Cliffside Park was formed based on the results of a referendum held on January 15, 1895, from portions of Ridgefield Township. The borough was formed during the "Boroughitis" phenomenon then sweeping through Bergen County, as of one two boroughs created in 1895 after 26 boroughs were formed in the county in 1894 alone.
U.S. SenatorFrank Lautenberg resided in the borough until his death in 2013. Cliffside Park was home to the former Palisades Amusement Park, part of which was located in adjoining Fort Lee. The 38-acre (15 ha) park operated from 1898 until 1971, remaining one of the most-visited amusement parks in the country until its closure, after which the rides and attractions were removed and the site replaced by high-rise apartment buildings.
There were 9,948 households, of which 23.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.8% were married couples living together, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.9% were non-families. 31.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.98.
In the borough, 17.2% of the population were under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 31.1% from 25 to 44, 26.4% from 45 to 64, and 17.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40.5 years. For every 100 females there were 93.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.6 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $67,856 (with a margin of error of +/- $5,782) and the median family income was $80,856 (+/- $5,828). Males had a median income of $53,529 (+/- $4,598) versus $52,134 (+/- $5,805) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $36,157 (+/- $2,000). About 7.3% of families and 10.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.2% of those under age 18 and 12.4% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 Census, 3.6% of Cliffside Park's residents identified themselves as being of Armenian American ancestry. This was the highest percentage in New Jersey, and the seventh-highest percentage of Armenian American people in any place in the United States with 1,000 or more residents identifying their ancestry.
There were 10,027 households out of which 21.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.2% were married couples living together, 9.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.8% were non-families. 33.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.95.
In the borough the population was spread out with 16.9% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 33.6% from 25 to 44, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 18.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 93.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.6 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $46,288, and the median income for a family was $54,915. Males had a median income of $40,114 versus $36,100 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $28,516. About 8.5% of families and 10.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.1% of those under age 18 and 10.2% of those age 65 or over.
Cliffside Park is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government. The governing body consists of a Mayor and a Borough Council with all positions elected at-large on a partisan basis as part of the November general election. A Mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office. The Borough Council consists of six members elected to serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with two seats coming up for election each year in a three-year cycle. The Borough form of government used by Cliffside Park, the most common system used in the state, is a "weak mayor / strong council" government in which council members act as the legislative body with the mayor presiding at meetings and voting only in the event of a tie. The mayor can veto ordinances subject to an override by a two-thirds majority vote of the council. The mayor makes committee and liaison assignments for council members, and most appointments are made by the mayor with the advice and consent of the council.
As of 2015[update], the Mayor of Cliffside Park is DemocratGerald Calabrese, who is serving a term of office ending December 31, 2015. Calabrese was elected to the borough council in 1955 and has served continuously as mayor of Cliffside Park since 1965, making him the longest-serving mayor in state history. Members of the Borough Council are Council President Thomas Calabrese (D, 2016), Larry Bongard (D, 2017), Kenneth Corcoran (D, 2016), Bernard J. Fontana (D, 2015), Dana Martinotti (D, 2017) and Donna M. Spoto (D, 2015).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 11,107 registered voters in Cliffside Park, of which 4,749 (42.8% vs. 31.7% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 1,166 (10.5% vs. 21.1%) were registered as Republicans and 5,185 (46.7% vs. 47.1%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 7 voters registered to other parties. Among the borough's 2010 Census population, 47.1% (vs. 57.1% in Bergen County) were registered to vote, including 56.9% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 73.7% countywide).
In recent years, Cliffside Park has leaned strongly toward the Democratic Party.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 5,410 votes (66.0% vs. 54.8% countywide), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 2,627 votes (32.0% vs. 43.5%) and other candidates with 64 votes (0.8% vs. 0.9%), among the 8,203 ballots cast by the borough's 11,870 registered voters, for a turnout of 69.1% (vs. 70.4% in Bergen County). In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 5,348 votes (61.9% vs. 53.9% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 3,095 votes (35.8% vs. 44.5%) and other candidates with 88 votes (1.0% vs. 0.8%), among the 8,636 ballots cast by the borough's 11,775 registered voters, for a turnout of 73.3% (vs. 76.8% in Bergen County). In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 5,024 votes (60.0% vs. 51.7% countywide), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 3,232 votes (38.6% vs. 47.2%) and other candidates with 62 votes (0.7% vs. 0.7%), among the 8,374 ballots cast by the borough's 11,341 registered voters, for a turnout of 73.8% (vs. 76.9% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Democrat Barbara Buono received 52.0% of the vote (2,298 cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 47.0% (2,077 votes), and other candidates with 1.1% (47 votes), among the 4,639 ballots cast by the borough's 11,249 registered voters (217 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 41.2%.
In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 3,305 ballots cast (59.8% vs. 48.0% countywide), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 1,914 votes (34.6% vs. 45.8%), Independent Chris Daggett with 202 votes (3.7% vs. 4.7%) and other candidates with 24 votes (0.4% vs. 0.5%), among the 5,529 ballots cast by the borough's 11,381 registered voters, yielding a 48.6% turnout (vs. 50.0% in the county).
In the 2010 General Election, Democratic incumbents Thomas Calabrese (3,167 votes) and Kenneth Corcoran (3,111 votes) were re-elected to three-year terms of office after being challenged by Republican Party candidates Eric Soto (1,835 votes) and Michelle Talamo (1,836 votes).
In the 2009 General Election, Democratic incumbents Bernard J. Fontana (2,943 votes) and Donna M. Spoto (2,983 votes) were re-elected over Republican Party candidates John Mitchell (2,040 votes) and Eric Soto (2,004 votes).
For generations, the borough was the home of Epiphany School, an elementary school of the Roman Catholic Church of the Epiphany. Built in 1929, under the direction of Msgr. Anthony J. Ferretti, the school was staffed by the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth (Convent Station, New Jersey). In 2005, due to changing demographics and low enrollment, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark decided to merge Epiphany School with Christ the Teacher Interparochial School in Fort Lee, New Jersey, which is jointly sponsored by Epiphany RC Church, Madonna RC Church (Fort Lee), Holy Trinity RC Church (Fort Lee) and Holy Rosary RC Church (Edgewater).
Roman Catholic Church of the Epiphany
As of 2011[update], slightly over 75% of the citizens of Cliffside Park view themselves as being affiliated with a formal religious body. A majority of the borough is Roman Catholic (52.60%), many of whom attend the Roman Catholic Church of the Epiphany on Knox Avenue. 8.12% Jewish; 1.21% Lutheran; 1.20% Episcopalian; 0.84% Methodist; 0.88% Muslim; 0.62% Baptist; 0.46% Pentecostal; and 0.02% Eastern Orthodox Christian.
Roads and highways
As of May 2010[update], the borough had a total of 24.47 miles (39.38 km) of roadways, of which 20.29 miles (32.65 km) were maintained by the municipality and 4.18 miles (6.73 km) by Bergen County.
Palisade Avenue and Anderson Avenue are the main north-south roads of Cliffside Park.
^Harvey, Cornelius Burnham. Genealogical History of Hudson and Bergen Counties, New Jersey, p. 11, New Jersey Genealogical Publishing Company, 1900. Accessed September 15, 2013. "For a period of sixteen years following the passage of this act few boroughs were organized in the State, only three of them being in Bergen County.... As it was twenty-six boroughs were in the county from January 23, 1894, to December 18, of the same year."
^Horner, Shirley. "About Books: Palisades Park Memories", The New York Times, September 4, 1994. Accessed December 3, 2013. "Now they can vicariously relive those days with The Park on the Palisades, by Vince Gargiulo, a 200-page history of the park from 1898 to 1971 -- when its 38 acres in Fort Lee and Cliffside Park virtually disappeared to make way for high-rises."
^Rosenfeld, Stacey. "Calabrese sworn in for 13th term as mayor of Cliffside Park", Cliffside Park Citizen, January 9, 2012. Accessed December 3, 2013. "Cliffside Park Mayor, Gerald "Gerry" Calabrese, made history when he was sworn in to commence his 13th term as Mayor of the borough Jan.4. Calabrese, 86, was first elected to the Cliffside Park Borough Council in 1955 at age 30. In 1959 he became mayor and has continuously served as the borough's Chief Executive since 1965, distinguishing him as the longest-serving Mayor in the State of New Jersey."
^Rosenfeld, Stacey. "Cliffside Park re-elects Democrats to Council", Cliffside Park Citizen, November 5, 2013. Accessed September 6, 2014. "The residents of Cliffside Park have re-elected Democratic incumbents Thomas Calabrese and Kenneth Corcoran to serve additional three-year terms on the Borough Council."
^Amos, Darius. "Election 2009: Cliffside Park", Cliffside Park Citizen, November 3, 2009. Accessed June 23, 2011. "The two incumbents outgained their GOP challengers at the polls, as each Democrat tallied more than 900 more votes than their opponents. Spoto received 2,983 votes, and Fontana got 2,943. Republicans John Mitchell picked up 2,040 votes, while slate running mate Eric Soto received 2,004 votes."
^Profile 2012 - 2013, Cliffside Park High School. Accessed September 6, 2014. "Cliffside Park is a residential community of approximately 23,600 residents and a geographical size of one square mile. It is a suburb of and less than one mile from New York City. The neighboring town of Fairview is a K – 8 district and Cliffside Park is the receiving district for Fairview’s 9 – 12 students. Fairview has a population of approximately 13,600."
^Staff. ' METRO BRIEFINGNew York, New Jersey and Connecticut", The New York Times, March 3, 2005. Accessed February 15, 2014. "Seven Roman Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Newark will close this year, victims of rising costs and declining enrollment.... The plans call for Epiphany School in Cliffside Park to merge with Christ the Teacher Interparochial School in Fort Lee."
^Bonamo, Mark J. "Lights, cameras, Cliffside Park", Cliffside Park Citizen, June 11, 2010. Accessed March 21, 2011. "'It sounded like something fun, and I’ll sleep when I’m dead,' said Snyder. 'They filmed ‘Big’ and ‘Cop Land’ in Cliffside Park, and I think Bergen County is an excellent place to film. We have the cliffs with the beauty of the view of New York, but it’s still a very suburban place. This is perfect Americana.'"
^Lipson, Karin. "For Oksana Baiul, a Role Close to Life", The New York Times, May 13, 2007. Accessed March 22, 2011. "Ms. Baiul, now 29 and living in Cliffside Park, N.J., was “competing” only in her starring role as Maya Propova, one of six fictional skaters jockeying for medals in “Cold as Ice,” a new musical about the sacrifices and rivalries of the sport."
^Van Gelder, Lawrence. "Ann Corio, a Burlesque Queen on Broadway, Is Dead", The New York Times, March 9, 1999. Accessed July 9, 2013. "Ann Corio, the auburn-haired, green-eyed queen of burlesque whose long-running show, This Was Burlesque, kept alive the art of strippers and the comedy of baggy-pants clowns in the age of the X-rated film, died on March 1 at Englewood Hospital in Englewood, N.J. Ms. Corio, a resident of Cliffside Park, N.J., kept her age a closely guarded secret, but was believed to be in her 80's."
^ abHsu, Eric. "Cliffside Park, this is your life", The Record (Bergen County), March 22, 2007. Accessed December 3, 2013. "One section includes a list of the town's famous residents, including telepathist Joseph Dunninger; boxer Gus Lesnevich; and Otto Messmer, an animator sometimes credited as the creator of Felix the Cat."
^Saxon, Wolfgang. "Fred C. Galda, 79, Retired Judge", The New York Times, August 19, 1997. Accessed March 22, 2011. "He grew up in Cliffside Park, N.J., where he excelled in football and basketball. He was place-kicker on the football team while studying at Michigan State University."
^Gloria Gaynor: She Has Survived, Road & Travel Magazine. Accessed March 22, 2011. "Gaynor, who won’t divulge her age (“Just as old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth,” is all she’ll say) and lives in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, with her manager/husband of 20 years, Linwood Simon, always knew she’d be a singer."
^Grimes, William. "Alfred J. Kahn, Specialist in Child Welfare Issues, Dies at 90", The New York Times, February 21, 2009. Accessed December 3, 2013. "Alfred J. Kahn, a social-policy scholar and an educator who turned a critical eye on failures of local and state governments in child development and family support, and who later argued for a European-style social-welfare system available to all citizens, died on Feb. 13 in Hackensack, N.J. He was 90 and lived in Cliffside Park, N.J."
^via Associated Press. "Aide: Sen. Lautenberg doing OK after fall", USA Today, February 16, 2010. Accessed March 22, 2011. "Long-serving U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg fell at his home Monday night and was taken to a hospital as a precaution, an aide said. The 86-year-old Democrat, the first New Jersey senator to be elected to five terms, was conscious when he was taken from his Cliffside Park home to the hospital, spokesman Caley Gray said."
^Singer, Natasha. "15 Pounds: Part of Freshman Meal Plan?", The New York Times, August 31, 2006. Accessed May 30, 2011. "And that is where Daphne Oz, a junior at Princeton from Cliffside Park, N.J., comes in.... And at the Dwight-Englewood School in Englewood, N.J., she wrote a high school research paper on teenage nutrition and lobbied for healthier cafeteria food, she said."
^Bruni, Frank. "Dr. Does-It-All", The New York Times, April 16, 2010. Accessed March 22, 2011. "That is his base line, to which he adds more yoga, short runs and basketball games with friends near his home in Cliffside Park, N.J., when he can."
^Staff. "JAY SNYDER WED TO MISS MAXWELL", The New York Times, September 27, 1987. Accessed December 3, 2013. "Tracy Holt Maxwell, a daughter of Maryholt Maxwell of Carmel, N.Y., and Key West, Fla., and the late James F. Maxwell Jr., was married yesterday to Jay Thomas Snyder, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Snyder of Cliffside Park, N.J."