Berkeley Heights is a
township in Union
As of the United States 2000 Census
township population was 13,407.
now Berkeley Heights was originally incorporated as New
Providence Township by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on November 8,
1809, from portions of Springfield Township, while the area was still part of Essex
New Providence Township became part of the
newly-formed Union County at its creation on March 19, 1857.
of the township were taken on March 23, 1869, to create Summit, and on March 14, 1899, to form the borough of
On November 6, 1951, the name of the
township was changed to Berkeley Heights
, based on
the results of a referendum held that day.
Best Places to Live rankings, Berkeley Heights ranked 45th of out
of a potential 2,800 places in the United States with populations
above 7,500 and under 50,000.
New Jersey Monthly
magazine ranked Berkeley Heights as the 59th best place to live in
New Jersey in its 2008 rankings of the "Best Places To Live" in New
Berkeley Heights is located at (40.677405, -74.429711).
According to the United
States Census Bureau
, the township has a total area of
6.3 square miles (16.2 km2
), of which,
6.3 square miles (16.2 km2
) of it is land
and 0.16% is water.
Berkeley Heights is located partially on the crest of the Second Watchung Mountain
and in the
Passaic River Valley, aptly named as the Passaic River
forms the township's northern
Heights is located in northwestern Union County, at the confluence
of Union, Morris, and Somerset Counties. Berkeley Heights is bordered by New
Providence and Summit to the east, Scotch Plains to the southeast, Chatham to the north, Watchung to the south, and Warren
Township and Long Hill Township to the west.
Downtown Berkeley Heights is located along Springfield Avenue,
approximately between the Plainfield Ave. intersection and the
Snyder Avenue intersection. In addition, a post office, the
Municipal Building, police station, train station, and many other
shops and services are located in this part of town. There is an
abundance of pizzerias, delicatessens and other restaurants in
downtown Berkeley Heights. There is also a variety of banks,
including TD Bank, Bank of America, and Wachovia.
A brick walk with personalized bricks engraved with the names of
many long-time Berkeley Heights residents runs from near the
railroad station towards Kings grocery store. A memorial to the
victims of the September 11, 2001
adjoins a wooded area alongside Park Avenue,
just southwest of downtown.
History of Berkeley Heights
The earliest construction in Berkeley Heights began in an area that
is now part of the 1,960 acre (7.9 km2
Reservation, a Union County park that includes 305 acres
) of the township.
The first European settler was Peter Willcox, who received a 424
acre (1.7 km2
) land grant in 1720 from the
Elizabethtown Associates, a group that bought much of northern New
Jersey from the Lenni Lenape Native Americans
the late 17th century. Mr. Willcox built a grist and lumber mill
across Green Brook.
In 1793, a regional government was formed. It encompassed the
area from present-day Springfield Township, Summit, New Providence, and Berkeley Heights, and was called Springfield
Growth continued in the area, and by 1809,
Springfield Township divided into Springfield Township and New
Providence Township. New Providence Township included present day
Summit, New Providence, and Berkeley Heights.
In 1845, Mr. Willcox's heirs sold the mill to David Felt, a paper
manufacturer from New York, who built a small village called
Feltville around the mill. It included homes for workers and their
families, dormitories, orchards, a post office and a general store
with a church above it.
In 1860, Feltville was sold to sarsaparilla
makers, after which it was used
for a number of manufacturing operations, before going into
bankruptcy in 1882. When residents moved away, it became known as
Deserted Village, the remains of which consist of on which there
are seven houses, the store, the mill and a barn.
The site, on the National Register of
, is under restoration by the Union County Parks
Department, with grants of almost $2 million from various state
agencies. Deserted Village, in the Watchung Reservation, is open
daily for unguided walking tours during daylight hours.
note that if you would like to learn more about Feltville, you may
be able to join the "Friends of Feltville" Yahoo! group by
requesting membership from Matt Tomaso, MA, RPA, ABD, Acting
Director, Center for Archaeological Studies, Montclair
On March 23, 1869, Summit Township (now the City of Summit) seceded
from New Providence Township. On March 14, 1899, the Borough of New
Providence seceded from New Providence Township. Present day
Berkeley Heights remained as New Providence Township. Many of the
townships and regional areas in New Jersey were separating into
small, locally governed communities at that time due to acts of the
New Jersey Legislature
made it economically advantageous for the communities to due
Due to confusion between the adjacent municipalities of the Borough
of New Providence and the Township of New Providence, the township
conducted a referendum in 1952 and voted to change the name to
Berkeley Heights Township. The origin of the township's name has
never been fully established, but is believed to have been taken
from an area of town that was referred to by this moniker, which
itself was assumed to be derived from Lord John Berkeley, who was
co-proprietor of New Jersey from 1664 to 1674.
Early life in Berkeley Heights is documented in the Littell-Lord
Farmhouse Museum & Farmstead (31 Horseshoe Road in Berkeley
Heights), an 18 acre museum surrounding two houses, one of which
was built in the 1750s and the other near the turn of the century.
The museum is open 2-4 p.m. on the third Sunday of each month from
April through December, or by appointment. Call (908) 464-0961 for
Among the exhibits are a Victorian master bedroom and a Victorian
children's room, furnished with period antiques. The children's
room also has reproductions of antique toys, which visitors can
play with. The museum, which is on the National Register of
, also includes an outbuilding that was used as
a summer kitchen, a corncrib dating to the 19th century and a
spring house, built around a spring and used for
The township owes its rural character to its late development.
1941, when the American Telephone and Telegraph
Company built its Bell Laboratories research facility in the township, it was a sleepy
farming and resort community.
According to a history
compiled by the League of Women
in 1963, the population mushroomed to 9,500 in 1962 from
2,194 in 1940.
Another early Berkeley Heights community of note is the 67 acre
, established in 1910 by Bolton
Hall, a New York entrepreneur and reformer. Mr. Hall believed in
the idea of Henry George
economist, of single taxation, under which residents pay tax to the
community, which, in turn, pays a lump sum to the municipality.
Among the early residents of Free Acres were the actor James Cagney
and his wife, Billie.
To this day, residents of Free Acres pay tax to their association,
which maintains its streets and swimming pool, approves
architectural changes to homes and pays a lump sum in taxes to the
As of the census
of 2000, there were 13,407
people, 4,479 households, and 3,717 families residing in the
township. The population density
was 2,140.7 people per square mile (826.9/km2
were 4,562 housing units at an average density of 728.4/sq mi
). The racial makeup of the township was
, 1.11% African American
, 0.61% from other races
, and 0.68% from two
or more races. Hispanic
of any race were 3.68%
of the population.
There were 4,479 households out of which 41.5% had children under
the age of 18 living with them, 74.1% were married couples
living together, 6.9% had a female
householder with no husband present, and 17.0% were non-families.
14.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.5% had
someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average
household size was 2.89 and the average family size was 3.21.
In the township the population was spread out with 26.8% under the
age of 18, 4.2% from 18 to 24, 27.8% from 25 to 44, 24.8% from 45
to 64, and 16.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age
was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 91.0 males. For
every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.4 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $107,716, and
the median income for a family was $118,862. Males had a median
income of $83,175 versus $50,022 for females. The per capita income
for the township was
$43,981. About 1.5% of families and 2.1% of the population were
below the poverty line
, including 1.8%
of those under age 18 and 3.1% of those age 65 or over.
In accordance with a ballot question that was passed in November
2005, Berkeley Heights switched from a Township Committee form to a
form of government under the Faulkner Act
. The switch took
effect on January 1, 2007. In the fall 2006 elections all seats
were open. Under the new form of government, the mayor is directly
elected to a four-year term. The Township Committee has been
replaced with a Township Council consisting of six members elected
to staggered, three-year terms. With all
Council seats open in 2006, two councilpersons were elected to
one-year terms, after which those seats will be open for three-year
terms in 2007. Two other seats were open for two-year terms in
2006. The final two were open for three-year terms from the
beginning. The responsibilities of the Township Administrator are
The first Township Council was elected in November 2006;
accordingly, the Township Committee ceased to exist on December 31,
2006, and the Township Council was inaugurated on January 1,
In the 2006 election, the Republican nominees were David Cohen for
mayor, Louis DiPasquale and John Haddad for three-year terms on the
Council, Elaine Perna and Joseph Bruno for two-year Council terms,
and David Ronner and Thomas Pirone for one-year terms. The
Democrats did not run a mayoral candidate, but did field four
Township Council candidates: Thomas Battaglia and Charles Hasz for
three-year terms, Alexandra Chirinos for a two-year term, and John
Bonacci for a one-year term. In addition, John Miller ran for mayor
as an independent write-in candidate.
Cohen won the election for mayor. The race between Battaglia and
Haddad was very close; in a recount, Battaglia won by 10 votes. The
other winning Council candidates were DiPasquale, Perna, Bruno,
Pirone, and Bonacci; thus, the Township Council consists of four
Republicans and two Democrats. Cohen, DiPasquale, Perna, Bruno, and
Ronner were sitting Township Committee members in 2006; Battaglia
sat on the Committee in the 1990s. Ronner was the only Township
Committee incumbent who was unseated.
On January 1, 2007, the Township Council elected Elaine Perna
Council President, after Mayor Cohen broke a tie vote and therefore
defeated Louis DiPasquale's candidacy for the presidency. The
Council then elected Joseph Bruno Council vice president. The
Council president has no authority other than to chair Council
meetings in the mayor's absence; the Council vice president chairs
meetings in the absence of both the mayor and the Council
president. If all three officials are absent, then the remaining
Council members must choose a temporary presiding officer.
Also on January 1, Mayor Cohen re-nominated Angela Devanney as
Township Administrator; the Council then confirmed her
The Mayor of Berkeley Heights is David A. Cohen, whose term of
office ends on December 31, 2010. Members of the Township Council
are Council President Thomas Battaglia (2009), Council Vice
President John C. Bonacci (2010), Joseph G. Bruno (2008), Louis
DiPasquale (2009), Gerald Nelson (2010), Elaine K. Perna
The Berkeley Heights Municipal Building is located at 29 Park
Federal, state and county representation
Berkeley Heights Township is in the Seventh Congressional District
and is part of New Jersey's 21st Legislative District.
The Berkeley Heights
serves over 2,815 students in six district
schools. The superintendent of the district is Judith Rattner. The
Board of Education
administrative offices for the district are located in the original
Columbia School building on Plainfield Avenue, adjacent to middle
school building. Schools in the district (with 2005-06 enrollment
data from the National Center for
Mary Kay McMillin Early Childhood Center
pre-Kindergarten through first grade (437 students). This school
opened in 1997 after the Berkeley Heights school district bought
the former Westlake School property. The concept of a
pre-kindergarten - grade one school came about as a result of
proposals to address school space issues in a way that would
enhance the educational program in the district.
There are three elementary schools in the district, each of which
houses students of grades two through five. These schools are
P. Hughes Elementary School
(313), Mountain Park
(265) and William Woodruff
(589) is the single middle school in the
district. It houses grades six through eight. It also houses the
School Administration Offices in the town in the old school
Livingston High School (1,004 students) is the single high school in
It houses approximately 1,000 students in
grades nine through twelve. In addition to serving the public school
students of Berkeley Heights Township, high school students from
the neighboring Borough of Mountainside are educated at the high school as part of a
relationship with the Mountainside School
Governor Livingston also provides programs for
the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Cognitively Impaired, of which
students are enrolled from all over north-central New Jersey.
Monthly magazine ranked Governor
Livingston High School as the 15th best high school in New Jersey in its
2008 rankings of the "Top Public High Schools" in New
There are three private pre-kindergarten schools in Berkeley
Heights. The Westminster Nursery School is located at the corner of
Plainfield Ave. and Mountain Avenue, the Union Village Nursery is
located bordering Warren Township at the corner of Mountain Avenue
and Hillcrest Road, and the Diamond Hill Montessori is located
along Diamond Hill Road opposite McMane Avenue.
There are no primary or secondary private schools in Berkeley
The Summit Medical Group
located on Mountain Avenue and there is also an entrance on Diamond
Hill Road. It is the main medical facility in Berkeley
Heights Public Library
at 290 Plainfield Avenue, next to the
Church of the Little Flower and across from the Columbia Middle
School, is a member of the Infolink region of libraries, the Morris
Union Federation (MUF) and the Middlesex Union Reciprocal Agreement Libraries
(MURAL). The library catalog is available online.
Police, fire, and emergency services
Heights Police Department
is located at the Municipal Building,
29 Park Avenue. This is also the location of the Berkeley Heights
Municipal Court. The Berkeley Heights Volunteer Fire Department
located on Hamilton Avenue.
The Berkeley Heights
Volunteer Rescue Squad
is located at the corner of Snyder
Avenue and Locust Avenue. The closest trauma centers are Morristown Memorial Hospital
(Morristown, NJ) and
Due to a membership shortage, Atlantic Ambulance provides Emergency
Medical Services for the town each week from 6 AM Saturday through
6 AM Monday. The ambulance is stationed at the Berkeley Heights
Volunteer Rescue Squad's building.
The Berkeley Heights Fire Department
is located at 411
Hamilton Avenue, which is directly across from the intersection of
Roosevelt Ave and Hamilton Ave. The department has three engines,
one ladder truck, a rescue truck with the Jaws of Life, an air
truck, and several support vehicles.
Parks and Recreation
Located in Berkeley Heights are many municipal parks, including the
largest one, Columbia Park (located along Plainfield Avenue).
Columbia Park boasts tennis courts, two baseball fields, basketball
courts, and a large children's play area. It is owned by the
Recreation Commession. In addition to those located at each of the
schools, athletic fields are located along Snyder Avenue (Sansone
Field) and along Springfield Ave.
There are three Swimming clubs located in Berkeley Heights: the
Berkeley Heights Community Pool (Locust Avenue), the Berkeley Swim
Club (behind Columbia Park), and Berkeley Aquatic (off of
Reservation and Passaic Valley
Park are in the township and maintained by Union County.
Watchung Reservation has hiking trails, horseback riding trails, a
large lake (Lake Surprise), the Deserted Village, and picnic areas.
The major roads in Berkeley Heights are Springfield Avenue,
Mountain Avenue, Snyder Avenue, Plainfield Avenue, and Park Avenue.
Springfield Avenue and Mountain Avenue run east-west, Snyder Avenue
and Plainfield Avenue run north-south, while Park Avenue runs
northeast-southwest. Each of these roads is heavily residential
(except parts of Springfield Ave.) with only one travel lane in
Heights is served by Interstate 78,
which runs from the Holland Tunnel to the Pennsylvania State Line.
Heights station is part of the Gladstone Branch of the New Jersey Transit commuter rail system,
Terminal, Newark Broad Street Station, and Penn
Station in Midtown
Manhattan. Berkeley Heights is also in close proximity
of the Summit train station, which provides frequent commuter
rail service to New York
NJ Transit offers local bus service on the 986
route. Lakeland Bus Lines
also provides commuter bus service to New York City Port
Authority Bus Terminal and a connection to Gladstone.
Freight rail transportation was, until recently, provided by
via off-peak use
of New Jersey Transit's Gladstone Branch line. The Berkeley Heights
plant of Reheis Chemical located on Snyder Avenue was the last
freight customer on the Gladstone Branch.
Liberty International Airport is approximately east of Berkeley
Business and industry
Notable current and former residents of Berkeley Heights include:
- Al Aronowitz (1928-2005), pioneer
rock journalist, claimed that Bob Dylan
wrote his famous "Mr. Tambourine Man" in Aronowitz's former
Berkeley Heights home. He is also the man responsible for
introducing Dylan to the Beatles (and the Beatles to marijuana), a
meeting which changed rock and roll forever.
- Steve Balboni (born 1957), former
New York Yankee.
- Bedlight for Blue Eyes,
an alternative rock band, is from Berkeley Heights.
- Dennis Boutsikaris (born
- James Cagney, actor, formerly
resided in Free Acres.
- David Cantor (born 1954), actor,
resides in Berkeley Heights.
- Ronald Chen,
Public Advocate of New Jersey, nominated to fill the position on January 5, 2006,
by Governor of New Jersey
- Christopher Durang (born
1949), playwright and actor, grew up in Berkeley Heights.
- Scott M. Gimple, television and comic book writer, grew
up in Berkeley Heights.
- MacKinlay Kantor (1904-1977),
screenwriter and novelist, formerly resided in Free Acres.
- Harry Kelly,
- Victor Kilian (1891-1979),
- P. F.
Kluge (born 1942), novelist, grew up in
- Mary Jo
Kopechne (1940-1969), a young political aide hailing from
Berkeley Heights, drowned off Chappaquiddick Island when Senator Ted Kennedy
(D-Mass.) drove his car off a bridge on July 18, 1969.
- John R. Pierce (1910-2002), communications engineer,
scientist, and father of the communications satellite.
- Bertha Runkle (1879-1958),
novelist and playwright.
- Peter Sagal, playwright, screenwriter, actor, and
host of the National Public
Radio game show Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! grew up in
Santoriello, playwright and author of
the new Broadway musical A Tale of Two Cities,
graduated from Governor Livingston High
- Thorne Smith (1892-1934),
- "The Story of New Jersey's Civil Boundaries: 1606-1968", John
P. Snyder, Bureau of Geology and Topography; Trenton, New Jersey;
1969. p. 237.
- Best Places to Live: Top 100 - 45. Berkeley
Heights, N.J., Money . Accessed July 16, 2007.
- "Best Places To Live - The Complete Top Towns List
1-100", New Jersey Monthly, February 21, 2008. Accessed May 11, 2009.
- Hangout - Assignment New Jersey - A Short History
of New Jersey - Colonial Times
- Mayor and Township Council, Township of
Berkeley Heights. Accessed April 10, 2008.
- 2008 New Jersey Citizen's Guide to Government, New
Jersey League of Women Voters, p. 54.
Accessed September 30, 2009.
- District-level data for the Berkeley Heights Public
Schools, National Center for
Education Statistics. Accessed April 10, 2008.
- Data for the Berkeley Heights Public Schools,
National Center for
Education Statistics. Accessed April 10, 2008.
- Berkeley Heights Public School District 2007 Report
Card Narrative, New Jersey Department of
Education. Accessed April 10, 2008. "In addition to serving the
public school students of Berkeley Heights Township, high school
students from the neighboring Borough of Mountainside are educated
at Governor Livingston High School."
- "Top New Jersey High Schools 2008",
New Jersey Monthly, August 7, 2008. Accessed May
- Union County Bus/Rail Connections, New Jersey
Transit. Accessed July 3, 2007.
Aronowitz, 77, a Writer Of 1960s Scene, New York Sun, August
4, 2005. "Aronowitz claimed that Mr. Dylan composed "Mr. Tambourine
Man" during a long night of repeated listenings to Marvin Gaye's
"Can I Get a Witness" at Aronowitz's home in Berkeley Heights,
- YANKEES: Where Have You Gone? By Maury Allen,
p. 164 "'I grew up in Massachusetts and I was a Red Sox fan of
course,' said Balboni from his home in Berkeley Heights, New
- Mann, Virginia. "THE GOOD DOCTOR NEXT DOOR", The
Record , May 14, 1991.
- Cheslow, Jerry. "If You're Thinking of Living In / Berkeley
Heights, N.J.; Quiet Streets Near River and Mountain",
The New York Times, October 11,
1998. Accessed May 9, 2007. "Among the early residents of Free
Acres were the actor James Cagney and his wife, Billie."
- Corzine Names Public Advocate and Environmental
Protection Commissioner, press release dated January 5, 2006,
accessed April 15, 2007.
- Drake, Sylvie. "The Gospels According to Durang and Shepard",
Angeles Times, April 10, 1977. Accessed April 10, 2008.
"There's gotta be a law against it, but it hasn't caught up with
Christopher Durang. Chances are it never will. At 28, this 5-foot-6
black-haired, blue-eyed, babyfaced Irish Catholic lad from Berkeley
Heights. N.J. is a fraud."
- Buchan, Perdita. "Utopia, NJ", New Jersey
Monthly, February 7, 2008. Acecssed April 10, 2008. "Free
Acres had some famous residents in those heady early days: actors
James Cagney and Jersey City–born Victor Kilian, writers Thorne
Smith (Topper) and MacKinlay Kantor (Andersonville), and anarchist
Harry Kelly, who helped found the Ferrer Modern School, centerpiece
of the anarchist Stelton colony in present-day
- "Satellite Scientist: John Robinson Pierce",
The New York Times, August 13, 1960.
Accessed June 4, 2007. "Then he drove thirty-five miles to his home
on McMane Avenue, Berkeley Heights, N.J."
- Kamin, Arthur Z. "State Becomes a Part of Celebrating Marconi's
Achievements", The New York Times, October 23,
1994. Accessed July 6, 2008. "The recipient in 1979 was Dr. John R.
Pierce, then of the California Institute of Technology who had been
with AT&T Bell Laboratories at Murray Hill and at Holmdel. Dr.
Pierce had lived in Berkeley Heights and now lives in Palo Alto,
- Famous Women Authors: Bertha Runkle, accessed
May 9, 2007. "The mind of Miss Bertha Runkle was first stimulated
to literary expression at Berkeley Heights, New Jersey ; a small
place, a quiet place, and a distinctly suburban place..."
- Peter Sagal, NPR Biography, accessed April 5,
2007. "A native of Berkeley Heights, N.J., he attended Harvard
University and subsequently squandered that education while working
as a literary manager for a regional theater, a stage director, an
actor, an extra in a Michael Jackson video, a travel writer, an
essayist, a ghost writer for a former adult film impresario and a
staff writer for a motorcycle magazine."