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Clifton was incorporated as a city by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 26, 1917, replacing Acquackanonk Township, based on the results of a referendum held two days earlier. Clifton is listed under five different ZIP Codes (07011 Main Avenue, 07012 Allwood, 07013, 07014 Delawanna and 07015).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city had a total area of 11.397 square miles (29.518 km2), including 11.260 square miles (29.164 km2) of land and 0.137 square miles (0.355 km2) of water (1.20%).
Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the city include Albion Place, Allwood, Athenia, Botany Village, Delawanna, Dutch Hill, Lakeview, Main Mall, Montclair Heights, Richfield, Rosemawr, Styertowne, West Clifton and Yanticaw Pond.
There were 30,661 households out of which 30.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.3% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.1% were non-families. 26.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.74 and the average family size was 3.33.
In the city, the population was spread out with 22.0% under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 27.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38.4 years. For every 100 females there were 93.2 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 90.4 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $62,271 (with a margin of error of +/- $3,208) and the median family income was $76,070 (+/- $2,883). Males had a median income of $49,780 (+/- $2,391) versus $40,149 (+/- $2,057) for females. The per capita income for the city was $29,812 (+/- $1,255). About 7.2% of families and 9.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.5% of those under age 18 and 9.3% of those age 65 or over.
There were 30,244 households out of which 28.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.3% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.7% were non-families. 27.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.20.
In the city the population was 21.6% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 30.7% from 25 to 44, 22.5% from 45 to 64, and 17.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $50,619, and the median income for a family was $60,688. Males had a median income of $40,143 versus $32,090 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,638. About 4.3% of families and 6.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.6% of those under age 18 and 5.2% of those age 65 or over.
Clifton Commons, a shopping center located near Route 3, features numerous stores, restaurants and a 16-screen AMC movie theater, with a gross leasable area of 448,848 square feet (41,699.3 m2).
Promenade Shops at Clifton is an upscale mall located on Route 3 West.
The now defunct Linens 'n Things, bedding and home furnishings retailer, was headquartered in Clifton before its 2009 bankruptcy.
Many low-rise office buildings, containing professional tenants such as law and accounting firms and medical practices, are found on the stretch of Clifton Avenue between City Hall (at Van Houten) and Allwood Road.
The city of Clifton is governed under the 1923 Municipal Manager Law. The government consists of a City Council comprising seven council members, with all positions elected at large in nonpartisan elections to four-terms of office on a concurrent basis. The mayor is chosen by the City Council, with the position usually given to the top vote getter in the previous election. Clifton's municipal elections are held in even numbered years, and had been held in May as required for municipalities conducting nonpartisan elections. Following the passage of a state law in 2010 allowing nonpartisan elections to be shifted to November, Clifton voters were overwhelmingly in favor of the move in a non-binding referendum held in November 2013. On December 13, 2013, the Clifton City Council voted 6-0, with one abstention, to make the move to a November election binding, which had the effect of extending the terms of all sitting council members by six months, from June 30 to December 31. Officials cited increased voter participation and reduced costs as the justifications behind supporting the shift.
As of 2019[update], Clifton's mayor is James Anzaldi, whose term of office ends December 31, 2022. Anzaldi has been a member of the City Council since 1978 and was first selected to be mayor in 1990, succeeding two-term Mayor Gloria Kolodziej. Anzaldi is the first mayor in Clifton's history to be elected to six terms. The other members of the City Council are Peter C. Eagler, William "Bill" Gibson, Raymond Grabowski, Lauren E. Murphy, Rosemary Pino and Mary Sadrakula, all of whom are serving concurrent terms of office that end on December 31, 2022.
If at any time a seat becomes vacant on the council, and provided that it is not a council election year, Clifton will hold a special election to fill the unexpired term. The city has done this four times since 1990:
In 1992, Councilman George Bayeux died in office. That fall, Richard Stockinger was elected to take his place.
Stockinger became the next council member to die in office, succumbing to lung cancer in March 1996. The special election to fill his seat was won by Ed Welsh.
In 2006, after the new council was elected, Antonio Latona was disqualified from taking his newly elected office as it was determined he was involved in a conflict of interest due to his employment by the city fire department. City policy dictates that the next highest vote getter in the election be appointed to a vacancy, and thus the seat was filled by Matthew Ward as the candidate with the eighth highest total. Ward won the seat in the special election held the following year. Ward ran for his seat in the subsequent special election called for November 2007 and won the balance of the term.
In February 2015, just after he was sworn into office for a second term, Councilman Matt Grabowski died from cancer. The council appointed Joseph Cupoli, the highest vote-getter among the losing candidates, to fill the seat until the November election. Raymond Grabowski, the councilman's brother, won the special election to serve out the remainder of the term.
If a vacancy occurs at any time in the term, a special election is held in November of the year the seat became vacant unless it is a council election year. Since 1990, Clifton has called special elections to fill council seats three times. In 1992, councilman George Bayeux died and Richard Stockinger was elected to replace him. The next special election came in 1996 when Stockinger himself died of lung cancer, with Edward M. Welsh elected to fill his seat. In 2006, just before the new council was to be sworn in, Antonio Latona was disqualified from taking his seat due to a conflict of interest involving his work for the Clifton Fire Department and eighth-place vote getter Matt Ward was temporarily appointed to the council in Latona's place. Ward ran for his seat in the subsequent special election called for November 2007 and won the balance of the term.
Passaic County is governed by a seven-member Board of Chosen Freeholders, who are elected at-large to staggered three-year terms office on a partisan basis, with two or three seats coming up for election each year as part of the November general election in a three-year cycle. At a reorganization meeting held in January, the board selects a Director and Deputy Director from among its members to serve for a one-year term. As of 2017[update], Passaic County's Freeholders are
Director Cassandra "Sandi" Lazzara (D, 2018; Woodland Park),
Deputy Director Bruce James (D, 2017; Clifton),
Assad R. Akhter (D, 2018 - appointed to serve an unexpired term; Paterson),
John W. Bartlett (D, 2018; Wayne),
Theodore O. Best Jr. (D, 2017; Paterson),
Terry Duffy (D, 2019; West Milford), and
Pasquale "Pat" Lepore (D, 2019; Woodland Park). Constitutional officers elected on a countywide basis are
County Clerk Kristin M. Corrado (R, 2019; Totowa),Sheriff Richard H. Berdnik (D, 2019; Little Falls) and
Surrogate Bernice Toledo (D, 2021; Prospect Park).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 44,550 registered voters in Clifton, of which 14,138 (31.7% vs. 31.0% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 7,542 (16.9% vs. 18.7%) were registered as Republicans and 22,851 (51.3% vs. 50.3%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 19 voters registered to other parties. Among the city's 2010 Census population, 52.9% (vs. 53.2% in Passaic County) were registered to vote, including 67.9% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 70.8% countywide).
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 62.6% of the vote (18,761 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 36.3% (10,885 votes), and other candidates with 1.0% (305 votes), among the 30,261 ballots cast by the city's 47,933 registered voters (310 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 63.1%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 18,260 votes (56.5% vs. 58.8% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 12,848 votes (39.8% vs. 37.7%) and other candidates with 334 votes (1.0% vs. 0.8%), among the 32,317 ballots cast by the city's 44,903 registered voters, for a turnout of 72.0% (vs. 70.4% in Passaic County). In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 15,597 votes (52.0% vs. 53.9% countywide), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 13,120 votes (43.8% vs. 42.7%) and other candidates with 228 votes (0.8% vs. 0.7%), among the 29,971 ballots cast by the city's 41,220 registered voters, for a turnout of 72.7% (vs. 69.3% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 56.0% of the vote (9,304 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 42.8% (7,106 votes), and other candidates with 1.2% (199 votes), among the 16,970 ballots cast by the city's 49,231 registered voters (361 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 34.5%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 9,080 ballots cast (49.1% vs. 50.8% countywide), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 8,221 votes (44.5% vs. 43.2%), Independent Chris Daggett with 786 votes (4.3% vs. 3.8%) and other candidates with 243 votes (1.3% vs. 0.9%), among the 18,483 ballots cast by the city's 43,808 registered voters, yielding a 42.2% turnout (vs. 42.7% in the county).
With more than 3,300 students enrolled, Clifton High School is the largest single-facility high school in New Jersey; Elizabeth High School had more students, but they were spread over multiple campuses before the school was split into separate academies. An additional overflow site, the Clifton High School Annex, was constructed at a cost of $17 million and opened in September 2009 to accommodate 540 of the school year's 850 incoming Freshman to alleviate overcrowding.
Private schools in Clifton include Saint Andrew the Apostle School, Saint Brendan Catholic School and Saint Philip Preparatory School, all of which are K-8 elementary schools that operate under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson.
The Clifton Police Department is a full-service department and employs 159 sworn officers, 20 public safety telecommunicators, 12 civilians and 25 part-time special officers. The department is led by Chief Mark Centurione, who was sworn into the position in May 2016.
The Clifton Fire Department operates a fleet of five engines, two ladders and two basic life support ambulances 24/7, three marine Zodiac rescue boats, a foam truck, a light rescue truck, plus a haz-mat unit which are cross staffed. The department is led by Chief Frank S. Prezioso.
Hatzolah of Passaic/Clifton EMS is a volunteer service that primarily covers the Passaic Park neighborhood of Passaic and parts of Clifton, in addition to assisting local police and EMS when requested in other parts of the city. Hatzolah operates two ambulances strategically parked throughout the community with a third on standby and available to assist neighboring chapters such as Union City and Elizabeth.
Many scenes from The Sopranos were filmed in town, including the parking lot of the Valley Regency on Valley Road, Main Memorial Park and Clifton High School. The golf scenes were filmed at the Upper Montclair Country Club.
New York Yankee Hall of Famers Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto owned a bowling alley in Clifton called "Rizzuto-Berra Bowling Lanes." The alley, later known as Astro Bowl, was located in the Styertowne Shopping Center in the Allwood section of town and remained open until 1999.
The Upper Montclair Country Club was home to the NFL Golf Classic and the Thunderbird Classic. The Sybase Classic golf tournament was held there annually until 2009.
Baseball Hall of Famer Honus Wagner played his last two seasons (1896-1897) of minor league baseball for the Paterson Silk Sox. While the team was named Paterson, the team played their games at Doherty Field, located off of Main Avenue behind the Doherty Silk Mill.
Clifton has an old sewerage system, accessible to intrepid urban explorers and evidently not actively maintained by any municipal authority or utility, known to some as the "Gates Of Hell." The walls are full of graffiti. The Clifton "Gates of Hell" are featured in Weird New Jersey.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Clifton include:
^Prial, Frank J."U. S. Animal Center to Move From Clifton", The New York Times, August 9, 1975. Accessed September 16, 2019. "The United States Department of Agriculture's quarantine station for imported animals, in Clifton; N.J., since 1903, will be relocated at Stewart Airport, near Newburgh.... The center, scheduled to be completed in 1978, will occupy a 74-acre site, and will be equipped to handle 1,800 head of cattle, 800 horses, 300 lions and tigers and other zoo animals, and 4,000 chickens and other poultry."
^Gicas, Tony. "Clifton elections officially changed to November", Clifton Journal, December 13, 2013. Accessed February 10, 2014. "After months of passionate debate and an overwhelming vote of confidence from City voters on a non-binding referendum last month, the municipal council officially moved its election date from May to November.... After months of passionate debate and an overwhelming vote of confidence from City voters on a non-binding referendum last month, the municipal council officially moved its election date from May to November."
^ abMcGrath, Mary. "Municipal Elections At A Glance", The Record (Bergen County), November 6, 1996. Accessed August 21, 2014. "Democrat Edward Welsh, vice chairman of the Planning Board, won a landslide victory Tuesday in the race for the City Council seat left vacant after the death of Richard Stockinger in March."
^Gicas, Tony. "Joe Cupoli appointed to Clifton Council", Clifton Journal, March 27, 2015. Accessed August 13, 2015. "The City's municipal government unanimously voted to return a former Council member to the dais and fill the empty seat left after last month's death of Councilman Matt Grabowski. On Saturday, during a public budget meeting, officials voted 6-0 to appoint former Councilman Joe Cupoli, who finished eighth in last November's general election, to the Council. In the event of a Clifton Council member's death, the empty seat is traditionally filled by the eighth-place finisher of the previous election.
^Green, Jeff. "New Clifton council member carries on for his late brother", The Record (Bergen County), November 13, 2015. Accessed March 29, 2016. "Newly elected Ray Grabowski was sworn into office after a decisive victory in last week's municipal election, carrying on in that seat in the wake of his brother Matt's death early this year. Grabowski takes over for Joe Cupoli, who was appointed to the seat in March following the former councilman's death."
^Kolodziej, Gloria. "Letter to the Editor: Facts about moving Clifton's elections", Clifton Journal, November 1, 2013. Accessed August 21, 2014. "Special November elections were held to fill vacancies created by the death of Councilman George Bayeux, Councilman Richard Stockinger, and by the vacancy created by the resignation of Councilman Anthony Latona."
^Biography, Congressman Bill Pascrell. Accessed January 3, 2019."A native son of Paterson, N.J., Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. has built a life of public service upon the principles he learned while growing up on the south side of the Silk City."
^Gicas, Tony. "Clifton High annex nearly ready", The Record (Bergen County), July 14, 2009. Accessed August 21, 2014. "The Clifton High School annex building, a lightning rod for controversy since its approval in 2004, is complete and almost ready to be occupied.... The $17 million school at 290 Brighton Road, in the renovated former Mayer Textile building, will hold about 540 of the total 850 freshmen expected to be enrolled for classes in September."
^Staff. "Classical Academy makes mathematics count", Clifton Journal, March 18, 2011. Accessed July 13, 2012. "Classical Academy Charter School of Clifton, a 2008 National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, participated for the first time in the Mathcounts regional school competition."
^Home Page, Clifton Police Department. Accessed March 14, 2017.
^Sportelli, Albina. "Clifton appoints new police chief", Clifton Journal, April 29, 2016. Accessed March 14, 2017. "Capt. Mark Centurione will be sworn in as the City's next chief of police and replace retiring Chief John Link on Monday."
^About, Hatzolah of Passaic/Clifton EMS. Accessed December 3, 2015.
^Master Plan for the Township of Nutley, Essex County, NJ, Township of Nutley, December 19, 2012. Accessed August 26, 2018. "Freight rail service is provided along the former Erie-Lackawanna (Newark Branch) passenger line. The line is currently owned by and operated by the Norfolk Southern Corporation."
^Pezzano, Chuck. "Rizzuto enjoyed a big role in bowling; Sport attractive to baseball figures.", The Record (Bergen County), August 20, 2007. "Rizzuto-Berra Bowling Lanes in Clifton, originally owned by Rizzuto and fellow icon Yogi Berra, was a favorite bowling spot for more than 40 years before giving way to a bank of shopping center stores."
^Gicas, Tony. "Sybase golf classic is back on, it just won't be in Clifton", Clifton Journal, January 28, 2010. Accessed December 18, 2011. "The Sybase Classic, the premier women's professional golf tournament in the metropolitan area will return in time for the LPGA's 2010 season after it was pulled from the schedule in November, but not to Clifton where it was held the past three years. On Tuesday, Octagon and Sybase, Inc. announced the Sybase Match Play Championship will be held at Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Gladstone, from May 20 to 23."
^Model, Eric. "Paterson enjoys a rich baseball history "Archived 2013-01-29 at Archive.today, NewJerseyNewsroom.com, May 25, 2011. Accessed June 14, 2012. "In fact, baseball great Honus Wagner is said to have started his pro baseball career in Paterson before reaching big leagues. Proof can be found in a place no less significant than the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, where a Honus Wagner 'Paterson' uniform is on display."
^Bank, Irving A. "Orange embraces Alford, its NY Giant", The Star-Ledger, February 10, 2008. Accessed February 4, 2011. "Hope now takes the form of turkey sandwiches and strawberry-frosted doughnuts -- and whenever Alford makes the quick drive down the Parkway from his home in Clifton for some of his grandmother's home cooking."
^"Icon FC Will Host Stal Mielec of Poland This Saturday In Clifton, NJ", The Post-Eagle, June 13, 2016. Accessed September 17, 2018. "Bajek is a Clifton High School graduate who earned all-state honors for the Mustangs, and was a three-time All-American at Kean University before launching a long professional career in Poland and the U.S. 'Clifton will always be home. I was raised here, learned to play soccer here and now very proud to return with a professional team and the opportunity to showcase world-class soccer matches at Clifton High School Stadium.'"
^Cowen, Richard. "Judge William Bate dies", The Record (Bergen County), January 30, 2011. Accessed September 16, 2015. "Mr. Bate, a lifelong Clifton resident who previously served in the state Legislature and on the Passaic County Board of Chosen Freeholders, was in the midst of his fifth term as surrogate."
^Cotter, Kelly-Jane. "Jersey Girl has starring role in Project Almanac", Asbury Park Press, January 27, 2015. Accessed September 17, 2018. "Clifton's Sofia Black D'Elia stars in sci-fi thriller Project Almanac.... A graduate of Clifton High School, D'Elia might be recognizable to soap opera fans through her breakthrough role as Bailey Wells on All My Children."
^"New on DVD this week", The Record (Bergen County), January 13, 2012. Accessed March 30, 2012. "Clifton native and former Irvington resident Vera Farmiga makes an astonishingly assured directorial debut with this engrossing study of Corinne (first played by Vera's sister Taissa Farmiga, and then by Vera), a woman who turns to Christianity after she and her family nearly die in a car accident."
^Kearnan, Scott. DJ Profiles: Hector Fonseca, Noizemag. Accessed March 16, 2012. "Well before he became one of the hottest (musically and physically) members of the global club scene, Fonseca grew up just eight miles west of New York City. He could see the Empire State Building from his window while growing up. Clifton, N.J., may be just across the Hudson River, but it's a world away from the Big City."
^Woolis, Chris. "Clifton's Garrett leads Kean football to Division III postseason", Clifton Journal, November 25, 2011. Accessed July 9, 2015. "Kean University head coach Dan Garrett is a 1992 graduate of Clifton High School.... 'I felt much more comfortable at linebacker than on the line,' said Garrett who grew up in Clifton's Athenia Section and attended School #13."
^"The Path of No Resistance with Garret Kramer", DrKevinPecca.com, October 30, 2017. Accessed December 3, 2017. "[Q] Garret, where are you from? [A] I was born in Paterson, New Jersey. I grew up in Clifton, New Jersey. I was into playing hockey, pretty much that's what I was into."
^Spiewak, Anna. "Convenience, location make Clifton the right spot", The Record (Bergen County), January 6, 2008. Accessed May 28, 2008. "Several personalities also hail from Clifton, including psychologist and author of numerous works on cognitive behavior therapy Michael Adams, Italian-American soccer player Giuseppe Rossi, former New York Jets lineman Dave Szott, movie director Ronald F. Maxwell and David Chase, creator of The Sopranos."
^Stanmyre, Matthew. "NJ's Matt Miazga, Red Bulls rookie, living dream from mom and dad's at 19", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, August 28, 2014. Accessed March 23, 2015. "Miazga, 19, is half-teenager, half-pro athlete. He lives at home in Clifton with his parents, surrounded by lifelong friends who are starting college, and he also juggles a budding pro career with the Red Bulls -- one heaped with enormous responsibilities for the 6-3, 185-pound defensive back."
^My Country, 'Tis of Thee, ESPN, November 30, 2005. "Flying under the radar of most is 18-year-old Giuseppe Rossi, a striker born in New Jersey, whose parents are from Italy. Rossi was brought up in the soccer hotbed of Clifton, N.J., where his father coached soccer."
^Gold, David. "Female Latin Pop Star To Frum Star - Miriam Sandler Left It All To Find It All", Vos Iz Neias?, June 29, 2009. Accessed August 19, 2016. "In 2001, the next major change occurred in Miriam's life when she met her husband and became Miriam Sandler, Jewish wife, homemaker and eventually, mother of three. The Sandlers settled down in Clifton, New Jersey, part of greater Passaic's Orthodox community, and Miriam threw herself into full-time Jewish life. Music was simply less important."
^Jacobs, Julie. "Harley birthday! 89-year-old N.J. woman still easy riding", Inside Jersey, March 16, 2015. Accessed January 18, 2018. "Struck stands just 5 feet tall, her long silver-gray hair in a ponytail, and on this Wednesday afternoon at her home in Clifton, she is bright-eyed and energetic, dressed comfortably in jeans and a light blue Motor Maids T-shirt."
^"Paul Troast, Led Jersey Turnpike"The New York Times, July 23, 1972. Accessed December 28, 2017. "Clifton, N.J., July 22--Paul L. Troast, the first chairman of the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and Republican candidate for Governor in 1953, died yesterday in his home 324 Dwasline Road, after an illness of three months. He was 77 years old."
^Aberback, Brian. "Hackensack native Joe Lynn Turner credits Bergen upbringing for his international music career", The Record, February 24, 2016. Accessed May 17, 2016. "Hackensack native Joe Lynn Turner says his prolific career as a solo artist, singer with the legendary English rock bands Deep Purple and Rainbow, and backing vocalist on albums by high-profile artists like Billy Joel can be traced to his Bergen County upbringing.... ' was drawn to rock-and-roll by melody, by the Beatles and Elvis Presley,' said Turner, who now lives in Clifton."
^Pertkiewicz, T. Julian. "Clifton's mayors speak", Clifton Journal, June 19, 2015. Accessed July 28, 2016. "The mayors are Gerald H. Zecker (1978-1982), Gloria Kolodziej (1982-1990) and current Mayor James Anzaldi, whose term of office ends Dec. 31, 2018.... Mayor Zecker, you became mayor of Clifton at the age of 36, what were your goals at that time?"