|Paramus, New Jersey|
|Borough of Paramus|
Welcome to Paramus
Map highlighting Paramus' location within Bergen County. Inset: Bergen County's location within New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Paramus, New Jersey
|Incorporated||April 4, 1922|
|• Total||10.520 sq mi (27.246 km2)|
|• Land||10.470 sq mi (27.117 km2)|
|• Water||0.050 sq mi (0.129 km2) 0.47%|
|Area rank||205th of 566 in state
2nd of 70 in county
|Elevation||49 ft (15 m)|
|Population (2010 Census)|
|• Estimate (2015)||26,974|
|• Rank||93rd of 566 in state
8th of 70 in county
|• Density||2,516.0/sq mi (971.4/km2)|
|• Density rank||249th of 566 in state
50th of 70 in county
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||Eastern (EDT) (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0885340|
Paramus (// pə-RAM-əs, with the accent on the second syllable) is a borough in Bergen County, in the U.S. state of New Jersey. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 26,342, reflecting an increase of 605 (+2.4%) from the 25,737 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 670 (+2.7%) from the 25,067 counted in the 1990 Census. A suburb of New York City, Paramus is located 15 to 20 miles (24 to 32 km) northwest of Midtown Manhattan and approximately 8 miles (13 km) west of Upper Manhattan. In 2013, it was named as a "New Jersey Healthy Town" under the state's Mayor's Wellness Campaign.
Paramus was incorporated as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 2, 1922, and ratified by a referendum held on April 4, 1922, that passed by a vote of 238 to 10. Paramus was created from portions of Midland Township, which now exists as Rochelle Park. The name is usually said to be of Native American origin, derived from words meaning "land of the turkey" or meaning "pleasant stream."
The borough is one of the largest shopping destinations in the country, generating over $5 billion in annual retail sales, more than any other ZIP code in the United States. Paramus has some of the most restrictive blue laws in the nation, banning nearly all white-collar and retail businesses from opening on Sundays except for gas stations, restaurants and grocery stores, and a limited number of other businesses. More than 63% of Bergen County voters rejected a referendum on the ballot in 1993 that would have repealed the county's blue laws, though the Paramus restrictions would have remained in place.
New Jersey Monthly magazine ranked Paramus as its 21st best place to live in its 2013 rankings of the "Best Places To Live" in New Jersey. According to a recent NerdWallet survey, the sixth-best place to start a business in New Jersey is Paramus as well as being the ninth-best place for home ownership in the state. Fundera's 2016 study ranked Paramus the fouth-best city in New Jersey for entrepreneurs. Paramus ranked in the top 20 places with populations over 25,000 in the U.S. by median household income as reported by CNNMoney.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 10.520 square miles (27.246 km2), including 10.470 square miles (27.117 km2) of land and 0.050 square miles (0.129 km2) of water (0.47%).
The area that became northern New Jersey was occupied for thousands of years by prehistoric indigenous peoples. At the time of European encounter, it was settled by the historic Lenape people. The Lenape language word for the area, Peremessing, which meant that it had an abundant population of wild turkey, was anglicized to become the word "Paramus". A large metal statue of a wild turkey in the Paramus Park mall commemorates this history. Another variation is that the word means "pleasant stream".
Albert Saboroweski (Albrycht Zaborowski), whose descendants became known by the family name "Zabriskie", immigrated from Poland via the Dutch ship The Fox in 1662. He settled in the Dutch West Indies Company town of Ackensack, today's Hackensack. A son, Jacob, was captured by the Lenape and held for 15 years. When he was returned to his family, the Lenape explained to Saboroweski that they had taken the child in order to teach him their language so that he could serve as a translator. They granted Saboroweski approximately 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) of land which became known as the "Paramus Patent".
During the American Revolutionary War, the county included both Tories and Patriots, with Patriots "greatly outnumbering" Tories. Although no major battles were fought in Bergen County, Paramus was part of the military activity, as colonial troops were stationed in Ramapo under the command of Aaron Burr. In 1777, the British raided the Hackensack area and Burr marched troops to Paramus, where he attacked the British, forcing them to withdraw. General George Washington was in Paramus several times during the War: December 1778; July 1780; and, December 1780. Following the Battle of Monmouth, Washington established his headquarters in Paramus in July 1778. Over the advice of his staff, Washington moved his headquarters to Westchester County, New York.
A section of Paramus known as Dunkerhook (meaning dark corner in Dutch) was a free African-American community dating to the early 18th century. Although historical markers on the current site and local oral tradition maintain that this was a slave community, contemporary records document that it was a community of free blacks, not slaves. A group of houses built on Dunkerhook Road by the Zabriskies in the late 18th to early 19th centuries was the center of a community of black farmers, who had been slaves held by the Zabriskie family.
Farview Avenue, located at the highest peak in Paramus, has a clear view of the New York City skyline.
Paramus became one of the "truck farming" areas that helped New Jersey earn its nickname as the "Garden State". By 1940, Paramus' population was just 4,000, with no town center and 94 retail establishments. Although the opening of the George Washington Bridge in 1931 and the widening of New Jersey Route 17 and New Jersey Route 4 (which intersect in southern Paramus), made the area accessible to millions, "it was not until the 1950's that massive development hit this section of northern New Jersey".
During the 1950s and 1960s, Paramus, lacking any master plan until 1969, was redeveloped into two shopping corridors when its farmers and outside developers saw that shopping malls were more lucrative than produce farming. "It was a developer's dream: flat cleared land adjacent to major arterials and accessible to a growing suburban population and the country's largest city – with no planning restrictions". New York had a state sales tax, but New Jersey had none, so with the opening of Manhattan department stores in the Bergen Mall (1957), the Garden State Plaza (1957) and Alexander's (1961), Paramus became the "first stop outside New York City for shopping". From 1948–58, the population of Paramus increased from 6,000 to 23,000, the number of retail establishments tripled from 111 to 319, and annual retail sales increased from $5.5 million to $112 million. By the 1980s, when the population had increased slightly over 1960s levels, retail sales had climbed to $1 billion.
As of the census of 2010, there were 26,342 people, 8,630 households, and 6,939 families residing in the borough. The population density was 2,516.0 per square mile (971.4/km2). There were 8,915 housing units at an average density of 851.5 per square mile (328.8/km2)*. The racial makeup of the borough was 72.29% (19,042) White, 1.42% (374) Black or African American, 0.11% (28) Native American, 22.28% (5,869) Asian, 0.05% (13) Pacific Islander, 1.39% (366) from other races, and 2.47% (650) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 7.26% (1,913) of the population. 6.9% of residents self-identified as being Korean-American, which makes it the largest ethnic minority group in the borough.
There were 8,630 households out of which 33.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 68.4% were married couples living together, 9.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.6% were non-families. 17.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.92 and the average family size was 3.32.
In the borough, the population was spread out with 21.5% under the age of 18, 7.1% from 18 to 24, 19.2% from 25 to 44, 30.2% from 45 to 64, and 21.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 46.3 years. For every 100 females there were 94.9 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 91.7 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006–2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $104,986 (with a margin of error of +/- $9,111) and the median family income was $123,848 (+/- $7,952). Males had a median income of $77,325 (+/- $5,222) versus $52,702 (+/- $4,983) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $40,024. About 1.6% of families and 2.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.0% of those under age 18 and 4.1% of those age 65 or over.
Same-sex couples headed 35 households in 2010, more than double the 17 counted in the 2000 census.
As of the 2000 United States Census there were 25,737 people, 8,082 households, and 6,780 families residing in the borough. The population density was 2,457.7 people per square mile (949.1/km2). There were 8,209 housing units at an average density of 783.9 per square mile (302.7/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 79.19% White, 1.13% African American, 0.05% Native American, 17.23% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.89% from other races, and 1.51% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.87% of the population.
There were 8,082 households out of which 37.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 73.3% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 16.1% were non-families. 14.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.00 and the average family size was 3.32.
In the borough the population was spread out with 23.2% under the age of 18, 5.5% from 18 to 24, 24.7% from 25 to 44, 25.0% from 45 to 64, and 21.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 94.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.4 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $76,918, and the median income for a family was $84,406. Males had a median income of $56,635 versus $37,450 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $29,295. About 1.4% of families and 3.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.4% of those under age 18 and 5.0% of those age 65 or over.
Arts and culture
One of the earliest drive-in theaters opened in Paramus, featuring what was said to be the world's largest and brightest screen, located behind what is now Westfield Garden State Plaza. The Paramus Drive-In closed in 1987 after the last movie presentation, a double-feature of "Crocodile" Dundee and The Untouchables.
Currently, Paramus' lone movie theater complex is a 16-screen AMC Theatres located in an area of new construction at Westfield Garden State Plaza. Prior to the opening of the AMC complex, a number of theatres were closed in the borough, including the Route 4 Tenplex and the Cineplex Odeon Route 17 Triplex, once located next to Westfield Garden State Plaza on Route 17. The Triplex theatre was opened in 1965 by Century Theatres and was closed on January 19, 2006, by Loews Cineplex Entertainment. The Tenplex on Route 4 was closed on May 24, 2007, the day before the new AMC Theatres opened at Westfield Garden State Plaza. The Paramus Picture Show, known as Cinema 35 until 1997, closed in December 2004 in the wake of declining attendance. The borough will regain a second theater in 2018, when a 13-screen Regal Cinemas will be opening at Paramus Park.
The Bergen Town Center formerly had a performing arts theater called "Playhouse on the Mall". It had a seating capacity of 635 seats and was opened in 1960. From 1960 to 1970, author Robert Ludlum was the manager of the theater. The theater closed in 1982 due to rising costs and low attendance and was converted into retail space in 1986.
In 2016, the Garden State Plaza added a Bergen Performing Arts Center performance area for shows and performances located near Macy's, which took up the former space of the Venetian carousel. There is also a Bergen PAC ticket center located near the performance area.
Parks and recreation
Paramus is the home to two county parks. On the eastern side of the borough is Van Saun County Park, a 146 acres (59 ha) park that features Bergen County's only zoo, home to a wide variety of wild and domestic animals living in recreated habitats natural to each species. Van Saun Park also has a playground, train ride, carousel, athletic fields, and pony rides. On the western side of the borough is Saddle River County Park which features a 6-mile (9.7 km) bike path reaching from Ridgewood to Rochelle Park. The Washington Spring site in the park takes its name from reports that General Washington drank water from the spring here while his troops were encamped nearby, west of the Hackensack River. The Continental Army is reported to have utilized the old spring at the base of these slopes during the September encampment west of the Hackensack River.
Other parks in Paramus include:
- The Cliff Gennarelli Paramus Sportsplex – a park that has athletic fields, pavilion, picnic area, and a playground. It is located behind Westfield Garden State Plaza.
- Petruska Park – a park located on Farview Avenue. It has athletic fields, playground, and a basketball court/roller rink. The Paramus Recreation office is also located in the park.
- Parkway Plex – located on East Ridgewood Avenue behind Parkway School. It has athletic fields.
- Bensen Park – a neighborhood park that has a playground and a sports field.
- Buehler Park – a green belt park that has a trail showing New Jersey aviation history.
- Constitution Grove Park – located at Farview and East Midland Avenues. There are monuments about the Paramus Rescue Squad, Paramus Rotary Club, and Christopher Columbus/Unico.
- Di Maggio Park – located between Oliver Road and Flint Place.
- Faber Park – a park located on Hemlock Drive. It has playgrounds and basketball courts.
- Fairway Oaks Park – a park located off Paramus Road. It has a fitness walk.
- Firemen's Park – located across from Farview Fire Company #4, where it has monuments dedicated to Paramus' Volunteer Fire Department.
- Howland Memorial Grove – a monument park reflecting on those who died on September 11, 2001.
- Madison Park – a park located on June & Jay Drive that has playgrounds.
- McEllen Park – a park that has playgrounds and a basketball court.
- Mele Park – a park located on Silverrod Court. It has playgrounds and athletic fields.
- Reid Park – located on Spencer Place. It has a walkway, athletic fields, and a playground.
- Sirianni Park – located on Midwood Road. It has athletic fields, a playground, a basketball court, and open play area.
- Spring Valley Park – located on Spring Valley Avenue. The park is located on the Paramus–Maywood border.
In 2008, the Paramus Golf Course opened a miniature golf course that is themed after the borough of Paramus as well as the state of New Jersey. Turkey statues are scattered around the course to celebrate Paramus as the "land of the wild turkeys."
Paramus has an outdoor municipal swimming pool complex on Van Binsberger Boulevard. It has three pools: a main pool, a pool for younger swimmers, and a baby pool.
There is an annual Terri Roemer Paramus Run featuring a 5K, 10K running race, one–mile "Fun Run", & 5 km Health Walk for runners and walkers of all ages.
Arcola Park was an outdoor amusement park built in 1926. It had a huge swimming pool, a convention hall, a dance pavilion, an auditorium, and rides. A fire in 1929 destroyed the entire park, with the exception of the pool. The pool was destroyed by a fire in 1970 and closed down for good. The park site was replaced by a Ramada Inn, the hotel extending into a small portion of Rochelle Park.
During the week of the 4th of July, Paramus holds its own Independence Day celebration. First, there is the performance of the Paramus Community Orchestra at the Paramus Bandshell which takes place on July 2. Next, on the 3rd, there is a softball game between the Paramus Fire Department and the Paramus Police Department, held annually since 2011. On the 4th, there is a parade. The parade route starts at the intersection of Century Road and Farview Avenue and ends at Memorial Elementary School. On the 5th, there is a fireworks display at the Cliff Gennarelli Paramus Sportsplex.
Paramus also holds its own Memorial Day parade every year.
Paramus hosts an annual National Night Out. The event typically includes games and activities as well as a concert. The borough's fire, rescue, police, and ambulance vehicles are also displayed.
The Paramus Rescue Squad and Fire Department Companies 2 & 3 host a Halloween party every October called, "Safe Halloween" to ensure every child has a safe and fun Halloween.
Religious institutions of worship in Paramus include:
- Annunciation Roman Catholic Church, 50 West Midland Ave.
- Arcola United Methodist Church, 52 South Paramus Road.
- Armenian Presbyterian Church, 140 Forest Avenue.
- Central Unitarian Church, 156 Forest Avenue.
- Christ of the Savior Lutheran Church, 643 Forest Avenue.
- Church at the Crossroads, 140 Forest Avenue.
- Maranatha Church of the Nazarene, 285 East Midland Avenue.
- One Life Mission Church, 242 East Midland Avenue.
- Our Lady of the Visitation Roman Catholic Church, 234 North Farview Avenue.
- Paramus Congregational Church, 205 Spring Valley Road.
- Pilgrim Church (Korean), 18 Essex Road.
- St. Athanasio's Greek Orthodox Church, 51 Paramus Road.
- St. Matthew's Episcopal Church, 167 Spring Valley Road.
- The Orthodox Christian Church of Christ The Saviour, 365 Paramus Road.
- Trinity Presbyterian Church, 650 Pascack Road.
Roads and highways
As of July 2015[update], the borough had a total of 121.92 miles (196.21 km) of roadways, of which 90.93 miles (146.34 km) were maintained by the municipality, 18.86 miles (30.35 km) by Bergen County, 7.72 miles (12.42 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation, and 4.41 miles (7.10 km) by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
Highways in Paramus include Route 17, Route 4 and the Garden State Parkway (including the Paramus Toll Plaza at Interchange 165).
NJ Transit bus routes 144, 145, 148, 155, 157, 162, 163, 164, 165 and 168 serve the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan; the 171 and 175 routes provide service to the George Washington Bridge Bus Station; and local service is offered on the 709, 722, 751, 752, 753, 755, 756, 758, 762 and 770 routes. Nine of the 22 NJ Transit buses that serve Paramus do not provide service on Sundays. The 722 does not provide services on Saturdays and Sundays.
Coach USA provides bus service to the Port Authority Bus Terminal via Rockland Coaches routes 45/45A/45X from Pomona, New York and via Short Line on Route 17.
Spanish Transportation and several other operators provide frequent jitney service along Route 4 between Paterson, New Jersey and the George Washington Bridge Bus Station.
Points of interest
Paramus is home to the following locations on the National Register of Historic Places:
- Midland School – 239 W. Midland Avenue (added 1978). The school was constructed in 1876, and was used as a branch of the Paramus Public Library after Midland School was moved.
- Terhune House – 470 Paramus Road (added 1996). An 18th-century Dutch Colonial home constructed of sandstone, that was later modified to add Victorian features, including a mansard roof.
- Terhune-Gardner-Lindenmeyr House – 218 Paramus Road (added 1972). A Federal Period home constructed on the last remaining portion of untouched land from Terhune's farm, as taken from the original Zabriskie patent. The oldest known portion that can be reliably dated is from 1807–08, with an older adjoining section of the house dating back as far as 1707.
- Harmon Van Dien House – 449 Paramus Road (added 1983).
- Albert J. Zabriskie Farmhouse – 7 East Ridgewood Avenue (added 1977).
- Zabriskie Tenant House – 273 Dunkerhook Road (added 1984). The house was demolished in July 2012 by a housing developer who owned the property, after efforts to preserve or relocate the house failed.
Other points of interest
- Buehler Challenger and Science Center, located on the campus of Bergen Community College. It is a space museum where children learn about outer space and missions through simulations. The science center is also available to adults and educators.
- Fritz Behnke Historical Museum, located on Paramus Road. It is open every Sunday and has exhibits about Paramus' past.
- New Jersey Children's Museum. Opened in 1992, it featured hands-on exhibits for children such as a fire truck, a news studio, a helicopter, and other fun pretend attractions that drew 700,000 visitors per year. It closed in 2014 after Valley Hospital wanted to buy property near its Ridgewood location.
In popular culture
- The 1993 Saturday Night Live spin-off movie Coneheads is set in Paramus. Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin's characters decide to move to and permanently reside in the borough so daughter Michelle Burke can attend Paramus High School. Aykroyd's character "Beldar Conehead" spends his days in Paramus giving driving lessons and playing golf.
- Several episodes of The Sopranos, the HBO mob drama, have used Paramus locations. Westfield Garden State Plaza was used as the "Paramus Mall," and the Ramsey Outdoor Store on Route 17 became the "Ramsey Outdoor," and a character is "whacked" at the remnants of the Old Mill Bathing Beach on Paramus Road. In the final episode of the series, a scene with Paulie Walnuts is shot in Paramus, where he was in a car, driving past a gas station.
- Less Than Jake recorded a song entitled, "24 Hours in Paramus" in 1995 as one of the songs in their album, Losers, Kings, and Things We Don't Understand.
- Scenes from the 2008 film Burn After Reading by the Coen Brothers were filmed in Paramus at the site of the old Tower Records annex building located on Route 17S that had been transformed into Hardbodies Fitness Center.
- In the 2011 superhero film Captain America: The First Avenger, Brooklyn native Steve Rogers uses Paramus as a fake hometown during a string of unsuccessful efforts to enlist in the United States Army during World War II.
- The 2005 Sesame Street direct-to-video All Star Alphabet, featuring Stephen Colbert and Nicole Sullivan, was filmed on location at Westfield Garden State Plaza.
- Paramus was one of the filming locations in the 1986 film Something Wild.
- A scene from the 1996 film Ransom was filmed on Route 4 in Paramus where Mullen is driving to Stone Quarry.
- The former Paramus Bowling Center was the filming site of the bowling competition shows Make That Spare and Championship Bowling.
- Zach Deputy recorded a song called "Paramus" in 2009 as one of the songs in his album "Sunshine".
- In season 3, episode 9 of American Horror Story: Coven first aired in December 2013, Fiona Goode threatens Myrtle Snow to Paramus, calling it "toxic waste and outlet malls."
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