The first European settlers in Tenafly were Dutch immigrants, who began to populate the area during the late 17th century. The name "Tenafly" is derived from the early-modern Dutch phrase "Tiene Vly" or "Ten Swamps" which was given by Dutch settlers in 1688. Other derivations cite a Dutch language connection to its location on a meadow.
Tenafly was incorporated as a borough on January 24, 1894, by an act of the New Jersey Legislature from portions of the now-defunct Palisades Township, based on the results of a referendum held the previous day. The borough was the first formed during the "Boroughitis" phenomenon then sweeping through Bergen County, in which 26 boroughs were formed in the county in 1894 alone. Portions of Palisades Township were acquired based on legislation approved on April 8, 1897.
New Jersey Monthly magazine ranked Tenafly as the 7th best place to live in New Jersey in its 2013 rankings of the "Best Places To Live" in New Jersey.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 5.184 square miles (13.428 km2), including 4.601 square miles (11.917 km2) of land and 0.583 square miles (1.510 km2) of water (11.25%).
Tenafly's street plan and overall development were largely determined by its hills and valleys. The eastern part of the borough is referred to as the "East Hill" for its higher elevation in relation to the rest of the borough. There, the terrain rises dramatically to the east of the downtown area, terminating at the New Jersey Palisades, overlooking the Hudson River. Nearby is the Tenafly Nature Center, located at 313 Hudson Avenue.
There were 4,766 households out of which 49.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 72.7% were married couples living together, 8.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.0% were non-families. 15.3% 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 3.02 and the average family size was 3.36.
In the borough, the population was spread out with 31.2% under the age of 18, 5.0% from 18 to 24, 20.2% from 25 to 44, 30.2% from 45 to 64, and 13.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.8 years. For every 100 females there were 93.4 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 87.6 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006–2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $125,865 (with a margin of error of +/- $23,612) and the median family income was $140,100 (+/- $26,372). Males had a median income of $102,645 (+/- $7,373) versus $60,871 (+/- $9,308) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $60,557 (+/- $5,176). About 1.8% of families and 2.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.4% of those under age 18 and 2.2% of those age 65 or over.
There were 4,774 households out of which 43.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 70.6% were married couples living together, 8.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.0% were non-families. 16.8% 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 2.86 and the average family size was 3.21.
In the borough the age distribution of the population shows 28.3% under the age of 18, 4.7% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 26.4% from 45 to 64, and 15.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.5 males.
2007 estimates state that the median income for a household in the borough was $109,887, and the median income for a family was $124,656. Males had a median income of $92,678 versus $61,990 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $62,230. About 2.3% of families and 3.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.7% of those under age 18 and 3.3% of those age 65 or over.
Tenafly is governed under a special charter granted by the New Jersey Legislature. This charter retains most aspects of the Borough form of government, with the addition of initiative, referendum, and recall features. The governing body consists of a Mayor and a Borough Council comprising six council members, 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, and is eligible for re-election. 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. As the legislative body, the Borough Council adopts ordinances and resolutions, decides on appropriations, approves appointments made by the Mayor, determines policy, and establishes the functions of the various departments of the local government. Each Council member is chairperson of one of six standing committees. The Mayor presides over Council meetings, but only votes in case of a tie, and can cast a veto which can be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the Council.
As of 2019[update], the Mayor of Tenafly is Independent Peter Rustin, whose term of office ends December 31, 2019. Members of the Tenafly Borough Council are Maxim F. Basch (D, 2019), Lauren Dayton (D, 2020), Jeffrey Grossman (D, 2020), Venugopal Menon (D, 2021), Daniel Park (D, 2019) and Mark Zinna (D, 2021).
In 2000, the local government of Tenafly sought to ban the erection of eruvs in their community. The eruv association filed a lawsuit in response to the borough's action. After six years of litigation in the federal courts, Tenafly settled by keeping the eruvs intact and paid $325,000 of the plaintiff's legal fees.
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 8,709 registered voters in Tenafly, of which 3,082 (35.4% vs. 31.7% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 1,445 (16.6% vs. 21.1%) were registered as Republicans and 4,181 (48.0% vs. 47.1%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There was one voter registered to another party. Among the borough's 2010 Census population, 60.1% (vs. 57.1% in Bergen County) were registered to vote, including 87.3% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 73.7% countywide).
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 3,694 votes (58.8% vs. 54.8% countywide), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 2,489 votes (39.6% vs. 43.5%) and other candidates with 62 votes (1.0% vs. 0.9%), among the 6,281 ballots cast by the borough's 9,322 registered voters, for a turnout of 67.4% (vs. 70.4% in Bergen County). In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 4,285 votes (63.3% vs. 53.9% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 2,376 votes (35.1% vs. 44.5%) and other candidates with 54 votes (0.8% vs. 0.8%), among the 6,773 ballots cast by the borough's 9,002 registered voters, for a turnout of 75.2% (vs. 76.8% in Bergen County). In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 4,195 votes (61.3% vs. 51.7% countywide), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 2,569 votes (37.5% vs. 47.2%) and other candidates with 53 votes (0.8% vs. 0.7%), among the 6,848 ballots cast by the borough's 8,871 registered voters, for a turnout of 77.2% (vs. 76.9% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 57.3% of the vote (2,046 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 42.2% (1,505 votes), and other candidates with 0.5% (18 votes), among the 3,667 ballots cast by the borough's 8,800 registered voters (98 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 41.7%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 2,454 ballots cast (55.8% vs. 48.0% countywide), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 1,701 votes (38.7% vs. 45.8%), Independent Chris Daggett with 189 votes (4.3% vs. 4.7%) and other candidates with 17 votes (0.4% vs. 0.5%), among the 4,401 ballots cast by the borough's 8,782 registered voters, yielding a 50.1% turnout (vs. 50.0% in the county).
Tenafly Income Distribution 2010-2014 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates
The school was the third-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 also being ranked third in 2010 out of 322 schools listed. Schooldigger.com ranked the school as tied for 26th out of 376 public high schools statewide in its 2010 rankings (unchanged from the 2009 rank) which were based on the combined percentage of students classified as proficient or above proficient on the language arts literacy and mathematics components of the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA).
Although arguably difficult to rank high schools within and across state lines, Tenafly High School has consistently performed very well in college acceptance and SAT scores. Most recent college acceptance and SAT scores.
The Palisades Interstate Parkway runs above the Hudson River from Englewood Cliffs north towards Alpine. There are no exits on the parkway in Tenafly; the nearest interchanges are Exit 1 in Englewood Cliffs to the south, and Exit 2 in Alpine in the north.
U.S. Route 9W adjoins and runs parallel to the Palisades Interstate Parkway.
The Northern Branch Corridor Project, a proposal by New Jersey Transit to extend the Hudson Bergen Light Rail for nine stops and 11 miles (18 km) northward from its current terminus in North Bergen to two stations in Tenafly, the last of which would be a new terminus near the Cresskill town line, met with mixed reactions. Many residents and officials believed that the negative impact on the borough in terms of traffic and noise outweighed the benefits. In November 2010, voters rejected the plan to re-establish rail service to the town by a nearly 2-1 ratio in a non-binding referendum, with all of the borough council candidates opposing the restoration of commuter train service. There is continued resistance to New Jersey Transit's preferred alternative as described in the plan's December 2011 announcement. Despite local opposition, officials in Bergen County asked the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority to support the proposal. In 2013, New Jersey Transit announced that the line would end in Englewood, after Tenafly officials estimated that as much in $8 million in commercial property valuation would be lost and residents raised strong objections.
^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 created in the county from January 23, 1894, to December 18, of the same year." Note that the source incorrectly lists June 23, 1894, as the borough's formation date, even though the borough is listed correctly in chronological order.
^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."
^Rouse, Karen. "Light rail pushed for Tenafly", The Record (Bergen County), January 10, 2012. Accessed December 19, 2013. "Bergen County officials on Monday asked the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority board to support a proposal to extend light rail service from North Bergen to Tenafly. NJ Transit last month released an environmental impact document on the project that looks at two alternatives.... The second proposal — which is described as the "preferred" plan — would extend service even farther north, to Tenafly."
^On November 2, 1880, Stanton, with Susan B. Anthony, attempted to vote in Tenafly but was turned away. Stanton owned a home in Tenafly from 1868 to 1887 and during this time, wrote the early volumes of History of Woman's Suffrage with Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage."
^Cowen, Richard; and Shkolnikova, Svetlana. "Russian pop star tied to Trump has Tenafly roots", The Record (Bergen County), July 13, 2017. Accessed February 28, 2018. "Russian pop star Emin Agalarov wore black leather, drove a souped-up moped and wanted to be the next Elvis Presley, having spent his teenage years living large and dreaming big on the streets of his adopted hometown, Tenafly."
^Leonard, Tim. "Tenafly's Berhalter happy to be close to home", The Record (Bergen County), July 15, 2009. Accessed July 30, 2012. "There wasn't one thing Gregg Berhalter could say would be the highlight of his trip. It's not as if the Tenafly native has never played in Giants Stadium In fact, the former United States National team defender has played in more important matches there than the one he'll play tonight."
^Galarcep, Ives. "Injury replacement wasn't sure if he deserved to play", Herald News, June 20, 2006. "As he stood on the sideline watching the U.S. national team's gutsy effort in its 1-1 draw against Italy on Saturday, Gregg Berhalter cheered his teammates on and congratulated them as they laid on the field after the 90 brutal minutes.... The Tenafly native wasn't sure what to make of the news, which he received while on vacation at Disney World with his family."
^Capuzzo, Jill P. "A Suburb for Urbanites", The New York Times, October 9, 2009. Accessed December 18, 2013. "Over the years, the borough has been home to professional athletes, including Yogi Berra, and actors, including Ed Harris and Paul and Mira Sorvino. The homes of two of its most notable historic figures — the suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton and the bandleader Glenn Miller — are registered landmarks."
^Pinsker, Beth. "In Person; About Hope", The New York Times, December 15, 2002. Accessed September 1, 2013. "It's the battle of the New Jersey movie stars -- Neptune's Jack Nicholson versus Tenafly's Hope Davis....The Daytrippers also sticks with her because of her childhood in Englewood and Tenafly.
^"Walter Jones Taylor Wed To Connie Elizabeth Dean", The New York Times, November 8, 1987. Accessed October 11, 2015. "At the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York yesterday Connie Elizabeth Dean, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Dean of Tenafly, N.J., was married to Walter Jones Taylor, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Zachary Taylor Jr. of Jackson, Miss.... Her father, the country and western singer, is chairman of the Jimmy Dean Meat Company in Dallas."
^Edel, Raymond A. "People", The Record (Bergen County), June 21, 1997. Accessed May 29, 2007. "Tate Donovan is not as combative as Hercules, the hero whose voice he supplies in the new Walt Disney film. "It was really devastating", says Donovan, 34, a Tenafly native who has been seen on TV's Partners,..."
^Lai, Yvonne. "Danny Forster", South China Morning Post, April 26, 2009. Accessed May 11, 2017. "'Meandering' is a good way to describe my path. I grew up in Tenafly, New Jersey, right outside of Manhattan."
^Staff. "Ralph B. Fuller", Asbury Park Press, August 17, 1963. Accessed May 16, 2016. "Ralph B. Fuller, 73. the cartoonist who drew the former Associated Press comic strip Oaky Doaks, died in a hospital here yesterday after a brief illness. Mr. Fuller drew the comic strip from 1935 until it was discontinued at the end of 1961. He resided at Tenafly, N.J., and maintained a summer home here."
^Lavietes, Stuart. "Richard Gardner, 72, Dies; Cast Doubt on Abuse Claims", The New York Times, June 9, 2003. Accessed July 21, 2013. "Dr. Richard A. Gardner, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who developed a theory about parental alienation syndrome, which he said could lead children in high-conflict custody cases to falsely accuse a parent of abuse, died on May 25 at his home in Tenafly, N.J. He was 72."
^Levin, Jay. "Alan Geisler, 78; food chemist, hot dog hero", The Record (Bergen County), January 9, 2009. "In 1960, Mr. Geisler -- a Tenafly High School graduate who received a bachelor's degree in food technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- founded a company that manufactures emulsifiers, shortenings and other ingredients for the baking industry."
^McGee, Celia. "Singing a Song of Sondheim, Again", The New York Times, December 3, 2008. Accessed July 30, 2012. "Mr. Gemignani, who stars in "Road Show", the Sondheim offering that opened at the Public Theater on Nov. 18, worked for nine years at a branch of that very company near his childhood home in Tenafly, N.J."
^Rohan, Virginia. "He brings it home in 'Miz'", The Record (Bergen County), November 5, 2006. "Alexander Gemignani, the Tenafly native who stars in Broadway's new revival of "Les Misérables", knows that, at 27, he's "certainly on the young side" to be portraying Jean Valjean -- the tortured, tragic hero who did 19 years of hard labor in prison for stealing bread."
^Wolters, Larry. "Rusty Hamer-TV's Phenomenon", Chicago Tribune, December 18, 1955. Accessed August 9, 2010. "Born in Tenafly N.J. in 1947 Rusty moved with his family to Los Angeles when he was a baby and made his stage debut by reciting Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves to a convulsed crowd in a Santa Monica theater."
^"Ed Harris leaves the sidelines", BBC News, March 12, 2001. Accessed June 28, 2007. "Harris, 50, grew up in Tenafly, New Jersey where he was a baseball and American football hero and captained the school team."
^Newman, Richard; Yellin, Deena; and Superville, Denisa R. "Tenafly grad takes helm at Yahoo", The Record (Bergen County), May 15, 2012. Accessed May 17, 2012. "In choosing former Tenafly resident Ross Levinsohn as its interim CEO on Monday, embattled Yahoo! Inc. picked a man who is focused, driven and confident.... Levinsohn graduated in 1981 from Tenafly High School, where he was a goalkeeper on the soccer team before switching to football to be the team's kicker in his senior year."
^Spitz, Marc. "Grrrl's Got Rhythm", Vanity Fair (magazine), November 2006. Accessed July 8, 2007. "An Orthodox Jew, Lewitinn recently abandoned a recording session on the West Coast to fly to her parents' home in Tenafly, New Jersey."
^Martinez, Michael. "Mattingly Eager To Get In Swing Again", The New York Times, June 11, 1987. Accessed October 11, 2015. "'I know it's foolish to think I could go out there and play, and they're keeping me back so I don't try to do too much too soon,' Mattingly said from his home in Tenafly, N.J.
^Thomas Jr., Robert McG.; and Martinez, Michael. "Sports World Specials; Picture Perfect", The New York Times, March 23, 1987. Accessed October 11, 2015. "Then they gathered, for his approval, a stack of other Mattingly-at-the-bat shots and sent them to his Tenafly, N.J., home, where he cast aside first this one (shoulder slightly askew), then that (weight not quite properly shifted), before finally deciding on just the right candidate from a batch of no fewer than 100. 'It was no big deal,' said baseball's best player."
^Cotten, Lee. The Golden Age of American Rock 'n Roll: Reelin' & Rockin': 1956-1959, p. 283. Pierian Press, 1995. ISBN9781560750390. Accessed November 20, 2017. "Week after week he did one-nighters on the road while Harriet and the children remained in their rambling country home in Tenafly, New Jersey. The Nelsons, minus Ricky, moved to Hollywood in 1941 so that Ozzie could take a job as band leader for Red Skelton's radio program"
^Collins, Glenn. "George Price, 93, Cartoonist of Oddities, Dies", The New York Times, January 14, 1995. Accessed December 6, 2013. "George Price, a cartoonist whose eccentric comic visions of natural disasters, feuding spouses and the habits of a distinctively odd cast of characters were staples of The New Yorker magazine for nearly six decades, died on Thursday at Englewood Hospital in Englewood, N.J. He was 93 and lived in Tenafly, N.J."
^Kramer, Peter D. "9/11: Man in the red bandanna's finest hour", The Record (Bergen County), September 6, 2016. Accessed September 7, 2016. "This week will find Tom Rinaldi pingponging from his home in Tenafly, New Jersey — less than a mile from the Cresskill home he grew up in — to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, Queens, to cover the U.S. Open."
^Staff. "Adam Rothenberg: About This Person", The New York Times. Accessed December 18, 2013. "A specialist at playing sweet-natured husbands and boyfriends, model-cum-actor Adam Rothenberg was born in Tenafly, New Jersey, and formally trained in New York theater, enjoying roles in on and off-Broadway productions including A Streetcar Named Desire, Birdy, and Danny and the Deep Blue Sea."
^Beckerman, Jim. "Film by Tenafly actors premieres at Tribeca Film Festival", The Record (Bergen County), April 24, 2016. Accessed January 25, 2018. "That's Wally as in Wally Marzano-Lesnevich. And Michael as in Michael Sorvino.... The two Tenafly natives, pals and co-stars since their high school theater days (Tenafly High School, class of 1996), are again working side by side in the new movie Almost Paris, having its world premiere today at the Tribeca Film Festival."
^Seal, Mark. "Mira Sorvino's Barcelona", American Way, January 1, 2001. Accessed December 18, 2013. "When Mira Sorvino arrived in Barcelona in 1994 to film a movie called Barcelona, she had a past in academia and a future in acting. Raised in Tenafly, New Jersey, she was the daughter of tough-guy character actor Paul Sorvino, who raised his kids to strive for an education instead of childhood acting careers."
^Saunders, Dusty. "Sorvino Enjoys Another 'Championship'.", Rocky Mountain News, June 6, 1999. Accessed December 18, 2013. "I was raking leaves at my home in Tenafly (N.J.) when I got the call [from] Joseph Papp from the Public Theater in New York City. I was requested to attend a meeting about a new play by Jason Miller, a talent I didn't know."
^Staff. "St. Joseph's annual charity ball raises money", Clifton Journal, October 30, 2009. Accessed December 19, 2013. "David Infusino, of Nutley, left to right; Donna Graziano, of Clifton; Lori Stokes, of Tenafly, anchor of WABC Eyewitness News This Morning and Eyewitness News at Noon, was emcee for the evening"
^Goldaper, Sam. "Cohen Group Reaches Agreement to Purchase Nets", The New York Times, July 27, 1978. Accessed November 20, 2017. "Taub, who lives in Tenafly, N.J., and his brother, Henry, were among the founders of Automatic Data Processing, a computer company. Joseph Taub retired from the computer business eight years ago at the age of 40."
^Naham, Matt. , Law and Crime. Accessed June 4, 2019. "Port Authority Commissioner and ‘Ready for Hillary’ Co-Chair Went Off When Cops Pulled Over Daughter (VIDEO)"
^Staff. "The Beauty Who Tamed the Beast", People (magazine), February 7, 1977. Accessed May 11, 2017. "Enter Trish, with her wholesome good looks and thoroughbred charms. The only daughter of the horsey, affluent Dressels of Tenafly, N.J., she had become a relative radical at little Ohio Wesleyan University, and later intrepidly toured the redneck South with the mostly black Free Southern Theater."