Park Ridge was created as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on May 15, 1894, from portions of Washington Township, based on the results of a referendum held the previous day. The borough was formed during the "Boroughitis" phenomenon then sweeping through Bergen County, in which 26 boroughs were formed in the county in 1894 alone. Park Ridge obtained a portion of River Vale (July 15, 1929), exchanged portions with Woodcliff Lake (December 12, 1955), received part of Washington Township (November 26, 1956), exchanged portions with Hillsdale (February 10, 1958) and Woodcliff Lake (June 9, 1958) and received another part of Washington Township (August 11, 1958). The borough's name derives from its location.
Park Ridge's Pascack Historical Society Museum, at 19 Ridge Avenue, houses the world's only wampum drilling machine. This wooden artifact was made in Park Ridge by the Campbell Brothers who invented a way to drill through long pieces of hair pipe shells so that they could be strung and worn as breast plates by the Plains Indians, among others. Needing water for the operation, the industrious brothers leased a woolen mill that stood on the Pascack Brook. When that burned down they built their own mill farther down Pascack Creek on their land another shop on Pascack Road near their homestead. Both building housed drilling machines on their second floors where they were safe from prying eyes, as the two machines had not been patented. In the early 19th century, John Jacob Astor purchased wampum from the Campbells to trade with the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest whose beaver pelts he turned into men's hats. The best years for the wampum business were between 1835 and 1866. The drilling machine can be seen at the Pascack Historical Society Museum on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. until noon and Sundays from 1-4 p.m. Admission is free.
Frederick Wortendyke House (Park Ridge) - 12 Pascack Road (added 1983)
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 2.603 square miles (6.740 km2), including 2.582 square miles (6.686 km2) of land and 0.021 square miles (0.054 km2) of water (0.79%).
There were 3,283 households out of which 30.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 62.0% were married couples living together, 7.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.4% were non-families. 25.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 12.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.57 and the average family size was 3.08.
In the borough, the population was spread out with 22.9% under the age of 18, 5.0% from 18 to 24, 21.8% from 25 to 44, 31.1% from 45 to 64, and 19.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 45.2 years. For every 100 females there were 93.3 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 89.6 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $104,053 (with a margin of error of +/- $7,870) and the median family income was $118,984 (+/- $7,463). Males had a median income of $85,242 (+/- $13,024) versus $65,216 (+/- $12,814) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $46,695 (+/- $3,650). About 1.1% of families and 1.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 0.0% of those under age 18 and 0.5% of those age 65 or over.
Same-sex couples headed 11 households in 2010, an increase from the 7 counted in the 2000 Census.
There were 3,161 households out of which 33.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 65.9% were married couples living together, 7.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 24.4% were non-families. 21.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.12.
In the borough the population was spread out with 23.5% under the age of 18, 5.6% from 18 to 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 26.2% from 45 to 64, and 16.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.4 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $66,632, and the median income for a family was $97,294. Males had a median income of $71,042 versus $40,714 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $40,351. About 1.2% of families and 3.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.3% of those under age 18 and 2.1% of those age 65 or over.
The Hertz Corporation, a car rental company, had been headquartered in Park Ridge and was the borough's largest single taxpayer. On May 7, 2013, Hertz announced that the firm was moving their corporate HQ to Estero, Florida. They do plan to keep certain operations in Park Ridge.
Park Ridge is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government. The governing body consists of a mayor and a borough council with all positions elected at-large on a partisan basis as part of the November general election. A mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office. The borough council consists of six members elected to serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with two seats coming up for election each year in a three-year cycle. The borough form of government used by Park Ridge, the most common system used in the state, is a "weak mayor / strong council" government in which council members act as the legislative body with the mayor presiding at meetings and voting only in the event of a tie. The mayor can veto ordinances subject to an override by a two-thirds majority vote of the council. The mayor makes committee and liaison assignments for council members, and most appointments are made by the mayor with the advice and consent of the council.
As of 2018[update], the mayor of the Borough of Park Ridge is Democrat Keith Misciagna, who was elected to serve an unexpired term of office ending December 31, 2019, after being appointed to the position on an interim basis in May 2017. Members of the Park Ridge Borough Council are Council President Matthew Capilli (D, 2018), Robert Oppelt (D, 2018) Kelly Epstein (D, 2019), Tom Farinaro (D, 2020), Robert C. Metzdorf (D, 2019) and Michael Mintz (D, 2020).
In May 2017, the council selected Keith Misciagna to fill the vacant mayoral seat, following the resignation of Terry Maguire the previous month in the face of criticism of the way he had dealt with suits over affordable housing in the borough. In turn, the council selected Michael Mintz from a list of three candidates nominated by the Democratic municipal committee to fill Misciagna's vacant council seat that expires in December 2017.
In February 2016, the Borough Council selected Donna Szot from a list of three candidates nominated by the Republican municipal committee to fill the seat expiring in December 2016 that had become vacant following the resignation of Ryan Cangialosi the previous month.
Federal, state and county representation
Park Ridge is located in the 5th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 39th state legislative district.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 5,800 registered voters in Park Ridge, of whom 1,462 (25.2% vs. 31.7% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 1,503 (25.9% vs. 21.1%) were registered as Republicans and 2,832 (48.8% vs. 47.1%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 3 voters registered to other parties. Among the borough's 2010 Census population, 67.1% (vs. 57.1% in Bergen County) were registered to vote, including 87.0% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 73.7% countywide).
In the 2012 presidential election, Republican Mitt Romney received 2,682 votes here (57.0% vs. 43.5% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 1,957 votes (41.6% vs. 54.8%) and other candidates with 43 votes (0.9% vs. 0.9%), among the 4,708 ballots cast by the borough's 6,080 registered voters, for a turnout of 77.4% (vs. 70.4% in Bergen County). In the 2008 presidential election, Republican John McCain received 2,735 votes here (55.8% vs. 44.5% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 2,093 votes (42.7% vs. 53.9%) and other candidates with 35 votes (0.7% vs. 0.8%), among the 4,901 ballots cast by the borough's 6,049 registered voters, for a turnout of 81.0% (vs. 76.8% in Bergen County). In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 2,697 votes here (57.4% vs. 47.2% countywide), ahead of Democrat John Kerry with 1,963 votes (41.7% vs. 51.7%) and other candidates with 34 votes (0.7% vs. 0.7%), among the 4,702 ballots cast by the borough's 5,785 registered voters, for a turnout of 81.3% (vs. 76.9% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 70.6% of the vote (2,193 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 28.5% (886 votes), and other candidates with 0.9% (27 votes), among the 3,176 ballots cast by the borough's 5,879 registered voters (70 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 54.0%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 1,906 votes here (55.4% vs. 45.8% countywide), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 1,317 votes (38.3% vs. 48.0%), Independent Chris Daggett with 162 votes (4.7% vs. 4.7%) and other candidates with 21 votes (0.6% vs. 0.5%), among the 3,443 ballots cast by the borough's 5,928 registered voters, yielding a 58.1% turnout (vs. 50.0% in the county).
The Park Ridge Public Schools serve students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of the 2014-15 school year, the district and its three schools had an enrollment of 1,319 students and 125.6 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 10.5:1. Schools in the district (with 2014-15 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are
East Brook Elementary School (grades PreK-6; 350 students)
West Ridge Elementary School (PreK-6; 338) and
Park Ridge High School (7-12; 584). The high school was the 14th-ranked public high school in New Jersey (third-highest in Bergen County) 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 18th in 2010 out of 322 schools listed. Athletic programs at the high school include baseball, basketball, football, soccer, softball, track and tennis.
In July 2015, Park Ridge was designated as one of 30 transit villages statewide, qualifying it for incentives at the borough's train station and commuter lots, which will get additional access for bicycles and pedestrians.
Roads and highways
As of May 2010[update], the borough had a total of 38.91 miles (62.62 km) of roadways, of which 31.94 miles (51.40 km) were maintained by the municipality and 6.97 miles (11.22 km) by Bergen County.
County Route 503, which runs for 18 miles (29 km) from New Jersey Route 120 to the New York State border, passes through Park Ridge. It is well known and posted as Kinderkamack Road, which was a trail used by the LenapeNative Americans, whose name signified that it was a place (the suffix "ack") where ceremonial dances or prayers ("kintekaye") were made.
PKRG-TV, the public-access televisioncable TV station in Park Ridge, has produced and documented many shows over its history. They continue to produce a weekly live show every Monday night in addition to broadcasting special events in the town such as parades, sporting events, school plays, and charity events. Rolf Wahl, a borough resident, provided most of the guidance, technical knowledge and foresight for the station. The studio also hosted a series of shows entitled Behind The Badge which provided residents with an insight into the way the police department works. It included a tour of the police station and police cruiser and also an overview of programs the department works on to improve the welfare of the community, e.g. anti-drug programs and computer crime awareness.
The Bear's Nest
The Bear's Nest is a luxury gated community in Park Ridge. It has town house-style houses with luxury amenities including (in some houses) elevators. A community clubhouse is available for residents, along with a pool, multiple tennis courts and a floral park. Noted residents of the development have included President Richard M. Nixon; Pat Nixon; Raymond V. Gilmartin, current Microsoft board member; and Tom Coughlin, former coach of the New York Giants.
The Tri-Boro Volunteer Ambulance Corps provides EMS service to Park Ridge, Woodcliff Lake and Montvale. Tri-Boro is a non-profit group which provides free emergency service to those in the community who need it at any time. Its headquarters is located in Park Ridge near Mill Pond.
Park Ridge has a paid police department, which has been led by Chief Joseph J. Madden since 2007.
The Park Ridge Volunteer Fire Department dates back to 1898, created by community volunteers after a major fire destroyed a local factory.
Park Ridge was the filming site for the Nick GAS (Nickelodeon Games and Sports) segment, "Heroes of the Game". Locations included West Ridge Elementary School and Colony Field.
Each Memorial Day, the Tri-Boro area consisting of Park Ridge, Woodcliff Lake, and Montvale participate in the annual Memorial Day Parade. The Park Ridge High School Marching Band participates in the parade and hand out candies as well.
Each October, Park Ridge holds its own Ragamuffin parade. Children who are 12 and younger dress up in costumes while walking down from Depot Square on Park Avenue to Davies Field. Following the parade, there is a costume contest. The event also features games and music.
Park Ridge has an annual holiday tree lighting in December, with musical performances by the Park Ridge High School choir and Mini Maestros instrumental band and free refreshments, like popcorn and hot chocolate.
^Harvey, Cornelius Burnham. Genealogical History of Hudson and Bergen Counties, New Jersey, p. 11, New Jersey Genealogical Publishing Company, 1900. Accessed September 1, 2013. "For a period of sixteen years following the passage of this act few boroughs were organized in the State, only three of them being in Bergen County... As it was twenty-six boroughs were in the county from January 23, 1894, to December 18, of the same year."
^Nolan, Sarah. "Mintz appointed to Park Ridge council", The Record (Bergen County), May 18, 2017. Accessed October 19, 2017. Democrat Michael Mintz has been selected to fill Mayor Keith Misciagna's unexpired term on the Borough Council. Misciagna’s seat became vacant when he was selected to replace Terry Maguire, who resigned from the mayoral position last month amid an attempt to recall him and criticism over his handling of the town’s affordable-housing litigation."
^Hopper, Brett. "Szot fills open seat on council", Pascack Valley Community Life, March 10, 2016. Accessed June 16, 2016. "Donna Szot was named to fill the vacancy on Feb. 23 during the Park Ridge Council meeting. Cangialosi resigned early this year so he could be closer to his place of work in Hoboken."
^Biography, Congressman Josh Gottheimer. Accessed January 3, 2019. "Josh now lives in Wyckoff, New Jersey with Marla, his wife who was a federal prosecutor, and their two young children, Ellie and Ben."
^Model, Eric. "All About Kinderkamack: A look at the history at RiverDell's main drag", RiverDellPatch, April 12, 2011. Accessed December 27, 2011. "Kinderkamack Road today stretches from just south of Route 4 to the New York State border. It is also a name of the area that is now known as Oradell. The name goes back centuries.Long before Europeans invaded the area, the road parallel to the Hackensack River had been a much traveled Indian trail... The name Kinderkamack comes out of this Lenape tradition, according to the most accepted historical version... According to Mr. Morrison, the word Kinterkayemack was composed of two Lenape words 'kintekaye', meaning ceremonial dance or prayer of propitiation, and 'ack' meaning place."
^Home page, Tri-Boro Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Accessed December 27, 2011. "The Tri-Boro Volunteer Ambulance Corps (TBVAC) provides service to the residents and visitors of Park Ridge, Montvale, and Woodcliff Lake at no charge - we have never billed for our service!"
^Home page, Park Ridge Police Department. Accessed December 27, 2011.
^Department HistoryArchived 2012-04-26 at the Wayback Machine., Park Ridge Fir Department. Accessed December 27, 2011. "In 1898, after a disastrous fire at the Mittag and Volger plant, a few leaders of the community recognized the need for fire protection. A call was put out, and a mass meeting was held at Forester's Hall on Magnolia Avenue (Kinderkamack Road) on January 18, 1898. As a result of this meeting, thirty-nine men formed the Park Ridge Volunteer Fire Department. The original Charter was signed on February 4, 1898."
^Siegler, Bonnie. "Lust for Life", American Fitness, November 1999. Accessed April 11, 2011
^Staff. "BY THE WAY; Historic House Hunting", The New York Times, January 28, 2001. Accessed December 12, 2013. "George Washington Foster Jr. slept here -- here being Park Ridge, in Bergen County, where he lived from 1902 until his death in 1923. Foster was one of this country's first black architects, and he is profiled in The Architecture of Bergen County, New Jersey, by T. Robins Brown and Schuler Warmflash, just published by Rutgers University Press ($35)."
^Barron, James. "Transplant From Park Ridge: A Roomful of Richard Nixon", The New York Times, June 25, 1995. Accessed April 11, 2011. "After vacating the Oval Office in disgrace, and after leaving his Saddle River home in favor of a town-house condominium in Park Ridge, former President Richard M. Nixon had an inner sanctum with a good Republican cloth chair -- two of them, in fact."
^Harrington, Shannon D. "Padilla likely to become freeholder", The Record (Bergen County), October 17, 2002. Accessed December 12, 2013. "'I think I would bring diversity to the board, and that would be a good thing,' said Padilla, a Park Ridge resident who is president of the Bergen County Latino-American Democratic Association."