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At the time of European colonization the area was the territory of Hackensack tribe of the LenapeNative Americans, who maintained a settlement, Espatingh, on the west side of the hills. and where a Dutch trading post was established after the Peach Tree War. In 1658, Peter Stuyvesant, then Director-General of New Netherland, repurchased from them the area now encompassed by the municipalities of Hudson County east of the Hackensack River. In 1660 he granted permission to establish the semi-autonomous colony of Bergen, with the main village located at today's Bergen Square, considered to be the first chartered municipality in what would become the state of New Jersey. At the time, the area of North Bergen was heavily forested, traversed by paths used by the indigenous and colonizing population and became known as Bergen Woods, a name recalled in today's neighborhood of Bergenwood.
On February 22, 1838, Jersey City was incorporated as a separate municipality, and in 1840 Hudson County, comprising the city and Bergen Township, was created from the southern portion of Bergen County. North Bergen was incorporated as a township on April 10, 1843, by an act of the New Jersey Legislature, from the northern portion of Bergen Township. At the time, the town included everything east of the Hackensack River and north of and including what is now Jersey City Heights.
The entire region that is now known as North Hudson experienced massive immigration and urbanization during the latter half of the 19th century, and led to the creation of various new towns. Portions of the North Bergen were taken to form Hoboken Township (April 9, 1849, now the City of Hoboken), Hudson Town (April 12, 1852, later part of Hudson City), Hudson City (April 11, 1855, later merged with Jersey City), Guttenberg (formed within the township on March 9, 1859, and set off as an independent municipality on April 1, 1878), Weehawken (March 15, 1859), Union Township and West Hoboken Township (both created on February 28, 1861), Union Hill town (March 29, 1864) and Secaucus (March 12, 1900). During this era many of Hudson County's cemeteries were developed along the town's western slope of the Hudson Palisades.
The development of Hudson County Boulevard, which skirts around the west, north and east of North Bergen, was completed in the early 20th century. By 1913 it was considered to be fine for "motoring". The roadway is now known by its two sections: Kennedy Boulevard and Boulevard East.
At the time of its construction in 1949, the 760-foot (230 m) WOR TV Tower, in the midst the residential Woodcliff Section, was the tenth-tallest man-made structure in the world. The tower was dismantled in 1956 but in 1967, about half a mile (2500 m) to the east, the 34-story, 369-feet (112 m) Stonehenge apartment building was constructed on the tip of the Palisades.
In contrast to other Hudson County communities during the latter half of the century, North Bergen grew significantly in population. Many residents are part of the wave of Spanish language speakers which had begun in the 1960s with Cuban émigrés, leading to the nickname, Havana on the Hudson.
In 1850, the township was more-or-less rectangular. When the municipalities along the Hudson River (what are now Guttenberg, West New York, Union City and Weehawken) broke away, it left North Bergen roughly shaped as an inverted "L". Its northern section stretches east-west and is south of the Bergen County communities Cliffside Park, Edgewater, Fairview and Ridgefield. To the east, the Hudson River creates the shared border with the borough of Manhattan in New York City. It shares a border with Carlstadt in the Hackensack River. Its north-south section lies between Secaucus to the west and to the east Guttenberg, West New York and Union City, with which it meets Jersey City at a single point at its southern end. With the separation of Secaucus in 1900, North Bergen now has a total area of 5.575 square miles (14.438 km2), including 5.134 square miles (13.296 km2) of land and 0.441 square miles (1.142 km2) of water (7.91%).
Woodcliff Treatment Plant at the foot of the Palisades. In the distance off to the right, is the Stonehenge Building rising from the Palisades
The town has seven cemeteries, more than any other town in the county, including some, such as Weehawken Cemetery and Hoboken Cemetery, that were at one time designated for other towns. This may be due to the layout of the county in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with North Bergen having more land than its more densely populated neighbors, which had to bury their dead outside of town. It may also date back to the Civil War era. Among these cemeteries are Flower Hill Cemetery and Grove Church Cemetery.
There were 22,062 households out of which 30.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.7% were married couples living together, 16.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.1% were non-families. 28.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.73 and the average family size was 3.35.
In the township, the population was spread out with 21.5% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 30.3% from 25 to 44, 25.2% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37.1 years. For every 100 females there were 94.4 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 91.3 males.
There were 21,236 households out of which 32.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.4% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.9% were non-families. 27.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.33.
In the township the population was spread out with 22.7% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 33.1% from 25 to 44, 21.4% from 45 to 64, and 13.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.7 males.
Males had a median income of $35,626 versus $29,067 for females. The per capita income for the township was $20,058. About 9.6% of families and 11.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.0% of those under age 18 and 14.5% of those age 65 or over.
North Bergen has several retail districts, along Bergenline Avenue, Tonnelle Avenue, and near Transfer Station. Portions of the township are part of an Urban Enterprise Zone, one of 27 zones in the state. In addition to other benefits to encourage employment within the zone, shoppers can take advantage of a reduced 3.3125% sales tax rate (versus the 6.625% rate charged statewide, effective January 1, 2018) at eligible merchants. Established in 1996, the township's Urban Enterprise Zone status expires in May 2027. The zone was established in 1996 based on legislation passed in February 1995 through the efforts of Senator Sacco, one of the sponsors of legislation creating the zones.
North Bergen has been governed under the Walsh Act form of New Jersey municipal government since 1931. The government consists of five commissioners elected at-large to the Township Committee in non-partisan elections to serve four-year terms of office on a concurrent basis. After each election, the commissioners select one of their members to serve as mayor and each individual is assigned to head one of the five commissions.
After serving as Township Clerk from 1971-1979, local political leader Joseph Mocco was arrested on August 7, 1986, on charges of illegally dumping tons of construction material within North Bergen and other nearby communities. Mocco was convicted and began serving a prison sentence in July 1995. Mocco was paroled in 1999, with several special conditions imposed on him upon his release by the New Jersey State Parole Board designed to prohibit him from working or participating in local elections.
In February 2004, Peter Perez, former commissioner in charge of Parks and Recreation, was sentenced to serve six months in a federal prison for accepting kickbacks and bribes from a contractor who had several business contracts with the township. He received a reduced sentence in light of his cooperation with authorities.
On March 27, 2008, North Bergen Athletic Director Jerry Maietta and Guidance Counselor Ralph Marino were among 45 men swept up in a Bergen County raid. Bergen County Prosecutors described the two as lower level operatives in an expansive network of bookies, package holders, drug dealers and drug distributors. Other transactions included knock off woman purses and human organs.
On September 11, 2012, North Bergen's Superintendent of the Department of Public Works James Wiley pleaded guilty to one count of second degree conspiracy to commit official misconduct. Wiley was convicted for using the town's resources to participate in political campaigns. In November 2015, two DPW supervisors were sentenced to five years in prison, following their convictions on charges that they had directed department workers to work on political campaigns and perform work on behalf of supervisors and other officials.
In 2013, a report issued by the office of the New Jersey State Comptroller revealed that an attorney for North Bergen made $18,800 a year plus health benefits, but township officials had no idea what he was doing, or whether he was even at work. It was reported that he was hired between the years of 1988 and 1990. He had been actively working until 2006, when he had a falling out with a township official and stopped receiving legal work. Despite not being assigned work, the attorney told investigators that throughout his employment with the township, he was routinely solicited to make political contributions to Nick Sacco's political allies. His contributions in 2012 to this committee totaled $6,600.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 30,595 registered voters in North Bergen, of which 18,816 (61.5%) were registered as Democrats, 2,462 (8.0%) were registered as Republicans and 9,301 (30.4%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 16 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 78.1% of the vote (15,600 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 21.1% (4,209 votes), and other candidates with 0.8% (164 votes), among the 20,134 ballots cast by the township's 32,627 registered voters (161 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 61.7%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 69.6% of the vote here (14,791 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 28.7% (6,100 votes) and other candidates with 0.8% (169 votes), among the 21,254 ballots cast by the town's 34,402 registered voters, for a turnout of 61.8%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 65.4% of the vote here (12,783 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 33.5% (6,541 votes) and other candidates with 0.4% (118 votes), among the 19,540 ballots cast by the town's 30,540 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 64.0.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Democrat Barbara Buono received 60.5% of the vote (6,802 cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 38.2% (4,296 votes), and other candidates with 1.3% (147 votes), among the 11,704 ballots cast by the township's 33,134 registered voters (459 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 35.3%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 73.9% of the vote here (9,680 ballots cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 22.3% (2,922 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 1.5% (200 votes) and other candidates with 1.2% (151 votes), among the 13,106 ballots cast by the town's 28,555 registered voters, yielding a 45.9% turnout.
The North Bergen Police Force was founded in 1923, replacing the peace force known as "roundsmen", who began patrolling the township at night in 1907.
NHRFR and North Bergen Emergency Medical Services (headquartered at 63rd Street and Granton Avenue) were among the many Hudson County agencies that responded to the January 2009 crash of Flight 1549, as did Palisades Medical Center, where 57 of the survivors were treated for injuries.
McKinley School (left) and North Bergen High School (right)
Oak Hill, a low-budget film starring Sally Kirkland, and directed by former Guttenberg mayor Peter Lavilla, about three former entertainers whose depression and addiction has led them to a homeless shelter, was filmed in both Union City's PERC homeless shelter, and a synagogue in North Bergen. In 2008, it was entered into the Sundance, Tribeca, and Hoboken Film Festivals.
North Bergen was the production base for the NBC drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, with scenes set in the police station and courtroom filmed on a stage at NBC's Central Archives building on West Side Avenue.
^"The Forgotten Officer Down of West Hoboken", Never Enough History, January 29, 2014. Accessed September 18, 2016. "Rettich was also tried for the murder of a man in Homestead, NJ (which is now in North Bergen, it would be the area between Schuetzen Park and the Five Points) but was acquitted."
^District 32 Profile, accessed May 13, 2007. "Senator Nicholas J. Sacco, a Senator since 1994, is chair of the Transportation Committee; he also has been the mayor of North Bergen since 1985.... He was a sponsor of the state's Urban Enterprise Zone legislation..."
^"Mayor Nick Sacco and Commissioners Sworn-In at Ceremony Attended by Hundreds of Residents", North Bergen. Accessed July 7, 2016. "Joined by numerous elected leaders, township officials, family and friends and his victorious commission slate, Mayor Nick Sacco took his seventh oath of office as mayor today and officially began a new term. Commissioners Hugo Cabrera, Frank Gargiulo and Allen Pascual were all sworn into new terms as well, in addition to Commissioner Julio Marenco who begins his first term.... Departmental responsibilities were also voted on, with Mayor Sacco appointed Director of the Department of Public Affairs, Commissioner Cabrera appointed Director of the Department of Parks and Public Property, Commissioner Gargiulo appointed as Director of the Department of Public Works, Commissioner Pascual appointed as Director of the Department of Public Safety and Commissioner Marenco appointed as Director of the Department of Revenue and Finance."
^Akin, Stephanie. "Two North Bergen DPW supervisors sentenced to prison for misconduct", The Record (Bergen County), November 12, 2015. Accessed November 13, 2015. "Two former supervisors with the township Department of Public Works were sentenced to state prison Thursday for assigning their subordinates to work on election campaigns or do personal chores for them or their boss, law enforcement officials said. Troy Bunero, 49, of North Bergen and Francis 'Frank' Longo, 50, of Ridgefield Park were each sentenced to five years in state prison with no possibility of parole, according to an Attorney General's Office news release."
^History, North Bergen Police Department. Accessed January 1, 2015. "An organized peace force known as 'roundsmen' existed in North Bergen since 1907. Roundsmen patrolled the township, mostly in the evening hours and helped protect the community against robberies, fires, and disturbances."
^Strunsky, Steve. "Road And Rail; Fewer Firefighters But Lots of Chiefs", The New York Times, January 10, 1999. Accessed January 1, 2015. "When the newly formed North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue -- made up of departments from Union City, North Bergen, West New York, Weehawken and Guttenberg -- swore in its leaders last Monday, it had an unusual and somewhat unexpected command structure: two chiefs and two executive directors."
^Shortell, Tom. "3 candidates on ballot to be Guttenberg's mayor", The Jersey Journal, November 2, 2008. Accessed January 1, 2015. "Scoullos, who has worked as a budget analyst, said he also plans to audit the town's contracts in order to find ways to cut taxes. Scoullos said in the late 1990s, North Bergen overcharged the town for services at North Bergen High School, which takes Guttenberg students as part of a sending/receiving network."
^North Bergen High School 2013-2014 ProfileArchived 2016-01-13 at the Wayback Machine, North Bergen School District. Accessed January 1, 2015. "The Communities - North Bergen & Guttenberg: The urban townships of North Bergen and Guttenberg are located in Hudson County directly between the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln Tunnel."
^Reiss, Aaron. "New York's Shadow Transit", The New Yorker. Accessed May 22, 2016. "The ridership on New Jersey minibuses is diverse, but most lines cater to the large Latino immigrant populations in townships like North Bergen and West New York."
^AECOM Technical Services, Inc. Hudson County Jitney StudyArchived 2016-04-15 at the Wayback Machine, July 2011. North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority. Accessed May 22, 2016. "The most frequent jitney route in Hudson County with service operating in each direction nearly once per minute, the Bergenline Avenue route operates along the spine of the Hudson County/Bergen County palisades, connecting the Newport Mall in Jersey City to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, with select trips (primarily those operated by New Service, Inc., Airport Service Corp. and Spanish Transportation Corp., collectively 'Spanish Transportation') continuing on to the GWBBS in New York City."
^Economopoulos, Aristide. "070 Shake performs for her fans in North Bergen", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, June 19, 2018. Accessed July 4, 2018. "Rising rapper and singer 070 Shake, who hails from North Bergen, is hosting 070 Day in North Bergen as she performs at Bruins Stadium in North Hudson Park."
^ ab"Ice-T turns from cop-killing talk to posing nude". MSNBC. November 3, 2006. Accessed November 12, 2012. "North Bergen, N.J. -- U.S. rapper Ice-T once gained fame talking about killing cops. Now the controversy over his latest album has led him to compare himself to a peace-loving John Lennon."
^"New Champion", Time (magazine), June 24, 1935. Accessed May 13, 2007. "Improvident of his earnings when he was a top-flight light heavyweight seven years ago, 29-year-old Jimmy Braddock had, after successive defeats, toppled completely out of the prize ring. He worked briefly as a janitor. He made a pittance as a stevedore on the New Jersey docks opposite Manhattan. Finally he changed his name to No. 2796 on the North Bergen (N. J.) relief rolls last year."
^Diamond, Jamie. "Film; Bringing You a Musical . . . With No Music", The New York Times, January 30, 1994. Accessed December 22, 2011. Accessed July 28, 2013. "Like Many Writers Who make people laugh, Mr. Brooks did not have a particularly hilarious childhood. Born in North Bergen, N.J., he was raised by his mother and saw little of his father, a salesman who left for good when Jim was 12."
^Knuth, Don. "Oral History of Edward Feigenbaum, Computer History Museum, 2007. Accessed October 23, 2015. "I was born in Weehawken, New Jersey, which is a town on the Palisades opposite New York. In fact, it's the place where the Lincoln Tunnel dives under the water and comes up in New York. Then my parents moved up the Palisades four miles to a town called North Bergen, and there I lived until I was 16 and went off to Carnegie Tech."
^David, Mark. "Ice-T and Coco To Make a Move in New Jersey", Variety (magazine), October 30, 2012. Accessed January 1, 2015. "In September 2005 they found their real estate nirvana and shelled out, according to property records we peeped, $1,500,000 for a 2,161 square foot duplex penthouse atop a boxy and glassy contemporary building in someplace called North Bergen, NJ, between the Hudson River side communities of Edgewater and Guttenberg, the proud home of the insanely amazing Mitsuwa Marketplace."
^Slotnik, Daniel E. "Dan Kurzman, Military Historian, Is Dead at 88", The New York Times, December 24, 2010. Accessed July 4, 2018. "Dan Kurzman, who wrote military histories that illuminated little-known incidents in World War II and an exhaustively reported account of the first Arab-Israeli war, died Dec. 12 in Manhattan. He was 88 and lived in North Bergen, N.J.
^Whitty, Stephen. "Family Viewing: 'Lonely Are the Brave'", NJ.com, May 18, 2013. Accessed November 13, 2015. "Fun trivia: That one-armed man who takes on Douglas in the bar fight? Bill Raisch from North Bergen, the same actor David Janssen was always searching for on The Fugitive."
^Villanova, Patrick. "NFL player Evan Rodriguez, of North Bergen, cited in dispute with cops in Florida: report", The Jersey Journal, June 13, 2013. Accessed September 10, 2015. "Current NFL football player and former North Bergen High School star Evan Rodriguez was charged with disorderly intoxication and resisting an officer in Miami Beach early Thursday morning, an NBC affiliate reported. NBC reported that Rodriguez, 24, formerly of North Bergen, was in a car that got into an accident early Thursday morning at the intersection of 6th Street and Alton Road in Miami Beach."
^Newman, Richard. "Community spirit - takeover maestro Ross eyes North Jersey banks", The Record (Bergen County), August 16, 2010, backed up by the Internet Archive as of May 10, 2017. Accessed July 4, 2018. "Ross, who grew up in North Bergen, has earned a reputation as a crafty investor and consolidator of bankrupt companies in struggling industries such as textiles and steel.... Ross is no stranger to New Jersey. He grew up in North Bergen, the son of a lawyer and a schoolteacher, and his family spent summers at the Jersey Shore in Spring Lake, where his sister and brother-in-law live."
^Cook, Joan. "Obituary: John Scarne, Gambling Expert", The New York Times, July 9, 1985. Accessed November 12. 2012. "John Scarne, an international authority on games and gambling, died Sunday at Englewood (N.J.) Hospital. He was 82 years old and lived in North Bergen, N.J."
^Zane, J. Peder. "On The Map; Politics, North Bergen-Style, Through the Eyes of a Gadfly", The New York Times, May 28, 1995. Accessed January 1, 2015. "In North Bergen, a gritty Hudson County township of 48,400 people, politics is a blood sport, dominated by deep, interconnected feuds that go back decades. For 25 years, Herbert H. Shaw, a resident who is a maintenance worker for the Newark Public Library, has watched it from a singular perspective, partly inside the action and partly outside: he's a gadfly."
^"Rena Sofer", Oh, Grow Up, WCHS. Accessed September 22, 2011. "Born in Arcadia, California, Rena moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, following her parents' divorce, and later to North Bergen, New Jersey, where she finished high school."
^Blumenthal, Max. "Hannity's Soul-Mate of Hate", The Nation (web-only), June 3, 2005. Accessed May 13, 2007. "This year a man named Hal Turner sat before his computer at his suburban home in North Bergen, New Jersey, posting bomb-making tips on his website, hailing the firebombing of an apartment containing 'Savage Negroes' and calling for the murder of immigrants."
^"Wach to battle Irish contender at Mohegan Sun", The Jersey Journal, June 29, 2011. Accessed November 12, 2012. "Undefeated heavyweight contender Mariusz Wach, of North Bergen, originally from Krakow, Poland, will face his biggest test -- literally -- when he meets Kevin 'The Clones Colossus' McBride on July 29 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn."
^Tricia Tirella. "Movie filmed at U.C. shelter" The Union City Reporter November 25, 2008; Pages 1 & 6.
^Strauss, Robert. "Worth Noting; North Bergen, Take a Bow", The New York Times, June 5, 2005. Accessed July 4, 2018. "When he lost the heavyweight championship to Joe Louis in 1937, Jim Braddock took a slice of his half-million dollars and bought a house in working-class North Bergen, where he lived until his death in 1974. "
^Green, Susan; Dawn, Randee (2009). Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: The Unofficial Companion. Dallas: BenBella Books. p. 14. ISBN1-933771-88-7