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Union County is a county located in the U.S. state of New Jerseymarker. As of the 2000 Census, the population was 522,541. It is part of the New York Metropolitan Areamarker. Its county seat is Elizabethmarker . Union County ranks 92nd among the highest-income counties in the United States. It also ranks 74th in the United States by personal per-capita income. With more than 5,000 persons per square mile on average, Union County is one of the most densely populated counties in America.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 105 square miles (273 km²), of which, 103 square miles (268 km²) of it is land and 2 square miles (6 km²) of it (2.06%) is water.

Much of Union County is relatively flat and low-lying. Only in the northwestern corner does any significant relief appear as the Watchung Mountains cross the county. It is there that highest elevations, two areas approximately 560 feet (171 m) above sea level, are found in Berkeley Heights. The lowest elevation is sea level along the eastern shore.

Adjacent counties


As of the census of 2000, there were 522,541 people, 186,124 households, and 133,264 families residing in the county. The population density was 5,059 people per square mile (1,953/km²). There were 192,945 housing units at an average density of 1,868 per square mile (721/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 65.51% White, 20.78% Black or African American, 0.23% Native American, 3.83% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 6.37% from other races, and 3.25% from two or more races. 19.71% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. 13.1% were of Italian, 8.6% Irish, 6.5% Polish and 5.8% German ancestry according to Census 2000.

There were 186,124 households out of which 34.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.60% were married couples living together, 14.20% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.40% were non-families. 23.60% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.20% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.77 and the average family size was 3.28.

In the county the population was spread out with 24.90% under the age of 18, 7.90% from 18 to 24, 31.30% from 25 to 44, 22.10% from 45 to 64, and 13.80% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 92.70 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.90 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $55,339, and the median income for a family was $65,234. Males had a median income of $44,544 versus $32,487 for females. The per capita income for the county was $26,992. About 6.30% of families and 8.40% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.50% of those under age 18 and 8.00% of those age 65 or over.

Union County is extremely diverse. Berkeley Heightsmarker, New Providencemarker, Westfieldmarker, Summitmarker, Cranfordmarker, Kenilworthmarker, Clarkmarker, Lindenmarker, Unionmarker, Springfieldmarker and Scotch Plainsmarker have a very high number of Italian American residents as well as a large number of Irish Americans and residents of Northern European descent in general. Plainfieldmarker, Rosellemarker, Linden, Union, Rahwaymarker, and Elizabethmarker all have large African American communities. Roselle Parkmarker has a notably large Indian American community, and Roselle Park, Linden, Rahway, and Plainfield, and particularly Elizabeth, have fast-growing Hispanic and Portuguese populations. There are fair-sized Jewish-American communities in Springfield, Scotch Plainsmarker, Elizabeth, Cranford, Westfield, and Summit, though not on the level of Essex Countymarker.


Union County is governed by a nine-member Board of Chosen Freeholders. The members are elected at large to serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with three seats coming up for election each year. The Freeholder Board sets policies for the operation of the County. Actual day-to-day operation of departments is supervised by an appointed County Manager, George W. Devanney.

The Freeholders perform the county's legislative and executive functions. In their legislative role, they formulate and adopt a budget and set county policies and procedures. In their executive role, they oversee county spending and functioning. Many of the administrative duties are delegated by the Board of Chosen Freeholders to the County Manager.

Each of the freeholders serves on various committees and boards as a part of their duties. These include the Economic Development Committee, the Parks and Recreation Board, the Libraries Committee, and the Policy Committee, to name a few. In addition, the Board oversees the county's Open Space Trust Fund.

As of the January 2009 reorganization, Union County's Freeholders are Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella (Fanwoodmarker), Freeholder Vice Chairman Daniel P. Sullivan (Elizabethmarker), Angel G. Estrada (Elizabethmarker), Chester Holmes (Rahwaymarker), Bette Jane Kowalski (Cranfordmarker), Rick Proctor (Rahwaymarker), Deborah P. Scanlon (Unionmarker), Rayland Van Blake (Plainfieldmarker) and Nancy Ward (Lindenmarker).


In the 2004 U.S. Presidential election, John Kerry carried the county by a 18.1% margin over George W. Bush, with Kerry carrying the state by 6.7% over Bush.

In 2008, Barack Obama won Union County by a 27.9% margin over John McCain.


The county is served by numerous transportation modes including rail, air, highways and ports.

Major highways which traverse the county include the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway, Interstate 78, Interstate 278, U.S. Route 1, U.S. Route 9, U.S. Route 22 and the Goethals Bridgemarker.

Passenger rail service is provide by New Jersey Transit via the Northeast Corridor, North Jersey Coast Line, Raritan Valley Line, the Morristown Line and the Gladstone Branch. Freight service is provided by on Conrail's Lehigh Line and Chemical Coast Branch.

The Elizabeth Marine Terminalmarker is part of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The southern portion of Newark Liberty International Airportmarker is located in Elizabeth, within Union County.


Index map of Union County municipalities (click to see index key)






  • Ash Brook Reservation
  • Black Brook Park
  • Brian Park
  • Cedar Brook Park
  • Echo Lake Park
  • Elizabeth River Park
  • Green Brook Park
  • Hidden Valley Park
  • Leanpe Park
  • Madison Aenue Park
  • Mattano Park
  • McConnell Park
  • Milton Lake Park
  • Nomahagen Park
  • Oak Ridge Park
  • Passaic River Park
  • Phil Rizzuto Park
  • Rahway River Park
  • Rahway River Parkway
  • Unami Park
  • Warinanco Park


  1. 250 Highest Per Capita Personal Incomes of the 3111 Counties in the United States, 2006, Bureau of Economic Analysis. Accessed May 2, 2008.
  2. Board of Chosen Freeholders, Union County, New Jersey. Accessed February 20, 2008.
  3. New Jersey Presidential Election Returns by County 2004, Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University. Accessed August 31, 2008.

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