Westwood was officially incorporated as a borough on May 8, 1894, from portions of Washington Township, early during the "Boroughitis" phenomenon then sweeping through Bergen County, in which 26 boroughs were formed in the county in 1894 alone. Isaac D. Bogert served as the first mayor of the Borough. In April 1909, Westwood was enlarged through the annexation of the "Old Hook" section of the borough of Emerson, and on September 24, 1957, portions of the borough were exchanged with Emerson.
The Lenni-LenapeNative Americans inhabited this part of the state and shared it with the transient hunters and trappers until the permanent settlers began to enter in mid-18th century. In the early 19th century, the area that would later become Westwood was within the larger political boundaries of Harrington Township, which had been established by royal charter in 1775. In 1840, the western half of Harrington Township became Washington Township, with the Hackensack River as the dividing line. Washington Township was an agrarian region with isolated farmsteads. Early families, including the Hoppers and Ackermans, are buried at the Old Hook Cemetery. An 18th-century mill was situated at the dammed stream near the intersection of today's Mill Street and First Avenue. This mill was on an important east west pathway and was the first on Musquapsink Brook. The mill was largely destroyed after a fire set by an arsonist and was dismantled in 1910.
2 1st Ave Westwood NJ Built in 1773. Owned by the Bogert family till 1910. currently owned by the Sandt Family.
A brief description of Washington Township written in 1844 described it as a township with six stores, four schools for 135 students, six grist mills, and 14 saw mills.
The first wave of concentrated development took place as the result of the coming of the Hackensack and New York Railroad in 1870, which followed the route of today's Pascack Valley Line. On March 5, 1870, service began between Westwood and New York City (via Jersey City and a ferry ride). Several small hotels were built near the depot, and in 1872 several houses in the latest European-influenced styles began to be built along Centre Avenue. Old maps show that growth occurred simultaneously on the land both to the east and west of the tracks. The commercial buildings included lumber and coal sheds, stores, and a bakery. There was a chapel on the corner of Third and Park Avenues. The triangular park that has played an important role as a place of community gatherings is also shown on the 1876 map.
By the 1880s, Westwood had four factories, several distilleries, a new school, a laundry and grocery store, and a new Reformed Church. In 1890, following a meeting of interested residents, those favoring the incorporation of Westwood as an independent borough conducted a petition drive. In 1894, Westwood separated from Washington Township and became an independent borough. Elected as the borough's first mayor was Isaac D. Bogert.
In 1899, a water plant constructed by Cornelius S. DeBraun provided service to the houses that had been built along the borough's newly laid streets. By the time of the 1905 New Jersey Census, there were 234 dwellings housing a population of 1,044.
Westwood Park Place decorated for the holidays. Notice that the Fire Bell is covered with a Christmas Wreath
Lincoln High School was constructed around the turn of the 20th century, which also saw the introduction of electricity, telephones, and automobiles to the town. Underwood & Underwood Stereoscope Company opened a plant during the first decades of the 20th century, and many congregations established their first chapels, which were replaced in later years as the congregations grew in numbers and wealth. Following a typical pattern of development throughout the 20th century, the results are a mature railroad suburb almost covered with housing units, commercial, municipal and ecclesiastical buildings. The borough still retains the open space of the triangular park at its center.
Panoramic map of Westwood from 1924 with list of landmarks and images of several inset
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 2.314 square miles (5.992 km2), including 2.266 square miles (5.868 km2) of land and 0.048 square miles (0.124 km2) of water (2.07%).
There were 4,438 households out of which 29.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.0% were married couples living together, 8.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.6% were non-families. 31.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 14.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.44 and the average family size was 3.11.
In the borough, the population was spread out with 21.9% under the age of 18, 6.0% from 18 to 24, 27.5% from 25 to 44, 28.0% from 45 to 64, and 16.6% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41.8 years. For every 100 females there were 92.7 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 88.8 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $79,133 (with a margin of error of +/- $5,195) and the median family income was $107,966 (+/- $10,189). Males had a median income of $70,598 (+/- $14,566) versus $52,721 (+/- $10,753) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $40,839 (+/- $2,990). About 1.8% of families and 2.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.9% of those under age 18 and 4.7% of those age 65 or over.
There were 4,485 households out of which 28.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.3% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 35.8% were non-families. 31.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.08.
In the borough the population was spread out with 21.5% under the age of 18, 5.6% from 18 to 24, 33.6% from 25 to 44, 23.4% from 45 to 64, and 15.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.1 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $59,868, and the median income for a family was $77,105. Males had a median income of $50,800 versus $42,459 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $32,083. About 1.8% of families and 4.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.8% of those under age 18 and 8.7% of those age 65 or over.
Westwood is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government. The governing body consists of a mayor directly elected by the voters and a six-member Borough Council. The Mayor serves a four-year term of office, and the Borough Council members serve three-year terms of office 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 Westwood, 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 2019[update], the Mayor of Westwood is Democrat John Birkner Jr., whose term of office ends December 31, 2019. Members of the Westwood Borough Council are Council President Raymond Arroyo (R, 2021), Robert Bicocchi (R, 2019), Erin Collins (D, 2020), Beth Dell (R, 2019), Christopher Montana (R, 2020) and Jodi Murphy (D, 2021).
In May 2018, the Borough Council selected Alyssa Dawson from a list of three candidates nominated by the Republican municipal committee to fill the vacant seat of Peter Grefrath expiring in December 2018.
In September 2015, the Borough Council selected Beth Dell from a list of three candidates nominated by the Republican municipal committee to fill the vacant seat of Robert Miller expiring in December 2016. In announcing his resignation, Miller cited commitments to his family and concerns about the impact of extended service by elected officials.
Federal, state and county representation
Westwood is located in the 5th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 39th state legislative district.
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 6,847 registered voters in Westwood, of which 1,805 (26.4% vs. 31.7% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 1,986 (29.0% vs. 21.1%) were registered as Republicans and 3,049 (44.5% vs. 47.1%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 7 voters registered to other parties. Among the borough's 2010 Census population, 62.8% (vs. 57.1% in Bergen County) were registered to vote, including 80.4% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 73.7% countywide).
In the 2016 presidential election, Democrat Hillary Clinton received 2,877 votes (50.1% vs. 54.8% countywide), ahead of Republican Donald Trump with 2,598 votes (45.2% vs. 41.6%) and other candidates with 179 votes (3.1% vs. 3.0%), among the 5,742 ballots cast by the borough's 7,517 registered voters, for a turnout of 76.4% (vs. 72.5% in Bergen County). In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 2,701 votes (50.4% vs. 54.8% countywide), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 2,564 votes (47.9% vs. 43.5%) and other candidates with 49 votes (0.9% vs. 0.9%), among the 5,355 ballots cast by the borough's 7,151 registered voters, for a turnout of 74.9% (vs. 70.4% in Bergen County). In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 2,915 votes (51.5% vs. 53.9% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 2,657 votes (46.9% vs. 44.5%) and other candidates with 47 votes (0.8% vs. 0.8%), among the 5,664 ballots cast by the borough's 7,130 registered voters, for a turnout of 79.4% (vs. 76.8% in Bergen County). In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 2,795 votes (51.4% vs. 47.2% countywide), ahead of Democrat John Kerry with 2,576 votes (47.4% vs. 51.7%) and other candidates with 47 votes (0.9% vs. 0.7%), among the 5,436 ballots cast by the borough's 6,837 registered voters, for a turnout of 79.5% (vs. 76.9% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 64.3% of the vote (2,134 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 34.7% (1,150 votes), and other candidates with 1.0% (34 votes), among the 3,404 ballots cast by the borough's 6,830 registered voters (86 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 49.8%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 4,288 votes (62.9% vs. 45.8% countywide), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 2,104 votes (30.8% vs. 48.0%), Independent Chris Daggett with 352 votes (5.2% vs. 4.7%) and other candidates with 26 votes (0.4% vs. 0.5%), among the 6,822 ballots cast by the borough's 12,051 registered voters, yielding a 56.6% turnout (vs. 50.0% in the county).
Westwood has a police department founded in September 1894, months after the borough was established, with the appointment by Mayor Bogert of two marshals; The first permanent officer was hired in 1921. The department is located in the municipal building.
Westwood has its own volunteer fire department. It was established in 1894. The station is home to Engine 12, Engine 1, Truck 1,Rescue 1, Utility 1, and Marine 1. The department responds to over 300 calls a year.
Westwood also has a separate volunteer ambulance corps that was formed in 1935.
For the 2010-11 school year, Ketler Elementary School, which had served K-4, was shifted to become Westwood Regional Middle School for grades 6 and 7, while the other elementary schools would all serve K through 5, and the high school was shifted to grades 8-12 (from 7-12).
Zion Lutheran School, adjacent the eponymous church founded in 1905, is a private school for students in Kindergarten through eighth grade.
View east along County Route 502 in central Westwood
Roads and highways
As of May 2010[update], the borough had a total of 39.29 miles (63.23 km) of roadways, of which 31.23 miles (50.26 km) were maintained by the municipality and 8.06 miles (12.97 km) by Bergen County.
Downtown Westwood is a regional hub that offers many options for shopping and dining. The Westwood Plaza is an outdoor shopping mall that has a Kmart and other stores and restaurants such as Sushi Village, Harmon Discount, Broadway Pizza, and TJ Maxx. Westwood has a movie theater located on Center Avenue that is open seven days a week until midnight.
Originally opened in 1928 as the 1,275-seat Pascack Theater, the Westwood Cinema now has nine screens showing first-run movies.
The Fritz Deitl Ice Rink, which opened in 1958, is home to Doug Brown Power Skating programs and offers open ice sessions, figure skating lessons, skating school, birthday party rentals, and Stick Time open hockey.
Every Saturday, from May through November, there is a Farmer's Market held in the parking lot adjacent to the Police Department.
In the summer, there are multiple concerts in the park where anyone can bring chairs or blankets, and watch the movie projected on the back of the train station.
Westwood also has a Community Center that is home to the Recreation Department where children and adults can get participate in sports and other activities.
Each December, Westwood holds its own holiday parade called "Home for the Holidays". Participants of the parade include the Park Ridge High School marching band, The Emerson High School marching band, and many more. The parade ends with Santa Claus riding on top of one of the fire trucks. Afterwards, there is a tree and candle lighting with hot foods included.
Downtown Westwood has a sidewalk sale held every summer. People can shop indoors or outdoors during this event. There are also fun activities and games included.
^Rondinaro, Gene. "In a Bergen Borough, Diversified Growth", The New York Times, September 1, 1996. Accessed June 20, 2016. "And at dawn, while harried commuters in other municipalities rise early only to stream onto crowded roadways en route to jobs in Manhattan across the Hudson River, residents often walk to the train station or a commuter bus for the one-hour trip."
^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."
^Burrow, Megan. "Mayors portrait project is complete", Pascack Valley Community Life, February 18, 2010. Accessed September 1, 2013. "Westwood Heritage Society member Jim Gines, who bears a striking resemblance to Westwood's first mayor, Isaac D. Bogert, said it was lucky that the older pictures were preserved so well."
^Wyrich, Andrew. "Westwood appoints fill-in for council", The Record (Bergen County), September 22, 2015. Accessed September 22, 2015. "The Borough Council has appointed the vice president of a local education non-profit to fill a seat vacated by a resignation this year.Beth Dell will succeed Councilman Robert Miller, whose resignation, which he announced in July, was effective Sept. 2. Miller cited family obligations and reluctance to stay on the council too long when announcing his departure."
^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."
^Staff. "Time Was: Westwood P.D. dates back to 1894", Pascack Valley Community Life, March 3, 2011. Accessed October 27, 2015. "In September 1894, Mayor I.D. Bogert appointed Aaron Tuers and Genest Houseman to serve as marshals.... In May 1921, Mayor Ward appointed Westwood's first permanent officer, Arthur Bird at a salary of $1,500."
^History, Westwood Police Department. Accessed March 19, 2015.
^History, Westwood Fire Department. Accessed March 19, 2015.
^Home Page, Westwood Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Accessed March 19, 2015.
^Community and District Profiles, Westwood Regional School District, May 28, 2004. Accessed November 22, 2017. "The Westwood Regional School District serves the Borough of Westwood (population 10,400) and the Township of Washington (population 9,800). These two communities are located approximately fifteen miles northwest of midtown Manhattan."
^Yellin, Deena. "Westwood Regional School District to reconfigure its schools", The Record (Bergen County), January 3, 2010. Accessed June 11, 2012. "The Westwood Regional School District is moving ahead with preparations for a reconfiguration of the district, which will take effect in September. Under the new plan, students in Grades K-5 will attend Berkeley, George, Washington and Brookside schools. Students in Grades 6 and 7 will attend Ketler. Westwood Junior/Senior High School will serve students in Grades 8-12. Ketler School will be renamed Westwood Regional Middle School..."
^Washburn, Lindy. "HackensackUMC at Pascack Valley plans new emergency room", The Record (Bergen County), November 9, 2014. Accessed August 23, 2015. "Nearly 18 months after a bankrupt Pascack Valley Hospital reopened as a modernized, all-single-room facility, its for-profit owners are embarking on a project to relocate and expand the emergency department.... It's a big investment in a 128-bed hospital whose liftoff has been slower than expected, with operating losses of nearly $20 million last year and an average census of just 37 patients a night."
^Staff. "Minnesota Puts 5 2009 Rock Cats On Big League Roster", OurSportsCentral.com, February 18, 2010. Accessed June 11, 2012. "RHP Rob Delaney, a 25-year-old native of Westwood, NJ, made 26 appearances out of the `09 New Britain bullpen prior to his June 2nd promotion to Triple-A Rochester."
^Lynwander, Linda. "Athletes' Medical Center", The New York Times, January 6, 1980. Accessed September 12, 2018. "'It sounds almost too good to be true,' said Russell Dermond of Westwood, a member of the Olympic Committee's executive board."
^Fremon, Suzanne S. "State Has 13 on Olympic Team", The New York Times, August 13, 1972. Accessed November 22, 2017. "Of all Olympic sports, New Jerseyans are most successful in fencing. The fencing team of 20 members includes three from the state, Anne O'Donnell of Bayonne, Robert Dow of Westwood, Washington Township, and Jack Keane of East Brunswick."
^Staff. "Harold Medina, U.S. Judge, Dies at 102", The New York Times, March 16, 1990. Accessed October 28, 2015. "Harold R. Medina, a Federal judge for more than three decades, who achieved lasting fame for his handling of the trial of 11 Communist leaders in the 1940's, died in his sleep on Wednesday at Pascack Valley Hospital in Westwood, N.J., where he was admitted on Monday with a slight fever, his grandson Standish Forde Medina Jr. said. Judge Medina was 102 years old. Judge Medina, who retired from the bench at the age of 92, lived at the Valley Nursing Home in Westwood."
^Kampfe, John. "Star-Spangled Films Burst with New Jersey Flavor", Jerseywood, July 3, 2015. Accessed October 27, 2015. "The pilot of the B-2 bomber from which a nuclear warhead was dropped on Houston in an attempt to stymie the aliens was played by Bergen County native Jeff Phillips. Phillips was born in Westwood and grew up in Hillsdale."