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When the area that is now Garfield was first developed in 1873, it was known as East Passaic. In 1881, the community's name was changed to Garfield in honor of President of the United StatesJames Garfield. There are two explanations given for the circumstances behind the renaming. According to one, shortly after Garfield was elected to the presidency the founder of East Passaic said, "tell everyone...don't speak of East Passaic anymore; call it 'Garfield' after the man who will lead this great country to prosperity." Seven months later, President Garfield was assassinated but his name remained with the community. The second theory holds that after Garfield's death in 1881, a new train station was named in his honor, which in turn led to the surrounding area becoming associated with his name as well.
Garfield was originally incorporated as a borough on March 15, 1898, from portions of Saddle River Township and Wallington. At the time, the New Jersey Legislature set Garfield's boundaries as they exist today. On April 19, 1917, the borough became the City of Garfield, based on the results of a referendum held two days earlier.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city had a total area of 2.19 square miles (5.67 km2), including 2.11 square miles (5.47 km2) of land and 0.08 square miles (0.21 km2) of water (3.65%).
Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Belmont, Bogart Heights, Dundee Dam and Plauderville.
Based on data from the 2011-2015 American Community Survey, the city had a median age of 35.4, the lowest median age in the county. Garfield was one of four municipalities with a median age below the national and state average of 37.6, and well below the median age of 41.5 in Bergen County.
Of the 11,073 households, 33.4% had children under the age of 18; 45.2% were married couples living together; 17.8% had a female householder with no husband present and 30.3% were non-families. Of all households, 24.7% were made up of individuals and 9.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75 and the average family size was 3.29.
23.3% of the population were under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 30.9% from 25 to 44, 25.4% from 45 to 64, and 11.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.5 years. For every 100 females, the population had 91.3 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 89.0 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006–2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $51,407 (with a margin of error of +/- $1,842) and the median family income was $56,701 (+/- $5,020). Males had a median income of $42,927 (+/- $1,953) versus $33,231 (+/- $3,471) for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,022 (+/- $1,348). About 9.8% of families and 13.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.0% of those under age 18 and 16.2% of ages 65 years or over.
There were 11,250 households, out of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.5% were married couples living together, 13.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.0% were non-families. 27.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.64 and the average family size was 3.26.
In the city the age distribution of the population shows 22.4% under the age of 18, 9.6% from 18 to 24, 33.2% from 25 to 44, 20.8% from 45 to 64, and 14.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 95.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.0 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $42,748, and the median income for a family was $51,654. Males had a median income of $35,987 versus $26,896 for females. The per capita income for the city was $19,530. About 6.4% of families and 7.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.1% of those under age 18 and 8.1% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 Census, an adjusted 22.9% of Garfield's population reported Polish ancestry, ranked third highest in New Jersey behind Manville (23.1%) and Wallington (45.5%).
The City of Garfield operates under the 1923 Municipal Manager Law of New Jersey municipal government, with a governing body comprised of a five-member Council, who appoint a City Manager. Council members are elected at-large in non-partisan elections to serve four-year terms on a concurrent basis. The city is one of seven municipalities (of the 565) statewide that use this form of government. In November 2015, following a referendum that supported the move by a 3-1 margin, the City Council voted to shift the city's municipal elections from May to November, citing hopes for greater voter participation and potential savings of $50,000 for each election; the shift result in the extension of terms for the then-serving council and municipal manager by six months, to the end of December 2016. The most recent municipal election was held on November 8, 2016, together with the presidential election.
At a reorganization meeting held after each election, the Council selects one of its members to be the Mayor and another to serve as Deputy Mayor. The day-to-day operation of the city is carried on under the supervision of the appointed department heads, who report to the City Manager.
As of 2020[update], members of the Garfield City Council are Mayor Richard Rigoglioso, Deputy Mayor Joseph Delaney, Louis G. Aloia, Frank J. Calandriello and Erin Nora Delaney, all serving concurrent terms of office that end December 31, 2020.
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 11,904 registered voters in Garfield, of which 3,958 (33.2% vs. 31.7% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 1,395 (11.7% vs. 21.1%) were registered as Republicans and 6,541 (54.9% vs. 47.1%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 10 voters registered to other parties. Among the city's 2010 Census population, 39.0% (vs. 57.1% in Bergen County) were registered to vote, including 50.9% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 73.7% countywide).
In the 2016 presidential election, Democrat Hillary Clinton received 5,477 votes (57.3% vs. 54.2% countywide), ahead of Republican Donald Trump with 3,782 votes (39.6% vs. 41.1%) and other candidates with 299 votes (3.1% vs. 4.6%), among the 9,690 ballots cast by the city's 14,816 registered voters, for a turnout of 65.4% (vs. 72.5% in Bergen County). In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 5,538 votes (67.1% vs. 54.8% countywide), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 2,540 votes (30.8% vs. 43.5%) and other candidates with 96 votes (1.2% vs. 0.9%), among the 8,256 ballots cast by the city's 13,183 registered voters, for a turnout of 62.6% (vs. 70.4% in Bergen County). In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 5,138 votes (59.7% vs. 53.9% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 3,315 votes (38.5% vs. 44.5%) and other candidates with 68 votes (0.8% vs. 0.8%), among the 8,613 ballots cast by the city's 13,013 registered voters, for a turnout of 66.2% (vs. 76.8% in Bergen County). In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 4,804 votes (57.8% vs. 51.7% countywide), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 3,394 votes (40.9% vs. 47.2%) and other candidates with 66 votes (0.8% vs. 0.7%), among the 8,305 ballots cast by the city's 12,665 registered voters, for a turnout of 65.6% (vs. 76.9% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 50.4% of the vote (1,960 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 48.0% (1,865 votes), and other candidates with 1.6% (63 votes), among the 3,960 ballots cast by the city's 12,609 registered voters (72 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 31.4%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 2,428 ballots cast (54.1% vs. 48.0% countywide), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 1,796 votes (40.0% vs. 45.8%), Independent Chris Daggett with 203 votes (4.5% vs. 4.7%) and other candidates with 27 votes (0.6% vs. 0.5%), among the 4,490 ballots cast by the city's 12,282 registered voters, yielding a 36.6% turnout (vs. 50.0% in the county).
As of the 2017-18 school year, the district, comprised of 11 schools, had an enrollment of 4,992 students and 438.8 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student-teacher ratio of 11.4:1. Schools in the district (with 2017-18 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are
Garfield Early Childhood Learning Center (298 students; in PreK),
Garfield Public Preschool Annex / Garfield Public Preschool Annex3 (149; PreK),
Washington Irving School #4 (426; K-5),
Woodrow Wilson School #5 (310; K-5),
Abraham Lincoln Elementary School #6 (409; PreK-5),
Theodore Roosevelt School #7 (382; K-5),
Christopher Columbus School #8 (421; PreK-5),
Thomas Jefferson School #9 (NA; PreK-5),
James Madison School #10 (323; K-5),
Garfield Middle School (989; 6-8) and
Garfield High School (1,090; 9-12).
Bergen Arts and Science Charter School, which opened in September 2006, serves public school students in the district, as well as those from Hackensack and Lodi. The elementary (grades K-3) and middle (4-8) school facilities are located in Garfield, while the high school (9-12) is in Hackensack. As of the 2018-19 school year, the charter school had an enrollment of 1,163 students and 83.0 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student-teacher ratio of 14.0:1.
The Garfield Police Department (GPD) provides emergency and protective services to the city of Garfield. The GPD consists of 61 sworn officers.
The Garfield Fire Department (GFD) is a fully volunteer fire department. The GFD was organized on July 17, 1893. The department is staffed by 150 fully trained firefighters operating out of five firehouses. The Department has three engine companies, one rescue engine company and one ladder(tiller) company. In addition they have a hazardous materials unit, a water rescue boat and a foam tender.
US 46 eastbound in Garfield
Roads and highways
As of May 2010[update], the city had a total of 49.24 miles (79.24 km) of roadways, of which 42.67 miles (68.67 km) were maintained by the municipality, 6.44 miles (10.36 km) by Bergen County and 0.13 miles (0.21 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
^Lanza, Howard D. Garfield, p. 10. Arcadia Publishing, 2002. ISBN9780738510507. Accessed August 29, 2017. "On the fay following the inauguration of Pres. James A. Garfield, Bogart boasted, "Don't speak of East Passaic anymore, call it 'Garfield' after the man who will lead this great country to prosperity.'"
^History of Garfield, City of Garfield. Accessed August 29, 2017. "Gilbert D. Bogart is often credited as having been the founder of "modern day" Garfield. When seven houses were constructed in 1873 between Monroe Street and Van Winkle Avenue, the area became known as 'East Passaic'....In 1881, a railroad shortcut, the Bergen County Railroad, was laid and a station built and called Garfield after President James A. Garfield who died that year."
^Na, Myles. "EPA has $37M plan for North Jersey chromium cleanup, but no money", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, September 21, 2016. Accessed February 6, 2017. "The federal Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday finalized a plan to clean up groundwater contaminated with chromium from a former electroplating plant on Clark Street, though it still lacks the funds to pay finish it."
^"20 towns in Bergen County with the lowest median age", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, January 8, 2017. Accessed December 24, 2019. "Towns in Bergen County are comprised of people who have higher median ages than fellow New Jerseyans, the most recent Census data shows. There were only four towns in Bergen County with lower median ages than the national and state average of 37.6, according to figures from 2005 to 2009, compared to those from 2011 to 2015.... The youngest median age in the county was in Garfield. There was no change from pre-to post-Recession in terms of age."
^Cattafi, Kristie. "Council introduces ordinance to move elections in Garfield", Community News (Garfield edition), November 19, 2015, backed up by the Internet Archive as of March 5, 2016. Accessed August 29, 2017. "The council unanimously voted in favor of the ordinance after the public voted on Nov. 3, 846 to 276 for a non-binding referendum on whether to change the city council election from May to the day of the general election in November.... If adopted, the next scheduled council election will switch from May 10, 2016 to Nov. 8, 2016. The council elections will be on cycle every four years with the presidential election."
^Chapter 18: Elections, Municipal, Garfield City Code. Accessed August 29, 2017. "Municipal elections in the City of Garfield shall be held on the day of the general election, that is, the Tuesday after the first Monday in November."
^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."
^Home Page, Garfield Public Schools. Accessed August 27, 2020. "The Garfield school district is comprised of approximately five thousand students housed in seven elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. In addition, the district also offers PreK education to three and four-year-old children in various locations in the city."
^Admission Portal, iLearn Schools. Accessed May 31, 2020. "Charter schools first accept applications from students living within the charter school's local school district. If places are unfilled, out-of-district children can then be accepted. Local school districts for iLearn Schools are as follows: Bergen-ASCS: Garfield, Hackensack, and Lodi"
^Home Page, Bergen Arts and Science Charter School. Accessed May 31, 2020.
^Police Department, City of Garfield. Accessed August 29, 2017. "The Garfield Police Department located at 411 Midland Ave Garfield, NJ 07026 (non-emergency telephone number 973-478-8500) currently employees 61 Sworn officers, 6 Public Safety telecommunicaters and 2 Record Room clerks."
^Garfield Volunteer Fire Department, City of Garfield. Accessed August 29, 2017. "The City of Garfield is served by a volunteer Fire Department comprised of five separate fire companies. Each company is composed of a 20-person roster of members."
^Garfield History. Accessed August 29, 2017. "On July 17, 1893 a group of citizens gathered at Hollingshead Hall on Washington Place and formed the first Fire Department. It is still called 'Old Reliable' today. Fire Company No. 1 used the bell at the First Presbyterian Church as the companies' fire alarm."
^Zeitchik, Steven. "In Person; Meet Joe Fan", The New York Times, January 23, 2005. Accessed January 16, 2019. "Amid the swirl of the New York region's media personalities, most people have probably never heard of Mr. Benigno. But as the longtime host of WFAN's overnight program, the Garfield-born, Paramus-bred broadcaster combined an uncommon mix of black humor, esoteric knowledge and incredulity to become a cult figure."
^Morse, Steve. "Janice Robinson The Color Within Me Warner Bros.", Boston Globe, December 23, 1999. Accessed August 29, 2017. "Get ready for a pumped-up blast of rock'n soul, hip-hop and gospel spirit that goes by the name of Janice Robinson. Hailing from Garfield, N.J., she holds nothing back on this very personal and appealing record."