The town is varied in topography and roughly divided into three parts: the Kearny Uplands, the Kearny Meadows and Kearny Point. Main thoroughfares include the eponymous Kearny Avenue (the local segment of Ridge Road / Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard), Bergen Avenue, Midland Avenue, Schuyler Avenue and Passaic Avenue.
A number of small parks running along Passaic River are collectively called Riverbank Park. The largest, located on the colloquial "Bunnyland Hill", is a gift from Kearny's veterans. It is named after a small zoo named Bunnyland, which was maintained by the local Kiwanis Club, that occupied part of the present Bunnyland Hill in the 20th century. During Kearny's Fourth of July celebrations (which include a fireworks display), Bunnyland Hill is the primary gathering spot for celebrants and observers. The largest park is West Hudson Park, shared with Harrison, which contains a variety of sports fields, recreational areas, and an artificial pond. The second largest recreational zone is the Kearny Playground at Gunnel Oval.
The area of Kearny Township, created in 1867, had been part of the original Crown Grant of 30,000 acres (120 km2) obtained by Major William Sandford of Barbados on July 4, 1668. Major Sandford named it New Barbadoes Neck after his old home. As was the custom of the time, the Major paid 20 pounds sterling to Chief Tantaqua of the Hackensack tribe for all their reserve rights and titles.
Sanford's friend Major Nathaniel Kingsland acquired the property in 1708 and sold the upper western tract of the Grant for 300 pounds sterling to Captain Arent Schuyler two years later. The new purchase included present-day Kearny, North Arlington, Lyndhurst and Kingsland.
Shortly after Schuyler's purchase of his new homestead, a peculiar green stone was uncovered. It was sent to England for analysis and he learned that that it contained 80% copper. His opening of a copper mine brought the first steam engine to America from England; it was used to pump out the deep mine shaft. The engine was secretly delivered by its engineer, Josiah Hornblower. The engine and mines were destroyed by fire in 1772 and remained idle for some years.
Schuyler Mansion played a role during the American Revolutionary War Era. When Lord Howe of England took possession of New York Harbor, the proximity of Schuyler Mansion drew many of his officers. They generally traveled over a road that today is referred to as the Belleville Turnpike, which was originally constructed in 1759 using cedar logs from the nearby swamps.
During September 1777, General Henry Clinton, head of the British Expeditionary Forces in America, selected Schuyler Mansion for his headquarters during one of his more important raiding operations which included the famed Battle of Second River. The Mansion stood until 1924, a period of 214 years, when it was torn down by a land development company, despite the company's offers to transfer the land an organization that would be able to pay to maintain the property.
Knox Presbyterian Church
In the middle 19th century, Kearny was the upper, or northern, section of the Township of Harrison. A prominent citizen and resident of the upper section, General N. M. Halsted, felt it was impossible under these political conditions for his section to obtain proper recognition. He engaged an energetic campaign for an independent township. He succeeded when the NJ Legislature of 1867 on March 14, adopted “an act creating the Township of Kearny”. The town was named to honor Major General Phil Kearny, Commander of the New Jersey Forces in the Civil War and the owner of the mansion known as Belle Grove (or Belgrove), locally called "Kearny Castle".
On April 8, 1867, the first election of town officers was held. General N. M. Halsted was elected Chairman. The first official seat of Government was three rooms in the old Lodi Hotel, on the northeast corner of Schuyler and Harrison Avenues.
In the early 1870s, Kearny erected its first Town Hall, on the corner of Kearny and Woodland Avenues, the present site of the Knox Presbyterian Church Parish Hall. This served as a Town Hall, Court House, and Schoolhouse. The Minute Book of the Township states on August 16, 1870, the first step toward establishing Kearny's present public school system was taken. The first schoolhouse was housed in the Town Hall built at Kearny and Woodland Avenues in 1873.
The town's nickname, "Soccer Town, U.S.A." is derived from a soccer tradition that originated in the mid-1870s, when thousands of Scottish and Irish immigrants settled in the town, after two Scottish companies, Clark Thread Company and Nairn Linoleum, opened two local mills and a factory.
When the town's growth demanded larger quarters, the present Kearny Town Hall, built of Indiana limestone, was erected in 1909.
In 1876, the Mile End Thread Mills started operating, giving employment to several hundred operators.
In 1883, the Marshall Flax Spinning Company of England erected a large plant in Kearny, known as the Linen Thread Company. Their need for experienced flax spinners brought an influx of workers from other sections of the British Isles. Families of those early textile workers were the nucleus of Kearny's present population.
The Puraline Manufacturing Company, later called the Arlington Company, which became a subsidiary of E. I. DuPont de Nemours Company, had purchased a large tract of land east of the Arlington Station on the Erie Railroad extending well out, north of the railroad embankment, into the meadowland.
In 1887, Sir Michael Nairn established the Nairn Linoleum Company of Kirkcaldy in Scotland, now the Congoleum Nairn Company of Kearny, giving further impetus to local industrial growth. This also lead to the growth in the Scottish American population which In the 1960s was about 21,000.
In 1902, the Lovell–Dressel Company, manufacturers of marine and railway lamps and fixtures, located in Kearny adjacent to the Erie Railroad.
Other industries which located in Kearny include: Swift & Company, Koppers Company, Theobald Industries, Standard Tool & Manufacturing, Wilkata Box Company, Harris Steel Company and L & R Manufacturing. Between 1926 and 1986, the Kearny Works of Western Electric employed as many as 24,000 in producing a variety of hardware and supplies for the Bell System and was the home of the "Kearny Standard" for tools and equipment, and was sold by AT&T in 1984 by which time the plant had 4,000 employees who earned a total of $128 million a year, making it one of the county's largest employers.
There were 13,462 households, of which 33.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 51.6% were married couples living together, 15.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.3% were non-families. 21.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 7.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.83 and the average family size was 3.28.
In the town, 20.7% of the population were under the age of 18, 11.0% from 18 to 24, 31.2% from 25 to 44, 26.4% from 45 to 64, and 10.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.4 years. For every 100 females there were 106.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 105.7 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006–2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $58,698 (with a margin of error of ±$3,838) and the median family income was $66,272 (±$3,803). Males had a median income of $45,360 (±$2,598) versus $38,668 (±$3,893) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $24,977 (±$1,022). About 7.6% of families and 10.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.2% of those under age 18 and 8.1% of those age 65 or over.
There were 13,539 households out of which 34.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.8% were married couples living together, 13.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.6% were non-families. 21.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.28.
In the town the population was spread out with 21.5% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 35.7% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 106.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 107.0 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $47,757, and the median income for a family was $54,596. Males had a median income of $38,672 versus $30,620 for females. The per capita income for the town was $20,886. About 6.1% of families and 8.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.1% of those under age 18 and 10.0% of those age 65 or over.
Community Police Center
Kearny is governed under the Town form of New Jersey municipal government. The government consists of a Mayor and Town Council comprising eight council members. A Mayor is elected directly by the voters at-large to a four-year term of office. The Town Council is elected by the voters to four-year terms of office in partisan elections, on a staggered basis, with one of the two seats from each ward coming up for election in two consecutive years followed by two years with no elections. The Mayor and Council operate on a legislative basis, with the Mayor having veto power. The day-to-day operations are the responsibility of the Town Administrator whose duties are specified by local ordinance, and who generally carries out the policies adopted by the Mayor and Council.
As of 2014[update], the Mayor of Kearny is Al Santos, who has been Mayor of Kearny since January 1, 2000 and whose current term of office ends December 31, 2017. Before his election as mayor, Santos served as councilman of Kearny's Second Ward for one year. Members of the Town Council are:
Council members 1st Ward: Alexa P. Arce (D, 2017) and Albino Cardoso (D, 2014)
Council members 2nd Ward: Laura Cifelli-Pettigrew (D, 2014) and Richard P. Konopka (D, 2017)
Council members 3rd Ward: Carol Jean Doyle (D, 2017) and Eileen Eckel (D, 2014)
Council members 4th Ward: Michael D. Landy (D, 2017) and Susan McCurrie (D, 2014)
The town is protected by the Kearny Fire Department, which operates out of four fire stations. The current Chief of Department is Steve Dyl. Below is a list of fire station locations and apparatus of the Kearny Fire Department.
Kearny is split between the 8th and 9th Congressional Districts and is part of New Jersey's 32nd state legislative district. Prior to the 2010 Census, Kearny had been part of the 9th Congressional District and the 13th Congressional District, a change made by the New Jersey Redistricting Commission that took effect in January 2013, based on the results of the November 2012 general elections. In the redistricting that took effect in 2013, 22,572 (about 55%) Kearny residents were placed in the 8th District, with the remaining 18,112 (about 45%) located in the extreme northwest corner of the town placed in the 9th District.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 16,348 registered voters in Kearny, of which 7,030 (43.0%) were registered as Democrats, 1,922 (11.8%) were registered as Republicans and 7,390 (45.2%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 6 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 60.4% of the vote here (6,953 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 37.9% (4,365 votes) and other candidates with 1.1% (121 votes), among the 11,508 ballots cast by the town's 18,057 registered voters, for a turnout of 63.7%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 57.0% of the vote here (6,363 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 41.7% (4,650 votes) and other candidates with 0.5% (87 votes), among the 11,154 ballots cast by the town's 16,633 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 67.1.
In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 52.9% of the vote here (3,838 ballots cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 38.5% (2,790 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 5.4% (390 votes) and other candidates with 1.1% (80 votes), among the 7,249 ballots cast by the town's 16,417 registered voters, yielding a 44.2% turnout.
Kearny Christian Academy is a Christian school founded in 1981 by the City of Hope International Church that serves students in Kindergarten through twelfth grade.
Mt. Carmel Guild School
The Little Neighborhood Learning Center
Happy Time Preschool & Day Care
In the face of declining enrollment, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark closed Mater Dei Academy at the conclusion of the 2011–12 school year. Mater Dei had been opened three years earlier as the merger of two existing schools, St. Stephen's and Holy Cross, but attendance declined from 250 in its first year to 170 in its final year
Portions of Kearny 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 at eligible merchants (versus the 7% rate charged statewide) at eligible merchants.
Kearny was formerly served by the Boonton Line which stopped at the now abandoned Arlington Station. New Jersey Transit discontinued service in 2002 when the Montclair Connection was opened. Through the early 1970s trains also stopped at a second station along this route known as West Arlington. This station was just to the east of the now abandoned WR Draw movable bridge. Prior to April 30, 1967, a station in South Kearny, was served by the Central Railroad of New Jersey's Newark and New York Railroad via the PD Draw over the Passaic River. This station was popular with employees of the giant Western Electric plant, and other industries in the area. In the final years of this service a pair of rush hour trains ran in each direction between South Kearny, and the CNJ's Broad Street Station in downtown Newark, as well as a single rush hour round trip between South Kearny, and Plainfield. This train operated via Elizabethport, and the CNJ main line.
^ abcdHernandez, Raymond. "World Cup Hits Home In Soccer Town, U.S.A."The New York Times June 26, 1994. Accessed September 12, 2013. "In a nation that has not yet shared the world's enthusiasm for soccer, Kearny (pronounced CAR-nee) is certainly an anomaly. The town has two local soccer historians. On Kearny Avenue, the main strip, a sign proclaims: 'Welcome to Kearny. Soccer Town, U.S.A.'"
^Krasner, Barbara. Kearny, p. 10. Arcadia Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-7385-0403-3. Accessed July 7, 2011. "Constructed of stone and bricks imported from Holland, the mansion stood as a source of pride until 1924. When the mansion was about to be torn down, a development company offered to deed a section of the 60 acres to any historical society that would pay for the upkeep.... no one was able to do so and this monument was destroyed."
^via Associated Press. "Kearny, N.J., Plant Is Sold", The New York Times, May 22, 1984. Accessed September 12, 2013. "A.T.& T. Technologies Inc. today announced the sale of the Western Electric Company plant here to the Union Minerals and Alloys Corporation for use as an industrial park designed to employ more than 4,000 people.... In January 1983, Western Electric said it would phase out the 59-year-old Kearny works by mid-1985."
^Hanley, Robert. "KEARNY PLANT IS DYING, ALONG WITH AN OLD ERA", The New York Times, January 29, 1983. Accessed September 12, 2013. "At its robust best just after World War II, Western Electric's Kearny Works employed 24,000 people and boasted that it was the busiest manufacturing plant in the American Telephone and Telegraph Company's empire.... Only about 4,000 workers remain.... The plant's annual payroll is $128 million, money that is spent in thousands of small businesses in the dozens of communities where the workers live."
^Arrue, Karina. "Incumbents in Guttenberg, Kearny and East Newark breeze into new terms", The Jersey Journal, November 3, 2010. Accessed September 12, 2013. "In Kearny, half of the eight-member council was up for re-election yesterday. The members serve staggered four-year terms. First Ward Councilman Albino Cardosa, Second Ward Councilwoman Laura Cifelli-Pettigrew, Third Ward Councilwoman Eileen Eckel and Fourth Ward Councilwoman Susan McCurrie, all Democrats, were all re-elected in Kearny without a contest."
^Duger, Rose. "Kearny Mayor Al Santos is seeking his sixth term", The Jersey Journal, March 7, 2013. Accessed September 12, 2013. "Kearny Mayor Al Santos has announced his candidacy for a sixth term, running on a ticket that includes three Democratic incumbents and a political newcomer. In addition to Santos, the Regular Democratic Organization of Kearny’s slate for November’s general election will include council incumbents Alexa Arce in the First Ward, Council President Carol Jean Doyle in the Third Ward and Michael Landy in the Fourth Ward.... Santos said he tapped Konopka for the ticket after hearing that current Second Ward incumbent Madeline Peyko plans to move from Kearny when her term ends at the end of the year."
^Galant, Debra. "JERSEY; Montclair's Connection Has Its Price", The New York Times, September 29, 2002. Accessed July 7, 2011. "On Sept. 20, New Jersey Transit officially terminated service at Mr. Wilson's beloved Benson Street stop, as well as at the Rowe Street stop in Bloomfield and the Arlington stop in Kearny. Those closings were part of the price of progress."
^Wallace, William N. "ROWING; U.S. Heavyweights Win Gold at the Wire", The New York Times, September 19, 1994. Accessed October 27, 2011. "The favored United States crew, stroked by Jeff Klepacki, a Rutgers alumnus from Kearny, N.J., faltered in the final 500 meters after leading by almost a full boat length and won by six-tenths of a second over a surprising crew from the Netherlands."
^allmusic guide. "Tony Mottola was born April 18, 1918 in Kearny, NJ. He began playing guitar at the age of nine, and attended high school alongside ill-fated jazz saxophonist Herbie Haymer and future bandleader George Paxton; after graduating, Mottola toured with George Hall's orchestra, making his recorded debut on the group's rendition of 'Shine.'"
^Staff. "GEORGE E. PAXTON", The Miami Herald, April 21, 1989. Accessed May 3, 2011. "He was a native of Kearny, N.J., and learned his trade at the Julliard [sic] School of Music, where he mastered many musical instruments."
^Mifflin, Lawrie. "Doing a Star Turn for the Home Team, at Last", The New York Times, August 18, 1996. Accessed February 25, 2012. "Giants Stadium is a short trip up the turnpike from Old Bridge, where Mr. Ramos lives with his wife, Amy – a former North Carolina State University soccer player like her husband – and their 16-month-old son, Alex. And it's just a few miles from where he grew up, in Harrison and Kearny, towns that have been soccer hotbeds for generations."
^Francis, Shawn. "Welcome to New Jersey, home of the real football giants", Major League Soccer, July 21, 2011. Accessed February 25, 2011. "Among the notables who called Kearny home are Archie Stark (232 goals in 205 matches for Bethlehem Steel), John Harkes (former U.S. national-team captain), Tony Meola (former U.S. captain and keeper) Ted Gillen (former MLS and U.S. player) and Billy Gonsalves (a U.S. veteran of two World Cups)."
^"Giant Star Compares Grid Loops", Hartford Courant, December 18, 1955. Accessed March 29, 2011. "Alex Webster returned to his Kearny, N.J. home today, but before he left the former star Montreal Alouette halfback made it clear he "wants to jump back to Canada" rather than play again for the New York Giants in 1956."