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The development of Boonton began in about 1829, as a result of the construction of the Morris Canal and the formation of the New Jersey Iron Company. The original location of the town is now largely under the Jersey City Reservoir, completed in 1904. In 1908, the waters from this reservoir were the first municipal water supply in the United States to be chlorinated. The decision to build the chlorination system was made by John L. Leal and the facility was designed by George W. Fuller.
During the 18th century, the settlement of Boonetown Falls (variously spelled as Booneton or the current Boonton) was established on the Rockaway River, about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) downstream from the current site of the town. As early as 1747, Obadiah Baldwin ran an iron refining forge there. He used the iron ore and charcoal available in the area together with water power from the river. As the ironworks grew, workers and their families formed a community in 1761 that was named "Boone-Towne" in honor of the Colonial Governor, Thomas Boone.
The present town developed separately from the settlement of Booneton Falls. The population moved away after 1830, when a canal was completed that drew off business and traffic. The site of Old Boonton downriver has been covered since 1903 by the Jersey City reservoir formed on the dammed river.
The Boonton Iron Works were founded about 1770 by Samuel Ogden of Newark, New Jersey. Together with brothers, he purchased a 6-acre (24,000 m2) tract along the Rockaway River. Throughout the American Revolutionary War, the Booneton Iron Works was busily engaged in supplying numerous miscellaneous iron products for the military. After the war, operations at Boonton were continued under John Jacob Faesch and his two sons, and, later, by William Scott. He tried to revive the declining business. In 1824, Scott's interest in rejuvenating the antiquated ironworks faded when he learned that the Morris Canal was soon to be constructed, and that it would bypass the community of Booneton a mile or more away.
But the proximity of the canal to Booneton Falls made that site ideal for a large factory. In 1830, a group of businessmen in New York City incorporated as the New Jersey Iron Company, with a capitalization of $283,000. Machinery and ironworkers were imported from England, and with the erection of the mills, a new community, called Booneton Falls, began to be developed on the rugged hillside overlooking the river.
The community Main Street is unique in that it is pitched against a cliff overlooking the 'Hollow' of the Rockaway River. This was said to follow an old Native American trail, developed from a deer path along the hillside.
The new Iron Company flourished for nearly 50 years. The settlement of Booneton Falls - like the older Booneton downstream - was essentially a one-industry town. After the Company closed down its operations in 1876, the town was on the verge of collapse. Although several attempts - one by Joseph Wharton - were made to re-establish iron works on a smaller scale, none endured for any great length of time. In the 21st century, only vestiges of foundations and structures remain in the "Hollow" between Plane Street and the river, to remind Boonton of its own Iron Age.
One of the first of the new industries secured for the town was a silk factory, which, as Pelgram & Meyer, and, later as Van Raalte, Inc., contributed materially to the town's prosperity. Others that followed were a knife factory, a paper mill (at the old settlement, by then called Old Boonton), a nail factory, a brass and iron foundry, and a carriage factory. The Morris Canal, although going into a rapid decline when superseded by railroads, still employed a number of men. The Lackawanna Railroad completed its Boonton Branch in 1870, giving employment to a number of Boonton people and providing commuter service to Boonton residents who worked in New York City. The town supported many individually owned businesses, such as blacksmith shops, machine shops, bakeries and a miscellany of stores, which began to prosper anew as the nation emerged from the depression of the 1870s.
In 1891, the Loanda Hard Rubber Company was founded by Edwin A. Scribner, and began the manufacture of molded hard rubber products. After Scribner died, the management of the firm fell to his son-in-law Richard W. Seabury. In 1906, Seabury learned of experiments with synthetic resins made by Dr. Leo Baekeland, for whom Bakelite was later to be named. Originally intended by Dr. Baekeland for a synthetic varnish, the new material was used by Seabury in making the world's first molding of organic plastics in 1907. Boontonware, a molded plastic dinnerware, was sold nationwide.
George Scribner, son of Loanda founder Edwin Scribner, opted to continue the business of plastics molding and established Boonton Molding. The company produced the line of Boontonware dinnerware, molded plastic plates, bowls, and cups manufactured in the 1950s and 1960s. The company also operated a factory outlet store in Boonton for many years. George Scribner was eventually inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame as a pioneer in developing molding techniques and applications at Boonton Molding Co. from 1920. He is considered a preeminent contributor to the development of the industry through his services as president and board chairman of the SPI during the period 1943-1947.
The molded plastics industry attracted the radio and electronics industries to the Boonton area. In the 1920s, the burgeoning radio industry created a large demand for molded parts. Richard W. Seabury organized Radio Frequency Laboratories to exploit that new field. More than a half dozen radio and electronics firms were later formed as spin-offs, and recognized internationally for the excellence of their products. Radio engineers had respect for the Boonton Radio Co., located in nearby Rockaway, which manufactured a high-quality test instrument known as a Q meter, still used by hobbyists today. Most of those companies have been bought up and are now divisions of larger corporations and have relocated elsewhere, having undergone name changes in many cases. The Boonton Radio Co., for instance, was purchased by Hewlett-Packard. RFL Industries, Aircraft Radio Corporation, Measurements Corporation, and Ballantine Laboratories are among those that contributed materially to the prosperity of the area.
In 1917, E.A. Stevenson & Company established the "Butter Works" on the site of the old Knox Hat factory. Stevenson started processing coconut and other vegetable oils and making margarine. Under later operation by E.F. Drew & Company, the Boonton plant grew to be one of the largest edible oils processors in the country. It was the largest industry in the town of Boonton during the 20th century. The plant closed in the early 1990s, and the site was developed for a Walmart store.
In recent years, Boonton has attracted several art galleries. Most of the galleries are located on the 800 block of Main Street, with a total of six galleries in the area surrounding Boonton Avenue and Main Street. This is often referred to as the Boonton Art District. The galleries hold an art walk showcasing gallery openings on the first Friday of each month.
Gazebo in Grace Lord Park
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town had a total area of 2.506 square miles (6.490 km2), including 2.335 square miles (6.048 km2) of land and 0.171 square miles (0.442 km2) of water (6.81%).
There were 3,235 households out of which 29.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.6% were married couples living together, 11.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.7% were non-families. 26.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.54 and the average family size was 3.10.
In the town, the population was spread out with 21.2% under the age of 18, 7.1% from 18 to 24, 30.6% from 25 to 44, 27.9% from 45 to 64, and 13.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39.4 years. For every 100 females there were 101.5 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 100.6 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $79,097 (with a margin of error of +/- $9,165) and the median family income was $89,965 (+/- $14,678). Males had a median income of $53,495 (+/- $4,466) versus $47,463 (+/- $7,099) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $33,366 (+/- $4,035). About 5.6% of families and 10.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 17.8% of those under age 18 and 4.7% of those age 65 or over.
Boonton had the highest percentage of Pakistani ancestry people at 3.53%, of any place in the United States with 1,000 or more residents listing their ancestry. As of the 2000 Census, 1.3% of residents identified themselves as being of Turkish American ancestry, the fifth-highest of any municipality in the United States and third-highest in the state.
There were 3,272 households out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.6% were married couples living together, 11.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.0% were non-families. 26.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.11.
In the town, the population was spread out with 21.9% under the age of 18, 6.8% from 18 to 24, 35.4% from 25 to 44, 22.4% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.9 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $65,322, and the median income for a family was $75,147. Males had a median income of $60,518 versus $40,634 for females. The per capita income for the town was $29,919. About 6.7% of families and 5.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.4% of those under age 18 and 6.6% of those age 65 or over.
North Stars Gymnastics Academy is a gymnastics facility located in the city, which is home to various elites and Junior Olympic gymnasts.
Parks and recreation
Grace Lord Park provides recreation opportunities and hiking trails, including a view of Boonton Falls.
Boonton operates using the town form of government and is governed by a Mayor and Board of Aldermen. The mayor is elected at-large to a four-year term of office. The Board of Aldermen consists of eight members serving two-year terms of office, with two Aldermen elected from each of four wards on a staggered basis, with one seat from each of the four wards coming up for election each year.
Senator Anthony R. Bucco died in September 2019. A special convention of the Republican County Committee members from the district met on October 15, 2019, and unanimously selected his son, Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco to fill his father's seat until a 2020 special election. Assemblyman Bucco then resigned from the Assembly and on October 24, 2019, was sworn into the Senate. In a special convention following the 2019 General Election, Dunn was slected and will serve until the end of the current Legislative Session, January 14, 2020.
Morris County is governed by a seven-member Board of Chosen Freeholders, who are elected at-large in partisan elections, to three-year terms on a staggered basis, with either one or three seats up for election each year as part of the November general election. The Freeholder Board sets policies for the operation of six super-departments, more than 30 divisions plus authorities, commissions, boards and study committees. Actual day-to-day operation of departments is supervised by County Administrator, John Bonanni. As of 2019[update], Morris County's Freeholders are
Freeholder Director Douglas Cabana (R, Boonton Township, 2019),
Deputy Freeholder Director Heather Darling (R, Roxbury, 2020),
Kathryn A. DeFillippo (R, Roxbury Township, 2019,
John Krickus (R, Washington Township, 2021),
Thomas J. Mastrangelo (R, Montville, 2019),
Stephen H. Shaw (R, Mountain Lakes, 2021), and
Deborah Smith (R, Denville, 2021).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 5,037 registered voters in Boonton, of which 1,029 (20.4%) were registered as Democrats, 1,956 (38.8%) were registered as Republicans and 2,051 (40.7%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There was one voter registered to another party.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 51.6% of the vote (1,882 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 47.2% (1,720 votes), and other candidates with 1.2% (44 votes), among the 3,669 ballots cast by the town's 5,310 registered voters (23 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 69.1%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 51.6% of the vote (2,087 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 46.5% (1,881 votes) and other candidates with 1.0% (41 votes), among the 4,045 ballots cast by the town's 5,262 registered voters, for a turnout of 76.9%. In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 53.1% of the vote (1,978 ballots cast), outpolling Democrat John Kerry with 45.0% (1,677 votes) and other candidates with 0.9% (44 votes), among the 3,724 ballots cast by the town's 5,086 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 73.2.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 67.2% of the vote (1,527 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 30.3% (688 votes), and other candidates with 2.6% (59 votes), among the 2,342 ballots cast by the town's 5,286 registered voters (68 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 44.3%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 55.5% of the vote (1,372 ballots cast), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 33.8% (835 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 9.0% (222 votes) and other candidates with 0.8% (19 votes), among the 2,474 ballots cast by the town's 5,161 registered voters, yielding a 47.9% turnout.
The district's high school serves students from Boonton and also those from Lincoln Park, who attend as part of a sending/receiving relationship with the Lincoln Park Public Schools, with Lincoln Park students accounting for a majority of students at the high school, including about 290 students as of the 2012-13 school year. The two districts have sought to sever the more than 50-year-old relationship, citing cost savings that could be achieved by both districts and complaints by Lincoln Park that it is granted only one seat on the Boonton Public Schools' Board of Education. In April 2006, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Education rejected the request.
As of May 2010[update], the town had a total of 33.90 miles (54.56 km) of roadways, of which 28.34 miles (45.61 km) were maintained by the municipality, 3.81 miles (6.13 km) by Morris County and 1.75 miles (2.82 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
The Boonton Holmes Public Library has been in operation since 1894. The building in which it resides was willed to the Town of Boonton by James Holmes for use as a public library. Holmes was born March 7, 1815, in Massachusetts and moved to Boonton in 1850 to take charge of the Taylor & Lord Nail Factory. Since he had spent much of his early life moving from place to place and from job to job when he was able to lay down roots in Boonton he developed a strong loyalty to the town and committed himself to its development. He became very involved in local politics and used his fortune to help develop municipal organizations and community projects. Holmes held several political posts in his life such as serving as Mayor of Boonton, on the State Board of Education, and on the Boonton Board of Education. Holmes also used his wealth to improve the town, one example was when he donated the land and purchased the equipment to begin the firehouse in South Boonton. He served as a volunteer fire fighter in Boonton from the time he arrived until his death. Holmes also started the first Boonton National Bank and served as its president. Mr. Holmes died on February 26, 1893.
The building itself dates much further back to when Eliza A. Scott purchased the corner lot in 1849 from the New Jersey Iron Company. Miss Scott built the first structure on the site in that same year. In 1850, the Iron Company engaged James Holmes to serve as superintendent of the nail factory which had just been constructed. James Holmes bought the property and 2 lots for $5,000 in 1856. He resided at his mansion house until his death in February 1893. Mr. Holmes bequeathed his house and lot to the Boonton Library Association which had incorporated in 1890. On July 1, 1893, the Association disbanded and reorganized itself as the Holmes Library which had been established in May under the terms of Mr. Holmes' will. The gift included the mansion house, $5,000 for endowment purposes only, $2,000 for refitting the house as a library, and $1,000 for the purchase of books. The will stipulated that the Library be governed by a Board of Trustees composed of three lifetime members appointed by him, one member from each of the existing churches at the time, and one member from the Board of Education. The Library officially opened in 1894. Since its opening the library itself has only been on the first floor, and in later years the basement. The upper two floors have been used, at various times, as business space, a Masonic Hall, and most recently as three apartments. The basement also has been used commercially and has at one time housed the printing press for the Boonton Times newspaper. In 1895, Charles Grubb rented rooms in the Holmes Library and installed presses in the basement where on Oct 4, 1895 he published the first issue of The Boonton Times newspaper. In 1911, he moved to the corner of Main and Cornelia Streets. The Boonton Holmes Library has gained control of the entire building and is currently beginning renovations to the structure so that the upper floors can be used by the public. The Boonton Holmes Public Library was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, on November 30, 1972.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Boonton include:
^Town HistoryArchived April 23, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, Town of Boonton. Accessed August 6, 2015. "Boonton became a separate municipality, and was incorporated as a Town under a charter granted by the State Legislature in March, 1867. The area within the limits of the new Town was formerly part of the old Townships of Pequannock and Hanover."
^Leal, John L. (1909). "The Sterilization Plant of the Jersey City Water Supply Company at Boonton, N.J." Proceedings American Water Works Association. pp. 100-9.
^Fuller, George W. (1909). "Description of the Process and Plant of the Jersey City Water Supply Company for the Sterilization of the Water of the Boonton Reservoir." Proceedings American Water Works Association. 110-34.
^Falkenstein, Michelle; and Strauss, Robert. "Jersey Footlights", The New York Times, February 9, 2003. Accessed August 27, 2013. "After 1830, when the canal was completed, most residents moved, and Boonetown faded into history. Only some farms, an orphanage and the Morris County poorhouse were left. In the late 1890's, construction began on the reservoir, which was flooded and completed in 1903."
^Stewart, Holly. "Bloomingdale man dared to open an art gallery in Boonton and succeeded", Suburban Trends, September 19, 2013. Accessed October 8, 2013. "Three years ago, Boonton had two art galleries. Today there are six established galleries and a variety of arts-related shops in a 10-block radius called the Boonton Art District, which is centered at the corner of Boonton Avenue and Main Street."
^Sayre, Phillip. "The Great Outdoors; Vertical Water: Where the Falls Are in New Jersey", The New York Times, April 5, 1998. Accessed December 17, 2012. "Boonton is another town that shares its name with the local waterfall. At Boonton Falls, the Rockaway River takes a leap of about 25 feet at Grace Lord Park. Use extra caution on the rocks: the pool at the base of the falls is a treacherous swirl that has claimed several lives when people have slipped while near its edge."
^Pizarro, Max. "Dunn Sworn into the Assembly", Insider NJ, November 25, 2019. Accessed November 25, 2019. "Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) this afternoon administered the office to Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-25), who last week at a special convention formally landed the seat left behind by Senator Tony Bucco (R-25)."
^Lincoln Park School District 2015 Report Card Narrative, New Jersey Department of Education. Accessed July 19, 2016. "Lincoln Park participates in a sending-receiving relationship with Boonton High School, which offers a comprehensive educational program for children in grades 9 through 12. The Lincoln Park School District sends approximately 295 students to Boonton High School. Approximately 55 high school age students attend The Academies of Morris County."
^HistoryArchived October 31, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School. Accessed August 27, 2013. "Earliest photos of the school date from 1882, and the present school building was constructed in the 1920s."
^Fowler, Alex D. Splinters from the Past: Discovering History in Old Houses (1984)
^Korinda, Lawrence. Profile of Boonton, An Architectural and Historical Perspective (1975)
^Wendt Jr., Peter C. Boonton was an Iron Town (1976)
^LaGorce, Tammy. "By The Way; Father Built Bridges", The New York Times, November 2, 2003. Accessed December 29, 2011. "With the opening of Boonton's Master Bridge Builder: Othmar Ammann last month at the Boonton Historical Society and Museum, climbing inside the mind of the eminent Swiss-born engineer became less complicated."
^DiIonno, Mark. "Jersey artist goes from 'outsider' to insider", The Star-Ledger, February 5, 2017. Accessed August 26, 2018. "In 2009, attorney and artist Daniel Belardinelli, was in the North Bergen Municipal Court to help out a friend with a motor vehicle violation.... 'He was this very simple guy,' said Belardinelli, who lives in Boonton."
^Paik, Eugene. "Boonton museum honors accomplished alumni", The Star-Ledger, June 19, 2009. Accessed August 3, 2014. "Ever wonder if any Boonton High School students made good in life? There's Amanda Bennett, of the class of 1971, a journalist who shared a Pulitzer Prize at the Wall Street Journal for her reporting on the AIDS epidemic."
^ abRagonese, Lawrence. "A new Trenton team: The Buccos", The Star-Ledger, November 7, 2009. Accessed July 19, 2011. "Father and son. Senator and assemblyman-elect. Anthony Bucco and Anthony Bucco Jr. The Buccos will serve together in the Legislature after the younger Bucco takes the oath of office Jan. 12, the result of his win Tuesday in Morris County's 25th District. The Republican duo will join the small club of parent-child legislators who have served together in New Jersey.... Tony Sr., now 71, was first running for alderman in Boonton when his son was getting elected class president at Boonton High School."
^Andrikanich, Ryan. "Honoring a legend", Daily Record, December 9, 2006. Accessed July 19, 2011. "On this day 50 years ago, one of the worst commercial aviation disasters in Canadian history took the life of a promising young American football player who began his career as an offensive lineman for Boonton High School.... Mario DeMarco was born and raised in Boonton and played football for four years as a starting offensive lineman."