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Irvington was incorporated as an independent village on March 27, 1874, from portions of Clinton Township. What remained of Clinton Township was absorbed into Newark on March 5, 1902. On March 2, 1898, Irvington was incorporated as a Town, replacing Irvington Village. In 1982, the town was one of four Essex County municipalities to pass a referendum to become a township, joining 11 municipalities that had already made the change, of what would ultimately be more than a dozen Essex County municipalities to reclassify themselves as townships in order take advantage of federal revenue sharing policies that allocated townships a greater share of government aid to municipalities on a per capita basis.
The 1967 Newark riots hastened an exodus of families from that city, many of them moving a few short blocks into neighboring Irvington. Until 1965, Irvington was almost exclusively white. By 1980, the town was nearly 40% black; by 1990 it was 70%. On July 1, 1980, Fred Bost, the first black person to serve on the Town Council, was sworn in as East Ward Councilman. Michael G. Steele, the town's first black mayor, was elected in 1990, followed by Sarah Brockington Bost in 1994. The current Mayor is Tony Vauss.
Irvington was home to Olympic Park, an amusement park, from 1887 to 1965. The park property straddled the border of Irvington and Maplewood with the main entrance on Chancellor Avenue and a side entrance on 40th St. After the park closed, the merry-go-round was sold and transported to Disney World, in Orlando, FL. The book, Smile: A Picture History of Olympic Park, 1887-1965 written by Alan A. Siegel was published in 1983 by Rutgers University Press.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Irvington had a total area of 2.930 square miles (7.589 km2), including 2.928 square miles (7.584 km2) of land and 0.002 square miles (0.005 km2) of water (0.07%).
There were 20,093 households out of which 30.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.6% were married couples living together, 27.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.1% were non-families. 31.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.33.
In the township, the population was spread out with 25.4% under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 30.0% from 25 to 44, 25.1% from 45 to 64, and 9.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34.0 years. For every 100 females there were 88.3 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 84.2 males.
As part of the 2000 Census, 81.66% of Irvington's residents identified themselves as being Black or African American. This was one of the highest percentages of African American people in the United States, and the third-highest in New Jersey (behind Lawnside at 93.6%, and East Orange at 89.46%) of all places with 1,000 or more residents identifying their ancestry.
There were 22,032 households out of which 33.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 30.2% were married couples living together, 27.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.6% were non-families. 29.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.4% 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 3.39.
In the township the age distribution of the population shows 28.0% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 32.3% from 25 to 44, 21.5% from 45 to 64, and 7.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females, there were 87.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.5 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $36,575, and the median income for a family was $41,098. Males had a median income of $32,043 versus $27,244 for females. The per capita income for the township was $16,874. About 15.8% of families and 17.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.9% of those under age 18 and 12.2% of those age 65 or over.
Irvington experienced the crack epidemic of the 1980s and has struggled with its aftermath. The township's violent crime rate was six times higher than New Jersey overall and the murder rate eight times higher than statewide statistics. In 2007, the New Jersey State Police reported that Irvington had a violent crime rate of 22.4 incidents per 1,000 population, the highest of all 15 major urban areas in the state.
According to the New Jersey State Police Uniform Crime Report for 2013, year-to-year between 2012 and 2013, Irvington experienced an overall reduction in crime of 9% (from 49.6 to 45.2 incidents per 1,000), with reductions coming from overall non-violent crime (18%) and aggravated assault (22%), but an increase in the violent crime rate of 16% from 13.1 incidents per 1,000 to 15.3.
Springfield Avenue commercial district
Portions of Irvington 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 August 2027.
Irvington is governed within the Faulkner Act, formally known as the Optional Municipal Charter Law, under the Mayor-Council form of municipal government. The mayor and the seven-member council are elected in non-partisan elections held every other year on the second Tuesday in May to four-year terms of office. The mayor and the three at-large seats are elected together and two years later the four ward seats are elected. The council selects a president, first vice president and second vice president from among its members at a reorganization meeting held after each election. The council is the legislative body of the township and needs a 2/3 majority to make changes to the budget submitted by the mayor. The mayor is the township's chief executive and is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations and submitting a budget, but is not eligible to vote on the council and is not required to attend its meetings.
As of 2016[update], the mayor of Irvington is Tony Vauss, whose term of office ends June 30, 2018. Members of the Township Council are Council President Charnette Orelien-Frederic (At-large; 2018), First Vice President Renee C. Burgess (At-large; 2018), Second Vice President Sandra R. Jones (South Ward; 2016), Vernal C. Cox Sr. (West Ward; serving an unexpired term ending 2016), Octavio Hudley (At-large; 2018), Paul J. Inman (East Ward; 2016) and David Lyons (North Ward; 2016).
Federal, state and county representation
Irvington is located in the 10th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 28th state legislative district.
As of March 23, 2011, there were 28,545 registered voters in Irvington, of which 14,694 (51.5%) were registered as Democrats, 404 (1.4%) were registered as Republicans and 13,442 (47.1%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 5 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 97.9% of the vote (18,538 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 1.9% (363 votes), and other candidates with 0.2% (38 votes), among the 19,036 ballots cast by the township's 30,744 registered voters (97 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 61.9%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 96.9% of the vote (18,923 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 2.5% (493 votes) and other candidates with 0.1% (29 votes), among the 19,533 ballots cast by the township's 28,879 registered voters, for a turnout of 67.6%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 91.8% of the vote (14,885 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 7.3% (1,189 votes) and other candidates with 0.3% (80 votes), among the 16,211 ballots cast by the township's 26,594 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 61.0.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Democrat Barbara Buono received 86.4% of the vote (6,800 cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 13.1% (1,028 votes), and other candidates with 0.5% (42 votes), among the 8,030 ballots cast by the township's 31,292 registered voters (160 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 25.7%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 93.2% of the vote (9,218 ballots cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 4.6% (459 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 0.9% (93 votes) and other candidates with 0.7% (66 votes), among the 9,894 ballots cast by the township's 28,189 registered voters, yielding a 35.1% turnout.
As of the 2011-12 school year, the district's 12 schools had an enrollment of 7,046 students and 564.0 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student-teacher ratio of 12.49:1. Schools in the district (with 2011-12 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are
Augusta Preschool Academy (prekindergarten; 335 students), eight elementary schools --
Berkeley Terrace School (K-5; 406),
Chancellor Avenue School (PreK-5; 450),
Florence Avenue School (K-5; 464),
Grove Street School (PreK-5; 363),
Madison Avenue School (K-5; 299),
Thurgood G. Marshall School (PreK-5; 455),
Mount Vernon Avenue School (PreK-5; 732) and
University Elementary School (K-5; 565) -- along with
Union Avenue Middle School (6-8; 767),
University Middle School (6-8; 752) and
Irvington High School (9-12; 1,461). The district's high school was the 309th-ranked public high school in New Jersey out of 328 schools statewide in New Jersey Monthly magazine's September 2012 cover story on the state's "Top Public High Schools", after being ranked 287th in 2010 out of 322 schools listed.
View south along the Garden State Parkway in Irvington
The Garden State Parkway is the most significant highway in Irvington, passing through the center of the township. It is accessible from exits 143 and 144. Interstate 78 also passes through very briefly along the southeastern border at Exit 54. The most significant local roadway passing through Irvington is County Road 509.
^ abSykes, Chris. "Vauss is sworn in as Irvington's new mayor", Essex News Daily, July 11, 2014. Accessed July 18, 2014. "Former Board of Education President and Team Irvington Strong leader Tony Vauss was sworn in as the new mayor of Irvington on Tuesday, July 1, at Christian Pentecostal Church on Clinton Ave.... In Irvington, Durkin was referring to Vauss and his three running mates, Renee Burgess, Charnette Orelien-Frederic and October Hudley, as well as West Ward District leader Vernon Cox. Cox was appointed to serve as the interim West Ward councilman to replace Orelien-Frederic, who vacated that position to assume her new role as councilwoman at large."
^"Removing Tiering From The Revenue Sharing Formula Would Eliminate Payment Inequities To Local Governments", Government Accountability Office, April 15, 1982. Accessed September 24, 2015. "In 1978, South Orange Village was the first municipality to change its name to the 'township' of South Orange Village effective beginning in entitlement period 10 (October 1978 to September 1979). The Borough of Fairfield in 1978 changed its designation by a majority vote of the electorate and became the 'Township of Fairfield' effective beginning entitlement period 11 (October 1979 to September 1980). ... However, the Revenue Sharing Act was not changed and the actions taken by South Orange and Fairfield prompted the Town of Montclair and West Orange to change their designation by referendum in the November 4, 1980, election. The municipalities of Belleville, Verona, Bloomfield, Nutley, Essex Fells, Caldwell, and West Caldwell have since changed their classification from municipality to a township."
^Narvaez, Alfonso A. "New Jersey Journal", The New York Times, December 27, 1981. Accessed September 24, 2015. "Under the Federal system, New Jersey's portion of the revenue sharing funds is disbursed among the 21 counties to create three 'money pools.' One is for county governments, one for 'places' and a third for townships. By making the change, a community can use the 'township advantage' to get away from the category containing areas with low per capita incomes."
^Khavkine, Richard. "Vauss bests Smith in Irvington mayoral contest", The Star-Ledger, May 13, 2014. Accessed July 18, 2014. "Mayor Wayne Smith was roundly beaten in his bid for a fourth consecutive term, losing to Anthony Vauss, the township board of education's president, by about a 2-to-1 ratio, according to early results tonight.... In the race for three at-large council seats, Renee C. Burgess, Charnette Frederic and October Hudley were ahead by several hundred votes in a race among 12 candidates."
^ abGeneral Information, Essex County, New Jersey. Accessed June 10, 2018. "The County Executive, elected from the County at-large, for a four-year term, is the chief political and administrative officer of the County.... The Board of Chosen Freeholders consists of nine members, five of whom are elected from districts and four of whom are elected at-large. They are elected for three-year concurrent terms and may be re-elected to successive terms at the annual election in November."
^Evans, Bill. "Rio 2016: N.J. native to wrestle for Haiti, carry flag in Olympics Opening Ceremony", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, August 3, 2016. Accessed August 12, 2016. "Castelly moved to New Jersey from Haiti when he was 9 years old and he competed for Irvington High School.... He also played football and ran track for Irvington. After graduating from Irvington in 1998, he went on to wrestle for Division II American International in Springfield, Mass."
^"Jaguars sign Josh Evans", Jacksonville Jaguars, July 20, 2013. Accessed February 8, 2014. "The Irvington, N.J. native played quarterback and safety at Irvington High School where he rushed for 14 touchdowns and threw for 18 more."
^Longsdorf, Amy. "New on DVD this week"Archived 2013-08-18 at the Wayback Machine, The Record (Bergen County), January 13, 2012. Accessed June 28, 2015. "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."
^Yasinskas, Pat. "Bucs release Derrick Ward", ESPN.com, August 31, 2010. Accessed June 9, 2011. "Morris also said the move does not mean Huggins, who's from the coach's hometown of Irvington, N.J., and has rushed for a team-best 97 yards on 19 carries this preseason, has won a job."
^"Jay Jensen", Miami Herald, February 19, 2007. Accessed November 20, 2016. "In many ways, Jensen succeeded at teaching drama was because he had tried to make it as an actor himself. Born in Irvington, N.J. on Aug. 4, 1931, his entertainment career began as the dance partner of his college classmate, the actress Carroll Baker, and the pair often performed for U.S. troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa."
^Mallozzi, Vincent M. "U.S. Swimmer Hopes to Inspire", The New York Times, August 3, 2008. Accessed June 9, 2011. "Cullen Jones does not want to be described as an athlete who came out of nowhere, burst onto the scene or made a surprising debut. 'I don't like any of those descriptions,' said Jones, a 24-year-old swimming sensation from the impoverished city of Irvington, N.J. 'I've been on a long, hard road to get to where I want to be, so I don't consider myself a surprise.'"
^Sragow, Michael. "Funny Bones", The New York Times, June 9, 1996. Accessed March 9, 2012. "Mr. Levy locates the seeds of Mr. Lewis's king-size ambitions and insecurities in his struggling show-biz family (his parents devoted themselves primarily to his father's career as a would-be Jolson), and in his sometime hometown of Irvington, N.J., which in the 1930s was rife with German-American support for Hitler."
^Oliver, Greg; and Johnson, Steve. The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels, p. 76. ECW Press, 2010. ISBN9781554902842. Accessed November 20, 2016. "Boris Malenko -- The Great Malenko, or, more formally, Professor Boris Maximilianovich Malenko of the School of Hard Knocks -- was a character cut from the heel fabric long since out of production, a master strategist who was worlds ahead of his contemporaries in manipulating fans' emotions... Born in 1933 in Newark, New Jersey, to a Polish immigrant father and American mother, Larry Simon was raised in nearby Irvington, and did some amateur wrestling at different YMCAs as a teenager."
^Dante. "Napoleon - Outlaw on the Rise", LatinRapper.com, March 8, 2005. Accessed February 9, 2016. "Mutah Wassin Shabazz Beale was born in Newark, New Jersey, one of four sons of Spanish and African American roots. Tragic events in his childhood led to living with his grandmother in Irvington, New Jersey, he would eventually be connected to 2pac through Shakur's Godbrother Kadafi and became part of the Dramacydal group."
^Staff. "Robert I. Perina '43"Archived 2013-12-27 at the Wayback Machine, Princeton Alumni Weekly, October 9, 1991. Accessed December 23, 2014. "Bob Died Aug. 2, 1991, in Madison, Wisc., at the age of 70. A native of Irvington, New Jersey., he graduated from Newark Academy in Livingston, from Princeton in 1943, and from the Univ. of Wisconsin Law School in 1953."
^Staff. "O. K. Sato, the Juggler, Dead", The New York Times, March 25, 1921. Accessed November 20, 2016. "Frederick L. Steinbrucker, long known on the vaudeville stage as O. K. Sato, the juggler, died suddenly of heart disease Wednesday at his home in Irvington, N. J."
^Home page, Artie Schroeck. Accessed February 8, 2014. "Artie Schroeck was born in Irvington, New Jersey, October 10, 1938, the youngest of 4 boys."
^"Interview with Gary Stein", Rutgers University] Center on the American Governor, January 22, 2009. Accessed November 17, 2017. "Q: Where are you from? Gary Stein: I was born in Newark. From the age of seven on, grew up in Irvington."
^Cahillane, Kevin. "Art; Nostalgia, Wearing Stilettos", The New York Times, December 4, 2005. Accessed August 26, 2018. "He was born in Irvington in 1918, grew up in Union, married his high school sweetheart on his 24th birthday, had two daughters, served in World War II and spent 30 years in Atlantic Highlands."