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Rutherford, New Jersey
Borough of Rutherford
Welcome to Rutherford sign
Welcome to Rutherford sign
Official seal of Rutherford, New Jersey
Nickname(s): "Borough of Trees"
"First Borough of Bergen County"
Map highlighting Rutherford's location within Bergen County. Inset: Bergen County's location within New Jersey.
Map highlighting Rutherford's location within Bergen County. Inset: Bergen County's location within New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Rutherford, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Rutherford, New Jersey
Country  United States
State  New Jersey
County Bergen
Incorporated September 21, 1881
Named for John Rutherfurd
 • Total 2.942 sq mi (7.618 km2)
 • Land 2.806 sq mi (7.267 km2)
 • Water 0.136 sq mi (0.352 km2)  4.61%
Area rank 337th of 566 in state
28th of 70 in county
Elevation 66 ft (20 m)
Population (2010 Census)
 • Total 18,061
 • Estimate (2015) 18,690
 • Rank 143rd of 566 in state
16th of 70 in county
 • Density 6,437.4/sq mi (2,485.5/km2)
 • Density rank 73rd of 566 in state
21st of 70 in county
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (EDT) (UTC-4)
ZIP code 07070
Area code(s) 201
FIPS code 3400365280
GNIS feature ID 0885383

Rutherford is a borough in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 18,061, reflecting a decline of 49 (−0.3%) from the 18,110 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 320 (+1.8%) from the 17,790 counted in the 1990 Census.

Rutherford was formed as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on September 21, 1881, from portions of Union Township, based on the results of a referendum held on the previous day. The borough was named for John Rutherfurd, a U.S. Senator who owned land in the area.

Rutherford has been called the "Borough of Trees" and "The First Borough of Bergen County".


The ridge above the New Jersey Meadowlands upon which Rutherford sits was settled by Lenape Native Americans long before the arrival of Walling Van Winkle in 1687. Union Avenue, which runs from the Meadowlands to the Passaic River, may have been an Indian trail, but was more likely a property boundary line; it was referenced in the 1668 grant of land by proprietary Governor Philip Carteret to John Berry.

Rutherford 1904
Bird's-eye view of Rutherford in 1904

During the early days of settlement, the land that is now Rutherford was part of New Barbadoes Township, as Berry had lived in Barbados, another English colony, before claiming his grant in New Jersey. New Barbadoes was part of Essex County from 1693 to 1710, when Bergen County was formed. In 1826, the land became part of Lodi Township (of which today's remaining portion is now South Hackensack). When Hudson County was formed in 1840, the area that is today North Arlington, Lyndhurst, Rutherford and East Rutherford became part of Harrison Township (of which today's remaining portion is Harrison town). However, the area reverted to Bergen County in 1852 and became known as Union Township.

Part of the region was known as Boiling Springs for a powerful and ceaseless spring located in the vicinity. Despite its name, the spring actually consisted of cold groundwater seeps rather than hot springs.

The Erie Railroad built its Main Line from Jersey City across the Meadowlands in the 1840s. Daniel Van Winkle, a descendant of Walling, donated land in 1866 for a train station at Boiling Springs. Several resorts were built along the Passaic, with guests disembarking at Boiling Springs station and taking Union Avenue to the river. Later, the railroad opened a station closer to the river, at Carlton Hill.

At the time, much of the property in Rutherford was farmland owned by the estate of John Rutherfurd, a former New Jersey legislator and U.S. Senator, whose homestead was along the Passaic River, near present-day Rutherford Avenue. Van Winkle opened a real estate office at Depot Square (now Station Square) to sell the land of the Rutherfurd Park Association, and began to lay out the area's street grid. The main roads were Orient Way, a wide boulevard heading south-southwest from Station Square, and Park Avenue, which headed west-southwest from Station Square to bring traffic to the new Valley Brook Race Course in what is now Lyndhurst.

In the 1870s, the area began to be called "Rutherford". The definitive reason for the change in spelling of the final syllable from "furd" to "ford" is unknown, though the change may have been the result of name recognition of the Ohio politician Rutherford B. Hayes, who was elected President in 1876, or could have been because of a clerical error done by the United States Postal Service. The Post Office opened a facility called "Rutherford" in 1876. On September 21, 1881, the Borough of Rutherford was formed by formal vote of secession from Union Township. By then, the community had about 1,000 residents.

Historic sites

Rutherford is home to the following locations on the National Register of Historic Places:

  • Iviswold – 223 Montross Avenue (added 2004). Located on the campus of Felician College, a $9 million renovation project of the Iviswold castle that took 14 years was completed in 2013. Originally constructed by Floyd W. Tomkins in 1869, the house was expanded to three levels, 25 rooms and 18,000 square feet (1,700 m2) by textbook publisher David Brinkerhoff Iverson after he acquired the home in 1887, based on a design by architect William H. Miller.
  • Kip Homestead – 12 Meadow Road (added 1983).
  • Rutherford station – Station Square (added 1984). New Jersey Transit initiated a $1 million project in 2009 to renovate the station, which had been constructed in 1898, to restore the interior of the structure.
  • William Carlos Williams House – 9 Ridge Road (added 1973).
  • Yereance-Berry House – 91 Crane Avenue (added 1983).


According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 2.942 square miles (7.618 km2), including 2.806 square miles (7.267 km2) of land and 0.136 square miles (0.352 km2) of water (4.61%).

Rutherford is an inner-ring suburb of New York City, located 8 miles (13 km) west of Midtown Manhattan.

The borough is bounded by the Passaic River bordering Clifton and Passaic to the west, the Erie Railroad bordering East Rutherford to the north and east, the Hackensack River bordering Secaucus to the southeast, and Berrys Creek, Wall Street West and Rutherford Avenue bordering Lyndhurst to the south and southwest.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1880 2,299
1890 2,293 −0.3%
1900 4,411 92.4%
1910 7,045 59.7%
1920 9,497 34.8%
1930 14,915 57.0%
1940 15,466 3.7%
1950 17,411 12.6%
1960 20,473 17.6%
1970 20,802 1.6%
1980 19,068 −8.3%
1990 17,790 −6.7%
2000 18,110 1.8%
2010 18,061 −0.3%
Est. 2015 18,690 3.5%
Population sources: 1880-1920
1880-1890 1890-1910
1890-1930 1900-2010
2000 2010

2010 Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 18,061 people, 6,949 households, and 4,663 families residing in the borough. The population density was 6,437.4 per square mile (2,485.5/km2). There were 7,278 housing units at an average density of 2,594.1 per square mile (1,001.6/km2)*. The racial makeup of the borough was 77.57% (14,010) White, 2.92% (527) Black or African American, 0.07% (13) Native American, 13.08% (2,362) Asian, 0.01% (1) Pacific Islander, 3.68% (664) from other races, and 2.68% (484) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 14.08% (2,543) of the population.

There were 6,949 households out of which 29.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.8% were married couples living together, 10.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.9% were non-families. 27.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.17.

In the borough, the population was spread out with 21.0% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 27.6% from 25 to 44, 29.3% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40.3 years. For every 100 females there were 92.7 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 90.2 males.

The Census Bureau's 2006–2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $85,783 (with a margin of error of +/− $4,632) and the median family income was $104,293 (+/− $6,102). Males had a median income of $70,071 (+/− $8,275) versus $55,080 (+/− $4,045) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $41,662 (+/− $3,383). About 3.6% of families and 4.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.5% of those under age 18 and 5.3% of those age 65 or over.

Same-sex couples headed 65 households in 2010, an increase from the 48 counted in 2000.

2000 Census

As of the 2000 United States Census there were 18,110 people, 7,055 households, and 4,670 families residing in the borough. The population density was 6,451.7 people per square mile (2,488.4/km2). There were 7,214 housing units at an average density of 2,570.0 per square mile (991.2/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 81.99% White, 2.70% African American, 0.04% Native American, 11.34% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.86% from other races, and 2.03% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.59% of the population.

There were 7,055 households out of which 28.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.5% were married couples living together, 9.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.8% were non-families. 28.3% of all households 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 2.52 and the average family size was 3.16.

In the borough the population was spread out with 20.8% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 32.6% from 25 to 44, 24.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 92.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.3 males.

The median income for a household in the borough was $63,820, and the median income for a family was $78,120. Males had a median income of $51,376 versus $39,950 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $30,495. About 2.3% of families and 3.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.1% of those under age 18 and 6.9% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

William Carlos Williams, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who died in 1963, was born in Rutherford in 1883. For most of his adult life, he maintained a physician's office in the house in which he lived, at 9 Ridge Road, at the corner of Park Avenue, even as he continued his artistic endeavors.

The Rivoli Theatre was opened in 1922 as a vaudeville house but was quickly converted into a movie palace. It was known for a large crystal chandelier suspended from the center of the auditorium. On January 9, 1977, the Rivoli was severely damaged in a fire. Soon afterward, a plan was developed to restore the Rivoli and turn it into a performing arts center. The William Carlos Williams Center for the Performing Arts opened in 1981 and contains three movie screens as well as two performance halls. Since 1995, the Williams Center's primary focus has been on concerts, ballet, opera, and theater for children.

Yereance-Berry house 1938
The Yereance-Berry House in 1938. Home of the Meadowlands Museum.

The Meadowlands Museum, which focuses on local history and began as a project of parents of children in the public schools in 1961 and was originally based in a room at Sylvan School, moved to the Yereance-Berry House at 91 Crane Avenue in 1974.

The GFWC Woman's Club of Rutherford is a non-profit volunteer organization that was organized in 1889. The club is located in the former Iviswold carriage house.

The Rutherford Community Band was founded in 1941 and performs free concerts at venues throughout the borough, including the Hutzel Memorial Band Shell in Lincoln Park.

Annual cultural events

Rutherford holds an annual street fair on Labor Day which is the longest running street fair in New Jersey and usually attracts 20,000 people.

The first annual Rutherford West End Festival was held October 3, 2009, in the West End section of town.

The Rutherford Multicultural Festival is an annual event that provides traditional entertainment and food from around the world.

Parks and recreation

Rutherford Memorial Park, in the northwest corner of town along the Passaic, was set aside as parkland by the voters in 1951. Its 30 acres (120,000 m2) include two baseball diamonds, five softball diamonds, a Little League Baseball field, a football stadium, five tennis courts, two basketball courts, and three playgrounds. Other active recreation parks include Tamblyn Field, near Route 3.

The borough also has several smaller passive parks, including Lincoln Park across from borough hall, which was renovated in 2004. It includes a band shell and several monuments, including a cannon dating to the Spanish–American War, and is home to the borough's 9/11 memorial, containing a piece of steel debris recovered from the site of the attacks. Sunset Park is located just north of the intersection of Union and Jackson Avenues and is on the western-facing side of a rather steep hill. A plan to redesign the park is currently being developed. Firefighters' Memorial Park is a pocket park located at the intersection of Park and Mortimer Avenues.

Lincoln Park has been host to town events, concerts, and memorials for decades. The Rutherford Community Band plays concerts during the summer. Other summer concerts are sponsored by the borough, as well as several movie nights in the park. In the fall, it has hosted the Bergen County Cultural Festival, which is funded and run by the Civil Rights Commission.

The Nereid Boat Club occupies a former boat sales building on the Passaic, at the foot of Newell Avenue. The rowing club, established in Nutley in 1875, relocated to Rutherford in 1996.


Roads and highways

17 and 3 interchange Rutherford
Intersection of Routes 3 and 17 in Rutherford

As of May 2010, the borough had a total of 46.84 miles (75.38 km) of roadways, of which 36.52 miles (58.77 km) were maintained by the municipality, 6.48 miles (10.43 km) by Bergen County, 3.36 miles (5.41 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation and 0.48 miles (0.77 km) by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

In the 1920s, the original Route 17 came through downtown Rutherford. Following the 1927 New Jersey State Highway renumbering, the new NJ 2 (later NJ 17) was built in 1928, skirting the southeast edge of the borough, between the residential area and the New Jersey Meadowlands.

In 1948, a new bypass road along the southwest edge of the borough was built to bring traffic from Clifton and points west to the Lincoln Tunnel. The construction of the highway spur Route S3 (now Route 3) caused the demolition or relocation of numerous borough homes. In 2013, the Route 3 bridge over the Passaic River was replaced, and further improvements were made to the Rutherford section of the highway. Union Avenue Bridge over the Passaic was replaced in 2002.

A short portion of the New Jersey Turnpike Western Spur (Interstate 95) passes through the southern section of Rutherford, but the closest interchange is located in neighboring East Rutherford (exit 16W).

Public transportation

Rutherford NJT train station 2
Rutherford Train Station

Thanks to its easy access to New York City by rail, Rutherford became an early bedroom community. Following the initial wave of settlement in the late 19th century, an additional building boom occurred in the 1920s, when the majority of the borough's current housing stock was constructed.

Public Service Railway brought trolley lines into Rutherford around the start of the 20th century. The lines extended east to Jersey City, south to Newark, north to Hackensack, and west to Passaic. By the late 1940s, the trolleys were replaced by bus service.

After the opening of the Lincoln Tunnel in 1937, the Inter-City Bus Company began bus service direct from Paterson to New York City. The line was taken over by NJ Transit in the early 1980s.

Today, NJ Transit offers service to and from New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan on several routes. The 163 offers rush hour service only, as Rutherford is not typically along its route. The 190 offers local service along Union Avenue and Orient Way. The 191, 192 and 195 routes all serve the portion of Rutherford that is adjacent to NJ-3, as well as the portion of NJ-17 that goes through Rutherford. The 76 bus provides service between Hackensack and Newark.

Rutherford's train station, which was built by the Erie Railroad in 1898, serves passengers on NJ Transit's Bergen County Line. Service is available to Suffern and various stations along Metro-North Railroad's Port Jervis Line, as well as all other Bergen County Line stations as Rutherford is the last stop before Secaucus Junction. Service is also provided to Hoboken Terminal with connections to Hudson–Bergen Light Rail, PATH, and NY Waterway service, and customers can connect at Secaucus for trains to New York Penn Station, Newark Liberty International Airport, and points west and south along the Morris & Essex Lines, North Jersey Coast Line, Northeast Corridor Line, and Montclair-Boonton Line. Access to the Raritan Valley Line is available at either Hoboken or at Newark Penn Station via Secaucus.

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