The old village area, now the downtown district, was settled in 1720 as part of the Elizabethtown Tract. Westfield was originally formed as a township on January 27, 1794, from portions of Elizabeth Township, while the area was still part of Essex County, and was incorporated on February 21, 1798, as a one of New Jersey's initial group of 104 townships by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature. It became part of the newly formed Union County on March 19, 1857. Portions of the township have been taken to form Rahway Township (February 27, 1804), Plainfield Township (April 5, 1847), Cranford Township (March 14, 1871), Fanwood Township (March 6, 1878; now known as Scotch Plains), Mountainside (September 25, 1895) and Hillside (April 3, 1913). The Town of Westfield was incorporated on March 4, 1903, replacing Westfield Township.
Westfield consists of two sides of the town, the North Side and the South Side. The following are distinct neighborhoods in the town:
Country Club Estates
Kimball Avenue Historic District
The Westfield Memorial Library was founded in 1873 as the "Every Saturday Book Club" and has evolved over the past century into the Westfield Memorial Library of today. The Library is located in a large, modern, Williamsburg-style building at 550 East Broad Street. The library's collection consists of over 250,000 books, two dozen public computers, a wide array of multimedia options, a large youth services area with a vivid mural depicting Westfield history, and multiple tables and carrels for studying. The library offers classes for adults and children, storytimes for children, and computer instruction.
Downtown Westfield, NJ. July 21, 2005
Westfield's downtown features many local and national stores, such as Lord & Taylor and several landmarks that were shown and used in the NBC network television show Ed such as the Rialto Theater. There are over 40 restaurants and casual dining establishments throughout the downtown. Downtown is located mostly north of the Westfield train station. The downtown area has a mix of independent stores and boutiques as well as national stores. Over one-third of the retailers and restaurants have existed for 25 years or more.
Downtown Westfield, with over 200 retail establishments and 400 commercial enterprises, is a regional destination in New Jersey. The Downtown Westfield Corporation (DWC) manages the Special Improvement District (SID) area's growth and enhancement. The DWC is participates in the National Main Street program associated with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is funded by a SID assessment on downtown properties and operates as the district's management agency. The DWC sponsors marketing efforts and promotions, special event planning, urban design and building improvement projects. The DWC works closely with the town government and volunteer groups to improve the downtown area. In 2004, Westfield won the Great American Main Street Award from the National Trust. In 2010, Westfield was the winner of the America in Bloom contest for communities with a population of 25,001 - 50,000 against the other two towns entered in their category. Shopping and dining in Westfield also attracts citizens from other communities across the State of New Jersey.
Several war memorials (including ones dedicated to the Korean War, World War II, and the Spanish–American War) are located in a plaza near the downtown. The plaza is also home to the September 11 Memorial Park, which pays special tribute to the residents of Westfield who died on September 11, 2001.
There were 10,566 households, of which 43.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 68.0% were married couples living together, 7.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.4% were non-families. 19.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.85 and the average family size was 3.31.
In the town, 30.0% of the population were under the age of 18, 4.7% from 18 to 24, 22.5% from 25 to 44, 29.7% from 45 to 64, and 13.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.0 years. For every 100 females there were 92.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.2 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $127,799 (with a margin of error of +/- $10,580) and the median family income was $150,797 (+/- $11,480). Males had a median income of $111,762 (+/- $7,767) versus $71,217 (+/- $5,624) for females. The per capita income for the town was $63,498 (+/- $4,577). About 0.9% of families and 2.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.4% of those under age 18 and 2.0% of those age 65 or over.
There were 10,622 households out of which 40.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 68.0% were married couples living together, 7.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.0% were non-families. 19.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.77 and the average family size was 3.20.
In the town the population was spread out with 28.4% under the age of 18, 4.0% from 18 to 24, 29.6% from 25 to 44, 24.5% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 92.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.4 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $98,390, and the median income for a family was $112,145. Males had a median income of $82,420 versus $45,305 for females. The per capita income for the town was $47,187. About 1.7% of families and 2.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.3% of those under age 18 and 3.1% of those age 65 or over.
Westfield is governed under a Special Charter granted by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature. The government consists of a Mayor and an eight-member Town Council, with all positions filled in partisan elections. The Mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office. The Town Council consists of eight members, with two members elected from each of four wards. Town Council members are elected to serve four-year terms on a staggered basis, with one seat in each ward coming up for election every other year. The Town Council holds weekly meetings open to the public where it discusses legislation under consideration.
As of 2013[update], the Mayor of Westfield is Andrew Skibitsky (R, term of office ends December 31, 2017). Members of the Westfield Town Council are Frank Arena (Ward 1; R, 2015), Sam Della Fera, Jr. (Ward 1; R, 2017), James M. Foerst (Ward 4; R, 2015), David Oliveira (Ward 3; R, 2017), Vicki L. Kimmins (Ward 2; R, 2013), Mark LoGrippo (Ward 3; R, 2015), Keith Loughlin (Ward 4; R, 2017) and JoAnn Neylan (Ward 2; R, 2015). The GOP will hold a 9-0 majority in the Town Council (including Mayor Skibitsky) through 2015 when four Council seats will be contested.
In the 2013 Mayoral and Town Council elections, Mayor Skibitsky and Council Members Della Fera, Kimmins, Loughlin, and Councilman-elect David Oliveira were victorious.
In the 2011 Town Council elections, incumbent Council Members Arena, Neylan, LoGrippo and Foerst were victorious.
In the 2009 Mayoral and Town Council elections, Mayor Skibitsky and Council Members Della Fera, Kimmins, Haas and Loughlin were victorious.
Westfield politics are dominated by a two-party system in which the Republican Party and the Democratic Party compete for elected offices. Historically, Westfield politics have been dominated by the GOP. The Westfield Republican Committee is chaired by Assemblyman Jon Bramnick and the Westfield Democratic Committee is chaired by Janice Siegel.
The Westfield Police Department (WPD) has been a vital part of the town's culture since its foundation. The chief of police is David Wayman, who was appointed in April 2012 to succeed John Parizeau. The department operates a Patrol Division, Traffic Safety Bureau, Records Bureau, Detective Bureau, Juvenile and Community Policing Bureau, and its own Emergency Services Unit. Westfield's Parking Services also falls under the jurisdiction of the WPD. Parking Services is responsible for monitoring parking and traffic safety within Westfield's Central Business District. This division in recent years has provided a major source of income for the town. In 2007, Westfield Parking Services issued 27,444 parking tickets of which 16,306 were for overtime parking at meters or in pay station lots. Each division of the WPD operates different vehicles, most with a classic black-and-white paint scheme. As of May 2014, they are as follows:
Patrol Division: Ford Police Interceptor Utilities (Units 41-44), Ford Crown Victorias (Units 45-49,23, 25 and 27-29), a Ford Expedition (Unit 40), an unmarked Crown Victoria (Unit 39), and an unmarked Ford Police Interceptor Utility (38). Units 25 and 40 are designated as supervisory vehicles.
Detective Bureau: Unmarked Ford Crown Victorias and a Dodge Durango
Traffic Safety Bureau: Ford Crown Victoria (24), Ford F-150 (22), and a GMC Sierra 1500 (20)
Emergency Services Unit: Ford E-150 (72), Ford Expedition (71),a trailer, a Mobile Special Operation Command Center, a Ford F-350 (70), and a Polaris ATV (73).
Parking Services: Ford Crown Victorias (61-63) and a Ford Connect van (U1)
Other: 2 Harley Davidson motorcycles, NJ and a Chevy Tahoe used by the Chief of Police.
The Westfield Fire Department was formed in 1875 following a fire that destroyed a city block on East Broad Street. The WFD is a combination department with 36 paid/career firefighters and 15 volunteer firefighters. There are four platoons of eight (a Battalion Chief, two Lieutenants and five Firefighters) working a 24/72 hour work schedule out of two fire stations. Administrative members include the Chief of Department, the Deputy Chief of Operations, and the Deputy Chief of Fire Prevention. The Fire Safety Inspector position in the Fire Prevention Bureau was been eliminated in January 2009 due to budget cuts. The current Chief of Department is Daniel J. Kelly.
Westfield Fire Headquarters, located at 405 North Avenue West, is manned 24 hours a day by a Battalion Chief (Shift Commander), a Lieutenant and three Firefighters. These personnel man an Engine Company, first due on the north side of town, and the Ladder Company. A reserve Engine Company and a Utility Pick-Up are also housed at Fire Headquarters. The office of the Chief of Department and the Deputy Chief of Operations are located here as well.
Station 2, located at 1029 Central Avenue, is manned 24 hours a day by a Lieutenant and two firefighters. These personnel man an Engine Company, first due on the south side of town. A reserve Engine Company, a Utility Pick-Up, and a spare SUV are also housed at Station 2. The Fire Prevention Bureau is located at Station 2 and houses the office of the Deputy Chief of Fire Prevention.
The WFD in operates a fleet of four E-One Engines (2 x 2,000 GPM & 2 x 1,500 GPM) and 1 Pierce Arrow XT 100' Rearmount Ladder, one support SUV, and three staff 4x4 vehicles. The paint scheme for the older apparatus (Engine 4) is yellow, with the newer apparatus (Ladder 1, Engines 2,3 & 5) being red bodies with white cabs. The support vehicles, a Ford Pick-Up (Utility 7), a Chevy Pick-Up (Utility 8), and a Jeep Cherokee (Car 9) are red with white striping and the remaining staff vehicles, for Chief Officers, are unmarked Dodge Durangos (Car 1,11,12).
The WFD responds annually to approximately 2,000 calls for service. The WFD serves as a backup EMS agency for the town if the Westfield Volunteer Rescue Squad is not readily available. All members are CPR-Defib certified with 27 members currently New Jersey certified EMTs with the remaining members trained to the first responder level. Both stations are always manned with FF/EMTs 24 hours a day.
The WFD is also a partner in the Union County Fire Mutual Aid agreement, responding to numerous requests for aid to any of the other 20 municipalities in Union County.
The career firefighters (excluding the Chief and Deputy Chiefs) are members of The New Jersey Firefighter's Mutual Benevolent Association (NJ FMBA) Local 30.
The Westfield Volunteer Rescue Squad is manned around the clock by volunteer certified EMT's. Shifts range from 5 hours in the morning and afternoon to 14 hour overnights. The Squad has three ambulances to go out on calls with at least a crew every shift. Members are paged in the event that another emergency comes in and the original crew is answered a medical call. Dispatchers are also volunteer, answering phones directly from the Police line.
Federal, state and county representation
Westfield is located in the 7th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 21st state legislative district.
Union County is governed by a Board of Chosen Freeholders, whose nine members are elected at-large to three-year terms of office on a staggered basis with three seats coming up for election each year, with an appointed County Manager overseeing the day-to-day operations of the county. At an annual reorganization meeting held in the beginning of January, the board selects a Chairman and Vice Chairman from among its members. As of 2014[update], Union County's Freeholders are Chairman Christopher Hudak (D, Linden, term ends December 31, 2014), Vice Chairman Mohamed S. Jalloh (D, Roselle, 2015), Bruce Bergen (D, Springfield Township, 2015), Linda Carter (D, Plainfield, 2016), Angel G. Estrada (D, Elizabeth, 2014), Sergio Granados (D, Elizabeth, 2016) Bette Jane Kowalski (D, Cranford, 2016), Alexander Mirabella (D, Fanwood, 2015) and Vernell Wright (D, Union, 2014). Constitutional officers elected on a countywide basis are County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi (D, Union, 2015), Sheriff Ralph Froehlich (D, Union, 2016) and Surrogate James S. LaCorte (D, Springfield Township, 2014). The County Manager is Alfred Faella.
Municipal center as seen from Mindowaskin Park near the downtown area
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 20,684 registered voters in Westfield, of which 6,485 (31.4% vs. 41.8% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 5,244 (25.4% vs. 15.3%) were registered as Republicans and 8,942 (43.2% vs. 42.9%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 13 voters registered to other parties. Among the town's 2010 Census population, 68.2% (vs. 53.3% in Union County) were registered to vote, including 97.5% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 70.6% countywide).
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 8,080 votes here (50.9% vs. 66.0% countywide), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 7,555 votes (47.6% vs. 32.3%) and other candidates with 147 votes (0.9% vs. 0.8%), among the 15,866 ballots cast by the town's 21,797 registered voters, for a turnout of 72.8% (vs. 68.8% in Union County). In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 9,345 votes here (54.5% vs. 63.1% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 7,541 votes (44.0% vs. 35.2%) and other candidates with 154 votes (0.9% vs. 0.9%), among the 17,141 ballots cast by the town's 21,251 registered voters, for a turnout of 80.7% (vs. 74.7% in Union County). In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 8,442 votes here (50.6% vs. 58.3% countywide), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 8,037 votes (48.2% vs. 40.3%) and other candidates with 110 votes (0.7% vs. 0.7%), among the 16,683 ballots cast by the town's 20,441 registered voters, for a turnout of 81.6% (vs. 72.3% in the whole county).
In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 6,070 votes here (51.0% vs. 41.7% countywide), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 4,776 votes (40.2% vs. 50.6%), Independent Chris Daggett with 900 votes (7.6% vs. 5.9%) and other candidates with 58 votes (0.5% vs. 0.8%), among the 11,893 ballots cast by the town's 20,982 registered voters, yielding a 56.7% turnout (vs. 46.5% in the county).
Public school students in Kindergarten through 12th grade attend the Westfield Public Schools. As of the 2010-11 school year, the district's 10 schools had an enrollment of 6,426 students and 448.9 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 14.31:1. The district has a central kindergarten, six elementary schools (grades 1-5), two middle schools (grades 6-8) divided by a "North Side / South Side" boundary, and one high school (grades 9-12). The schools in the district (with 2010-11 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Lincoln School (242 students), six elementary schools for grades 1-5 — Franklin Elementary School (642; North), Jefferson Elementary School (469; South), McKinley Elementary School (367; South), Tamaques Elementary School (437; South), Washington Elementary School (334; North) and Wilson Elementary School (424; North) — Roosevelt Intermediate School (740; North) and Thomas Alva Edison Intermediate School (769; South) for grades 6-8, along with Westfield High School (1,839) for grades 9-12.
There is also a Middle States-accredited Catholic school, Holy Trinity Interparochial School, run by the three parishes of Holy Trinity and St. Helen's in Westfield along with Our Lady of Lourdes in Mountainside, which offers education from Pre-Kindergarten to 8th grade and operates under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark.
New Jersey Transit's Raritan Valley Line provides rail service from the Westfield train station to Newark Penn Station in Newark with connecting service to Penn Station New York. Westfield's position and schedule on the Raritan Valley line make it highly desirable for commuters, as several times in the morning and evening rush hours a non-stop service is operated to/from Newark Penn Station. On these non-stop services, the one-way journey time to/from New York Penn Station is 50 minutes, or 20 minutes to/from Newark Penn Station. New Jersey Transit's 113 route provides bus service to New York City's Port Authority Bus Terminal seven days per week from the town center, taking approximately one hour to NYC, with additional service available along Route 22 on the northern edge of the town (New Jersey Transit bus routes 114 & 117), taking approximately 45 minutes, and the 59 route provides local bus service between Plainfield and Newark.Olympia Trails also offers weekday bus service to New York City.
Westfield is currently served by the weekly locally-published newspaper, The Westfield Leader.The Record-Press had served the community until it ended publication in 2008. Westfield is also served by multi-community newspapers including the Courier News, a daily newspaper based in Bridgewater Township, and The Star-Ledger based in Newark. Westfield Patch is an online newsource dedicated strictly to local Westfield news that is updated around the clock by a small staff of paid editors and volunteer contributors. The Alternative Press of Westfield is a locally owned and operated all-online, objective, newspaper serving the residents, organizations, and business owners of Westfield.
Westfield Community Television (WCT)
The local community access channel 36 operates out of the Municipal Building on Broad Street in Westfield on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and half of every Sunday. WCT provides limited community related programming, coverage of town council meetings, and operates the WCT Bulletin Board. WCT shares time on channel 36 with Blue Devil Television which originates from Westfield High School and produces nearly 200 original productions each academic year.
Robert Nietzel Buck (1914–2007), aviator and author who broke the junior transcontinental airspeed record and thirteen other junior airspeed records in the 1930s started his flying career at the Westfield Airport.
^Home page, Scotch Plains Television. Accessed May 24, 2013. "Cablecast on Comcast cable channel 34, SPTV is available to the citizens of Fanwood and Westfield as well as the residents of Scotch Plains."
^Dr. Virginia Apgar's test for babies, accessed November 30, 2006. Accessed May 24, 2013. "Dr. Virginia Apgar, a Westfield, NJ native, developed the now famous test that measures the infant's physical condition minutes after birth. Her efforts led at least one health official to credit her with doing more to improve the health of mothers, babies and the unborn than perhaps anyone this century."
^Litsky, Frank. "SPORTS WORLD SPECIALS: FOOTBALL; Happy Packer", The New York Times, March 12, 1990. Accessed April 23, 2012. "From 1981 through 1988, Ard was a starting guard for the Giants. He was a New Jerseyan through and through. He was raised in Watchung, he lives in Westfield and in the off season he is a stockbroker in Westfield."
^McGlone, Peggy. "Robert Barchi is named Rutgers University president", The Star-Ledger, April 11, 2012. Accessed December 16, 2012. "Born in Philadelphia, Barchi grew up in Westfield, before moving back to Philadelphia during his freshman year of high school, attending St. Joseph's Preparatory School, an elite North Philadelphia institution whose graduates include many high-profile figures in Philadelphia politics."
^Staff. "Campus Notes", Westfield Record, November 23, 1995. Accessed July 7, 2013. "Patrick L. Cosquer of Westfield is serving this year as a junior adviser at Bates College.... A member of the men's squash and baseball teams, Mr. Cosquer is a 1993 graduate of Westfield Senior High School."
^"Two Veteran Cartoonists Dead". The Comics Journal (191). April 1982. Archived from the original on August 12, 2012. Retrieved August 12, 2012. "Harry Hanan, the creator of the comic strip Louie, died January 19, 1982 at the age of 65. ... At the time of his death, Hanan was living in Westfield, New Jersey; he is survived by his wife, a daughter, and two sons."
^Horner, Shirley. "About Books", The New York Times, February 16, 1986. Accessed March 3, 2012. "Dr. Lewis said that his research points out that, thanks to Mrs. Mason's generosity, Hughes lived in the early 30's in a one-family house in Westfield, where his neighbor was another of Harlem's luminaries, Zora Neale Hurston."
^"KIDSDAY CELEBRITY SPOTLIGHT ANDREW MCCARTHY", Newsday, July 31, 1988. "With his successes in 'St. Elmo's Fire,' 'Pretty in Pink' and last year's hit, 'Mannequin,' handsome 25-year-old Andrew McCarthy is well on his way to becoming a major star. He was born in Westfield, N.J., on Nov. 29, 1962."
^Peyton, Paul J.; Stalker, Suzette; and Johnson, Brian. "Ferguson Tops Kean to Win GOP Congressional Primary", The Westfield Leader, June 8, 2000. Accessed December 5, 2012. "Assemblyman Joel Weingarten of Millburn (R-21st), at 5,862 votes, or 22.8 percent of the vote, took third place, followed by Patrick Morrisey of Westfield, a former House Commerce Committee counsel, who garnered 2,214 tallies, or 8.6 percent of the vote."
^Bret's Bio, accessed April 24, 2007. "As the youngest of nine-children growing up in Woodbridge and Westfield, NJ, Bret learned the importance of hard-work and honesty."
^Filichia, Peter. "Westfield's Coleen Sexton follows 'Legally Blonde' tour home", The Star-Ledger, May 28, 2010. Accessed September 17, 2011. "'I'm Brooke Windham, an exercise guru,' says Sexton, a Westfield native. 'Unfortunately, Brooke is also accused of murdering her much older husband — which is where law student Elle Woods comes in to defend her.'...It's one reason why Sexton didn’t attend college after graduating from Westfield High School in 1997; the offers just kept coming."
^Staff. "Observing Its 20-Year Anniversary", The Westfield Leader, September 30, 1999. Accessed June 16, 2011. "NJ Transit’s new Executive Director Jeffrey A. Warsh, a Westfield resident, left, accepts a special presentation from Raritan Valley Rail Coalition Vice Chairman and Union County Freeholder Lewis Mingo of Plainfield."
^Staff. Gov. Recommends Warsh for NJ TRANSIT, Governor of New Jersey press release dated June 2, 1999. Accessed June 16, 2011. "NJ Gov. Christie Whitman today indicated that she will recommend Jeffrey A. Warsh, of Westfield, to be the next executive director of NJ TRANSIT, the statewide transit corporation."
^Anderson, Dave. "The Catch By Woolfolk", The New York Times, December 6, 1982. Accessed September 17, 2011. "Butch Woolfolk, who moved to nearby Westfield, N.J., as a high school sophomore and began rooting for the Giants, remembers Doug Kotar and Larry Csonka from a few years ago, and Ron Johnson from a decade ago."
^Lustig, Jay. "A Lifetime later; How one scruffy N.J. hardcore band influenced a generation of musicians that followed.", The Star-Ledger, February 4, 2007.