There were 20,093 households of which 30.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 27.6% were married couples living together, 27.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 36.1% were non-families. 31.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.8% 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 3.33.
In the township, 25.4% of the population were under the age of 18, 10.6% from 18 to 24, 30.0% from 25 to 44, 25.1% from 45 to 64, and 9.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34.0 years. For every 100 females there were 88.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 84.2 males.
As part of the 2000 Census, 81.66% of Irvington's residents identified themselves as being Black or African American. This was one of the highest percentages of African American people in the United States, and the third-highest in New Jersey (behind Lawnside at 93.6%, and East Orange at 89.46%) of all places with 1,000 or more residents identifying their ancestry.
There were 22,032 households out of which 33.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 30.2% were married couples living together, 27.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.6% were non-families. 29.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 6.4% 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 3.39.
In the township the population was spread out with 28.0% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 32.3% from 25 to 44, 21.5% from 45 to 64, and 7.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 32 years. For every 100 females there were 87.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 81.5 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $36,575, and the median income for a family was $41,098. Males had a median income of $32,043 versus $27,244 for females. The per capita income for the township was $16,874. About 15.8% of families and 17.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.9% of those under age 18 and 12.2% of those age 65 or over.
Irvington experienced the crack epidemic of the 1980s and has struggled with its aftermath. The township's violent crime rate has been six times higher than New Jersey overall and the murder rate eight times higher than statewide statistics. As of 2007[update], the New Jersey State Police reported that Irvington had a violent crime rate of 22.4 incidents per 1,000 population, the highest of all 15 major urban areas in the state.
Irvington was incorporated as an independent village on March 27, 1874, from portions of Clinton Township. What remained of Clinton Township was absorbed into Newark on March 5, 1902. On March 2, 1898, Irvington was incorporated as a Town, replacing Irvington Village. Laws approved in Trenton in both 1903 and 1908 that would have annexed Irvington to Newark were rejected by local voters.
The 1967 Newark riots hastened an exodus of families from that city, many of them moving the few short blocks to Irvington. Until 1965, Irvington was almost exclusively white. By 1980, the town was nearly 40% black, by 1990 it was 70%. On July 1, 1980, Fred Bost, the first black to serve on the Town Council, was sworn in as East Ward Councilman. Michael G. Steele, the town's first black mayor, was elected in 1990, followed by Sara B. Bost in 1994. The current Mayor is Wayne Smith.
Irvington is governed under the Faulkner Act (Mayor-Council) form of municipal government. The mayor and the seven-member council are elected in non-partisan elections held every other year on the second Tuesday in May to four-year terms of office. The mayor and the three at-large seats are elected together and two years later the four ward seats are elected. The council selects a president, first vice president and second vice president from among its members at a reorganization meeting held after each election. The council is the legislative body of the township and needs a ⅔ majority to make changes to the budget submitted by the mayor. The mayor is the township's chief executive and is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations and submitting a budget, but is not eligible to vote on the council and is not required to attend its meetings.
As of 2013[update], the mayor of Irvington is Wayne Smith, whose term of office ends June 30, 2014. Members of the Township Council are Council President D. Bilal Beasley (At-Large; 2014), Vice President Andrea C. McElroy (At-Large; 2014), Charnette Federic (West Ward; 2016), Paul Inman (East Ward; 2016), Lebby C. Jones (At-Large; 2014), Sandra R. Jones (South Ward; 2016) and David Lyons (North Ward; 2016).
Federal, state and county representation
Irvington is located in the 10th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 28th state legislative district.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 28,545 registered voters in Irvington, of which 14,694 (51.5%) were registered as Democrats, 404 (1.4%) were registered as Republicans and 13,442 (47.1%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 5 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 96.9% of the vote here (18,923 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 2.5% (493 votes) and other candidates with 0.1% (29 votes), among the 19,533 ballots cast by the township's 28,879 registered voters, for a turnout of 67.6%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 91.8% of the vote here (14,885 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 7.3% (1,189 votes) and other candidates with 0.3% (80 votes), among the 16,211 ballots cast by the township's 26,594 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 61.0.
In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 93.2% of the vote here (9,218 ballots cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 4.6% (459 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 0.9% (93 votes) and other candidates with 0.7% (66 votes), among the 9,894 ballots cast by the township's 28,189 registered voters, yielding a 35.1% turnout.
As of the 2010–11 school year, the district's 12 schools had an enrollment of 8,695 students. Schools in the district (with 2010–11 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Augusta Preschool Academy (prekindergarten; 324 students), eight elementary schools — Berkeley Terrace School (K–5; 465), Chancellor Avenue School (PreK–5; 453), Florence Avenue School (K–5; 545), Grove Street School (PreK–5; 367), Madison Avenue School (K–5; 301), Thurgood G. Marshall School (PreK–5; 456), Mount Vernon Avenue School (PreK–5; 666) and University Elementary School (K–5; 553) — along with Union Avenue Middle School (6–8; 806), University Middle School (6–8; 753) and Irvington High School (9–12; 1,465). The district's high school was the 309th-ranked public high school in New Jersey out of 328 schools statewide in New Jersey Monthly magazine's September 2012 cover story on the state's "Top Public High Schools", after being ranked 287th in 2010 out of 322 schools listed.
Springfield Avenue commercial district
Portions of Irvington are part of an Urban Enterprise Zone. In addition to other benefits to encourage employment within the Zone, shoppers can take advantage of a reduced 3½% sales tax rate (versus the 7% rate charged statewide) at eligible merchants.
^via Associated Press. "Booker is officially a U.S. senator after being sworn in", NJ.com, October 31, 2013. Accessed October 31, 2013. "Former Newark Mayor Cory Booker was sworn in as a Democratic senator from New Jersey today, taking the oath of office, exchanging hugs with Vice President Joe Biden and acknowledging the applause of friends and family members seated in the visitor's gallery that rings the chamber.... Booker, 44, was elected to fill out the term of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died earlier this year."
^ abGeneral Information, Essex County, New Jersey. Accessed January 9, 2013. "The Board of Chosen Freeholders consists of nine members, five of whom are elected from districts and four of whom are elected at-large. They are elected for three-year concurrent terms and may be re-elected to successive terms at the annual election in November."
^Lee, Eunice. "Labor leader from South Orange tapped as new Essex County freeholder", The Star-Ledger, December 19, 2012. Accessed January 9, 2013. "A longtime labor union leader from South Orange was sworn in this afternoon as the newest Essex County freeholder.Gerald Owens, 74, is a general organizer for the International Longshoremen's Association.... Owens is filling the seat vacated by former at-large freeholder Donald Payne Jr., who stepped down from the post last month after securing the 10th Congressional District seat left open by his late father."
^What are SDA Districts?, New Jersey Schools Development Authority. Accessed August 14, 2012. "SDA Districts are 31 special-needs school districts throughout New Jersey. They were formerly known as Abbott Districts, based on the Abbott v. Burke case in which the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the State must provide 100 percent funding for all school renovation and construction projects in special-needs school districts.... The districts were renamed after the elimination of the Abbott designation through passage of the state's new School Funding Formula in January 2008."
^"Jaguars sign Josh Evans", Jacksonville Jaguars, July 20, 2013. Accessed February 8, 2014. "The Irvington, N.J. native played quarterback and safety at Irvington High School where he rushed for 14 touchdowns and threw for 18 more."
^Yasinskas, Pat. "Bucs release Derrick Ward", ESPN.com, August 31, 2010. Accessed June 9, 2011. "Morris also said the move does not mean Huggins, who's from the coach's hometown of Irvington, N.J., and has rushed for a team-best 97 yards on 19 carries this preseason, has won a job."
^Mallozzi, Vincent M. "U.S. Swimmer Hopes to Inspire", The New York Times, August 3, 2008. Accessed June 9, 2011. "CULLEN JONES does not want to be described as an athlete who came out of nowhere, burst onto the scene or made a surprising debut. 'I don't like any of those descriptions,' said Jones, a 24-year-old swimming sensation from the impoverished city of Irvington, N.J. 'I've been on a long, hard road to get to where I want to be, so I don't consider myself a surprise.'"
^Sragow, Michael. "Funny Bones", The New York Times, June 9, 1996. Accessed March 9, 2012. "Mr. Levy locates the seeds of Mr. Lewis's king-size ambitions and insecurities in his struggling show-biz family (his parents devoted themselves primarily to his father's career as a would-be Jolson), and in his sometime hometown of Irvington, N.J., which in the 1930's was rife with German-American support for Hitler."