Joseph Latham was deeded the land that includes present-day Dover in 1713, from portions of land that had been purchased from Native Americans by the Proprietors of West Jersey. On May 31, 1722, Latham and his wife Jane deeded 527 acres (2.13 km2) over to John Jackson of Flushing, New York. Jackson settled on the eastern portion of his land along Granny's Brook at the site of what would later become the Ross Ribbon Factory on Park Heights Avenue.
Iron ore at the time was so plentiful that it could be collected off the ground at the nearby Dickerson Mine in Mine Hill. At Jackson's Forge, ore would be processed into bars that would then be transported to Paterson and other industrial areas towards the east. The passage of the Iron Act by the British Parliament led to financial difficulties, leading Jackson into bankruptcy in 1753, with all of his property and belongings sold off at a Sheriff's sale. Quaker Hartshorne Fitz Randolph purchased Jackson's property and annexed to his own existing property, which would later become part of Randolph Township.
Dover was incorporated as a town on April 1, 1869, within Randolph Township and became fully independent as of March 5, 1896. The town charter was amended in 1875. On May 7, 1896, Dover was reincorporated as a city and regained its status as a town on March 21, 1899, after the referendum that approved the change was invalidated by a court ruling.
In its past, Dover has had extensive iron and mill works, machine shops, stove, furnace, and range works, boiler and bridge works, rolling mills, drill works, knitting and silk mills, and a large hosiery factory (MacGregors). During this period, Dover was a port on the Morris Canal while it was operational; the boat basin was located at what is today the JFK Commons Park.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town had a total area of 2.730 square miles (7.070 km2), including 2.684 square miles (6.951 km2) of land and 0.046 square miles (0.119 km2) of water (1.68%).
The 5,562 households accounted 33.0% with children under the age of 18 living with them; 43.6% were married couples living together; 15.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.3% were non-families. 22.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.21 and the average family size was 3.54.
In the town, the population age was spread out with 21.6% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 32.8% from 25 to 44, 24.5% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35.5 years. For every 100 females, the population had 110.9 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 111.2 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $59,454 (with a margin of error of +/- $3,227) and the median family income was $61,187 (+/- $2,750). Males had a median income of $34,722 (+/- $4,750) versus $28,098 (+/- $4,993) for females. The per capita income for the town was $21,581 (+/- $990). About 3.6% of families and 10.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.8% of those under age 18 and 15.8% of those age 65 or over.
While the 2010 Census showed that 13% of New Jersey's population was Hispanic, Dover's Hispanic population accounted for 69.4% of all residents, ranked fifth in the state by percentage; the city was one of 13 municipalities in the state with a Hispanic majority. The town had notable percentages of residents who were Colombians (15.2% of all residents), Mexicans (14.9%), Puerto Ricans (11.1%), Ecuadorians (5.6%), Hondurans (4.7%) and Peruvians (2.8%), with smaller percentages (from 1-2%) of Costa Ricans, Uruguayans, Chileans and Salvadorans.
11.27% of Dover residents identified themselves as being of Colombian American ancestry in the 2000 Census, the second-highest percentage of the population of any municipality in the United States (behind neighboring Victory Gardens, New Jersey which had 15.27% of residents so identified) with 1,000 residents identifying their ancestry.
There were 5,436 households out of which 35.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 50.2% were married couples living together, 13.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.9% were non-families. 21.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.29 and the average family size was 3.55.
In the town, the population was spread out with 23.2% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 36.0% from 25 to 44, 19.8% from 45 to 64, and 10.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females, there were 106.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 106.7 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $53,423, and the median income for a family was $57,141. Males had a median income of $31,320 versus $27,413 for females. The per capita income for the town was $18,056. About 8.2% of families and 13.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.5% of those under age 18 and 7.1% of those age 65 or over.
Dover has a large Hispanic population with the largest concentrations being of Mexican, Colombian, Dominican and Puerto Rican ancestry. Hispanics have been a demographic majority since 1980, and have grown quickly. As of the 2000 Census, Dover's population was 57.9% Hispanic, making it the municipality with the fifth-highest Hispanic population percentage in New Jersey and one of eight New Jersey municipalities with a Hispanic majority. The surrounding Morris County area is predominantly non-Hispanic (7.8% Hispanic or Latino, of any race).
Parks and recreation
Hedden County Park, on Reservoir Avenue, is a 380-acre (1.5 km2) Morris County park, is partly located in Dover, with park entrances in Randolph. An active park, mostly in Randolph Township, with a picnic pavilion and tables, stone cooking grills for picnics in the woods, paddle boats in season, playgrounds, ball fields and hiking trails.
Hamilton Field is one of Dover's recreation centers, featuring a football field with bleachers, soccer fields, and a historic cinder track. This facility is restricted to school use and is not open to the public.
JFK Memorial Commons Park consists of a children's play park and the town Gazebo. JFK Park hosts the town's annual Christmas tree lighting, Easter egg hunt, Halloween parade, summer concerts and on occasions ceremonies following town parades. The park was constructed by filling in the basin for the old Morris Canal. The name was given following the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963.
Crescent Field includes a new turf soccer field and is the hosting site for Dover's annual Colombian Festival.
Water Works Park consists of a baseball field, picnic area, and accessible banks of the Rockaway River. The Water Commission purchased the lane in 1902 and developed wells for much needed water to a growing community. In 1933, the land became a playground for picnicking and swimming in the nearby Rockaway River.
Hurd Park is a passive park with no playgrounds or ballfields. Ideal location for wedding and graduation photographs with its Greek style pavilion having fluted columns and a circular gazebo-like center with a red-tiled roof and a scenic background. Donated to the town in 1911 by John Hurd, the park is also host to a 1922 World War I Spirit of the American Doughboy statue, one of a few found around the country. The park also displays a Civil War Memorial, a Spanish American War Memorial and a brick-walk memorial naming those on stone bricks who served in the Armed Forces. The park is also adjacent to Indian Falls, a scenic walk along the Jackson Brook to Hedden Park.
Triangle Park. In downtown Dover at the foot of Prospect Street, the small park is maintained by Dover's Renaissance Club and the home of Hudson Favell's "Story Poles."
Hooey Park is a small neighborhood park with a climbing playground for kids located in the Salem Village section of town.
Richards Avenue Park is a small park built on a vacant lot consisting of a small climbing playground for kids.
Bowlby Park and King Field located in North Dover was developed for Little League Baseball, soccer and high school girls softball games.
Mountain Park is located in South Dover on the old Munson Mine Tract and is being developed for hiking trails.
Dover operates using the Town form of government, one of 9 of 565 municipalities statewide that use this form of government. The governing body consists of a Mayor and Board of Aldermen. The Mayor is elected at-large to a four-year term of office. The Board of Aldermen consists of eight members, with two Aldermen elected to two-year terms from each of the four wards on a staggered basis, with one Aldermanic seat coming up for election each year in each ward.
As of 2020[update], the Mayor of Dover is Democrat Carolyn Blackman, whose term of office ends on December 31, 2023. She is the first female and first black mayor in the town's history. Members of the Board of Aldermen are Marcos Tapia Aquilar Sr. (D, 2021; 4th Ward), Adrian Ballesteros (D, 2021; 3rd Ward), Edward Correa (D, 2020; 3rd Ward), Jessica A. Alonso Cruz (D, 2021; 1st Ward), Humberto Quinones (D, 2020; 2nd Ward), Judith D. Rugg (D, 2021; 2nd Ward), Carlos Valencia (D, 2020; 4th Ward) and Sandra Wittner (D, 2020; 1st Ward).
Dover serves as the lead agency operating a joint municipal court that also serves the neighboring municipalities of Mine Hill Township, Mount Arlington, Victory Gardens and Wharton. Established in 2009, the joint municipal court was projected to offer annual savings in excess of $250,000 over the 10-year life of the agreement.
Senator Anthony R. Bucco died in September 2019. A special convention of the Republican County Committee members from the district met on October 15, 2019, and unanimously selected his son, Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco to fill his father's seat until a 2020 special election. Assemblyman Bucco then resigned from the Assembly and on October 24, 2019, was sworn into the Senate. In a special convention following the 2019 General Election, Dunn was slected and will serve until the end of the current Legislative Session, January 14, 2020.
Morris County is governed by a seven-member Board of Chosen Freeholders, who are elected at-large in partisan elections, to three-year terms on a staggered basis, with either one or three seats up for election each year as part of the November general election. The Freeholder Board sets policies for the operation of six super-departments, more than 30 divisions plus authorities, commissions, boards and study committees. Actual day-to-day operation of departments is supervised by County Administrator, John Bonanni. As of 2020[update], Morris County's Freeholders are
Freeholder Director Deborah Smith (R, Denville, 2021),
Deputy Freeholder Director Stephen H. Shaw (R, Mountain Lakes, 2021),
Tayfun Selen (R, Chatham Township, 2020),
John Krickus (R, Washington Township, 2021),
Douglas Cabana (R, Boonton Township, 2022),
Kathryn A. DeFillippo (R, Roxbury, 2022), and
Thomas J. Mastrangelo (R, Montville, 2022).
Tayfun Selen was elected by a county Republican convention to the vacant seat of Heather Darling, who was elected Morris County Surrogate in 2019. He will serve the remainder of her term which ends in 2020.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 6,613 registered voters in Dover. Of those, 2,603 (39.4%) were registered as Democrats, 1,125 (17.0%) were registered as Republicans, 2,881 (43.6%) were registered as Unaffiliated, and 4 were registered to other parties.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 72.4% of the vote (3,223 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 26.8% (1,195 votes), and other candidates with 0.8% (35 votes), among the 4,494 ballots cast by the town's 7,196 registered voters (41 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 62.5%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 67.1% of the vote (3,172 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 31.7% (1,500 votes) and other candidates with 0.7% (31 votes), among the 4,727 ballots cast by the town's 7,019 registered voters, for a turnout of 67.3%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 57.2% of the vote (2,658 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 41.2% (1,914 votes) and other candidates with 0.5% (34 votes), among the 4,643 ballots cast by the town's 7,356 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 63.1.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 54.0% of the vote (1,055 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 43.6% (853 votes), and other candidates with 2.4% (47 votes), among the 1,994 ballots cast by the town's 7,078 registered voters (39 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 28.2%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 55.6% of the vote (1,408 ballots cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 36.3% (919 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 5.6% (142 votes) and other candidates with 0.8% (21 votes), among the 2,532 ballots cast by the town's 6,750 registered voters, yielding a 37.5% turnout.
Sacred Heart School was a Catholic school serving students in pre-school through eighth grade that operated under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson. A successful fundraising effort in 2006 had kept the school open despite plans to close the school, but in 2009 the Paterson Diocese announced that declining enrollment and financial difficulties would lead to the school's closure at the conclusion of the 2008-09 school year.
As of May 2010[update], the town had a total of 42.84 miles (68.94 km) of roadways, of which 34.39 miles (55.35 km) were maintained by the municipality, 4.85 miles (7.81 km) by Morris County and 3.60 miles (5.79 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
The NJ Transit Morristown Line and Montclair-Boonton Line stop at the Dover train station. Trains operate to Hackettstown, Netcong, Boonton, Morristown, Montclair State University, Summit, the Oranges, Newark, Hoboken, New York City, and intermediate points.
Lakeland Bus Lines provides regular service to Sparta, Newton, Mount Olive, Rockaway, Boonton, Parsippany, Wayne, New York City, and intermediate points from their terminal on the Rockaway Township border. Service is also provided from Wednesday to Sunday between Dover and Atlantic City 
Dover is served by St. Clare's Dover General Hospital, located on Route 46, which is the local medical facility for Dover and other communities in western Morris County. Saint Clare's Denville Hospital is located 5 miles (8.0 km) east of Dover in Denville, and Morristown Medical Center is located 11 miles (18 km) east of Dover in Morristown. The Zufall Health Center is located on Warren Street and provides basic medical and dental services to low-income residents of Dover and neighboring communities.
The community of Dover is centered around a developed downtown area around Blackwell Street, featuring many eateries primarily owned and run by Hispanics of various countries, offering their ethnic food. Other culinary establishments include sushi, pizza, coffee shops, and popular Irish and Italian food.
On every Sunday from April to December, a flea market is conducted downtown.
Dover has been described as a walking town, as most parts of town are within about a 1/2 mile of the downtown area and most streets have sidewalks.
The climactic scene of the 2008 movie, The Wrestler, was filmed at the Baker Theater.
Metallica played their first ever New Jersey show at Showplace in Dover on April 16, 1983. It was also the first time the band performed live with lead guitarist Kirk Hammett.
The music video for Eddie Money's "I Wanna Go Back" was filmed on Blackwell Street and at the old Dover High School, Dover Middle School, and now Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art.
^Kullen, Charlotte G. "Randolph — A Day in the Life", Daily Record (Morristown), October 21, 1999. Accessed April 27, 2012. "It is here that in 1722, Dover's first European settler, John Jackson, built an iron forge that gave birth to the industry that for the next 212 centuries [sic] would shape the growth of the town... The ban wiped out Jackson, who sold his farm to Hartshorne Fitz Randolph, for whom the modern township is named, and his forge to Josiah Beaman."
^Forrest, Cindy. "Victory Gardens Council judges proposal for joint municipal court", The Record, May 18, 2012. Accessed July 29, 2015. "With Dover as the lead agency, four other area towns - Rockaway Borough, Wharton, Mine Hill, and Mt. Arlington - entered into a landmark municipal court shared-services agreement in 2009 anticipating an estimated $2.65 million savings over the 10-year life of the contract."
^Pizarro, Max. "Dunn Sworn into the Assembly", Insider NJ, November 25, 2019. Accessed November 25, 2019. "Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-19) this afternoon administered the office to Assemblywoman Aura Dunn (R-25), who last week at a special convention formally landed the seat left behind by Senator Tony Bucco (R-25)."
^Dover Public Schools District Policy 0110 - Identification, Dover School District. Accessed May 20, 2020. "Purpose The Board of Education exists for providing a thorough and efficient system of free public education in grades PK through 12 in the Dover School District. Composition The Dover School District is comprised of all the area within the municipal boundaries of Dover in County of Morris."
^Martin, Liz. "Voters have their say on the budgets", Neighbor News, April 28, 2010. Accessed July 11, 2016. "The school board goes from 11 members to 10 after this election as the temporary Board seat assigned to the Victory Gardens representative Danielle Press expired permanently on April 20. Now that Victory Gardens has merged with the Dover school district, there will no longer be a dedicated Victory Gardens seat on the Board. Any resident from either Dover or Victory Gardens will be eligible to run for any available Board seat."
^Diamant, Jeff; and Adarlo, Sharon. "Dover's Sacred Heart School, saved in 2006, to close in June", The Star-Ledger, January 9, 2009. Accessed September 3, 2003. "An 85-year-old Catholic school in Dover will close in June, two years after parents and alumni worked to stave off that fate by raising money and working to increase enrollment. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson said the student body at Sacred Heart School has since dropped back to unsustainable levels -- 121 from preschool through eighth grade -- and the current term will be the school's last."
^ abcdJennings, Dana. "Paper, Pencil And a Dream", The New York Times, December 14, 2003. Accessed March 29, 2012. "Mr. Kubert said that Dover, which has 18,000 people and is bisected by the Rockaway River, suits him. He and his wife, Muriel, raised their five children here, and it was here that they opened their school."
^Hyman, Vicki. "Baker Theatre", The Star-Ledger, March 18, 2008. Accessed September 3, 2013. "It'll take 9 1/2 weeks to scrub these images out of our brains. Mickey Rourke, in flowing blond locks and lime green spandex, thrilled wrestling fans over the weekend in Dover, where he was filming scenes for his upcoming movie The Wrestler in between real wrestling matches at the historic Baker Theater."
^Ewing, Emma Mai. "The 'Funnnies' Can Be Serious", The New York Times, September 12, 1976. Accessed May 20, 2020. "'I moved into the comics business in New York in 1935, first at Fifth Avenue and 32d Street and then at Seventh Avenue and 23d Street. I commuted from Dover for $6.45 a week.'"
^"Harry J. Palmer", The New York Times, February 13, 1948. Accessed May 20, 2020. "Born and educated in Dover, N. J., Mr. Palmer had made his home on Staten Island for thirty-two years and had been a Democratic district leader in the Third Ward for many years."
^Schoonejongen, John. "RNC Chairman Priebus touts his Jersey cred", Asbury Park Press Capitol Quickies, August 30, 2012. Accessed November 8, 2012. "'I have something in common I think a little bit with you all, I was born in New Jersey,' Reince Priebus told New Jersey Republicans at their delegation breakfast. "I was born in Dover, and some of my favorite childhood memories … we moved when I was seven to Wisconsin, but I still remember very fondly, and I think about it, was growing up in Netcong. That's where I grew up.'"