Clifton was incorporated as a city by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 26, 1917, replacing Acquackanonk Township, based on the results of a referendum held two days earlier. Clifton is listed under five different ZIP Codes (07011 Main Avenue, 07012 Allwood, 07013, 07014 Delawanna and 07015).
There were 30,661 households, of which 30.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.3% were married couples living together, 13.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.1% were non-families. 26.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 11.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.74 and the average family size was 3.33.
In the city, 22.0% of the population were under the age of 18, 8.8% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 27.0% from 45 to 64, and 13.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38.4 years. For every 100 females there were 93.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.4 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $62,271 (with a margin of error of +/- $3,208) and the median family income was $76,070 (+/- $2,883). Males had a median income of $49,780 (+/- $2,391) versus $40,149 (+/- $2,057) for females. The per capita income for the city was $29,812 (+/- $1,255). About 7.2% of families and 9.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 15.5% of those under age 18 and 9.3% of those age 65 or over.
There were 30,244 households out of which 28.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.3% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.7% were non-families. 27.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.59 and the average family size was 3.20.
In the city the population was 21.6% under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 30.7% from 25 to 44, 22.5% from 45 to 64, and 17.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 91.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.1 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $50,619, and the median income for a family was $60,688. Males had a median income of $40,143 versus $32,090 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,638. About 4.3% of families and 6.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.6% of those under age 18 and 5.2% of those age 65 or over.
The city of Clifton is governed under the 1923 Municipal Manager Law. The government consists of a City Council comprising seven council members, with all positions elected at large in nonpartisan elections to four-terms of office on a concurrent basis. The mayor is chosen by the City Council, with the position usually given to the top vote getter in the previous election. Clifton's municipal elections are held in even numbered years, and had been held in May as required for municipalities conducting nonpartisan elections. Following the passage of a state law in 2010 allowing nonpartisan elections to be shifted to November, Clifton voters were overwhelmingly in favor of the move in a non-binding referendum held in November 2013. On December 13, 2013, the Clifton City Council voted 6-0, with one abstention, to make the move to a November election binding, which had the effect of extending the terms of all sitting council members by six months, from June 30 to December 31. Officials cited increased voter participation and reduced costs as the justifications behind supporting the shift.
As of 2015[update], Clifton's mayor is Republican James Anzaldi, whose term of office ends December 31, 2018. Anzaldi had been a member of the City Council since 1978 and was first selected to be Mayor in 1990, succeeding two-term Mayor Gloria Kolodziej. Anzaldi is the first mayor in Clifton's history to be elected to six terms. Members of the City Council are James Anzaldi, Peter C. Eagler, William "Bill" Gibson, Matthew Grabowski, Steven Hatala, Jr., Joseph C. Kolodziej and Lauren E. Murphy, all of whom are serving concurrent terms of office that end on December 31, 2018.
If a vacancy occurs at any time in the term, a special election is held in November of the year the seat became vacant unless it is a council election year. Since 1990, Clifton has called special elections to fill council seats three times. In 1992, councilman George Bayeux died and Richard Stockinger was elected to replace him. The next special election came in 1996 when Stockinger himself died of lung cancer, with Edward M. Welsh elected to fill his seat. In 2006, just before the new council was to be sworn in, Antonio Latona was disqualified from taking his seat due to a conflict of interest involving his work for the Clifton Fire Department and eighth-place vote getter Matt Ward was temporarily appointed to the council in Latona's place. Ward ran for his seat in the subsequent special election called for November 2007 and won the balance of the term.
Passaic County is governed by a seven-member Board of Chosen Freeholders, who are elected at-large to staggered three-year terms office on a partisan basis, with two or three seats coming up for election each year as part of the November general election in a three-year cycle. At a reorganization meeting held in January, the board selects a Director and Deputy Director from among its members to serve for a one-year term. As of 2015[update], Passaic County's Freeholders are Freeholder Director Hector C. Lora (D, term ends December 31, 2015; Passaic), Freeholder Deputy Director Bruce James (D, 2017; Clifton), John W. Bartlett (D, 2015; Wayne), Theodore O. Best, Jr. (D, 2017; Paterson), Ronda Cotroneo (D, 2015; Ringwood), Terry Duffy (D, 2016; West Milford), and Pat Lepore (D, 2016; Woodland Park). Constitutional officers elected on a countywide basis are County Clerk Kristin M. Corrado (R, 2019),Sheriff Richard H. Berdnik (2016) and Surrogate Bernice Toledo (2016).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 44,550 registered voters in Clifton, of which 14,138 (31.7% vs. 31.0% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 7,542 (16.9% vs. 18.7%) were registered as Republicans and 22,851 (51.3% vs. 50.3%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 19 voters registered to other parties. Among the city's 2010 Census population, 52.9% (vs. 53.2% in Passaic County) were registered to vote, including 67.9% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 70.8% countywide).
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 62.6% of the vote (18,761 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 36.3% (10,885 votes), and other candidates with 1.0% (305 votes), among the 30,261 ballots cast by the city's 47,933 registered voters (310 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 63.1%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 18,260 votes (56.5% vs. 58.8% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 12,848 votes (39.8% vs. 37.7%) and other candidates with 334 votes (1.0% vs. 0.8%), among the 32,317 ballots cast by the city's 44,903 registered voters, for a turnout of 72.0% (vs. 70.4% in Passaic County). In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 15,597 votes (52.0% vs. 53.9% countywide), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 13,120 votes (43.8% vs. 42.7%) and other candidates with 228 votes (0.8% vs. 0.7%), among the 29,971 ballots cast by the city's 41,220 registered voters, for a turnout of 72.7% (vs. 69.3% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 56.0% of the vote (9,304 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 42.8% (7,106 votes), and other candidates with 1.2% (199 votes), among the 16,970 ballots cast by the city's 49,231 registered voters (361 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 34.5%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 9,080 ballots cast (49.1% vs. 50.8% countywide), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 8,221 votes (44.5% vs. 43.2%), Independent Chris Daggett with 786 votes (4.3% vs. 3.8%) and other candidates with 243 votes (1.3% vs. 0.9%), among the 18,483 ballots cast by the city's 43,808 registered voters, yielding a 42.2% turnout (vs. 42.7% in the county).
With more than 3,300 students enrolled, Clifton High School is the largest single-facility high school in New Jersey; Elizabeth High School had more students, but they were spread over multiple campuses before the school was split into separate academies. An additional overflow site, the Clifton High School Annex, was constructed at a cost of $17 million and opened in September 2009 to accommodate 540 of the school year's 850 incoming Freshman to alleviate overcrowding.
Major roadways in the city include Route 3 (which crosses from east to west along the southern portion of the city), Route 21 (along the Passaic River), Route 19 in the city's northwest and U.S. Route 46. The Garden State Parkway crosses the city, connecting Bloomfield in Essex County to the south to Elmwood Park in Bergen County in the north. Parkway interchanges 153 (signed for Route 3 and Route 46 West) / 153A (for Route 3 East) / 153B (for Route 3 and Route 46 West), 154 (for Route 46), 155 (for Clifton) / 155P (for Clifton / Paterson) and 156 (to Route 46).
Many scenes from The Sopranos were filmed in town, including the parking lot of the Valley Regency on Valley Road, Main Memorial Park, and Clifton High School. The golf scenes were filmed at the Upper Montclair Country Club.
New York Yankee Hall of Famers Yogi Berra and Phil Rizzuto owned a bowling alley in Clifton called "Rizzuto-Berra Bowling Lanes." The alley, later known as Astro Bowl, was located in the Styertowne Shopping Center in the Allwood section of town and remained open until 1999.
The Upper Montclair Country Club was home to the NFL Golf Classic. The Sybase Classic golf tournament was held there annually until 2009.
Baseball Hall of Famer Honus Wagner played his last two seasons (1896–1897) of minor league baseball for the Paterson Silk Sox. While the team was named Paterson, the team played their games at Doherty Field, located off of Main Avenue behind the Doherty Silk Mill.
Clifton has an old sewerage system, accessible to intrepid urban explorers and evidently not actively maintained by any municipal authority or utility, known to some as the "Gates Of Hell." The walls are full of graffiti. The Clifton "Gates of Hell" are featured in Weird New Jersey.
Clifton Commons, a shopping center located near Route 3, features numerous stores, restaurants and a 16-screen AMC movie theater, with a gross leasable area of 448,848 square feet (41,699.3 m2).
Promenade Shops at Clifton is an upscale mall located on Route 3 West.
The now defunct Linens 'n Things, bedding and home furnishings retailer, was headquartered in Clifton before its 2009 bankruptcy.
Many low-rise office buildings, containing professional tenants such as law and accounting firms and medical practices, are found on the stretch of Clifton Avenue between City Hall (at Van Houten) and Allwood Road.
^Gicas, Tony. "Clifton elections officially changed to November", Clifton Journal, December 13, 2013. Accessed February 10, 2014. "After months of passionate debate and an overwhelming vote of confidence from City voters on a non-binding referendum last month, the municipal council officially moved its election date from May to November.... After months of passionate debate and an overwhelming vote of confidence from City voters on a non-binding referendum last month, the municipal council officially moved its election date from May to November."
^Gicas, Tony. "Election 2014: Mayor James Anzaldi top vote-getter in Clifton City Council - again", Clifton Journal, November 4, 2014. Accessed January 15, 2015. "Clifton voters have elected the following seven candidates to serve on the Clifton City Council for the next four years: *James Anzaldi- 8,245 *William "Bill" Gibson - 5,945 *Joseph C. Kolodziej -5,671 *Steven Hatala Jr. - 5,424 *Matthew Grabowski - 5,288 *Peter C. Eagler - 5,111 *Lauren E. Murphy - 4,679"
^Kolodziej, Gloria. "Letter to the Editor: Facts about moving Clifton's elections", Clifton Journal, November 1, 2013. Accessed August 21, 2014. "Special November elections were held to fill vacancies created by the death of Councilman George Bayeux, Councilman Richard Stockinger, and by the vacancy created by the resignation of Councilman Anthony Latona."
^McGrath, Mary. "MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS AT A GLANCE", The Record (Bergen County), November 6, 1996. Accessed August 21, 2014. "Democrat Edward Welsh, vice chairman of the Planning Board, won a landslide victory Tuesday in the race for the City Council seat left vacant after the death of Richard Stockinger in March."
^Gicas, Tony. "Clifton High annex nearly ready", The Record (Bergen County), July 14, 2009. Accessed August 21, 2014. "The Clifton High School annex building, a lightning rod for controversy since its approval in 2004, is complete and almost ready to be occupied.... The $17 million school at 290 Brighton Road, in the renovated former Mayer Textile building, will hold about 540 of the total 850 freshmen expected to be enrolled for classes in September."
^Staff. "Classical Academy makes mathematics count", Clifton Journal, March 18, 2011. Accessed July 13, 2012. "Classical Academy Charter School of Clifton, a 2008 National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, participated for the first time in the Mathcounts regional school competition."
^Pezzano, Chuck. "Rizzuto enjoyed a big role in bowling; Sport attractive to baseball figures.", The Record (Bergen County), August 20, 2007. "Rizzuto-Berra Bowling Lanes in Clifton, originally owned by Rizzuto and fellow icon Yogi Berra, was a favorite bowling spot for more than 40 years before giving way to a bank of shopping center stores."
^Gicas, Tony. "Sybase golf classic is back on, it just won't be in Clifton", Clifton Journal, January 28, 2010. Accessed December 18, 2011. "The Sybase Classic, the premier women's professional golf tournament in the metropolitan area will return in time for the LPGA's 2010 season after it was pulled from the schedule in November, but not to Clifton where it was held the past three years. On Tuesday, Octagon and Sybase, Inc. announced the Sybase Match Play Championship will be held at Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Gladstone, from May 20 to 23."
^Model, Eric. "Paterson enjoys a rich baseball history ", NewJerseyNewsroom.com, May 25, 2011. Accessed June 14, 2012. "In fact, baseball great Honus Wagner is said to have started his pro baseball career in Paterson before reaching big leagues. Proof can be found in a place no less significant than the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, where a Honus Wagner 'Paterson' uniform is on display."
^Bank, Irving A. "Orange embraces Alford, its NY Giant", The Star-Ledger, February 10, 2008. Accessed February 4, 2011. "Hope now takes the form of turkey sandwiches and strawberry-frosted doughnuts -- and whenever Alford makes the quick drive down the Parkway from his home in Clifton for some of his grandmother's home cooking."
^"New on DVD this week", The Record (Bergen County), January 13, 2012. Accessed March 30, 2012. "Clifton native and former Irvington resident Vera Farmiga makes an astonishingly assured directorial debut with this engrossing study of Corinne (first played by Vera's sister Taissa Farmiga, and then by Vera), a woman who turns to Christianity after she and her family nearly die in a car accident."
^Kearnan, Scott. DJ Profiles: Hector Fonseca, Noizemag. Accessed March 16, 2012. "Well before he became one of the hottest (musically and physically) members of the global club scene, Fonseca grew up just eight miles west of New York City. He could see the Empire State Building from his window while growing up. Clifton, N.J., may be just across the Hudson River, but it's a world away from the Big City."
^Staff. "Clifton's Karcz joining Red Bulls", The Record (Bergen County), July 3, 2007. Accessed October 8, 2013. "Clifton native Chris Karcz, who played at Rutgers, has been signed by the Red Bulls.... The midfielder/forward was a three-time All-Big East Conference selection at Rutgers and was a first-team All-American in his senior year at Clifton High School."
^Spiewak, Anna. "Convenience, location make Clifton the right spot", The Record (Bergen County), January 6, 2008. Accessed May 28, 2008. "Several personalities also hail from Clifton, including psychologist and author of numerous works on cognitive behavior therapy Michael Adams, Italian-American soccer player Giuseppe Rossi, former New York Jets lineman Dave Szott, movie director Ronald F. Maxwell and David Chase, creator of The Sopranos."
^My Country, 'Tis of Thee, ESPN, November 30, 2005. "Flying under the radar of most is 18-year-old Giuseppe Rossi, a striker born in New Jersey, whose parents are from Italy. Rossi was brought up in the soccer hotbed of Clifton, N.J., where his father coached soccer."
^Gambuti, Steve. "Award Winning Author is a North Jersey Teacher", North Jersey Teacher, August 4, 2014. Accessed August 21, 2014. "[Q] Were you educated in the Clifton school system? [A] Indeed. I grew up in Clifton and am happy to still be teaching in district."