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Berkeley Heights, New Jersey
Township
Township of Berkeley Heights
Heritage Square Shopping Center
Heritage Square Shopping Center
Official seal of Berkeley Heights, New Jersey
Seal
Motto: "Where Tradition Meets Tomorrow."
Map of Berkeley Heights in Union County. Inset: Location of Union County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Map of Berkeley Heights in Union County. Inset: Location of Union County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Berkeley Heights, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Berkeley Heights, New Jersey
Country  United States
State  New Jersey
County Union
Incorporated November 8, 1809 (as New Providence Township)
Renamed November 6, 1951 (as Berkeley Heights Township)
Named for John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton
Area
 • Total 6.266 sq mi (16.229 km2)
 • Land 6.211 sq mi (16.087 km2)
 • Water 0.055 sq mi (0.142 km2)  0.88%
Area rank 252nd of 566 in state
6th of 21 in county
Elevation 394 ft (120 m)
Population (2010 Census)
 • Total 13,183
 • Estimate (2015) 13,549
 • Rank 189th of 566 in state
15th of 21 in county
 • Density 2,122.4/sq mi (819.5/km2)
 • Density rank 283rd of 566 in state
20th of 21 in county
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (EDT) (UTC-4)
ZIP code 07922
Area code(s) 908
FIPS code 3403905320
GNIS feature ID 0882218
Website Official site
Berkeley Heights NJ Plainfield Avenue looking south
Plainfield Avenue

Berkeley Heights is a township in Union County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 13,183, reflecting a decline of 224 (-1.7%) from the 13,407 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 1,427 (+11.9%) from the 11,980 counted in the 1990 Census.

Berkeley Heights was originally incorporated as New Providence Township by the New Jersey Legislature on November 8, 1809, from portions of Springfield Township, while the area was still part of Essex County. New Providence Township became part of the newly formed Union County at its creation on March 19, 1857. Portions of the township were taken on March 23, 1869, to create Summit, and on March 14, 1899, to form the borough of New Providence. On November 6, 1951, the name of the township was changed to Berkeley Heights, based on the results of a referendum held that day. The township was named for John Berkeley, 1st Baron Berkeley of Stratton, one of the founders of the Province of New Jersey.

In Money magazine's 2013 Best Places to Live rankings, Berkeley Heights was ranked 6th in the nation, the highest among the three places in New Jersey included in the top 50 list. The magazine's 2007 list had the township ranked 45th out of a potential 2,800 places in the United States with populations above 7,500 and under 50,000.

In its 2010 rankings of the "Best Places to Live", New Jersey Monthly magazine ranked Berkeley Heights as the 19th best place to live in New Jersey. In its 2008 rankings of the "Best Places To Live" New Jersey Monthly magazine ranked Berkeley Heights as the 59th best place to live in New Jersey.

History

The Lenape Native Americans were known to inhabit the region, including the area now known as Berkeley Heights, dating back to the 1524 voyage of Giovanni da Verrazzano to what is now the lower New York Bay.

The earliest construction in Berkeley Heights began in an area that is now part of the 1,960 acres (7.9 km2) Watchung Reservation, a Union County park that includes 305 acres (1.23 km2) of the township.

The first European settler was Peter Willcox, who received a 424 acres (1.72 km2) land grant in 1720 from the Elizabethtown Associates. This group bought much of northern New Jersey from the Lenape in the late 17th century. Willcox built a grist and lumber mill across Green Brook.

In 1793, a regional government was formed. It encompassed the area from present-day Springfield Township, Summit, New Providence, and Berkeley Heights, and was called Springfield Township. Growth continued in the area, and by 1809, Springfield Township divided into Springfield Township and New Providence Township, which included present day Summit, New Providence, and Berkeley Heights.

In 1845, Willcox's heirs sold the mill to David Felt, a paper manufacturer from New York. Felt built a small village around the mill aptly named Feltville. It included homes for workers and their families, dormitories, orchards, a post office and a general store with a second floor church.

Berkeley Heights NJ Little Flower Catholic church
Little Flower Catholic Church next to the Berkeley Heights Public Library

In 1860, Feltville was sold to sarsaparilla makers. Other manufacturing operations continued until Feltville went into bankruptcy in 1882. When residents moved away, the area became known as Deserted Village. Village remains consist of seven houses, a store, the mill and a barn. Deserted Village is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is undergoing restoration by the Union County Parks Department. Restoration grants of almost $2 million were received from various state agencies. Deserted Village, in the Watchung Reservation, is open daily for unguided walking tours during daylight hours.

On March 23, 1869, Summit Township (now the City of Summit) seceded from New Providence Township. On March 14, 1899, the Borough of New Providence seceded from New Providence Township. Present day Berkeley Heights remained as New Providence Township. Many of the townships and regional areas in New Jersey were separating into small, locally governed communities at that time due to acts of the New Jersey Legislature that made it economically advantageous for the communities to due so.

Due to confusion between the adjacent municipalities of the Borough of New Providence and the Township of New Providence, the township conducted a referendum in 1952 and voted to change the name to Berkeley Heights Township. The origin of the township's name has never been fully established, but is believed to have been taken from an area of town that was referred to by this moniker, which itself was assumed to be derived from Lord John Berkeley, who was co-proprietor of New Jersey from 1664 to 1674.

Early life in Berkeley Heights is documented in the Littell-Lord Farmhouse Museum & Farmstead (31 Horseshoe Road in Berkeley Heights), an 18-acre (73,000 m2) museum surrounding two houses, one of which was built in the 1750s and the other near the start of the 19th century.

Among the exhibits are a Victorian master bedroom and a Victorian children's room, furnished with period antiques. The children's room also has reproductions of antique toys, which visitors can play with. The museum, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, also includes an outbuilding that was used as a summer kitchen, a corn crib dating to the 19th century and a spring house built around a spring and used for refrigeration. The museum is open 2-4 p.m. on the third Sunday of each month from April through December, or by appointment.

The township owes its rural character to its late development. Until 1941, when the American Telephone and Telegraph Company built the AT&T Bell Laboratories research facility in the township, it was a sleepy farming and resort community.

Berkeley Heights is host to a traditional religious procession and feast carried out by members of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Society. The feast is capped by one of the largest fireworks shows in the state. The Feast of Mt. Carmel has been a town tradition since 1909.

In 1958, part of a Nike missile battery (NY-73) was installed in Berkeley Heights. The missiles were located in nearby Mountainside, while the radar station was installed in Berkeley Heights. It remained in operation until 1963, and remnants of the site are located adjacent to Governor Livingston High School.

Free Acres

Another early Berkeley Heights community of note is the 67-acre (270,000 m2) Free Acres, established in 1910 by Bolton Hall, a New York entrepreneur and reformer who believed in the idea of Henry George, the economist, of single taxation, under which residents pay tax to the community, which, in turn, pays a lump sum to the municipality. Among the early residents of Free Acres were the actor James Cagney and his wife, Billie.

Residents of Free Acres pay tax to their association, which maintains its streets and swimming pool, approves architectural changes to homes and pays a lump sum in taxes to the municipality.

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 6.266 square miles (16.229 km2), including 6.211 square miles (16.087 km2) of land and 0.055 square miles (0.142 km2) of water (0.88%). Certain portions of Berkeley Heights are located in various flood zones. Residential homes, as well as some commercial areas along Berkeley Heights' downtown Springfield Avenue area, have been known to be completely submerged in poor weather.

The township is located partially on the crest of the Second Watchung Mountain and in the Passaic River Valley, aptly named as the Passaic River forms the township's northern border. Berkeley Heights is located in northwestern Union County, at the confluence of Union, Morris, and Somerset Counties. Berkeley Heights is bordered by New Providence and Summit to the east, Scotch Plains to the southeast, Chatham to the north, Watchung to the south, and Warren Township and Long Hill Township to the west.

Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Benders Corners, Glenside Park, Stony Hill and Union Village.

Downtown

Downtown Berkeley Heights is located along Springfield Avenue, approximately between the intersections with Plainfield Avenue and Snyder Avenue. In addition, a post office, the Municipal Building, police station, train station, Walgreens, Stop & Shop and other shops and services are located in this downtown section.

A brick walk with personalized bricks engraved with the names of many long-time Berkeley Heights residents runs from near the railroad station towards the planned New York Marts grocery store. A memorial to the victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks adjoins a wooded area alongside Park Avenue, just southwest of downtown.

Certain portions of Berkeley Heights are located in flood zones. Residential homes, as well as some commercial areas along the downtown Springfield Avenue area, are impacted by flooding.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1810 756
1820 768 1.6%
1830 903 17.6%
1840 832 −7.9%
1850 1,216 46.2%
1860 1,308 7.6%
1870 934 * −28.6%
1880 781 −16.4%
1890 839 7.4%
1900 469 * −44.1%
1910 526 12.2%
1920 954 81.4%
1930 1,899 99.1%
1940 2,194 15.5%
1950 3,466 58.0%
1960 8,721 151.6%
1970 13,078 50.0%
1980 12,549 −4.0%
1990 11,980 −4.5%
2000 13,407 11.9%
2010 13,183 −1.7%
Est. 2015 13,549 2.8%
Population sources:1810-1920
1840 1850 1860-1870
1870 1880-1890
1890-1910 1910-1930
1930-1990 2000 2010
* = Lost territory in previous decade.

2010 Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 13,183 people, 4,470 households, and 3,580 families residing in the township. The population density was 2,122.4 per square mile (819.5/km2). There were 4,596 housing units at an average density of 739.9 per square mile (285.7/km2)*. The racial makeup of the township was 85.64% (11,290) White, 1.49% (197) Black or African American, 0.02% (3) Native American, 10.43% (1,375) Asian, 0.00% (0) Pacific Islander, 0.75% (99) from other races, and 1.66% (219) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.12% (675) of the population.

There were 4,470 households out of which 41.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 71.1% were married couples living together, 6.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.9% were non-families. 17.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.85 and the average family size was 3.26.

In the township, the population was spread out with 26.9% under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 20.5% from 25 to 44, 30.0% from 45 to 64, and 17.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43.5 years. For every 100 females there were 90.6 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 87.5 males.

The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $132,089 (with a margin of error of +/- $11,331) and the median family income was $150,105 (+/- $17,689). Males had a median income of $105,733 (+/- $10,158) versus $55,545 (+/- $11,985) for females. The per capita income for the township was $56,737 (+/- $5,135). About 0.8% of families and 1.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.7% of those under age 18 and 0.7% of those age 65 or over.

2000 Census

As of the 2000 United States Census there were 13,407 people, 4,479 households, and 3,717 families residing in the township. The population density was 2,140.7 people per square mile (826.9/km2). There were 4,562 housing units at an average density of 728.4 per square mile (281.4/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 89.65% White, 1.11% African American, 0.08% Native American, 7.87% Asian, 0.61% from other races, and 0.68% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.68% of the population.

There were 4,479 households out of which 41.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 74.1% were married couples living together, 6.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.0% were non-families. 14.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.89 and the average family size was 3.21.

Berkeley Heights NJ giant flag near Plainfield & Springfield Avenues
A giant flag flies over the intersection of Plainfield and Springfield avenues

In the township the population was spread out with 26.8% under the age of 18, 4.2% from 18 to 24, 27.8% from 25 to 44, 24.8% from 45 to 64, and 16.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 91.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.4 males.

The median income for a household in the township was $107,716, and the median income for a family was $118,862. Males had a median income of $83,175 versus $50,022 for females. The per capita income for the township was $43,981. About 1.5% of families and 2.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.8% of those under age 18 and 3.1% of those age 65 or over.

Parks and recreation

Berkeley Heights NJ public park near train station
Peppertown park near the train station
Berkeley Heights NJ memorial plaza near train station
Memorial park
Berkeley Heights NJ ballfield and fence
Playing field

Located in Berkeley Heights are many municipal parks, including the largest one, Columbia Park (located along Plainfield Avenue). Columbia Park boasts tennis courts, two baseball fields, basketball courts, and a large children's play area. It is operated by the Recreation Commission. In addition to those located at each of the schools, athletic fields are located along Horseshoe Road (Sansone Field) and along Springfield Avenue (Passaic River Park).

There are three swimming clubs located in Berkeley Heights: the Berkeley Heights Community Pool (Locust Avenue), the Berkeley Swim Club (behind Columbia Park), and Berkeley Aquatic (off of Springfield Avenue). In May 2013, by a 4-1 margin, township voters rejected a proposed new location for the Berkeley Aquatic Club that would have been situated just across the township border with Warren Township.

The Watchung Reservation and Passaic Valley Park are in the township and maintained by Union County. The Watchung Reservation has hiking trails, horseback riding trails, a large lake (Lake Surprise), the deserted community of Feltville and picnic areas.

Feltville NJ
Feltville

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