After the Revolutionary War, the area of Horseneck was incorporated as "Caldwell Township" in honor of local war hero James Caldwell, a pastor who used pages from his church's bibles as wadding to ignite the ammo in soldiers' cannons and helped to drive the British out of Horseneck.
The area of present-day Verona was part of what was known in the 1800s as Vernon Valley. The name was rejected when residents applied to the United States Postal Service, as the name had already been in use for an area in Sussex County. Verona was chosen as the alternative name for the community.
At various times between 1798 and 1892, issues arose which caused dissatisfaction between the Caldwell and Verona areas. These included a desire of the citizens of Verona to more closely control their own governmental affairs. With the population growing, Verona needed to centrally locate essential services such as schools and places of worship; problems with the water supply; and the disposition of road repair funds. On February 17, 1892, the citizens of Verona voted to secede from Caldwell Township to form Verona Township. Further growth and the need for a water system and other public utilities found Verona moving ahead of the other half of the township and in 1902 the two areas decided to separate into two separate municipalities: Verona Township and Verona Borough. It took two sessions of the state legislature to approve the new borough, but on April 18, 1907, the borough of Verona was approved by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature, pending the results of a referendum held on April 30, 1907, in which the new borough passed by a 224-77 margin. Residents of the newly formed borough had sought to disassociate themselves from the Overbrook County Insane Asylum and the Newark City Home (a reform school), as well as from the settlement of Cedar Grove, which was considered a settlement of farmers. On April 9, 1908, Verona Township changed its name to Cedar Grove Township.
In 1982, the borough of Verona became a township to take advantage of federal revenue sharing policies. As an example of the potential benefits of switching to a township, Verona Borough received $213,000 in federal aid in 1976, while similarly sized Cedar Grove Township received $1.24 million. Today, Verona uses just "Township of Verona" in most official documents, but some other official documents such as purchase orders still include "Township of Borough of Verona".
January tends to be the coldest month, with average high temperatures in the upper 30s (Fahrenheit) and lows in the lower 20s. July is the warmest months with high temperatures in the mid 80s and lows in the mid 60s. From April to June and from September to early November, Verona enjoys temperatures from the lower 60s to upper 70s. Rainfall is plentiful, with around 44 inches (1,100 mm) a year. Snowfall is common from mid-January to early March and nor'easters can bring significant amounts of snow. In January 1996, a weather station in nearby Newark, New Jersey recorded over 31.8 inches (81 cm) of snow from the North American blizzard of 1996.
There were 5,315 households, of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.1% were married couples living together, 7.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.7% were non-families. 29.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.12.
In the township, 23.2% of the population were under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 23.1% from 25 to 44, 29.2% from 45 to 64, and 19.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44.0 years. For every 100 females there were 89.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.0 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $93,839 (with a margin of error of +/- $6,753) and the median family income was $126,000 (+/- $9,193). Males had a median income of $71,917 (+/- $9,659) versus $52,433 (+/- $5,765) for females. The per capita income for the township was $47,689 (+/- $3,282). About 1.8% of families and 2.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 0.7% of those under age 18 and 6.2% of those age 65 or over.
There were 5,585 households out of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.3% were married couples living together, 7.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.8% were non-families. 30.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.06.
In the township the population was spread out with 22.5% under the age of 18, 4.3% from 18 to 24, 28.8% from 25 to 44, 25.1% from 45 to 64, and 19.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 89.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.8 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $74,619, and the median income for a family was $97,673. Males had a median income of $60,434 versus $43,196 for females. The per capita income for the township was $41,202, making it the 8th highest community in Essex County and 95th highest in the State of New Jersey. About 1.4% of families and 3.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.6% of those under age 18 and 6.2% of those age 65 or over.
Verona operates under the Faulkner Act (Council-Manager) form of municipal government, and is governed by a five-member Township Council. Members are elected in nonpartisan elections to four-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either two or three seats coming up for election in odd-numbered years. At a reorganization held on July 1 after each election, the council selects a mayor and deputy mayor from among its members.
As of 2013[update], the members of the Verona Township Council are Mayor Bob Manley (whose term of office ends June 30, 2017), Deputy Mayor Jay Sniatkowski (2017), Michael Nochimson (2015), Kevin Ryan (2017) and Frank Sapienza (2015). The day-to-day operations of the township are supervised by Township Manager Joseph Martin.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 9,911 registered voters in Verona, of which 3,194 (32.2%) were registered as Democrats, 2,329 (23.5%) were registered as Republicans and 4,387 (44.3%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were no voters registered to other parties.
In the 2008 presidential election, Republican John McCain received 49.6% of the vote here (3,730 cast), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 48.8% (3,664 votes) and other candidates with 0.8% (57 votes), among the 7,515 ballots cast by the township's 9,750 registered voters, for a turnout of 77.1%. In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 51.4% of the vote here (3,900 ballots cast), outpolling Democrat John Kerry with 47.4% (3,597 votes) and other candidates with 0.7% (67 votes), among the 7,587 ballots cast by the township's 9,697 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 78.2.
In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 49.1% of the vote here (2,521 ballots cast), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 40.1% (2,062 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 9.4% (482 votes) and other candidates with 0.8% (43 votes), among the 5,137 ballots cast by the township's 9,738 registered voters, yielding a 52.8% turnout.
The high school mascot is the "Hillbilly". However, this mascot has become controversial as a result of opposition from previous school Superintendent Earl Kim. In the face of community support for the traditional name, the mascot was retained. The original mascot was depicted with a rifle and jug of moonshine. The rifle and jug and have been replaced with a fishing pole and a dog.
The district has been recognized on three occasions with the Best Practice Award, honoring specific practices implemented by a district for exemplary and/or innovative strategies. In addition, three schools in the district was named a "Star School" by the New Jersey Department of Education, the highest honor that a New Jersey school can achieve. The school was the 70th-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 53rd in 2010 out of 322 schools listed.
Founded in 1924, Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School serves students in pre-school through eighth grade, and is situated near Verona Park, operating under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark. The school was recognized by the Blue Ribbon Schools Program in 2011, one of 305 schools recognized nationwide and one of 14 selected from New Jersey.
Train stations, also run by New Jersey Transit, are located in the neighboring towns of Little Falls and Montclair. Prior to 1966, the Erie Railroad's Caldwell Branch (a part of New York and Greenwood Lake Railway) ran passenger service through Verona from Great Notch. The line was removed in 1979 after a washout four years prior. On July 14, 2010, the township of Verona announced that it was the honoring the old freight shed at the Verona station, which remains as the last standing structure of the railroad. The project of naming it a historic landmark in Verona, the first of many proposed by the Verona Landmarks Preservation Commission. Proposals include moving the structure to a more accessible place in Verona or turning the shed into a one-room museum.
In the early 20th century, Verona was serviced by a trolley line which operated on Bloomfield Avenue. The tracks still lie underneath the roadway, and are visible when the roadway is under construction.
Verona is served by two weekly newspapers: The Verona-Cedar Grove Times and the Verona Observer. The Star-Ledger, the largest newspaper in New Jersey, covers major news stories that occur in Verona.
Local news is covered by the Verona-Cedar Grove Times, www.myveronanj.com, www.verona.patch.com, and by the official township website.
Verona Cable television is served by Comcast of New Jersey. However, in 2007, Verizon introduced its Verizon FiOS service to the township. Comcast Channel 35 & Verizon FiOS Channel 24 is Verona Television (VTV) a Government-access television (GATV) channel that runs council meetings, school board meetings and community functions, as well as any other Verona-related Public-access television videos submitted by the residents. VTV is maintained by the Verona Public Library.
The Verona Fire Department is one of the largest fully volunteer fire departments in Essex County, staffed by over 60 firefighters. They have two stations, three engines, one ladder truck, one reserve engine, one brush truck, one utility truck, and two command vehicles. The Department, founded in 1909 shortly after Verona was created, celebrated its 100th year of service in 2009.
The Verona Rescue Squad (volunteer) has three ambulances, one heavy rescue truck, and one command vehicle in one station on Church Street.
The main street in Verona is Bloomfield Avenue, where the Town Hall, Library, Middle School, and many shops, restaurants, and businesses are located.
The Essex Mountain Sanatorium opened in 1902 as the Newark City Home for Girls. With tuberculosis spreading through Newark, the site was converted into a sanatorium in 1907, against the wishes of local residents. Its location at the highest point in Essex County was believed to be beneficial and the facility was known for its high recovery rate before it closed in 1977.
Parks and recreation areas
The Verona Park Boathouse, viewed from the north-west shore of Verona Lake.
Lenape Trail, a trail that runs from the Pulaski Skyway in Newark to the Passaic River in Roseland. The Verona section runs from the West Essex Trail, down and through Verona Park, and up toward Eagle Rock Reservation before entering West Orange.
The TV series The Sopranos was set in the area, thus the storyline often included scenes filmed in Verona. A Verona Rescue Squad Ambulance is seen when Livia Soprano dies in the episode "Proshai, Livushka", and Livia's house was set in Verona in the series pilot. In the episode "Cold Cuts", it's established that Bobby Bacala and Janice live in Verona.
The 1987 horror movie Doom Asylum was filmed at the now demolished Essex Mountain Sanatorium.
The original, unaired pilot of the television show Strangers With Candy, "Retardation: A Celebration", was filmed at Verona High School. The VHS signboard is also used in almost every episode thereafter to display various witticisms, although the name has been changed to that of the school in the show, Flatpoint High School.
Choke, the film adapted from the Chuck Palahniuk novel of the same name, was filmed at the Essex County Hospital Center in neighboring Cedar Grove.
Pearl the hairdresser in "The Saturdays" by Elizabeth Enright (1941) says she ran away from her abusive stepmother in Verona and went to New York City with her brother Perry.
^Verona, History of New Jersey. Accessed November 19, 2011. "By the mid-nineteenth century, this area became known as Vernon Valley. However, when application was made for a United States Post Office, the townspeople were informed that another Vernon Valley, in Sussex County, had first claim to the name. The name Verona was put forth by the townspeople as a suitable replacement and was eventually accepted."
^ abGeneral Information, Essex County, New Jersey. Accessed July 9, 2014. "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 July 9, 2014. "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."
^About Us, Verona Fire Department. Accessed August 21, 2011.
^History, Verona Fire Department. Accessed August 21, 2011.
^Home page, Verona Rescue Squad. Accessed November 19, 2011.
^Emblen, Frank. "NEW JERSEY GUIDE", The New York Times, July 12, 1987. Accessed April 23, 2012. "The view of New York from the cliff in Eagle Rock Reservation is really spectacular, and it has historical significance: George Washington's hawk-eyed scouts used it to keep the Redcoats in New York from sneaking across the Hudson and surprising the Continental Army."
^Rothstein, Betsy. "Ernestine Bradley finds 'home' amid husband's career", Capital Living, April 5, 2005, backed up by the Internet Archive as of November 13, 2006. Accessed November 6, 2012. "Ernestine Bradley, wife of former Sen. Bill Bradley (D-N.J.), packed her bags for good in January 1997 and left Washington, D.C., for Verona — not Italy but, rather, New Jersey."
^Anthony Fasano profile, National Football League Players Association. Accessed July 24, 2007. "Hometown: Verona, N.J.... Anthony Joseph Fasano was a four-year letterman and two-year captain at Verona, N.J., High School as a tight end and defensive lineman. He helped led the team to the New Jersey state title among Group 1 schools and threw the game-winning PAT pass in the 2001 title game."
^Leitch, Jonathan. "No. 13: Jed Graef '64", The Daily Princetonian, November 27, 2006. Accessed August 21, 2011. "Born and raised in nearby Verona, N.J., Graef spent his childhood summers in the waters of Lake Mohawk and joined the Montclair YMCA swim team at age 10."
^Kensik, Edward. "Verona resident named New Jersey Devils coach", Verona-Cedar Grove Times, July 8, 2010. Accessed August 21, 2011. "While MacLean is a rookie head coach in the NHL, he is not a rookie to Verona. MacLean seemed in amazement when asked how long he has lived in Verona. MacLean has lived in the township since 1991 and is one of the rare ones in professional sports to stay in one area for a long period of time. 'I was very fortunate that we have lived in this area,' said MacLean. 'It is such a great town.'"
^World Series of Poker 1996, accessed April 16, 2007. "Henry Orenstein, a 72-year-old toy inventor, former chess player, and concentration camp survivor from Verona, New Jersey, defeated 64 opponents last night to win the 20th event of the 27th annual World Series of Poker at Binion's Horseshoe Hotel and Casino."
^KENNETH POSNER, Playbill. Accessed January 11, 2008. "He resides in Verona, New Jersey, with his wife Michelle and their three children."
^Staff. "Noted NJ attorney David Satz Jr. dies at 83", WTVD, December 27, 2009. Accessed August 21, 2011. "David M. Satz Jr., a longtime U.S. Attorney for New Jersey who later became a pioneer in the field of casino gaming law, has died. A longtime South Orange resident, Satz died of cancer Friday at his home in Verona, just weeks before his 84th birthday, his family said."