Prior to 1916, the area was known as Dundee Lake, a section of Saddle River Township. Residents of the Dundee Lake area voted on April 18, 1916, to secede from Saddle River Township to form the Borough of East Paterson. In 1917, residents of the Rosemont section of Saddle River Township voted to be annexed to East Paterson. In November 1972, residents voted to change the name of the borough to Elmwood Park. The new name became official on January 1, 1973.
Elmwood Park, being located in Bergen County, has blue laws which require most retailers to be closed on Sunday.
There were 7,032 households, of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.8% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.9% were non-families. 22.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.76 and the average family size was 3.25.
In the borough, 20.8% of the population were under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 28.7% from 25 to 44, 27.3% from 45 to 64, and 14.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39.5 years. For every 100 females there were 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.9 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $66,719 (with a margin of error of +/- $8,506) and the median family income was $75,587 (+/- $4,326). Males had a median income of $50,943 (+/- $1,704) versus $41,654 (+/- $3,193) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $29,959 (+/- $2,217). About 3.7% of families and 4.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.7% of those under age 18 and 8.2% of those age 65 or over.
There were 7,089 households out of which 29.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.4% were married couples living together, 11.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.4% were non-families. 23.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.66 and the average family size was 3.17.
In the borough the population was spread out with 20.9% under the age of 18, 8.0% from 18 to 24, 31.4% from 25 to 44, 23.3% from 45 to 64, and 16.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.6 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $52,319, and the median income for a family was $59,131. Males had a median income of $40,684 versus $39,535 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $28,588. About 4.7% of families and 2.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.7% of those under age 18 and 5.3% of those age 65 or over.
Elmwood Park is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government. The governing body consists of a Mayor and a Borough Council comprising six council members, 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, 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 Elmwood Park is Republican Richard A. Mola, whose term of office ends December 31, 2015. Members of the Elmwood Park Borough Council are Council President Frank Caramagna (Democratic Party, 2015), Robert Colletti (R, 2017), Joseph Dombrowski (D, 2016), Steve Martino (D, 2016), Glen Pettigano (D, 2015) and Louis Vuoncino (R, 2017).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 10,470 registered voters in Elmwood Park, of which 3,256 (31.1% vs. 31.7% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 1,898 (18.1% vs. 21.1%) were registered as Republicans and 5,312 (50.7% vs. 47.1%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 4 voters registered to other parties. Among the borough's 2010 Census population, 54.0% (vs. 57.1% in Bergen County) were registered to vote, including 68.2% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 73.7% countywide).
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 4,506 votes here (60.6% vs. 54.8% countywide), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 2,790 votes (37.5% vs. 43.5%) and other candidates with 59 votes (0.8% vs. 0.9%), among the 7,434 ballots cast by the borough's 11,262 registered voters, for a turnout of 66.0% (vs. 70.4% in Bergen County). In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 4,462 votes here (55.0% vs. 53.9% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 3,459 votes (42.7% vs. 44.5%) and other candidates with 93 votes (1.1% vs. 0.8%), among the 8,109 ballots cast by the borough's 11,201 registered voters, for a turnout of 72.4% (vs. 76.8% in Bergen County). In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 4,246 votes here (54.3% vs. 51.7% countywide), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 3,474 votes (44.4% vs. 47.2%) and other candidates with 56 votes (0.7% vs. 0.7%), among the 7,819 ballots cast by the borough's 10,922 registered voters, for a turnout of 71.6% (vs. 76.9% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 58.8% of the vote (2,498 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 39.9% (1,695 votes), and other candidates with 1.3% (57 votes), among the 4,383 ballots cast by the borough's 10,906 registered voters (133 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 40.2%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 2,297 ballots cast (48.4% vs. 48.0% countywide), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 2,099 votes (44.2% vs. 45.8%), Independent Chris Daggett with 264 votes (5.6% vs. 4.7%) and other candidates with 27 votes (0.6% vs. 0.5%), among the 4,750 ballots cast by the borough's 10,758 registered voters, yielding a 44.2% turnout (vs. 50.0% in the county).
Despite boasting several state championship football teams in the early 1970s, the Elmwood Park High School Crusaders' football team went into a lengthy period of decline. The Crusader football team had a 41-game losing streak in effect from 2002 until September 30, 2006, when they defeated the Manchester Regional High School Falcons, 33-14, snapping the four-year-long losing streak.
White supremacist groups had been meeting at a local branch of the Junior Order of United American Mechanics since the 1990s. David Duke stopped there during his 1988 presidential campaign. On September 25, 2007, the locks were changed, reported the secretary treasurer of the JOUAM. At this time, he states, "As soon as we found out, we took action," referring to the revelation that some members of the Junior Order chapter were white power activists. Numerous boxes were recovered that included tapes and books by the police, which were soon forwarded to the FBI.
^Verdon, Joan. "Foes of Bergen County blue laws gear up again", The Record (Bergen County), February 3, 2013. Accessed June 25, 2013. "Bergen County's blue laws — the rules that keep most of the county's stores closed on Sundays — are being scrutinized for signs of weakness by groups that believe the time is right to repeal them.... Bergen County is the last county in the state to retain blue laws, which prohibit sales of certain goods on Sundays, and keep all of the county's department stores and malls closed, with the exception of mall restaurants and movie theaters. Paramus has even more restrictive laws that prohibit all work in the borough on Sunday."
^Milsop, Katherine. "Democrats unseat Republicans in Elmwood Park", Community News, November 7, 2012. Accessed October 9, 2013. "A former councilman and a former challenger for mayor won seats on the council as two Democrats unseated two incumbent Republicans on Election Day. Incumbent Republicans Richard Trawinski (2,437 votes) and Keith Work (2,315) lost their council seats to Democrats Frank Caramagna (3,421) and Glen Pettigano (3,228) on Nov. 6."
^Milsop, Katherine. "Democrats unseat Republican incumbents in Elmwood Park", Community News, November 6, 2013. Accessed March 27, 2014. "Unofficially, Democrats Joseph Dombrowski (1,894 votes) and Stephen Martino (1,771) defeated Republican Incumbents Lawrence Castiglia (1,734) and Thomas Conboy (1,682)."
^Conley, Jen. "Giants Name Elmwood Park's Luciani Coach Of The Week", New York Giants, October 3, 2006. Accessed April 12, 2011. "Elmwood Park Memorial High School football, notorious in Northern New Jersey for its 41 game losing streak, finally snapped that record by defeating Manchester Regional High School 33-14 and winning its first game since 2002."
^Zeichner, Naomi. "Interview: ASAP Rocky", The Fader, September 8, 2011. Accessed January 2, 2012. "Last year, ASAP Rocky left Manhattan and moved to Elmwood Park, New Jersey with his mom and little sister."
^Romano, Jay. "On the Road With Cary Edwards", The New York Times, April 25, 1993. Accessed December 5, 2013. "W. Cary Edwards, 48, was born in Ridgewood and grew up in Bergen County. When he was 11 years old, his parents separated, and he moved with his mother, Virginia, and a brother and a sister to East Paterson."
^Kubasik, Bn. "TV Spots", Newsday, June 23, 1989. Accessed December 5, 2013. "Mihalik's Advice to Graduates WNYW/5 anchor Cora Ann Mihalik, class of '72, Elmwood Park (NJ) High School, returns to offer pointers to tonight's graduates."
^Iannazzone, Al. "Vitale continues fight against cancer for old lost pal Valvano", The Record (Bergen County), September 25, 2011. Accessed October 9, 2013. "Dick Vitale stood behind Jim Valvano during his moving, unforgettable speech more than 18 years ago and continues standing by a promise he made his dear friend.... Vitale has made it his life’s mission.Using his greatest gifts – his voice and his passion – the Elmwood Park native has been a driving force in The V Foundation raising more than $100 million for cancer research."