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Fair Lawn, New Jersey
Borough in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States
Fair Lawn was incorporated as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 6, 1924, as "Fairlawn," from portions of Saddle River Township. The name was taken from Fairlawn, David Acker's estate home, that was built in 1865 and later became the Fair Lawn Municipal Building. In 1933, the official spelling of the borough's name was split into its present two-word form as "Fair Lawn" Borough.
Fair Lawn's motto, coined by Jake Janso, is "A great place to visit and a better place to live." Fair Lawn has been rated as one of the top 10 best places to live in New Jersey. According to Nerdwallet, Fair Lawn witnessed a 5.3% increase in its working-age population between 2009 and 2011.
History and historical significance
The first settlers of Fair Lawn were members of the Lenni Lenape tribe, a peaceful group of hunter gatherers who eventually sold their land to incoming Dutch and Irish settlers and migrated to Pennsylvania. The new colonists turned the region, part of the New Barbadoes Township, into five large farm lots, conjoined by two main roads - Paramus and Saddle River - and named it "slooterdam" (after a V-shaped sluice-like fishing weir built in the Passaic River by the Lenni Lenape). The name stuck until 1791. In the 1800s, these five lots became nine smaller lots, and three new roads - Fair Lawn Avenue, Lincoln Avenue, and Prospect Street - were constructed to encourage mobility between them. Eighty houses were built by 1861, and the renamed Small Lots, now a part of the Saddle River Township and home to multiple vegetable and fruit farms and dairies, became an agricultural community. Berdan Avenue, a new road located near five Berdan family farms, was soon added and Victorian homes were built alongside it and in nearby areas. The grandest of the estates, perched atop a hill by Small Lots Road was David Acker's estate "Fairlawn," from which the township gets its name (Images of America, Page 7).
Rapid suburban development of the town occurred in three sections: the River Road-Fair Lawn Avenue area known as "Memorial Park", the area at Lincoln Avenue and Wagaraw Road known as "Columbus Heights", and the area east of the railroad and south of Broadway, known as Warren Point. The development of this section was catalyzed by the "establishment of a post office, a railroad station, and a trolley to the Hudson River" (Images of America, Page 8).
In the 1900s, Fair Lawn residents were displeased about the schooling situation as part of Saddle River Township; the schools were either dilapidated or too far away for Fair Lawn residents, and citizens felt that they were not getting schools comparable to the tax money they were paying. As such, a movement to separate from Saddle River Township was born. Fair Lawn residents petitioned to the state, asking to incorporate as an independent borough, and in April 1924, the borough of Fair Lawn was voted into existence.
Fair Lawn is home to the following eight sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places:
Other sites, in addition to those listed above, are also considered historic by the Historic Sites Survey Committee of the Bergen County Historic Sites Advisory Board, including:
Henry A. Hopper House
George Washington School (Recommended as a National Register possibility, but needs further documentation)
Fair Lawn, Berdan, and Prospect Avenues, Plaza and Radburn Roads
Peter Demarest House on Fair Lawn Avenue
Warren Bronze and Aluminum Factory on Second Street
In July 1982, an NJ Transit train derailed and crashed into a pasta factory, killing the train's engineer. The derailment resulted from a group of teens who had tampered with the tracks. Two of the five youths charged with the crime were convicted of manslaughter for their roles in the incident and were given five-year sentences in a state correctional facility.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 5.22 square miles (13.53 km2), including 5.14 square miles (13.30 km2) of land and 0.09 square miles (0.23 km2) of water (1.70%).
Fair Lawn is an incorporated collection of diverse neighborhoods, each with its own distinct character and vibe. Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the borough include:
Berdan Grove, a residential neighborhood of single-family homes behind Thomas Jefferson Middle School, surrounding Berdan Grove Park on Berdan Avenue. This neighborhood is home to the borough's highest concentration of Asian Americans and includes Milnes Elementary School.
Broadway District contains the major commercial thoroughfare of Broadway and houses the Broadway District commuter stop for NJ Transit's Bergen County Line train. Roughly located around the Warren Point and Lyncrest areas, the district also extends as far as Morlot Avenue along the tracks, roughly around or a little after Glen Rock Lumber, housing many industries on Banta Place. The Broadway District is mainly a shopping district as it contains many stores, eateries, hobby centers, salons, and other businesses. Not only is it the largest stretch of stores within Fair Lawn, it also houses one of the highest densities of nail and beauty salons in the United States. The Broadway District stretches from the Route 4 split with Route 208 and continues all through Fair Lawn and includes a few blocks of Elmwood Park. Broadway also hosts the route of local Paterson-New York Spanish Company minibuses, known locally as guaguas, as a cheaper alternative for commuters to and from New York. It is one of only a handful of Bergen-Passaic-Hudson districts that even offers this service.
Central Fair Lawn is bounded by Morlot and Fair Lawn Avenues on the south and north, respectively, by River Road on the west, and Route 208 on the east and northeast. The borough's Municipal Complex, which houses its administrative, legal, financial, and police divisions, is located in this neighborhood, as are the Fair Lawn Public Library, Fair Lawn High School, and John A. Forrest Elementary School.
Dunkerhook, the Dark Corner (Donckerhoek in old Dutch), is on both sides of a former bridge over the Saddle River, in Fair Lawn and Paramus, near Fair Lawn Avenue. The Vanderbeck and Naugle houses there are both from the 18th century.
The Heights, more precisely known as "Columbia Heights", is located near Hawthorne's industrial section along the Passaic River on Wagaraw Road and Hawthorne's residential area at Lincoln Avenue as well as bordering Bunker Hill in Paterson. This well-maintained neighborhood houses some local industry outside of the McBride Industrial District that borders Glen Rock and is known by some of its residents as the "Bunker Hill Extension" or the "Walsh Area".
Hendersonville, also referred to as "Riverside East". This diverse neighborhood, located between Columbia Heights and the Municipal Complex within the "Westmoreland District", as well as sharing Route 208 with the neighboring borough of Glen Rock, is a mostly residential community of two-family Cape Cod-style houses located down the stretch of Henderson Boulevard curving around to 11th Street. Distinct to this neighborhood in comparison with other two-family districts and sections is that each Cape Cod has two doors in the front so each residing family has its own entrance into its respective quarters, a blueprint that was abandoned shortly after being built in favor of a "one door, two entrances" model. Westmoreland Elementary School is located in this neighborhood.
Lyncrest neighborhood, located south of Morlot Avenue, in alignment with Paterson's 33rd Street split into that city's Upper Eastside and Eastside neighborhoods, is an extension of the Eastside and notable for its older, stone houses in the footsteps of homes once owned by Paterson's former silk barons. This community is also diverse, with immigrants from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, as well as various parts of the Americas. It is home to many Orthodox Jewish, Indian American, and Russian American families, among other ethnic and religious groups. Lyncrest streets "1st-6th" are also known by the name of "Rivercrest" by locals, due to the split level and Cape Cod-style architecture of housing located in the "River Dip" adjacent to Memorial Park. Lyncrest Elementary School is located in this neighborhood.
McBride Industrial District is the area incorporating the McBride Industrial Park located between Fair Lawn Borough's border with Glen Rock and the Chandler Houses and Fair Lawn Commons communities. It currently houses the former Nabisco cookie factory, which has played a major role in not only Fair Lawn's identity itself, but also Glen Rock, Ridgewood, Paterson, Prospect Park, Haledon, Hawthorne, and Western Paramus near the Dunkerhook and Saddle River Areas, causing those venturing throughout these areas to coin the nickname "Cookie-City" as a general area term, describing the fragrance of freshly baked cookies that filled these areas on baking days. In the past, the McBride Industrial District took up both sides of Route 208, stretching from Fair Lawn Avenue to the intersection at Maple Avenue and Harristown Road, running up to the Bergen County Line train tracks via the Radburn District, and housing companies such as Nabisco, Kodak, Maxell, and others. More recently the district has been in the process of deindustrialization and corporate gentrification, as older companies fold or move out, replacing industrial properties with residential-commercial "mini-cities", as well as the headquarters of New Jersey's Columbia Savings Bank.
Memorial Park, a working-class neighborhood (sometimes called the "River Dip", "East River Area","Eastside Dip", "Riverside", or the more modern "Yang"; the aerial view of the neighborhood makes a "Ying Yang" symbol with neighboring East Side Park) within and around the River Road Improvement District with street addresses aligned with the corner of 33rd Street and Martin Luther King Way (Broadway) in neighboring Paterson. The Memorial Park neighborhood borders the Passaic River and contains the park next to Memorial Middle School named Memorial Park which houses a World War II Memorial commemorating those who fought in the war. The park is the terminus of the annual Memorial Day parade and the site of the Memorial pool and beach as well as the Independence Day fireworks show. Residential gentrification is occurring with the leveling of two-family rental housing for more modern single-family housing in this area.
Radburn is a planned community also housing the landmark Radburn Plaza building, which was destroyed in a fire in 2002 and subsequently rebuilt. With its safe and easy access to local businesses and schools, and Fair Lawn's largest U.S. Postal Service branch, this neighborhood also offers commuter trains from Radburn station to the Secaucus Junction rail transfer station as well as to the PATH train in Hoboken, both of which provide rail connections to New York City. This neighborhood includes Radburn Elementary School and Daly Field. An annual street fair is held here in June.
Radrock Estates is a small neighborhood around two streets, Well Drive and Split Rock Road, with a private park within the block they enclose, reminiscent of nearby Radburn but a separate development built about 1940. The entrance street from Fair Lawn Avenue has an entrance pillar on each side displaying the name. The surrounding area to the north and east, while built after World War II, is considered to be an extended part of Radrock Estates. Although it is a very diverse residential section, this neighborhood shares the conveniences of living in Radburn including dining, retail access, as well as rail access from Radburn Station.
The River Road Improvement District, with an annual street fair in autumn, houses many functional businesses, including numerous banks, ethnic restaurants and supermarkets, small offices, retail telecommunications outlets, both a United Parcel Service store and a U.S. Post Office branch, and the landmark Joker's Child comic book store. River Road in this district is also zoned for apartments located above businesses.
Warren Point, a residential area located near the Broadway Improvement District. Bordering Saddle Brook and Elmwood Park, it has many stores, big and small, and many eateries. The neighborhood also offers commuter trains from Broadway station to Hoboken's PATH and to Secaucus Junction via the Bergen County Line, as well as the "Paterson-New York Shuttle". Warren Point Elementary School and the private St. Anne School are located in this neighborhood.
The neighborhood stretching along both sides of Saddle River Road in Fair Lawn is not officially named but has its own character as another affluent enclave. This neighborhood includes a portion of the Saddle River, Saddle River County Park, and Fair Lawn's eastern border with Paramus. The whole area is referred to by many as the "Saddle River District". Due to obvious differences throughout this side, there are sections that are identified by locals including the "Dunkerhook section" (named after the section of the County Park located in the vicinity) starting at around the shared border with Glen Rock and Paramus down to Morlot Avenue. In the spring, summer, and autumn, fishermen frequent this section, as the Saddle River within Dunkerhook is stocked with trout. The neighborhood south of Morlot Avenue is referred to as the "Saddle River section", which borders Saddle Brook in addition to Paramus, and which shares access to the Saddle River as well as bike trails for leisure or access to the Westfield Garden State Plaza mall in Paramus.
There also exist more intricate micro-neighborhoods within macro-neighborhoods throughout the borough, such as "Fair Lawn Commons" (The Commons) off Route 208, located within the Radburn Historical District, yet which has a separate, more affluent feel and modern look and subculture; Radburn's El Dorado Village, which is known for its Eastern European immigrant residents; and just to its west, the "Chandler Houses". Fair Lawn's newest neighborhood is Fair Lawn Promenade (The Promenade), a mixed-use development extending northward from The Commons along Highway 208 North, consisting of apartments, shops, offices, and restaurants, with the motto to be able to "live, shop, work, and play" in one locale.
These distinct communities are located throughout the borough, and each has its own character, making Fair Lawn not just ethnically, racially, and religiously diverse, but also an experientially diverse borough notable even amidst Bergen County's diversity on a larger scale.
Fair Lawn has a longstanding tradition of ethnic diversity and a tolerance for people of different ethnicities and religious faiths. Continuing steady immigration from Eurasia, Asia, Europe, and Latin America has transformed Fair Lawn into an international melting pot, and over 50 languages and dialects are spoken in the borough.
History of ethnic diversity
Fair Lawn has been a center for Jewish culture over a period spanning several decades. Since the early 2000s, the Orthodox Jewish population has been increasing significantly and has replaced the earlier decreases in members of the non-Orthodox Jewish sects. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russian Jews began to migrate to Fair Lawn. Fair Lawn's Jewish American population has therefore maintained an at least one-third presence overall for several decades. Russian Jews were then followed by Russian Orthodox Christians. Over 10% of the borough's population is of Russian descent, the highest of any community in New Jersey, and increasing with continued migration of Russian Americans from Brooklyn. The size of Fair Lawn's Russian American presence prompted an April Fool's satire titled, "Putin Moves Against Fair Lawn". Fair Lawn also has the largest Israeli American community in Bergen County. On November 22, 2015, the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey celebrated the grand opening of a permanent home at 17-10 River Road in Fair Lawn, after being housed at various locations, mostly in neighboring Paterson, for decades.
Fair Lawn has historically also had a large Italian American population, 19.7% in 2000, but this number is decreasing as the descendants of the original Italian immigrants are being displaced by immigrants from around the globe.
A number of places for congregation cater to different nationalities in Fair Lawn, including three Korean churches, one Taiwanese church, Young Israel of Fair Lawn, Saint Leon Armenian Church, and the (Italian American) Cosmos Club of Fair Lawn. Several Filipino organizations are based in Fair Lawn. Between the 2010 Census and the 2013-2017 American Community Survey, Fair Lawn's Filipino population was estimated to have increased by more than 50% (from 626 in 2010 to 952 in 2013-2017).
Of the 11,930 households, 33.3% had children under the age of 18; 62.7% were married couples living together; 9.1% had a female householder with no husband present and 24.8% were non-families. Of all households, 21.3% were made up of individuals and 10.7% 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 3.17.
22.0% of the population were under the age of 18, 6.8% from 18 to 24, 24.0% from 25 to 44, 30.8% from 45 to 64, and 16.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43.1 years. For every 100 females, the population had 92.2 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 88.9 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $92,727 (with a margin of error of +/- $4,701) and the median family income was $112,650 (+/- $5,760). Males had a median income of $70,990 (+/- $3,246) versus $54,358 (+/- $2,815) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $40,146 (+/- $1,700). About 2.1% of families and 3.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.3% of those under age 18 and 6.3% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 United States Census there were 31,637 people, 11,806 households, and 8,901 families residing in the borough. The population density was 6,121.0 people per square mile (2,362.7/km2). There were 12,006 housing units at an average density of 2,322.9 per square mile (896.6/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 91.54% Caucasian, 4.92% Asian, 0.74% Black or African American, 0.04% Native American, 1.37% from other races, and 1.38% reporting two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 5.51% of the population.
There were 11,806 households, out of which 33.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 63.5% were married couples living together, 9.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.6% were non-families. 21.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.12.
In the borough the population was spread out, with 22.8% under the age of 18, 6.0% from 18 to 24, 26.9% from 25 to 44, 25.6% from 45 to 64, and 18.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.7 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $72,127, and the median income for a family was $81,220. Males had a median income of $56,798 versus $41,300 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $32,273. About 2.6% of families and 3.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.7% of those under age 18 and 6.9% of those age 65 or over.
Businesses headquartered or located in Fair Lawn include:
A major cookie/bakery/office operation of Nabisco/Mondel?z International, located along Route 208 North, had been the borough's largest employer and taxpayer for more than 60 years, until its shutdown was announced in 2021 when the company sent termination notices to employees.
U.S. Technologies, a high-precision electronics corporation, is headquartered in Fair Lawn.
Columbia Bank (New Jersey), the fourth largest mutual financial institution in the United States, and the largest mutual bank domiciled within the State of New Jersey, is also headquartered in Fair Lawn.
Thermal energy storage company CALMAC of Fair Lawn had performed about 4,000 commercial air-cooling installations in 37 countries by 2014.
Danbee Investigations, a global detective agency, is based in Fair Lawn.
A. Zerega's Sons Inc., founded in 1848 in Brooklyn and currently based in Fair Lawn, describes itself as the fifth-largest pasta maker in the United States, producing 100 million pounds of pasta annually.
The Filipino American Festival, a non-profit corporation describing its mission to include educating Filipino Americans to engage in community partnership, is headquartered in Fair Lawn. The company presents the annual Filipino-American Festival in Bergenfield in eastern Bergen County.
Fair Lawn Promenade is a mixed-use retail / residential / business complex that opened on April 1, 2014. It has shops, restaurants, condominium rooms, and offices. Businesses there include the first East Coast location of The Habit Burger Grill as well as the first Noodles & Company in New Jersey. TKL, an international clinical research company, is also located there.
Fair Lawn has one of the original organized street hockey/DekHockey programs in the state. The Fair Lawn Flyers competed in the first national street hockey championships in 1976 in Leominster, Massachusetts.
Fair Lawn Lanes includes 32 bowling lanes, an arcade, and a lounge.
Dietch's Kiddie Zoo is a former children's zoo that opened in 1951. It also included kiddie rides and a train ride. The zoo closed in 1967.
Memorial Park- located on 1st Street, which has an inline skating rink, playing fields, basketball courts, and a beach park.
Berdan Grove Park- located on Berdan Avenue, home of the John Alaimo Field for baseball, basketball courts, walking paths, and a playground.
Gregory Park- located on 28th Street, which has a basketball court, playground, baseball field, and a walking path.
Fair Lawn operates within the Faulkner Act (formally known as the Optional Municipal Charter Law) under the Council-Manager plan E form of New Jersey municipal government, as implemented as of January 1, 1986, based on direct petition. The borough is one of 42 municipalities (of the 565) statewide that use this form of government. The governing body is comprised of a five-member Borough Council. Members of the Borough Council serve four-year terms in office and are elected at-large in partisan elections in odd-numbered years on a staggered basis, with either two or three seats coming up for election every other year as part of the November general election. All policy making power is concentrated in the council. At an annual reorganization meeting held after each election, the council selects a mayor, a deputy mayor, and a deputy mayor for community affairs from among its members. The mayor presides over its meetings with no separate policy-making power. A borough manager is appointed by the council to serve as the municipal chief executive and administrative official.
As of 2020[update], the members of the Borough Council are Mayor Kurt Peluso (D, term on council ends December 31, 2023; term as mayor ends 2021), Deputy Mayor Cristina Cutrone (D, term on council ends 2023 and as deputy mayor ends 2021), Deputy Mayor of Community Affairs Joshua Reinitz (D, term on council and as deputy mayor ends 2021), Gail Friedberg Rottenstrich (D, 2021) and Kris Krause (D, 2023).
In May 2018, the Borough Council appointed Cristina Cutrone to fill the seat expiring in December 2019 that was vacated by Mayor Lisa Swain when she took office in the General Assembly; Kurt Peluso replaced Swain as mayor and in turn Gail Rottenstrich replaced him as deputy mayor. Cutrone served on the council on an interim basis until the November 2018 general election, when she was elected to serve the balance of the term of office.
Standard Borough Council meetings are televised on local cable TV when held in the council chambers in the Fair Lawn Municipal Building. Work sessions, where laws are discussed and prepared for adoption, are not usually televised.
Boards and commissions
Fair Lawn's government extends beyond the Council and departments in the form of the following boards and commissions, which are generally staffed by volunteers appointed by the Mayor and Council:
This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(January 2019)
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 20,302 registered voters in Fair Lawn, of which 7,150 (35.2% vs. 31.7% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 3,613 (17.8% vs. 21.1%) were registered as Republicans and 9,528 (46.9% vs. 47.1%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 11 voters registered to other parties. Among the borough's 2010 Census population, 62.6% (vs. 57.1% in Bergen County) were registered to vote, including 80.2% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 73.7% countywide).
In the 2016 presidential election, Democrat Hillary Clinton received 8,993 votes (53.6% vs. 54.2% countywide), ahead of Republican Donald Trump with 7,062 votes (42.1% vs. 41.1%) and other candidates with 709 votes (4.2% vs. 4.6%), among the 16,875 ballots cast by the borough's 22,745 registered voters, for a turnout of 74.2% (vs. 72.5% in Bergen County). In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 8,374 votes (54.1% vs. 54.8% countywide), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 6,815 votes (44.0% vs. 43.5%) and other candidates with 188 votes (1.2% vs. 0.9%), among the 15,473 ballots cast by the borough's 21,563 registered voters, for a turnout of 71.8% (vs. 70.4% in Bergen County). In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 8,834 votes (53.2% vs. 53.9% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 7,464 votes (45.0% vs. 44.5%) and other candidates with 147 votes (0.9% vs. 0.8%), among the 16,595 ballots cast by the borough's 21,378 registered voters, for a turnout of 77.6% (vs. 76.8% in Bergen County). In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 8,745 votes (54.3% vs. 51.7% countywide), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 7,177 votes (44.6% vs. 47.2%) and other candidates with 118 votes (0.7% vs. 0.7%), among the 16,102 ballots cast by the borough's 20,372 registered voters, for a turnout of 79.0% (vs. 76.9% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 57.1% of the vote (5,377 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 41.8% (3,932 votes), and other candidates with 1.1% (100 votes), among the 9,642 ballots cast by the borough's 20,718 registered voters (233 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 46.5%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 5,503 ballots cast (51.1% vs. 48.0% countywide), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 4,590 votes (42.6% vs. 45.8%), Independent Chris Daggett with 521 votes (4.8% vs. 4.7%) and other candidates with 71 votes (0.7% vs. 0.5%), among the 10,763 ballots cast by the borough's 20,714 registered voters, yielding a 52.0% turnout (vs. 50.0% in the county).
In December 2014, Fair Lawn voters approved by a greater than 2-to-1 margin a $12.8 million expansion and capital improvement referendum to be implemented by the Fair Lawn Public Schools. The referendum funds the initiation within two years of a full-day kindergarten in the district, a program offered by most districts countywide, as well as a roof replacement program at six schools. The expenditures will include $2.2 million in state aid, with the remaining $10.6 million covered by bonds issued by the school system. The full-day kindergarten program is slated to begin in September 2016.
Fair Lawn has an all-volunteer fire department. The department has four stations--Company 1 on George Street,
Company 2 at Route 208 South (before Maple Avenue Bridge),
Company 3 located at the corner of Plaza Road and Rosalie Street and
Company 4 on Radburn Road. Fair Lawn residents are served by the all volunteer Fair Lawn Volunteer Ambulance, Inc., which provides 24/7 emergency medical services. This service is equipped with four state of the art ambulances stocked with all necessary supplies to handle any medical emergency. Fair Lawn is also served by the all-volunteer Fair Lawn Rescue Squad. The squad provides heavy rescue and hazardous materials (HAZMAT) services to the residents and businesses of the borough.
Fair Lawn also has a police department that was founded in 1930. In 2014, the department responded to over 400 calls.
The junction of New Jersey State Routes 4 and 208 in Fair Lawn
Fair Lawn is interwoven by a robust network of roads. As of May 2010[update], the borough had a total of 99.60 miles (160.29 km) of roadways, of which 84.00 miles (135.18 km) were maintained by the municipality, 11.13 miles (17.91 km) by Bergen County and 4.47 miles (7.19 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Fair Lawn has several main roads crossing through it forming a rough 3x3 grid. Running north-south are Saddle River Road, Plaza Road, and River Road (County Route 507) while Broadway, Morlot Avenue, and Fair Lawn Avenue run east-west, and Route 208 runs northwest-southeast. Running east-west between and parallel to Morlot and Fair Lawn Avenues is Berdan Avenue, a residential thoroughfare which is bisected by Route 208 into two discontinuous segments, the western one of which contains Fair Lawn High School.
Broadway becomes Route 4 heading into Paramus and is less than 10 miles (16 km) from the George Washington Bridge.
Fair Lawn Avenue is considered the borough's main street, containing its borough hall, police station, and public library. The road goes west over the Passaic River into Paterson, and on the east, Fair Lawn Avenue ends at Saddle River Road, which through Dunkerhook Park becomes Dunkerhook Road, and becomes Century Road once in Paramus, at Paramus Road. The intersection of Fair Lawn Avenue and Plaza Road form what could be considered a "town center", with several shopping plazas and the Radburn train station all within walking distance. In October 2015, a community meeting was held to discuss a vision for this corridor. Other commercial areas include Broadway and River Road.
Route 208 has its southern terminus in Fair Lawn and bisects the borough from the northwest to the southeast, where it eventually merges with Broadway to become Route 4 just west of Fair Lawn's border with Paramus. Taken the other direction, Route 208 flows northwest to Interstate 287 in Oakland. Numerous commercial establishments and office buildings line Route 208 along the northwestern half of this limited access highway's trajectory through Fair Lawn.
Fair Lawn uses a street address numbering system in which most Fair Lawn addresses are given hyphenated numbers. The address of the borough's public library, for example, is 10-01 Fair Lawn Ave. Less than 1% of addresses in New Jersey use this kind of numbering system and Fair Lawn's nearly 10,000 hyphenated addresses account for nearly half of them. This numbering system is also used in Queens, New York City. Exceptions to this numbering system generally exist on the Glen Rock, Hawthorne, and Saddle Brook sides of Fair Lawn and within the Radburn development. The system, dating at least as far back as the 1930s, was designed to allow emergency personnel to quickly locate addresses.
The first numbers (before the dash) correspond to block-distances from Broadway (on streets that run North-South) and to the numbered streets in the borough (example: 2nd Street, 17th Street, etc.) on the streets that run East-West; with the highest numbers being in the low 40s, and the lowest numbers being 0-30, etc. Addresses south of Broadway / Route 4 start with a zero and a hyphen, which can cause confusion with those unfamiliar with the grid system. Most GPS systems and online address entry forms do not accept the dash, though addresses entered without the dash are typically handled properly.
In the 1976 film Taxi Driver, when Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) is talking to a Secret Service agent, he provides a false name (Henry Krinkle), and a false address (154 Hopper Avenue, Fair Lawn, New Jersey). There is a Hopper Avenue in Fair Lawn, but 154 Hopper Avenue does not exist, and the ZIP code he provides is also incorrect (61045, which is actually in Kings, Illinois).
The Passaic River Fishing Weir is a prominent archaeological feature just north of the Fair Lawn Avenue Bridge. It was constructed by Lenape tribe members and is the best-preserved of several such weirs on the Passaic River.
Peter Garretson House - 4-02 River Road (added 1974): With a homestead that dates back to 1719, the sandstone house is one of the oldest surviving structures in Bergen County. The Garretson Forge and Farm Restoration operates the site, owned by the county, as a farm museum.
Naugle House - 42-49 Dunkerhook Road (added 1983): Constructed in 1776, the home was visited by the Marquis de Lafayette. The site was purchased by the borough in 2010 for $1.7 million, and a plan has been formulated to repair the home and preserve the grounds as open space.
Radburn - Irregular pattern between Radburn Road and Erie RR. tracks (added 1975)
Jacob Vanderbeck Jr. House - 41-25 Dunkerhook Road (added 1983): Constructed in Dutch stone by Jacob Vanderbeck in the 1750s, the house has had a number of prominent owners, including Fair Lawn mayor and Assemblyman Richard Vander Plaat. Owned by a developer who has sought to use the site to construct a large-scale assisted-living facility, the house has been listed on Preservation New Jersey's 2013 list of the 10 Most Endangered Historic Places in New Jersey.
Fair Lawn also has a close association with two historic areas along the Saddle River in Paramus. One is the Easton Tower, a Bergen County historic site that consists of a stone tower and a small dam which mark the site of the colonial-era Jacob Zabriskie mill and the 19th-20th centuries-era Arcola community park. Another is the Dunkerhook community, focused around the New Jersey designated historic road, Dunkerhook Road. The western section of the community includes the Naugle House and the Jacob Vanderbeck Jr. House, and the eastern section included a slave and free-African American community that consisted of a school, a cemetery, a church, and houses including the now-demolished Zabriskie Tenant House.
^AboutArchived 2017-09-18 at the Wayback Machine, Radburn Association. Accessed September 16, 2017."Radburn, a planned community, was started in 1929 by the City Housing Corporation from the plans developed by Clarence Stein and Henry Wright."
^Diduch, Mary. "Fair Lawn to fix historic Naugle House", The Record, July 16, 2014, backed up by the Internet Archive as of August 15, 2014. Accessed September 16, 2017. "The council allocated $1,800 from its municipal open-space fund to fix the Naugle House. The stone residence, purchased by the borough in 2010, was built in the 1750s. It sits next to the Jacob Vanderbeck Jr. House - also known as the Vander Plaat House -- another Colonial-era home that is not borough-owned."
^Pries, Allison. "Fair Lawn home named one of N.J.'s 10 most endangered historic places"[permanent dead link], The Record, May 22, 2013. Accessed May 28, 2017. "An 18th Century Dutch stone house that the borough declined last year to purchase has been named one of the state's 10 most endangered historic places by Preservation New Jersey.... The Jacob Vanderbeck Jr. House, also known as the Vander Plaat House, located off Dunkerhook Road sits on a three-acre parcel near the Naugle House - another Revolutionary War-era home that Fair Lawn purchased in 2010 for $1.7 million using municipal and county open space funds and state Green Acres money. The single-story home overlooking the Saddle River was built in 1754 and remained in the Vanderbeck family until 1800."
^Higgs, Larry. "The deadliest train crashes in New Jersey history", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, November 27, 2017. Accessed February 16, 2018. "An engineer was killed on July 7, 1982, when a commuter train operated by Conrail for NJ Transit crashed into a pasta factory after it derailed in Fair Lawn. Teenagers who tampered with a track switch were blamed for the crash. After the train was diverted from the Bergen Line and ran off the end of an industrial rail siding, the lead car traveled 60 feet into the building, killing the engineer and seriously injuring a 14-year-old boy, according to the National Transportation Safety Board."
^Rooney, Matt. "Putin Moves Against Fair Lawn", Save Jersey, April 1, 2014. Accessed September 16, 2017. "In a move certain to carry dire geopolitical consequences for the world, the Russian Federation has moved troops into the 32,000-person borough of Fair Lawn, New Jersey, only days after annexing Crimea and strengthening its troop positions along the Ukrainian border."
^Putrino, Tracey. "Chinese program growing in Fair Lawn School District", Community News (Fair Lawn), September 11, 2013, backed up by the Internet Archive as of March 4, 2016. Accessed September 16, 2017. "With more than 200 students already enrolled, the Fair Lawn School District's Chinese program is now expanding to third grade.... The Mandarin Chinese program begin in the 2007-08 school year for middle school students and has grown each year."
^Diduch, Mary; and Maag, Christopher. "North Jersey Filipinos marshal aid for typhoon relief", The Record, November 9, 2013, backed up by the Internet Archive as of March 5, 2016. Accessed September 16, 2017. "The Handang Tumulong Foundation, based in Fair Lawn, continually accepts donations to help those in the Philippines and typically holds fundraisers in the fall, said its former president and board member Nelsie Parrado of Fair Lawn."
^About Us, Filipino-American Association of Fair Lawn. Accessed September 16, 2017.
^Newman, Richard. "Oreo maker investing in Fair Lawn bakery ", The Record, February 8, 2014, backed up by the Internet Archive as of October 10, 2016. Accessed September 16, 2017. "Mondelez International Inc., Fair Lawn's biggest private employer and the borough's top payer of local real estate taxes, is going to invest tens of millions of dollars to modernize the old Nabisco bakery, a landmark on Route 208 since the 1950s, the company said."
^Brown, Shaylah. "'I'll never be able to eat an Oreo again': Once a point of pride, Fair Lawn boycotts Nabisco", The Record, February 12, 2021. Accessed February 14, 2021. "Oreos, you're dead to us. That's the message from Fair Lawn after Mondel?z Corp.'s decision last week to shut the landmark Nabisco manufacturing plant, which has been churning out fresh-baked cookies in the borough for 60 years. The plant is set to close by summer, leaving an estimated 600 employees out of a job. Workers have already received their pink slips, according to Mayor Kurt Peluso."
^About Us, US Technologies. Accessed September 16, 2017.
^Morley, Hugh R. "Fair Lawn pasta maker predicts price hikes amid flour shortage", The Record, October 29, 2014, backed up by the Internet Archive as of March 10, 2016. Accessed September 16, 2017. "Fair Lawn-based A. Zerega's Sons Inc., a 166-year-old company that makes 100 million pounds of pasta a year, says it has yet to raise prices in response to an increase in the price of semolina flour, milled from durum wheat and used make pasta, from about 25 cents to 50 cents a pound.... Zerega first felt a dramatic price rise about a month ago, after the May-to-August North American growing season, said Mark Vermylen, vice president of the company that describes itself as the fifth-largest pasta maker in the U.S."
^Company: Since 1848, America's Leading Custom Pasta Maker, Zerega's Sons Inc. Accessed February 1, 2015. "Zerega is America's leading producer of custom pasta for the food processing, foodservice, and retail markets. Using the finest ingredients and state-of-the-art equipment, we produce 250 million pounds of dry pasta each year in over 300 varieties."
^Our Form Of Government, Borough of Fair Lawn. Accessed May 20, 2020. "There shall be a Council elected in accordance with N.J.S.A. 40: 69A-81 et seq., which shall be comprised of five members, elected at large, one of whom shall be elected by the Council as Mayor, as provided by law. One of the members of the Council shall also be elected by the Council to be Deputy Mayor, and one of the members of the Council shall be elected by the Council to be Deputy Mayor for Community Affairs."
^Yellin, Deena. "Fair Lawn swears in new mayor and council member", The Record, May 17, 2018. Accessed October 1, 2019. "Peluso, 35, was sworn in as mayor Tuesday night, replacing Lisa Swain, who recently resigned to take a state Assembly seat in the 38th District. Councilwoman Gail Rottenstrich was appointed deputy mayor, and Cristina Cutrone was unanimously chosen to fill the vacant council seat."
^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."
^Biography of Bob Menendez, United States Senate, January 26, 2015. "Menendez, who started his political career in Union City, moved in September from Paramus to one of Harrison's new apartment buildings near the town's PATH station.."
^. United States Senate. Accessed April 30, 2021. "Booker, Cory A. - (D - NJ) Class II; Menendez, Robert - (D - NJ) Class I"
^Fair Lawn Board of Education District Policy 0110 - Identification, Fair Lawn Public Schools. Accessed May 20, 2020. "Purpose: The Board of Education exists for the purpose of providing a thorough and efficient system of free public education in grades Kindergarten through twelve in the Fair Lawn School District. Composition: The Fair Lawn School District is comprised of all the area within the municipal boundaries of Fair Lawn."
^Clark, Adam. "These 10 N.J. schools earn Blue Ribbon honors", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, September 28, 2016. Accessed November 13, 2016. "The U.S. Department of Education on Wednesday announced that 10 New Jersey schools have been named National Blue Ribbon Schools, a recognition celebrating excellence in academics."
^Clark, Adam. "9 N.J. schools just won a huge national honor", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, September 24, 2020. Accessed September 27, 2020. "Nine New Jersey public schools have been awarded the national Blue Ribbon designation, one of the highest honors in education. The schools were recognized Thursday by the U.S. Department of Education for high student achievement."
^Diduch, Mary. "Fair Lawn voters approve $12.8M referendum", The Record, December 9, 2014, backed up by the Internet Archive as of June 2, 2016. Accessed September 16, 2017. "Borough voters approved a $12.8 million capital improvement project that will provide six schools with new roofs and expand an elementary school, paving the way for full-day kindergarten. The state through grants will pay for $2.19 million of the project, leaving the district to pay for the remaining $10.6 million with a bond."
^ abDiduch, Mary. "Fair Lawn's number maze: Hyphenated addresses can be confusing", The Record, February 1, 2015, backed up by the Internet Archive as of August 10, 2016. Accessed September 16, 2017. "Few municipalities use the system; Queens, one of the five boroughs of New York City, is one that does. Of the 3.9 million addresses in the state, 21,970 have hyphenated addresses. Nearly half -- about 10,000 -- are in Fair Lawn, with Newark trailing with about 6,000, according to the Postal Service.... Homes and buildings south of Broadway -- Route 4 -- have a zero before the hyphen, followed by the building number. Structures north of Broadway are given a number before the hyphen that corresponds to the street."
^Ginsberg, Leonard. Rhapsody on a Film by Kurosawa, p. 205. Trafford Publishing, 2008. ISBN9781425174378. Accessed November 5, 2013. "First, a psychopathic hero is not a novelty. 'My name is Henry Krinkle. K-R-I-N-K-L-E. 154 Hopper Avenue.... You know, like a rabbit, hip, hop. Ha, ha. Fair Lawn, New Jersey.' Travis Bickle falsely identifies himself."
^Faerman, Zlata. "Q&A: 'The Other Guys' director Adam McKay", The Palm Beach Post, August 23, 2010. "If you had to point to Fair Lawn on a map of New Jersey, could you do it? McKay: I would look around Mount Clair [sic]? Is that close? I grew up in Philly so I have some limited Jersey knowledge."
^Chen, David W. "A County Leader at the Core of a Pay-to-Play Fight", The New York Times, January 25, 2006. Accessed September 16, 2017. "'The empire-building is getting your feet in town, helping the minority win control, and then controlling the appointments and no-bid contracts,' said Matt Ahearn, a former Democratic assemblyman from Fair Lawn who had a falling-out with Mr. Ferriero."
^McCall, Tris. "Ian Axel's 'New Year' is an impressive debut", The Star-Ledger, May 20, 2011. Accessed July 21, 2011. "Axel, who grew up in Bergen County and graduated from Fair Lawn High School, isn't a showy pianist. He doesn't take lengthy solos or call attention to his considerable technique.... Ian Axel, who grew up in Fair Lawn, makes his Bowery Ballroom debut on Tuesday."
^Ostrowski, Jeff. "In any currency, ESPN a cash machine", Sports Business Daily, December 21, 1998. Accessed January 2, 2014. "Bornstein, a native of Fair Lawn, N.J., graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1974 with a film degree. His early career included stints at a Milwaukee TV station and lugging equipment as a free-lance cameraman for the Milwaukee Brewers."
^About, Trevor Harris Braun. Accessed November 17, 2020. "Trevor is a New York based performer for stage and screen. Originally from Fair Lawn, NJ, Trevor has been acting since the ripe young age of three and started working professionally at seven."
^Quartararo, Elizabeth. "Missing since 2012, professor remembered by friends and relatives", The Review, March 3, 2014. Accessed May 10, 2016. "Bernard Kaplan, a university English professor who has known Dohms since they were both children growing up a block away from each other in Fair Lawn, N.J., said shortly after Dohms' disappearance, he traveled to their hometown to pass out flyers and let neighbors know to look out for him."
^Launer, Pat. "New Face at the Old Globe", San Diego Jewish Journal, January 31, 2013. Accessed March 19, 2016. "Edelstein (pronounced EH-duhl-steen), was born in Paterson, N.J. He grew up in Fair Lawn, N.J., where he attended Fair Lawn High School and went on to graduate summa cum laude from Tufts University."
^via Associated Press. "On the Road With Cary Edwards", The New York Times, April 25, 1993. Accessed August 8, 2019. "Oakland, N.J. (AP) -- W. Cary Edwards, who served more than 30 years in state government, including as attorney general, died Wednesday at his home here.... Mr. Edwards was born July 20, 1944, in Paterson, N.J., and raised in Fair Lawn."
^Beckerman, Jim. "Donald Fagen joins forces for a tribute to early R&B", The Record, September 2, 2010, backed up by the Internet Archive as of November 2, 2014. Accessed September 16, 2017. "Geographically, he can trace his roots to Passaic, where he was born, to Fair Lawn, where he was raised, and to Kendall Park, then a muddy no-man's-land between New Brunswick and Princeton that he couldn't wait to get out of."
^Zinser, Lynn. "Pro Football; For Giants' Finn, There's No Place Like Home", The New York Times, September 6, 2003. Accessed January 2, 2014. "When he signed with the Giants in March, they wondered if he would beat out the incumbent fullback, Charles Stackhouse, and fretted about whether he could handle playing in the spotlight of New York, just miles from where he grew up in Fair Lawn, N.J."
^Nobile, Tom. "Governor makes campaign stop in Fair Lawn", Community News (Fair Lawn), October 30, 2013, backed up by the Internet Archive as of March 7, 2016. Accessed September 16, 2017. "He also threw endorsements behind local state senate and assembly candidates, including Republican State Senate candidate Fernando Alonso, who is running against Democratic Sen. Robert Gordon of Fair Lawn."
^Byrne, Robert. "Chess", The New York Times, November 15, 1994. Accessed June 30, 2012. "In winning the United States Championship in Key West, Fla., in late October, Boris Gulko performed in close accord with every grandmaster's daydreams. The 47-year-old former Soviet champion, who lives in Fair Lawn, N.J., won with captivating combinations, trenchant tactics, precise positional play and excellently executed endgames."
^Leichman, Joseph. "Revolving", The Jewish Standard, November 25, 2005. Accessed May 10, 2016. "When Larry Gates and Larry Hochman were growing up in Fair Lawn, they used to walk home from school singing Beatles songs together."
^Vasquez, Andy. "Red Bulls sign Fair Lawn's Sacir Hot", The Record, February 1, 2011, backed up by the Internet Archive as of September 7, 2012. Accessed September 16, 2017. "On Monday, the Red Bulls announced the signing of Hot, a 19-year-old defender who played soccer and football at Fair Lawn.... Hot recently returned from Europe and soon after was offered a contract. The decision to stay close to home -- Hot still lives in Fair Lawn -- was not a difficult one."
^Kurland, Rachel. "Supergirl Lifts -- and Squats -- the Bar High", The Jewish Exponent, December 14, 2017. Accessed August 24, 2018. "Naomi continues to grow up in the powerlifting community, as well as the modern Orthodox community in her hometown of Fair Lawn, N.J. Her journey will debut in a new documentary, Supergirl, which airs on PBS Dec. 18 at 10 p.m."
^Rohan, Virginia. "Once a Bombshell...", The Record, July 1, 2001, backed up by the Internet Archive as of May 5, 2016. Accessed September 16, 2017. "Meredith -- so convincing as the Swedish tease -- was born and raised Judi-Lee Sauls in Fair Lawn, and adopted her stage name right before The Producers."
^Thompson, Toby. "Billy Price: East Coast Blue-Eyed Soul Man", copy of article from The Penn Stater at billyprice.com, January / February 2000, backed up by the Internet Archive as of September 27, 2012. Accessed September 16, 2017. "Forget Billy Price from Pittsburgh's rock cauldron. Meet William Pollak '71, '79, Liberal Arts, from Fair Lawn."
^Deffaa, Chip. Swing Legacy, p. 118. Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN9780810822825. Accessed October 11, 2013. "But at his apartment in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, Maurice ('Moe') Purtill recalls: 'You could have shot deer in the Glen Island Casino that first night. Nobody was there.'"
^via Associated Press. "On The Light Side Of News", The Gettysburg Times, March 9, 1977. Accessed May 10, 2016. "The first index of Star Trek stories, written by fans in the 10 years the show has been off the air, is being put together by a Fair Lawn librarian. Roberta Rogow has purchased 20,000 index cards on which she hopes to compile the 'Trekindex', a guide to finding all the works."
^Argetsinger, Amy; and Roberts, Roxanne. "'Leaner and Meaner' Rove Has Less Weight to Throw Around", The Washington Post, August 30, 2006. Accessed March 29, 2011. "Matched: Rep. Steve Rothman (D-N.J.), 53, who got teased when gossip columns and his hometown paper discovered his online personal ad two years ago (brown-eyed Libra, enjoys swimming, wine and jazz), had the last laugh Aug. 18 when he married Jennifer Anne Beckenstein, 48 -- a food bank publicist whom he met through Jdate.com -- in Nyack, N.Y. The two will honeymoon later in the year, his office said; for now, they're busy combining their five teens into one household in Fair Lawn, N.J."
^Bloom, Nate. "Noshes: Worth Checking Out", The Jewish Standard, June 29, 2007. "Spektor, 27, is far better known... She went to middle school yeshiva in New York and, for her first two years in high school, she went to the Frisch School in Paramus. She graduated from Fair Lawn High School."
^Belkin, Lisa. "Savvy 7-year-old acts like a real pro", Lawrence Journal-World, January 5, 1986. Accessed February 8, 2011. "Fair Lawn, N.J. - The actress 49 inches tall, 7 years old and missing three teeth - stood in the center of her den and patiently explained the difference between television commercials and real life."
^Matsumoto, Lori. "No Sound speaks up for the world of silence", The Mirror, July 5, 1970. Accessed November 30, 2017. "Julius Wiggins was born here in Toronto and grew up here. His love of the city and its idiosyncracies are obvious. He and his wife and three children lived on Acton Avenue in Downsview for 10 years before moving to Fair Lawn, New Jersey to begin publishing Silent News a year and a half ago."
^Homestead, Garretson Forge and Farm. Accessed September 16, 2017. "The Garretson homestead stands on a portion of land that was deeded to David Daniellse in 1708 by King George of Great Britain and the Lenni Lenape Chief, Spotted Tail. Peter Garretson purchased the property from Daniellse in 1719."
^Staff. "The Record: Preserving history", The Record, August 1, 2013, backed up by the Internet Archive as of August 23, 2013. Accessed September 16, 2017. "Fair Lawn bought the 1776 Naugle House three years ago, snatching it from the jaws of a developer with plans to build town homes on the property. Not only was the house saved, but so were the grounds, keeping precious open space open."
^Sudol, Karen. "Fate of Fair Lawn historic homes becomes clearer", The Record, July 29, 2013, backed up by the Internet Archive as of November 5, 2013. Accessed September 16, 2017. "Fair Lawn bought the house in 2010 for $1.7 million using municipal and county open space funds. The cost to develop the restoration plan -- not the actual work on the house -- was $38,500, funded through a county grant matched by the borough.... The house, which dates to 1776 and is listed on the national and state historic place registers, is said to have been the home of a paymaster for the Continental Army and to have once hosted the Marquis de Lafayette, the French nobleman who fought with the Continental Army."
^Diduch, Mary. "Fate of old Fair Lawn house rests with proposal for senior complex", The Record, May 27, 2014, backed up by the Internet Archive as of September 18, 2016. Accessed September 16, 2017. "The zoning board is poised Thursday to hear an application to build an assisted-living facility on a three-acre parcel where an 18th-century historic structure sits. The preservation of the Jacob Vanderbeck Jr. house on Dunkerhook Road has been an issue in the borough for years, and now the historic commission there is looking to negotiate with the developer to possibly have the home moved so it can be preserved."