.35 0.17 4.18 10,290.0 4,635.4
Harrington Park borough 4,664 1,624 2.06 0.23 1.83 2,545.9 886.5
Hasbrouck Heights borough 11,842 4,627 1.51 0.00 1.51 7,865.4 3,073.2
Haworth borough 3,382 1,136 2.36 0.41 1.94 1,739.2 584.2
Hillsdale borough 10,219 3,567 2.96 0.01 2.95 3,464.8 1,209.4
Ho-Ho-Kus borough 4,078 1,462 1.75 0.01 1.74 2,350.3 842.6
Leonia borough 8,937 3,428 1.63 0.10 1.54 5,819.5 2,232.2
Little Ferry borough 10,626 4,439 1.70 0.23 1.48 7,200.1 3,007.8
Lodi borough 24,136 10,127 2.29 0.02 2.26 10,657.6 4,471.7
Lyndhurst township 20,554 8,787 4.89 0.34 4.56 4,509.3 1,927.7 Kingsland
Mahwah township 25,890 9,868 26.19 0.50 25.69 1,007.7 384.1 Cragmere Park, Darlington,
Fardale, Masonicus, Pulis Mills
Maywood borough 9,555 3,769 1.29 0.00 1.29 7,428.0 2,930.0
Midland Park borough 7,128 2,861 1.56 0.01 1.56 4,583.2 1,839.6 Wortendyke
Montvale borough 7,844 2,872 4.01 0.01 4.00 1,961.2 718.1
Moonachie borough 2,708 1,053 1.68 0.01 1.66 1,626.5 632.5
New Milford borough 16,341 6,362 2.31 0.03 2.27 7,186.0 2,797.7
North Arlington borough 15,392 6,573 2.62 0.06 2.56 6,010.3 2,566.6
Northvale borough 4,640 1,635 1.30 0.00 1.30 3,582.3 1,262.3
Norwood borough 5,711 2,007 2.73 0.01 2.73 2,093.5 735.7
Oakland borough 12,754 4,470 8.73 0.27 8.45 1,508.6 528.7
Old Tappan borough 5,750 1,995 4.20 0.87 3.33 1,725.8 598.8
Oradell borough 7,978 2,831 2.58 0.15 2.42 3,291.5 1,168.0
Palisades Park borough 19,622 7,362 1.28 0.02 1.25 15,681.6 5,883.6
Paramus borough 26,342 8,915 10.52 0.05 10.47 2,516.0 851.5 Arcola
Park Ridge borough 8,645 3,428 2.60 0.02 2.58 3,348.6 1,327.8
Ramsey borough 14,473 5,550 5.59 0.07 5.52 2,621.9 1,005.4
Ridgefield borough 11,032 4,145 2.85 0.30 2.55 4,323.7 1,624.5 Grantwood (part)
Ridgefield Park village 12,729 5,164 1.92 0.20 1.72 7,385.6 2,996.2
Ridgewood village 24,958 8,743 5.82 0.07 5.75 4,339.0 1,520.0
River Edge borough 11,340 4,261 1.90 0.04 1.85 6,116.3 2,298.2
River Vale township 9,659 3,521 4.28 0.26 4.01 2,408.1 877.8
Rochelle Park township 5,530 2,170 1.06 0.02 1.04 5,313.8 2,085.2
Rockleigh borough 531 86 0.98 0.01 0.97 548.1 88.8
Rutherford borough 18,061 7,278 2.94 0.14 2.81 6,437.4 2,594.1
Saddle Brook township 13,659 5,485 2.72 0.03 2.69 5,080.2 2,040.0
Saddle River borough 3,152 1,341 4.98 0.06 4.92 640.2 272.4
South Hackensack township 2,378 879 0.74 0.02 0.72 3,311.7 1,224.1
Teaneck township 39,776 14,024 6.23 0.22 6.01 6,622.2 2,334.8
Tenafly borough 14,488 4,980 5.18 0.58 4.60 3,148.6 1,082.3
Teterboro borough 67 27 1.16 0.00 1.16 57.9 23.3
Upper Saddle River borough 8,208 2,776 5.28 0.02 5.26 1,560.0 527.6
Waldwick borough 9,625 3,537 2.09 0.02 2.07 4,656.8 1,711.3
Wallington borough 11,335 4,946 1.03 0.05 0.98 11,528.6 5,030.5
Washington Township township 9,102 3,341 2.96 0.05 2.91 3,128.8 1,148.5
Westwood borough 10,908 4,636 2.31 0.05 2.27 4,814.5 2,046.2
Woodcliff Lake borough 5,730 1,980 3.61 0.20 3.41 1,682.7 581.5
Wood-Ridge borough 7,626 3,051 1.10 0.00 1.10 6,951.6 2,781.2
Wyckoff township 16,696 5,827 6.61 0.06 6.55 2,550.1 890.0
Bergen County county 905,116 352,388 246.67 13.66 233.01 3,884.5 1,512.3
Over the history of the county, there have been various municipality secessions, annexations and renamings. The following is a partial list of former municipalities, ordered by year of incorporation.
Bergen Township, 1683–1862
Hackensack Township, 1693
New Barbadoes Township, 1710–1921
Saddle River Township, 1716–1955
Franklin Township, 1771–1926
Harrington Township, 1775–1916
Lodi Township, 1825–1935
Hohokus Township, 1849
Union Township, 1852
Midland Township, 1871
Englewood Township, 1871–1899
Palisades Township, 1871–1922
Ridgefield Township, 1871
Ridgewood Township, 1876
Orvil Township, 1886–1919
Boiling Springs Township, 1885
Bergen Township, 1893–1902
Eastwood Borough, 1894–1896
Overpeck Township, 1897–1938
Employment by industries
Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack is the largest employer in Bergen County.
Based on data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Bergen County had a gross domestic product (GDP) of $66.1 billion in 2018, which was ranked 1st in the state and represented an increase of 2.6% from the previous year.
According to the Bergen County Economic Development Corporation, the largest employers in Bergen County as of November 2012, as ranked with at least 1,000 employees in the county, were as follows:
Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, 8,000
Valley Health System, Ridgewood, 4,660
Bio-Reference Laboratories, Inc., Elmwood Park, 2,900
Medco Health Solutions, Franklin Lakes, 2,800 (no longer an independent company)
County of Bergen, Hackensack, 2,390
Quest Diagnostics, Teterboro / Lyndhurst, 2,200
KPMG, Montvale, 2,100
Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, Englewood, 2,002
Englewood Hospital Home Health Care Services, Englewood, 1,985
Unilever Bestfoods, Englewood Cliffs, 1,900
Stryker Corporation, Allendale / Mahwah, 1,812
Bergen Regional Medical Center, Paramus, 1,746
Holy Name Medical Center, Teaneck, 1,695
Becton Dickinson, Franklin Lakes, 1,500
Crestron Electronics, Rockleigh / Cresskill, 1,500
BMW of North America, Woodcliff Lake, 1,000
Interior of Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, whose 07652 zip code produces over $5 billion in retail sales annually, top in the United States (above); and Downtown Ridgewood, one of many pedestrian-oriented municipal commercial centers in Bergen County (below).
In January 2015, Mercedes-Benz USA announced that it would be moving its headquarters from the borough of Montvale in Bergen County to the Atlanta, Georgia area as of July. The company had been based in northern New Jersey since 1972 and has had 1,000 employees on a 37-acre (15 ha) campus in Montvale. Despite incentive offers from the State of New Jersey to remain in Bergen County, Mercedes-Benz cited proximity to its Alabama manufacturing facility and a growing customer base in the southeastern United States, in addition to as much as $50 million in tax incentives from Georgia governmental agencies, in explaining its decision to move. However, Mercedes-Benz USA also stated its intent to maintain its Northeast regional headquarters in Montvale and to build a "state-of-the-art" assemblage training center in the borough as well.
In 2011, Bergen County issued 1,903 new building permits for residential construction, the largest number in New Jersey.
The retail industry, anchored in Paramus, is a mainstay of the Bergen County economy, with a combined payroll of $1.7 billion as of 2012.
Bergen County enforces one of the last remaining blue laws in the United States that covers most retail sales, other than food and gasoline (among other limited items). The law enforced in the county is actually a state law that each county could reject by voter referendum, with 20 of the state's 21 counties having voted to reject the legal option to enforce the law. Thus one of the largest and most popular commercial shopping cores of the New York metropolitan area is almost completely closed on Sunday. Grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, hotels, restaurants, pharmacies, entertainment venues, and any other exempted establishments that do not sell clothing, shoes, furniture, electronics, hardware, and home appliances are among the businesses allowed to operate. Furthermore, Bergen County has significant populations of Jewish (2000 estimate of 83,700) and Muslim (2000 estimate of 6,473) residents whose observant members would not be celebrating the Sunday Sabbath with most of their Christian neighbors. The substantial Orthodox Jewish minority is placed in the position of being unable to shop either on Sunday (due to the blue laws) or on Saturday (due to religious observance).
However, repeated attempts by voters to reject the law have failed. A large part of the reason for maintaining the laws has been a desire by many Bergen County residents for relative peace and quiet, with less traffic, on one day of the week. This desire for relative peace is most apparent in Paramus, where most of the county's largest shopping malls are located, along the intersecting highways of Route 4 and Route 17, which are jam-packed on many Saturdays. Paramus has enacted blue laws of its own that are even more restrictive than those enforced by Bergen County, banning all forms of "worldly employment" on Sundays, including white collar workers in office buildings. Despite these strict blue laws, Paramus (07652) has become the top retail ZIP Code in the United States, with the municipality generating over US$6 billion in annual retail sales. Local blue laws in Paramus were first proposed in 1957, while the Bergen Mall and Garden State Plaza were under construction. The legislation was motivated by fears that the two new malls would aggravate the already severe highway congestion caused by local retail businesses along the borough's highways seven days a week and to preserve one day on which the roads were less congested. In November 2012, Governor Chris Christie issued an executive order to temporarily suspend the blue law due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy. The blue law was suspended on November 11 but was back in effect on November 18.
In November 2017, County Executive James Tedesco raised the minimum wage for full-time Bergen County workers to $15 per hour gradually increasing over a 6-year period, an increase from the prevailing state minimum wage at the time of $8.44 hourly. The raise constituted the first such hike in the minimum wage paid to employees of any New Jersey county.
Law and government
See also: § Blue laws
The Bergen County Court House stands in Hackensack.
Bergen has had a county executive form of government since voters chose the first executive in 1986, joining Atlantic, Essex, Hudson and Mercer counties as one of the 5 of 21 New Jersey counties with an elected executive. The executive oversees the county's business, while the seven-member Board of chosen freeholders retains a legislative and oversight role. The freeholders are elected at-large to three-year terms in office on a staggered basis, with either two or three seats coming up for election each year in a three-year cycle. All members of the governing body are elected at-large on a partisan basis as part of the November general elections. In 2018, freeholders were paid $28,312 and the freeholder chairman was paid an annual salary of $29,312.
Day-to-day oversight of the operation of the county and its departments is delegated to Acting County Administrator Julien X. Neals, who is also the County Counsel. Neals is paid $121,000 for his work as counsel and additional compensation of $50,000 for his added role as administrator, which makes him the state's lowest-paid administrator in all of its 21 counties.
As of 2019, the county executive is Democratic James J. Tedesco III of Paramus, whose term of office ends December 31, 2021. Bergen County's Freeholders are:
Freeholder Chairman Thomas J. Sullivan Jr., (D, Montvale, term as freeholder ends 2019; term as freeholder chairman ended 2018),
Freeholder Vice-Chairwoman Germaine M. Ortiz (D, Emerson, term as freeholder ends 2019; term as freeholder vice-chairwoman ends 2018),
Freeholder Chairman Pro-Tempore Mary J. Amoroso (D, Mahwah, term as freeholder ends 2019; term as freeholder chairman pro-tempore ends 2018),
David L. Ganz (D, Fair Lawn, 2020),
Steve Tanelli (D, North Arlington, 2021),
Joan Voss (D, Fort Lee, 2020) and
Tracy Silna Zur (D, Franklin Lakes, 2021),
Pursuant to Article VII Section II of the New Jersey State Constitution, each county in New Jersey is required to have three elected administrative officials known as "constitutional officers." These officers are the County Clerk and County Surrogate (both elected for five-year terms of office) and the County Sheriff (elected for a three-year term). Bergen County's constitutional officials are:
County Clerk John S. Hogan (D, Northvale, 2021)
Sheriff Anthony Cureton (D, Englewood, 2019)
Surrogate Michael R. Dressler (D, Cresskill, 2021)
The Acting Bergen County Prosecutor is Mark Musella. Calo was sworn into office in January 2018 after Gurbir Grewal of Glen Rock left office to become New Jersey Attorney General. Grewal had originally been nominated for the post by Governor Chris Christie in September 2013, but the New Jersey Senate took no action on the original nomination and Christie resubmitted the nomination in September 2015.
Bergen County constitutes Vicinage 2 of the New Jersey Superior Court, which is seated at the Bergen County Justice Center in Hackensack; the Assignment Judge for Vicinage 2 is Bonnie J. Mizdol.
In 2014, Freeholder James Tedesco challenged incumbent Kathleen Donovan on a platform that highlighted his own plan to merge the county police department with the sheriff's office, as well as Donovan's connections to recent scandals in the New Jersey state government, including the nationally reported "Bridgegate" scandal and alleged campaign finance abuse among her staff. Election results showed Tedesco with 54.2% of the vote (107,958), ahead of Donovan with 45.8% (91,299), in a race in which Tedesco's campaign spending nearly $1 million, outspending Donovan by a 2–1 margin.
In November 2010, Republican County Clerk Kathleen Donovan won the race for County Executive, defeating Dennis McNerney in his bid for a third term. Three incumbent Freeholders, Chairman James Carroll, Freeholder Elizabeth Calabrese, and Freeholder John Hogan were all defeated by Republican challengers Franklin Lakes Mayor Maura DeNicola, former River Edge Councilman John Felice and Cliffside Park resident John Mitchell. Incumbent Bergen County Sheriff Leo McGuire also failed in his bid for a third term as he was defeated by Emerson Police Chief Mike Saudino. As a result of the 2010 elections, Republicans controlled Bergen County government for the first time in nearly a decade, with County Executive Kathleen Donovan and a 5–2 majority on the Board of Chosen Freeholders.
The Bergen County court system consists of a number of municipal courts handling traffic court and other minor matters, plus the Bergen County Superior Court which handles more serious offenses. Law enforcement at the county level includes the Bergen County Sheriff's Office and the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office. Bergen County's first female police chief took office in September 2015, as police chief of Bergenfield.
In August 2015, a branding campaign was launched to highlight county government services, with its centerpiece being the official seal of Bergen County, depicting a Dutch settler shaking hands with a Native American. The county's contemporaneous executive James Tedesco made an approximately $5,000 private donation to initiate the effort in the form of a nine-foot rendering of this seal woven into the carpet of the county executive's office.
In 2004, the New Jersey Legislature passed the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act, which regulates the New Jersey Highlands region. A portion of the northwestern area of the county, comprising the municipalities of Oakland and Mahwah, was included in the highlands preservation area and is subject to the rules of the act and the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council, a division of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Some of the territory in the protected region is classified as being in the highlands preservation area, and thus subject to additional rules.
The 70 municipalities of Bergen County are represented by seven separate state legislative districts. The 37th is situated entirely within the county, while all of the others cross county boundaries.
District Senator Assembly Municipalities
32nd Nicholas Sacco (D) Angelica M. Jimenez (D)
Pedro Mejia (D) Edgewater (11,513) and Fairview (13,835). The remainder of the district covers portions of Hudson County.
35th Nellie Pou (D) Shavonda E. Sumter (D)
Benjie E. Wimberly (D) Elmwood Park (19,403) and Garfield (30,487). The remainder of the district covers portions of Passaic County.
36th Paul Sarlo (D) Marlene Caride (D)
Gary Schaer (D) Carlstadt (6,127), Cliffside Park (23,594), East Rutherford (8,913), Little Ferry (10,626), Lyndhurst (20,554), Moonachie (2,708), North Arlington (15,392), Ridgefield (11,032), Ridgefield Park (12,729), Rutherford (18,061), South Hackensack (2,378), Teterboro (67), Wallington (11,335) and Wood-Ridge (7,626). The remainder of the district covers portions of Passaic County.
37th Loretta Weinberg (D) Valerie Huttle (D)
Gordon M. Johnson (D) Alpine (1,849), Bogota (8,187), Cresskill (8,573), Englewood (27,147 Englewood Cliffs (5,281), Fort Lee (35,345), Hackensack (43,010), Leonia (8,937), Northvale (4,640), Palisades Park (19,622), Rockleigh (531), Teaneck (39,776) and Tenafly (14,488).
38th Joseph Lagana (D) Chris Tully (D)
Lisa Swain (D) Bergenfield (26,764), Fair Lawn (32,457), Glen Rock (11,601), Hasbrouck Heights (11,842), Lodi (24,136), Maywood (9,555), New Milford (16,341), Oradell (7,978), Paramus (26,342), River Edge (11,340), Rochelle Park (5,530), Saddle Brook (13,659). The remainder of the district covers portions of Passaic County.
39th Gerald Cardinale (R) Robert Auth (R)
Holly Schepisi (R) Closter (8,373), Demarest (4,881), Dumont (17,479), Emerson (7,401), Harrington Park (4,664), Haworth (3,382), Hillsdale (10,219), Mahwah (25,890), Montvale (7,844), Norwood (5,711), Oakland (12,754), Old Tappan (5,750), Park Ridge (8,645), Ramsey (14,473), River Vale (9,659), Saddle River (3,152), Upper Saddle River (8,208), Washington Township (9,102), Westwood (10,908) and Woodcliff Lake (5,730). The remainder of the district covers portions of Passaic County.
40th Kristin Corrado (R) Christopher DePhillips (R)
Kevin J. Rooney (R) Allendale (6,505), Franklin Lakes (10,590), Ho-Ho-Kus (4,078), Midland Park (7,128), Ridgewood (24,958), Waldwick (9,625) and Wyckoff (16,696). The remainder of the district covers portions of Essex County, Morris County and Passaic County.
The county is part of three Congressional Districts: the 5th District covering the northern portion of the county and the 9th most of the south, with Fairview being the lone municipality in the 8th District. For the 116th United States Congress, New Jersey's Fifth Congressional District is represented by Josh Gottheimer (D, Wyckoff). For the 116th United States Congress, New Jersey's Ninth Congressional District is represented by Bill Pascrell (D, Paterson). For the 116th United States Congress, New Jersey's Eighth Congressional District is represented by Albio Sires (D, West New York).
The county is characterized by a divide between Republican communities in the north and northwest of the county and Democratic communities in its center and southeast.
As of October 31, 2014, there were a total of 555,293 registered voters in Bergen County, of whom 171,471 (30.9%) were registered as Democrats, 111,099 (20.0%) were registered as Republicans and 272,261 (49.0%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 462 voters registered to other parties. Among the county's 2010 Census population, 61.4% were registered to vote, including 77.4% of those ages 18 and over.
In the 2016 presidential election, Democrat Hillary Clinton received 231,211 votes here (54.8%), ahead of Republican Donald Trump with 175,529 votes (41.6%) and other candidates with 19,827 votes (4.6%), among the 426,567 ballots cast by the county's 588,362 registered voters, for a turnout of 73%. In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 212,754 votes here (54.8%), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 169,070 votes (43.5%) and other candidates with 3,583 votes (0.9%), among the 388,425 ballots cast by the county's 551,745 registered voters, for a turnout of 70.4%). In the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama received 225,367 votes here (53.9%), ahead of Republican John McCain with 186,118 votes (44.5%) and other candidates with 3,248 votes (0.8%), among the 418,459 ballots cast by the county's 544,730 registered voters, for a turnout of 76.8%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 207,666 votes here (51.7%), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 189,833 votes (47.2%) and other candidates with 2,745 votes (0.7%), among the 401,845 ballots cast by the county's 522,750 registered voters, for a turnout of 76.9%.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 136,178 ballots cast (60.2%), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 87,376 votes (38.7%) and other candidates with 2,515 votes (1.1%), among the 226,069 ballots cast for governor by the county's 527,491 registered voters, yielding a 42.9% turnout. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 127,386 ballots cast (48.0%) in the county, ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 121,446 votes (45.8%), Independent Chris Daggett with 12,452 votes (4.7%), and other candidates with 1,262 votes (0.5%), among the 265,223 ballots cast by the county's 530,460 registered voters, yielding a 50.0% turnout.
In 2010, Republicans were represented by only two Freeholders and one Constitutional Officer. In 2011, the Democrats had two Freeholders and one Constitutional Officer, a complete shift in control of County government. In 2012, Democrats retained their two seats on the Board of Freeholders while moving to two Constitutional Officers as Democrat John Hogan defeated incumbent Elizabeth Randall in the County Clerk race.
In 2014, Robert Menendez, Democratic U.S. Senator representing New Jersey since 2006, shifted his residence from his longtime established base in adjacent Hudson County to Paramus in Bergen County.
Points of interest
Educational and cultural
The New Jersey Meadowlands in Lyndhurst.
MetLife Stadium, in East Rutherford, is the most expensive stadium ever built, at approximately $1.6 billion.
Northward view of the Hudson River from the cliffs of the New Jersey Palisades in Palisades Interstate Park.
The Lake Tappan reservoir straddles the Bergen County municipalities of Old Tappan and River Vale, as well as a smaller portion within adjacent Rockland County, New York.
Scarlet Oak Pond, Ramapo Valley County Reservation, Mahwah.
Southward view of the Hudson Waterfront from the George Washington Bridge, with Edgewater in the foreground, and the skyline of Downtown Jersey City, Hudson County in the background.
New Jersey Naval Museum, Hackensack. At the museum, the USS Ling is moored in the Hackensack River and is available for tours as a museum ship.
Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum of New Jersey, located at Teterboro Airport in Teterboro.
Bergen Museum of Art & Science, Hackensack.
Buehler Challenger & Science Center, Paramus — Located on the campus of Bergen Community College.
Meadowlands Environment Center, Lyndhurst.
Tenafly Nature Center, Tenafly
Puffin Foundation, Teaneck
Maywood Station Museum, Maywood
Bergen Performing Arts Center, Englewood
Commercial and entertainment
MetLife Stadium, which replaced Giants Stadium, in East Rutherford, is the home of the New York Giants and the New York Jets of the National Football League. At a construction cost of approximately $1.6 billion, it is the most expensive stadium ever built.
Meadowlands Arena, East Rutherford (formerly known as the Izod Center, Continental Airlines Arena and the Brendan Byrne Arena). Opened in 1981, it was formerly home to the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League, the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association, and the Seton Hall University Pirates men's basketball team. The arena closed on April 3, 2015.
Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford
Westfield Garden State Plaza, Paramus, is one of the largest and highest revenue producing shopping malls in the United States.
The Shops at Riverside, shopping mall, Hackensack (formerly known as Riverside Square Mall)
Paramus Park, shopping mall, Paramus
The Outlets at Bergen Town Center, shopping mall, Paramus (formerly known as the Bergen Mall)
Fashion Center, shopping mall, Paramus
H Mart, Asian shopping plaza and supermarket, Ridgefield
Mitsuwa Marketplace, Japanese shopping plaza and supermarket, Edgewater
American Dream Meadowlands, retail and entertainment complex that opened on October 25, 2019.
Ramapo Mountain State Forest, Mahwah
Palisades Interstate Park, Fort Lee, Englewood Cliffs, Tenafly, Alpine
State-owned historical sites
New Bridge Landing, River Edge, Teaneck and New Milford
The Hermitage, Ho-Ho-Kus
Steuben House, River Edge (at New Bridge Landing)
Van Saun County Park in Paramus features attractions including a train ride (left), a carousel (center), and a playground (right), as well as a zoological park.
Belmont Hill County Park, Garfield
Campgaw Mountain Reservation, Mahwah
Dahnert's Lake County Park, Garfield
Darlington County Park, Mahwah
McFaul Environmental Center, Wyckoff
Ramapo Valley County Reservation, Mahwah
Overpeck County Park, Leonia, Palisades Park, Ridgefield Park
Riverside County Park, Lyndhurst, North Arlington
Pascack Brook County Park, Westwood
Saddle Ridge Riding Area, Franklin Lakes
Saddle River County Park, Paramus, Glen Rock, Rochelle Park, Saddle Brook, Ridgewood
Samuel Nelkin County Park, Wallington
Van Saun County Park, Paramus, including the Bergen County Zoological Park, the county's only zoo. The zoo was slated for an expansion as of 2016 which would nearly double its size from 12 to 23 acres and significantly diversify its population of animal species.
Wood Dale County Park, Woodcliff Lake
County-owned historical sites
Baylor Massacre site, River Vale — location of a surprise attack on September 27, 1778, against the 3rd Regiment of Continental Light Dragoons under the command of Colonel George Baylor during the American Revolutionary War.
Camp Merritt, Cresskill
Campbell-Christie House, River Edge — a historic Dutch sandstone home, it was moved from New Milford to preserve the home from destruction.
Easton Tower, Paramus
Garretson Farm, Fair Lawn — a stone home dating to the 1720s that is one of the county's oldest surviving structures.
Gethsemane Cemetery, Little Ferry
Washington Spring Garden, located in Van Saun Park, Paramus
Wortendyke Barn, Park Ridge
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