Ridgefield Park was formed as a village on June 15, 1892, within Ridgefield Township, based on the results of a referendum passed on June 6, 1892. Overpeck Township was formed on March 23, 1897, to be coextensive with Ridgefield Park village, and was created within Ridgefield Township for the purpose of administering a Board of Education. Portions of the village gained in both 1921 and 1926 were taken from Bogota and Teaneck. On May 31, 1938, Overpeck Township became Ridgefield Park Township. The village was named for the area's terrain.
The village's Fourth of July Parade, first established in 1894, is said to be the longest continuously celebrated such event in New Jersey and one of the oldest in the country. The village eliminated its July 4 fireworks in 2009, citing the $50,000 cost in the face of the difficult economy, but committed to retain its parade.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the village had a total area of 1.919 square miles (4.971 km2), including 1.723 square miles (4.464 km2) of land and 0.196 square miles (0.507 km2) of water (10.19%).
There were 4,851 households out of which 31.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 48.5% were married couples living together, 13.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.5% were non-families. 27.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.62 and the average family size was 3.25.
In the village, the population was spread out with 21.9% under the age of 18, 8.5% from 18 to 24, 28.2% from 25 to 44, 28.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39.3 years. For every 100 females there were 94.0 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 90.6 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $60,656 (with a margin of error of +/- $8,846) and the median family income was $83,189 (+/- $13,092). Males had a median income of $51,781 (+/- $2,949) versus $47,714 (+/- $8,394) for females. The per capita income for the village was $30,893 (+/- $2,038). About 3.1% of families and 5.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.8% of those under age 18 and 10.2% of those age 65 or over.
There were 5,012 households out of which 29.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.7% were married couples living together, 11.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.3% were non-families. 29.6% 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 2.56 and the average family size was 3.24.
In the village, the population was spread out with 22.4% under the age of 18, 7.2% from 18 to 24, 34.4% from 25 to 44, 23.1% from 45 to 64, and 12.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.6 males.
The median income for a household in the village was $51,825, and the median income for a family was $62,414. Males had a median income of $44,507 versus $35,217 for females. The per capita income for the village was $24,290. About 4.7% of families and 6.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 6.9% of those under age 18 and 7.5% of those age 65 or over.
On the east side of the Village (east of I-95), to the south of Bergen County's Overpeck Park, lies Overpeck Corporate Office Park (located on Challenger Road). The office park contains approximately 1 million square feet of Class-A office space which has undergone substantial renovations and upgrades in the past 8 years. The Office Park also contains an AMC Movie Theater and Hilton Garden Inn Hotel. Corporate residents of Overpeck Corporate Park include the headquarters of Samsung Electronics America and American Stock Transfer.
Municipal building in Ridgefield Park on Main Street.
Ridgefield Park has been governed under the Walsh Act since 1912. The Board of Commissioners consists of five members, elected at-large in non-partisan elections to serve four-year terms on a concurrent basis. The commissioners elect one commissioner as mayor, however the mayor is only responsible for his or her departments and serves as the chair of the commission. The popularity of the Walsh Act form of government declined from a peak of about 60 in the early years after it was created to a total of approximately 30 statewide in 2018, of which Ridgefield Park is one of six in North Jersey.
In June 2017, Theresa Kohles was appointed to fill the commissioner seat that became vacant following the resignation of Maggie Boyd. In the 2017 November general election, Kohles was elected to serve the balance of the term of office.
In elections held on May 13, 2008, the four incumbents running for re-election—George D. Fosdick (1,210 votes), Maggie Boyd (1,142), John H. Anlian (1,063) and Hugo R. Poli (1,006)—all won new terms in office. Challenger Adam MacNeill received 1,037 votes to win the seat vacated by Joseph Storer, with Frank Scerbo (653) and Junior Hernandez (458) falling short. The five incumbents won re-election in the May 8, 2012, municipal election, with Fosdick again chosen as mayor.
Bergen County is governed by a directly elected County Executive, with legislative functions performed by a seven-member Board of Chosen Freeholders. The freeholders are elected at-large in partisan elections on a staggered basis, with two or three seats coming up for election each year; a Chairman, Vice Chairman and Chairman Pro Tempore are selected from among its seven members at a reorganization meeting held each January.
As of 2018[update], the County Executive is Democratic James J. Tedesco III of Paramus, whose term of office ends December 31, 2018. Bergen County's Freeholders are
Freeholder Chairman Thomas J. Sullivan Jr., (D, Montvale, term as freeholder ends 2019; term as freeholder chairman ends 2018),
Freeholder Vice-Chairwoman Germaine M. Ortiz (D, Emerson, term as freeholder ends 2019; term as freeholder vice-chairwoman ends 2018),
Freeholder Chairman Pro-Tempore Mary J. Amoroso (D, Mahwah, term as freeholder ends 2019; term as freeholder chairman pro-tempore ends 2018),
David L. Ganz (D, Fair Lawn, 2020),
Steve Tanelli (D, North Arlington, 2018),Joan Voss (D, Fort Lee, 2020) and
Tracy Silna Zur (D, Franklin Lakes, 2018), Bergen County's constitutional officials are
County Clerk John S. Hogan (D, Northvale, 2021),
Sheriff Michael Saudino (D, Emerson, 2019) and
Surrogate Michael R. Dressler (D, Cresskill, 2021).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 6,593 registered voters in Ridgefield Park, of which 2,249 (34.1% vs. 31.7% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 957 (14.5% vs. 21.1%) were registered as Republicans and 3,382 (51.3% vs. 47.1%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 5 voters registered to other parties. Among the village's 2010 Census population, 51.8% (vs. 57.1% in Bergen County) were registered to vote, including 66.4% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 73.7% countywide).
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 3,162 votes here (66.3% vs. 54.8% countywide), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 1,508 votes (31.6% vs. 43.5%) and other candidates with 45 votes (0.9% vs. 0.9%), among the 4,768 ballots cast by the village's 7,035 registered voters, for a turnout of 67.8% (vs. 70.4% in Bergen County). In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 3,256 votes here (61.6% vs. 53.9% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 1,932 votes (36.5% vs. 44.5%) and other candidates with 47 votes (0.9% vs. 0.8%), among the 5,288 ballots cast by the village's 6,980 registered voters, for a turnout of 75.8% (vs. 76.8% in Bergen County). In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 2,681 votes here (55.4% vs. 51.7% countywide), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 2,104 votes (43.5% vs. 47.2%) and other candidates with 31 votes (0.6% vs. 0.7%), among the 4,835 ballots cast by the village's 6,575 registered voters, for a turnout of 73.5% (vs. 76.9% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 55.6% of the vote (1,473 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 43.0% (1,138 votes), and other candidates with 1.4% (36 votes), among the 2,686 ballots cast by the village's 6,694 registered voters (39 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 40.1%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 1,657 ballots cast (53.7% vs. 48.0% countywide), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 1,223 votes (39.6% vs. 45.8%), Independent Chris Daggett with 166 votes (5.4% vs. 4.7%) and other candidates with 11 votes (0.4% vs. 0.5%), among the 3,085 ballots cast by the village's 6,753 registered voters, yielding a 45.7% turnout (vs. 50.0% in the county).
The district is one of the small number in the state with schools recognized by the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program in consecutive years, with Grant Elementary School earning the designation in 2010 and Lincoln Elementary School being honored in 2011.
^Klein, Alvin; and Emblen, Mary L. New Jersey Guide, The New York Times, July 3, 1994. Accessed July 12, 2011. "Ridgefield Park will strike up the band with extra gusto at this year's Fourth of July parade tomorrow because it is the 100th and, the sponsors assert, the longest consecutively produced one in the nation. Residents of the village took seriously the suggestion made years before by John Adams that the nation's citizenry to celebrate independence with parades, fireworks and joyous gatherings. Volunteer committees have put together an observance every year since 1894 in spite of two World Wars, the Great Depression and other distractions."
^Kocieniewski, David. "Bad Economy Dampens Celebrations for July 4th", The New York Times, June 21, 2009. Accessed July 12, 2011. "But in Ridgefield Park, N.J., home of the state's oldest Fourth of July celebration, village leaders decided this year that because of the exceptionally bleak economic outlook, they could not afford to put on their traditional show, which costs about $50,000. "'I'm not going to say it's a luxury, because fireworks are a very important tradition, and Fourth of July is a very important day,' said Ridgefield Park's mayor, George D. Fosdick. 'But if you're confronting a situation where you're afraid you may have to lay people off and cost a family its livelihood, then it's a decision that you have to make.' Mr. Fosdick said the village would hold the rest of its Independence Day celebration, including its home- and business-decorating contest and two parades."
^Proctor, Owen; and Sobko, Katie. "Town commissions have become a New Jersey rarity", The Record (Bergen County), April 30, 2018, updated May 6, 2018. Accessed October 6, 2019. "Commissions rose in popularity, up to 60 statewide in the early part of the last century, from large cities and older suburbs to seaside resorts.... Today, only about 30 of New Jersey’s 565 municipalities are commissions, including six in North Jersey. There are North Bergen, Union City and West New York in Hudson County, Lyndhurst and Ridgefield Park in Bergen County, and Nutley in Essex County."
^Locicero, Anthony. "Incumbents Sweep Ridgefield Park Commissioners Election", Ridgefield Park Daily Voice, May 10, 2016. Accessed June 16, 2016. "Ridgefield Park's five incumbents swept Tuesday's non-partisan Board of Commissioners election, defeating a full slate of political newcomers in the villages most competitive election in two decades. The 'Continued Responsive Government' ticket came out on top: Longtime Mayor George Fosdick was rejoined by Commissioners John Anlian, Margaret Boyd, Adam MacNeill and Hugo Poli."
^"Message from the Board of Commissioners", Village Newsletter, June 2017. Accessed October 6, 2019. "We welcome to the Board of Commissioners Theresa Kohles who was selected to fill the vacany created by the resignation of Commissioner Boyd.... An accountant in her own business, Commissioner Kohles brings a fresh voice to the Board and will serve as Commissioner of Parks, Property and Buildings and as liaison to the Rescue Squad."
^Rosenfeld, Stacey. "Fosdick remains mayor at Ridgefield Park reorganization meeting", Ridgefield Park Patriot, May 24, 2012. Accessed July 18, 2013. "After the flag salute and a moment of silence in honor of Police Memorial Day, the May 8 election results were certified. The final vote count, inclusive of absentee ballots, was George Fosdick, 1,002; John Anlian, 977; Margaret Boyd, 991; Adam MacNeil, 941; Hugo Poli, 954; Junior Hernandez, 420 and write in Wayne Boyd, 8. The newly re-elected Commissioners reappointed George D. Fosdick as Mayor, and in large part retained their assignments on their current commissions, with some minor changes."
^Biography, Congressman Bill Pascrell. Accessed January 3, 2019."A native son of Paterson, N.J., Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. has built a life of public service upon the principles he learned while growing up on the south side of the Silk City."
^Wildstein, David (January 24, 2018). "Calabrese unopposed for Caride seat". Politics DW. Retrieved February 9, 2018. Caride resigned last week, following Gov. Phil Murphy’s inauguration. She is currently the Acting Commissioner of Banking and Insurance as she awaits State Senate confirmation.
^James, George. "School Districts' Battle On Tuition Goes to Court", The New York Times, December 16, 1989. Accessed August 19, 2013. "School officials in the borough, Little Ferry, which sends 202 students to the 546-student high school, say a partial audit several years ago raised suspicions that Ridgefield Park has overcharged them by hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent years.... Little Ferry, a borough of 1.5 square miles and 9,900 people, has sent its high school students to this neighboring 1.92-square mile village of 12,000 people, since 1953."
^Decicco, Robin. "Ridgefield Park's Lincoln School recognized as a Blue Ribbon School", Ridgefield Park Patriot, September 23, 2011. Accessed August 19, 2013. "Lincoln Elementary School was recently named a Blue Ribbon School by the New Jersey Department of Education, the most prestigious title in education, said Chris Onorato, superintendent of Ridgefield Park School District.... Ridgefield Park is one of the only districts in the country to receive two Blue Ribbon titles in back to back years. Last year, Grant Elementary School was named a Blue Ribbon School."
^[www.nj.com] "N.J. binge-watching guide: 36 Amazon Prime picks from the Garden State", NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, January 14, 2016. Accessed November 15, 2017. "Rounders - This 1998 movie stars Matt Damon and Edward Norton (and John Malkovich!) as underground poker players. Some scenes were filmed at Rutgers School of Law in Newark and the Elks lodge in Ridgefield Park."
^Richard A. Easterlin, Population Association of America. Accessed November 15, 2017. "Richard Easterlin was born in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey, in 1926 and studied engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology, where he earned an ME degree with distinction in 1945."
^Nowlin, Bill. "Alex Gaston", Society for American Baseball Research. Accessed November 14, 2016. "His high school was Ridgefield Park in New Jersey, the community where Milt was born. At the time of the 1900 and 1910 censuses, the family lived in Overpeck, Bergen County, New Jersey."
^Nowlin, Bill. "Milt Gaston", Society for American Baseball Research. Accessed November 14, 2016. "Nathaniel Milton Gaston was born on January 27, 1896, in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey.... The family lived in Overpeek, Bergen County, New Jersey. Milt attended a number of schools in New York City and New Jersey, and completed one year of high school at Ridgefield Park, but then left school and went to work."
^Calderone, Joe; and Zambito, Thomas. "Farewell To FBI Bomb Expert And Father of 4", New York Daily News, October 1, 2001. Accessed November 15, 2017. "Son of a cop, Hatton starred as halfback on the Ridgefield Park football team, married his high school sweetheart and took the only job he'd ever wanted, as an agent with the FBI. His work took him to New Orleans for years, but, after being assigned to the Joint Bank Robbery Task Force in New York, he returned to Ridgefield Park.... On Saturday, as strains of an Elton John song filtered through the church, Hatton's Ridgefield Park class, members of the Class of '75, wiped away tears."
^Louis Kosco Class of 1950, Ridgefield Park Junior-Senior High School Alumni Foundation. Accessed November 15, 2017. "Senator Louis Kosco attended Lincoln School and was a member of the class of 1950 at Ridgefield Park High School."
^ abFosdick, George. History of Ridgefield Park High School, Ridgefield Park Jr. / Sr. High School Alumni Association. Accessed August 19, 2013. "Among those who rose to national prominence are Ozzie Nelson '23, a radio and television performer who often mentioned his RPHS experiences on his radio and television programs. Bud Lewis '37 was the co-pilot of the Enola Gay Aircraft which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, leading to the end of World War II, a war in which over 1,000 RPHS graduates served."
^Ross, Rob. "Album Review: Bobby Messano, “Welcome To Deltaville, popdose.com, July 31, 2014. Accessed November 15, 2017. "Ridgefield Park, New Jersey native (and current Nashville resident) Bobby Messano steps up to the front of the line with his newest release on Marty Scott's JEM Recordings, Welcome To Deltaville. 10 slices of heavy blues that definitely make their mark."
^Staff. "Messner Into Army", Billboard (magazine), February 12, 1944. Accessed November 15, 2017. "Johnny Messner, the master of Ridgefield Park, N. J. and the maestro at McAlpin's Marine Grill for so many years, enters the army March 21."
^George, Jason. "From a C Student to a Celestial Traveler", The New York Times, May 16, 2004. Accessed December 14, 2013. "In 1962, with an F in trigonometry and a C average at Ridgefield Park High School in New Jersey, Gregory Olsen seemed destined for the final frontier of a steady job, evenings in front of the television and, if lucky, vacations on the Jersey Shore."
^Harold "Hal" Turner, Turner2000.org, backed up by the Internet Archive as of May 31, 2000. Accessed October 17, 2017. "At age 4, Hal's family moved from Union City to Ridgefield Park, in Bergen County. He attended Roosevelt School on Teaneck Road in Grades K - 8. Hal graduated from Ridgefield Park High School in 1980."