Irvington is a township in Essex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township had a total population of 53,926, having declined by 6,769 (−11.2%) from the 60,695 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn declined by 323 (−0.5%) from the 61,018 counted in the 1990 Census.
Clinton Township, which included what is now Irvington, Maplewood and parts of Newark and South Orange, was created on April 14, 1834. The area was known as Camptown until the mid-1800s. In 1850, after Stephen Foster published his ballad, Camptown Races, residents were concerned that the activities described in the song would be associated with their community. The town was renamed, Irvingtown, in honor of Washington Irving.
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. In 1982, the town was one of four Essex County municipalities to pass a referendum to become a township, joining 11 municipalities that had already made the change, of what would ultimately be more than a dozen Essex County municipalities to reclassify themselves as townships in order take advantage of federal revenue sharing policies that allocated townships a greater share of government aid to municipalities on a per capita basis.
The 1967 Newark riots hastened an exodus of families from that city, many of them moving a few short blocks into neighboring 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 person 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 Sarah Brockington Bost in 1994. The current Mayor is Tony Vauss.
Irvington was home to Olympic Park, an amusement park, from 1887 to 1965. The park property straddled the border of Irvington and Maplewood with the main entrance on Chancellor Avenue and a side entrance on 40th St. After the park closed, the merry-go-round was sold and transported to Disney World, in Orlando, FL. The book, Smile: A Picture History of Olympic Park, 1887–1965 written by Alan A. Siegel was published in 1983 by Rutgers University Press.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Irvington had a total area of 2.930 square miles (7.589 km2), including 2.928 square miles (7.584 km2) of land and 0.002 square miles (0.005 km2) of water (0.07%).
The Elizabeth River runs through the city passing Civic Square and Clinton Cemetery. Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Irving Place.
The township is bordered by Maplewood to the west, Newark to the east, Hillside to the south, South Orange to the northwest, all in Essex County; and by Union to the southwest in Union County, New Jersey.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 53,926 people, 20,093 households, and 12,839.427 families residing in the township. The population density was 18,417.0 per square mile (7,110.8/km2). There were 23,196 housing units at an average density of 7,922.0 per square mile (3,058.7/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 5.64% (3,042) White, 85.41% (46,058) Black or African American, 0.38% (204) Native American, 0.87% (471) Asian, 0.07% (38) Pacific Islander, 5.42% (2,922) from other races, and 2.21% (1,191) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.60% (5,716) of the population.
There were 20,093 households out 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, the population was spread out with 25.4% 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 ages 18 and older there were 84.2 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006–2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $42,580, and the median family income was $50,798. Males had a median income of $38,033 versus $36,720 for females. The per capita income for the township was $20,520. About 14.4% of families and 16.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 24.4% of those under age 18 and 16.7% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 United States Census there were 60,695 people, 22,032 households, and 14,408 families residing in the township. The population density was 20,528.3 people per square mile (7,917.1/km2). There were 24,116 housing units at an average density of 8,156.5 per square mile (3,145.7/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 81.66% Black or African American, 8.97% White, 0.24% Native American, 1.10% Asian, 0.10% Pacific Islander, 3.68% from other races, and 4.24% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 8.38% of the population.
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 age distribution of the population shows 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 was six times higher than New Jersey overall and the murder rate eight times higher than statewide statistics. In 2007, 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.
According to the New Jersey State Police Uniform Crime Report for 2013, year-to-year between 2012 and 2013, Irvington experienced an overall reduction in crime of 9% (from 49.6 to 45.2 incidents per 1,000), with reductions coming from overall non-violent crime (18%) and aggravated assault (22%), but an increase in the violent crime rate of 16% from 13.1 incidents per 1,000 to 15.3.
Portions of the township are part of an Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ), one of 32 zones covering 37 municipalities statewide. Irvington was selected in 1996 as one of a group of seven zones added to participate in the program. In addition to other benefits to encourage employment and investment within the UEZ, shoppers can take advantage of a reduced 3.3125% sales tax rate (half of the 6 5⁄8% rate charged statewide) at eligible merchants. Established in May 1996, the township's Urban Enterprise Zone status expires in May 2027.
In July 2015, the central business district surrounding the Springfield Avenue bus stop was designated as one of 33 transit villages statewide, qualifying it for incentives for revitalization.
Irvington is governed within the Faulkner Act, formally known as the Optional Municipal Charter Law, under the 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 2019, the mayor of Irvington is Tony Vauss, whose term of office ends June 30, 2022. Members of the Township Council are Jamillah Z. Beasley (South Ward, 2020; appointed to serve an unexpired term), Renee C. Burgess (At-large, 2022), Vernal C. Cox Sr. (West Ward, 2020), Charnette Frederic (At-large, 2022), Octavio Hudley (At-large, 2022) and Paul J. Inman (East Ward, 2020), with the North Ward seat vacant.
In April 2019, Jamillah Z. Beasley was appointed to fill the South Ward seat expiring in December 2020 that became vacant following the death of Sandra M. Jones.
Council President David Lyons, who had served six terms in office representing the North Ward, died in August 2019.
Irvington is located in the 10th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 28th state legislative district.
For the 116th United States Congress, New Jersey's Tenth Congressional District is represented by Donald Payne Jr. (D, Newark). New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Democrats Cory Booker (Newark, term ends 2021) and Bob Menendez (Paramus, term ends 2025).
For the 2018–2019 session (Senate, General Assembly), the 28th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Ronald Rice (D, Newark) and in the General Assembly by Ralph R. Caputo (D, Nutley) and Cleopatra Tucker (D, Newark).
Essex County is governed by a directly-elected County Executive, with legislative functions performed by the Board of Chosen Freeholders. As of 2018, the County Executive is Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. (D, Roseland). The county's Board of Chosen Freeholders consists of nine members, four elected on an at-large basis and one from each of five wards, who serve three-year terms of office on a concurrent basis, all of which end December 31, 2018. Essex County's Freeholders are Freeholder President Brendan W. Gill (D, at-large; Montclair), Freeholder Vice President Wayne L. Richardson (D, District 2 – Irvington, Maplewood and Newark's South Ward and parts of West Ward; Newark), Janine G. Bauer (D, District 3 - East Orange, Newark's West and Central Wards, Orange and South Orange; South Orange, appointed to serve on an interim basis), Rufus I. Johnson (D, at large; Newark), Lebby C. Jones (D, at large; Irvington), Leonard M. Luciano (D, District 4 – Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Livingston, Millburn, North Caldwell, Roseland, Verona, West Caldwell and West Orange; West Caldwell), Robert Mercado (D, District 1 – Newark's North and East Wards, parts of Central and West Wards; Newark), Carlos M. Pomares (D, District 5 – Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Montclair and Nutley; Bloomfield) and Patricia Sebold (D, at large; Livingston). Constitutional officers elected countywide are County Clerk Christopher J. Durkin (West Caldwell; D, 2020), Sheriff Armando B. Fontoura (Fairfield; D, 2018) and Surrogate Theodore N. Stephens II (D, 2021).
As of March 23, 2011, there were 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 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 97.9% of the vote (18,538 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 1.9% (363 votes), and other candidates with 0.2% (38 votes), among the 19,036 ballots cast by the township's 30,744 registered voters (97 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 61.9%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 96.9% of the vote (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 (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 2013 gubernatorial election, Democrat Barbara Buono received 86.4% of the vote (6,800 cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 13.1% (1,028 votes), and other candidates with 0.5% (42 votes), among the 8,030 ballots cast by the township's 31,292 registered voters (160 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 25.7%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 93.2% of the vote (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.
The Irvington Public Schools serve students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. The district is one of 31 former Abbott districts statewide, which are now referred to as "SDA Districts" based on the requirement for the state to cover all costs for school building and renovation projects in these districts under the supervision of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority.
As of the 2017-18 school year, the district's 12 schools had an enrollment of 7,781 students and 522.5 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 14.9:1. Schools in the district (with 2011-12 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Augusta Preschool Academy (prekindergarten; 315 students), Berkeley Terrace Elementary School (K–5; 495), Chancellor Avenue School (PreK–5; 474), Florence Avenue School (K–5; 640), Grove Street Elementary School (PreK–5; 500), Madison Avenue School (K–5; 304), Thurgood G. Marshall Elementary School (PreK–5; 419), Mount Vernon Avenue Elementary School (PreK–5; 524) and University Elementary School (K–5; 500), Union Avenue Middle School (6–8; 718), University Middle School (6–8; 695) and Irvington High School (9–12; 1,363). 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.
As of May 2010, the township had a total of 69.44 miles (111.75 km) of roadways, of which 55.98 miles (90.09 km) were maintained by the municipality, 10.69 miles (17.20 km) by Essex County, 2.60 miles (4.18 km) by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and 0.17 miles (0.27 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
The Garden State Parkway is the most significant highway in Irvington, passing through the center of the township; it is accessible from exits 143 and 144. Interstate 78 also passes through very briefly along the southeastern border at Exit 54. The most significant local roadway passing through Irvington is County Road 509.
The Irvington Bus Terminal, which underwent renovation in the early 2000s, is one of NJ Transit's (NJT) busiest facilities and regional transit hubs. Irvington is served by NJ Transit bus routes 107 to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan; the 1, 13, 25, 27, 37, 39, 42, 70, 90 and 94 to Newark; and local service on the 26, 96 and routes.
Scheduled airline service is available at Newark Liberty International Airport in neighboring Newark and Elizabeth.
Taxi service is provided primarily by Red Top Taxi and Irvington Cab, the two largest cab companies in the community. Numerous smaller companies (often "gypsy cabs") are also available.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Irvington include:
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