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Closter, New Jersey
Borough in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States
The Lenni LenapeNative Americans tilled the soil, hunted in the woods, and fished in the rivers and streams before the Dutch arrived in the early 18th Century. The Dutch settlers, though, left an indelible mark on the area. Early records show that after the English takeover of New Netherland, English Governor Philip Carteret in 1669 granted a real estate speculator named Balthaser De Hart a strip of property which extended east and west from the Hudson River to the Tiena Kill, and north and south from today's Cresskill into Palisades, New York. It is within these geographical boundaries that lies what is now known as Closter. The first land grant deed for the area today known as Closter was not written until April 13, 1671. The northern half of this tract of land consisting of 1,030 acres (420 ha) (extending from what is Closter Dock Road northward) was purchased by Barent and Resolvert Nagel on April 25, 1710, who along with the Vervalen family first settled what is now Closter.
The name Closter is of Dutch origin and first appears in a November 18, 1721 deed between the surviving Tappan Patentees and Peter Haring (who owned land in Harrington Park/Norwood east of Tappan Road and between Harrington and Blanche Avenues) - the meets and bounds of the deed begin "Beginning at the bridge which comes out of the Clooster by the Dwars Kill . . ."  (At that time, Closter was considered part of New York State). In the Dutch language, Klooster or "clooster" means "a quiet place, a monastery or cloister."
The name was originally pronounced with an "ow" sound, phonetically, "Klowster."
The topography gave a sense of isolation and protection, tucked behind the highest point of the Palisades and protected by limited access. Alternatively, sources indicate that the name derives from an early settler named Frederick Closter. Claims have been made that Frederick Closter is a myth that dates back to the 1940s.
Later, just before the American Revolution, these isolated settlers began to feel the imposing hand of the British Crown in their lives - not only in governmental affairs but also by the influx of English culture upon their own language and culture. And as a result the "K" in Klooster was dropped and was replaced with a "C" so the now growing village became known as Clooster.
By 1795, with the emerging new American culture, the second "o" in Clooster was dropped, and the American English "long o" sound was adopted which led to today's pronunciation of Closter.
Reminders of Closter's early Dutch history abound - with local streets named after some of the early families (Bogert, Demarest, Durie, Naugle, Parsells, Vervalen, Auryansen, Haring, and Westervelt), and a rich collection of unique Jersey Dutch houses.
The arrival of the Northern Branch in 1859, followed by additional train service from what became the West Shore Railroad, brought residents to the community who could commute to Manhattan via the ferry across the Hudson River at the railroad's Weehawken depot. Closter's central location earned it the nickname "Hub of the Northern Valley".
After the turn of the 20th century, Closter changed from being sprawling estates and farms into an upper middle class suburban town.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 3.30 square miles (8.55 km2), including 3.16 square miles (8.18 km2) of land and 0.14 square miles (0.37 km2) of water (4.30%).
Of the 2,747 households, 43.4% had children under the age of 18; 73.2% were married couples living together; 8.4% had a female householder with no husband present and 15.3% were non-families. Of all households, 12.9% were made up of individuals and 7.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.02 and the average family size was 3.30.
26.7% of the population were under the age of 18, 6.3% from 18 to 24, 20.5% from 25 to 44, 33.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43.2 years. For every 100 females, the population had 96.1 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 91.4 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $117,147 (with a margin of error of +/- $14,096) and the median family income was $128,656 (+/- $13,704). Males had a median income of $93,578 (+/- $13,709) versus $64,167 (+/- $13,864) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $50,501 (+/- $4,636). About 3.2% of families and 3.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.2% of those under age 18 and 3.4% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 Census, 12.75% of Closter's residents identified themselves as being of Korean ancestry, which was the seventh highest in the United States and fifth highest of any municipality in New Jersey, for all places with 1,000 or more residents identifying their ancestry. As of the 2010 Census, 21.2% residents (1,771 people) indicated that they were of Korean ancestry.
There were 2,789 households, out of which 43.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 72.9% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 16.8% were non-families. 14.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.98 and the average family size was 3.30.
In the borough the population was spread out, with 28.0% under the age of 18, 4.8% from 18 to 24, 28.1% from 25 to 44, 26.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 97.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.0 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $83,918, and the median income for a family was $94,543. Males had a median income of $65,848 versus $39,125 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $37,065. About 1.7% of families and 2.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.0% of those under age 18 and 1.8% of those age 65 or over.
Closter is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government, which is used in 218 municipalities (of the 565) statewide, making it the most common form of government in New Jersey. The governing body is comprised of a Mayor and a Borough Council, with all positions elected at-large on a partisan basis as part of the November general election. A Mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office. The Borough Council is comprised of six members elected to serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with two seats coming up for election each year in a three-year cycle. The Borough form of government used by Closter is a "weak mayor / strong council" government in which council members act as the legislative body with the mayor presiding at meetings and voting only in the event of a tie. The mayor can veto ordinances subject to an override by a two-thirds majority vote of the council. The mayor makes committee and liaison assignments for council members, and most appointments are made by the mayor with the advice and consent of the council.
As of 2020[update], the Mayor of Closter Borough is Republican John C. Glidden Jr., whose term of office ends December 31, 2022. Members of the Closter Borough Council are Council President Alissa J. Latner (R, 2021), Victoria Roti Amitai (R, 2022), Jannie Chung (D, 2021), Scott M. Devlin (D, 2020), Dolores A. Witko (D, 2020) and Joseph Yammarino (R, 2022).
In January 2015, the Borough Council selected former councilmember Tom Hennessey from a list of three candidates nominated by the Republican municipal committee to fill the vacant seat that had been held by John C. Glidden Jr., expiring in 2016 that became vacant when Glidden took office as mayor.
In 2017, former Borough Council President Robert Di Dio was appointed to the New Jersey State Board of Pharmacy by Governor Chris Christie.
Closter has its own fire department formed in 1893. The department responds to an average of 269 calls a year.
The Closter Volunteer Ambulance and Rescue Corps was formed in 1936, and serves Closter and the neighboring borough of Alpine.
Closter also has its own police department. Led by Chief John McTeuige, the department includes a lieutenant, five sergeants, two detectives and ten patrol officers.
Federal, state and county representation
Closter is located in the 5th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 39th state legislative district.
Bergen County is governed by a directly elected County Executive, with legislative functions performed by a seven-member Board of Chosen Freeholders. The freeholders are elected at-large in partisan elections on a staggered basis, with two or three seats coming up for election each year; a Chairman, Vice Chairman and Chairman Pro Tempore are selected from among its seven members at a reorganization meeting held each January.
As of 2018[update], the County Executive is Democratic James J. Tedesco III of Paramus, whose term of office ends December 31, 2018. Bergen County's Freeholders are
Freeholder Chairman Thomas J. Sullivan Jr., (D, Montvale, term as freeholder ends 2019; term as freeholder chairman ends 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, 2018),Joan Voss (D, Fort Lee, 2020) and
Tracy Silna Zur (D, Franklin Lakes, 2018), Bergen County's constitutional officials are
County Clerk John S. Hogan (D, Northvale, 2021),
Sheriff Michael Saudino (D, Emerson, 2019) and
Surrogate Michael R. Dressler (D, Cresskill, 2021).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 4,930 registered voters in Closter, of which 1,348 (27.3% vs. 31.7% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 1,060 (21.5% vs. 21.1%) were registered as Republicans and 2,519 (51.1% vs. 47.1%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 3 voters registered to other parties. Among the borough's 2010 Census population, 58.9% (vs. 57.1% in Bergen County) were registered to vote, including 80.4% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 73.7% countywide).
In the 2016 presidential election, Democrat Hillary Clinton received 2,309 votes (58.4% vs. 54.2% countywide), ahead of Republican Donald Trump with 1,478 votes (37.4% vs 41.1% countywide) and other candidates with 96 votes (2.4% vs 3.0% countywide), among the 3,952 ballots cast by the borough's 5,557 registered voters, for a turnout of 71.1% (vs. 73% in Bergen County). In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 1,857 votes (52.3% vs. 54.8% countywide), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 1,639 votes (46.2% vs. 43.5%) and other candidates with 30 votes (0.8% vs. 0.9%), among the 3,550 ballots cast by the borough's 5,136 registered voters, for a turnout of 69.1% (vs. 70.4% in Bergen County). In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 2,184 votes (55.2% vs. 53.9% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 1,715 votes (43.4% vs. 44.5%) and other candidates with 28 votes (0.7% vs. 0.8%), among the 3,955 ballots cast by the borough's 5,187 registered voters, for a turnout of 76.2% (vs. 76.8% in Bergen County). In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 2,100 votes (52.6% vs. 51.7% countywide), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 1,860 votes (46.5% vs. 47.2%) and other candidates with 27 votes (0.7% vs. 0.7%), among the 3,996 ballots cast by the borough's 5,086 registered voters, for a turnout of 78.6% (vs. 76.9% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 64.2% of the vote (1,183 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 35.0% (646 votes), and other candidates with 0.8% (15 votes), among the 1,883 ballots cast by the borough's 4,945 registered voters (39 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 38.1%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 1,238 ballots cast (48.7% vs. 48.0% countywide), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 1,156 votes (45.5% vs. 45.8%), Independent Chris Daggett with 112 votes (4.4% vs. 4.7%) and other candidates with 7 votes (0.3% vs. 0.5%), among the 2,543 ballots cast by the borough's 5,064 registered voters, yielding a 50.2% turnout (vs. 50.0% in the county).
The Church of Saint Mary is a faith community in the Roman Catholic tradition. The parish offers daily and weekend masses. The parish conducts religious education for youth and adult enrichment programs. The Church of Saint Mary features 33 notable stained glass windows, sketched by Sister M. Conegunda of the Felician Sisters and crafted by the Cloister Art Studios.
Temple Emanu-El is a Conservative synagogue that offers weekly services in addition to a Hebrew school for children beginning at age 3.
County Route 502 in Closter
Roads and highways
As of May 2010[update], the borough had a total of 43.34 miles (69.75 km) of roadways, of which 33.48 miles (53.88 km) were maintained by the municipality and 9.86 miles (15.87 km) by Bergen County.
Closter has an outdoor mall called Closter Plaza that includes stores, restaurants and a movie theater. First constructed in the 1960s, a long-term construction project began in July 2015 that added a Whole Foods, Target, HomeGoods, and other new businesses to the 208,000-square-foot (19,300 m2) mall. In August 2012, the mall was used for filming scenes for the film The Wolf of Wall Street. The renovation project was completed in late 2016.
The Closter Golf Center includes a two-story driving range and a mini golf course.
Parks and recreation
Amendola Park - located on Willow Road, features a playground
High Street Park - located at the intersection of High Street and Piermont Road that has a playground and fitness area.
Memorial Field - also known as Veterans Memorial Field. Located on Harrington Avenue, it has a playground, athletic fields, and a bandshell. It also has a memorial of all US Veterans as well as a memorial of those who died on September 11, 2001.
Mollicone Park - a baseball field located at the intersection of Knickerbocker Road and Eckerson Place. This park was honored after Closter-native Vietnam War veteran, Donald Mollicone.
Ruckman Park - located at the intersection of Piermont and Ruckman roads, that have athletic fields, walking/jogging path, and a playground
Schauble Park - located on Bergenline Avenue, this park has a playground, bike path, and athletic fields.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Closter include:
^ abWestergaard, Barbara. "Closter: Bergen", New Jersey: A Guide to the State, p. 78. Rutgers University Press, 2006. ISBN0-8135-3685-5. Accessed July 22, 2011. "Known locally as the "hub of the Northern Valley," Closter (pronounced with a long o) was an early settlement - the first individual purchases in the records date to 1701 - and many of its Dutch houses remain (try Hickory La. and Piermont Rd.)"
^Melisurgo, Len. "Here's the right way to pronounce 25 N.J. town names everyone botches", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, June 25, 2017. Accessed June 26, 2017. "Closter (Bergen County) - There's been some debate over whether this small borough is pronounced CLOSS-ter, with a soft O, CLOSE-ter, with a long O (rhyming with glows or Lowe's), or CLOOS-ter, which rhymes with rooster. Which one is correct? The locals say it's CLOSE-ter, rhyming with glows and Lowe's."
^Budke, George H., Abstracts of early deeds, patents, mortgages and other instruments affecting the land titles of Rockland County, NY. (New City, New York : Library Association of Rockland County, 1975), pp. 165-167.
^Isaac Bedlow & Balthasar De Hart deed recorded March 15, 1744, Liber No.1, page 115, of East Jersey Patents, Office of the Secretary of State, Trenton, N.J.
^April 25, 1710 Deed between Lancaster Symes and Barent and Resolvert Nagel (Early Orange County Deeds, Orange County Court House, Goshen, New York), p. 68
^Closter History, Borough of Closter Historic Preservation Commission, Accessed July 26, 2017.
^Pinto, Jennifer. "At Home In: Closter", The Record (North Jersey), May 31, 2012, backed up by the Internet Archive as of March 10, 2016. Accessed September 11, 2017. "According to the borough's website, 'It is believed that Closter was named after Frederick Closter, who received a grant of several thousand acres as a military reward from King Charles I of England.'"
^Christie, Robert. "Hennessey is appointed to vacant Closter council seat", Northern Valley Suburbanite, February 5, 2015, backed up by the Internet Archive as of September 21, 2016. Accessed September 11, 2017. "The governing body appointed a new member to fill a seat on the council that became vacant after voters elected a new mayor.Thomas Hennessey was appointed to the seat at the Jan. 14 Mayor and Council meeting. The term expires at the end of 2015. Hennessey replaces John Glidden who was elected mayor in November 2014."
^Levine, Cecilia. "Christie Names Closter Politician To State Board Of Pharmacy", Cresskill-Closter Daily Voice, July 25, 2017. Accessed March 2, 2018. "Former Bergen County Freeholder candidate and Closter Council President Robert Di Dio was recently appointed to the New Jersey Board of Pharmacy by Governor Christie."
^Biography, Congressman Josh Gottheimer. Accessed January 3, 2019. "Josh now lives in Wyckoff, New Jersey with Marla, his wife who was a federal prosecutor, and their two young children, Ellie and Ben."
^Our Communities, Northern Valley Regional High School District. Accessed August 28, 2014. "The seven towns that make up the Northern Valley Regional High School District - Closter, Demarest, Harrington Park, Haworth, Northvale, Norwood, and Old Tappan - are situated in the northeast corner of Bergen County, New Jersey."
^Our Communities, Northern Valley Regional High School District. Accessed May 31, 2016. "The seven towns that make up the Northern Valley Regional High School District - Closter, Demarest, Harrington Park, Haworth, Northvale, Norwood, and Old Tappan - are situated in the northeast corner of Bergen County, New Jersey."
^Home Page, The Church of Saint Mary. Accessed January 23, 2020.
^About Us, Teample Emanu-El. Accessed January 23, 2020. "Temple Emanu-El is an egalitarian, Conservative synagogue serving the spiritual and communal needs of our congregants in the northern valley of Bergen County, NJ."
^Abram Belskie, Belskie Museum of Art and Science. Accessed August 16, 2007. "In 1931, Abram Belskie moved to Closter, where he would remain for the next fifty-seven years. Here he worked at the studio of the master-carver Robert Alexander Baillie."
^History of Closter, Borough of Closter, backed up by the Internet Archive as of July 8, 2011. Accessed September 11, 2017. "Formal schooling began here when Benjamin Blackledge arrived in Closter in 1760 to teach the Dutch citizens the King's English."
^Van Valen, James M. History of Bergen County, New Jersey, p. 688. New Jersey Publishing and Engraving Company, 1900. Accessed December 4, 2013. "In 1868 a residence was established in Rutherford, N. J., and next a removal was made to Saratoga county, N. Y. In 1890 Mr. Dayton came to Closter where he has resided ever since."
^Pettinger, Peter. Bill Evans: How My Heart Sings, p. 238. Accessed September 11, 2017. "For the growing Evans family, the Riverdale apartment had become constrictinglysmall. Bill and Nenette, with their son Evan and Nenette's daughter Maxine, moved into a large, three-level house in Closter, a little town in Bergen County, New Jersey."
^Staff. "Helen Jepson Chosen Chairman of Music Foundation Auxiliary" , Raritan Township and Fords Beacon, July 20, 1950, p. 3, backed up by the Internet Archive as of December 20, 2013. Accessed September 11, 2017. "Miss Jepson lives in Closter, Bergen County, and has been a resident of the state for a number of years.... Besides lecturing at Bergen Junior College, she conducts studios both in New York and on the grounds of her Closter home where she teaches New Jersey pupils."
^Cahill, William. A History of Closter's Sculptors Closter Historic Preservation Commission. Accessed December 11, 2011. "The fourth notable artist-resident of Closter was Marcel Jovine (1921-2003).... Jovine turned to fine art when the Borough of Closter asked him to create its seal, which commemorates the ride of the Closter Horseman."
^Kaufman, Michael T."Marcel Jovine, 81; Designed Toys and Coins", The New York Times, January 27, 2003. Accessed November 8, 2011. "Marcel Jovine, who shaped such popular toys as the Visible Man and the Visible Woman before becoming an award-winning designer of coins and a sculptor of racehorses, died last Monday in Greenwich, Conn., at the home of his daughter, Andrea Coopersmith. He was 81 and lived and worked in Closter, N.J."
^Strunsky, Steve. "Failed Christie court nominee gets Port Authority job", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, July 26, 2012. Accessed September 11, 2017. "Kwon told lawmakers during his confirmation hearing that he had not been aware of his mother's behavior, though they lived together during that time in a $2.3 million home in Closter purchased in 2010."
^Kraushar, Jonathan P. "Bergen: Comics' Haven", The New York Times, March 21, 1976. Accessed December 17, 2012. "For London Lee, for example, a resident of Closter, his childhood as a 'poor, little rich boy' provided him meat for his act for many years."
^Horner, Shirley. "About Books", The New York Times, October 3, 1993. Accessed May 17, 2012. "The other inductees are... Robert Lipsyte of Closter, a sports columnist for The New York Times and the author of The Contender, a young-adult novel published by Harper in 1967 and still in print..."
^Staff. "Corrections", Poets & Writers, May/June 2010. Accessed July 28, 2011. "Sam Lipsyte's hometown is Closter, New Jersey, not Demarest, as stated in Failure's Fortune by Frank Bures (March/April 2010)."
^Rademacher , Brian. Interview with Rich Luzzi, Rock Eyez, June 2008. Accessed June 3, 2014. "Brian Rademacher: Where did you grow up? Rich Luzzi: Closter, New Jersey."
^Nash, Margo "Jersey Footlights", The New York Times, July 11, 2004. Accessed August 29, 2015. "Among the New York City residents who moved to bucolic Closter in the 19th century was J. Massey Rhind, a sculptor who worked on Grant's Tomb. He set up a studio and sculpture yard in town in 1899. And he became the first of a series of sculptors who lived and worked in Closter."