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West Woolwich, New Jersey

West Caldwell, New Jersey

West Caldwell is an upper-middle class township located in the West Essex area in northwestern Essex County, New Jersey. It is located approximately 16 miles west of Manhattan and six miles northwest of Newark. As of the United States 2000 Census, the township population was 11,233.

West Caldwell was incorporated as a borough by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on February 24, 1904, from portions of Caldwell Township (now known as Fairfield Township). In 1981, West Caldwell became a township to take advantage of federal revenue sharing policies.

Though today the Caldwell area is considered to be a suburb of both Newark and New York, the area originally developed as its own individual, self-contained town and economy rather than as urban sprawl from a larger city. When it was formed, a few miles of woods separated downtown Caldwell from Newark or any of its developing suburbs.

New Jersey Monthly magazine ranked West Caldwell as its 30th best place to live in its 2008 rankings of the "Best Places To Live" in New Jersey.

History

Caldwell, West Caldwell, and several neighboring towns were all originally one town known as the Horseneck Tract. In the early 1700s, a group of settlers left Newark and purchased a large tract of land northwest of their home city for the equivalent of a few hundred dollars from the Lenni Lenape Native Americans. This piece of land extended west and north to the Passaic River, south to the town center of what would become Livingston, and east to the First Watchung Mountain, and was called Horseneck by the natives because it resembled the neck and head of a horse.

What was then known as Horseneck contained most of the present day northern Essex County towns: West Caldwell, along with Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, North Caldwell, Roseland, and Verona are all located entirely in Horseneck, and parts of what are today Livingston, Montclair, and West Orange also were contained in the Horseneck tract. After the Revolutionary War, Horseneck changed its name to "Caldwell Township" in honor of a local war hero and pastor, James Caldwell, who used burning pages from his church's bibles to ignite the ammo in soldiers' cannons and helped to drive the British out of Horseneck.

By the late 1880s, Caldwell had become quite a developed and populated town, however the vast majority of the development, residents, and businesses were located in the center of the town along Bloomfield Avenue, its main connecting route with Newark and New York City. The outskirts of town remained farms and swampland in many places. This bothered the people living in the center of town and in 1892, Caldwell's center area decided to form its own municipality, naming itself Caldwell Borough and leaving the outskirts of town remaining as Caldwell Township.

Caldwell Borough contained what is today the towns of West Caldwell and Caldwell. Soon after, the area of Caldwell Township just to the east of Caldwell Borough between Caldwell Borough and Montclair (present-day Verona and Cedar Grove) decided to follow Caldwell's lead and incorporated itself as its own borough, Verona. Some of the already-developed eastern neighborhoods of Caldwell Township chose to become part of Montclair, as it was a rapdily developing suburb of Newark and Paterson. At around the same time, the area north of Caldwell Borough became its own town, North Caldwell. The ritzy, wooded area directly to the south of downtown Caldwell Borough became Essex Fells. Meanwhile, the farmland to the south of the western portion of Caldwell township attempted to become its own municipality known as South Caldwell. This failed, as much of developed sections of that area lied on its southernmost and easternmost borders, along the expanding Newark suburbs of Livingston and West Orange respectively. Those areas were engulfed by those two towns once they became incorporated municipalities of several small villages and developments. This left only the most rural farmland south of Caldwell Borough and Essex Fells to become its own township, Roseland. At this point, all that remained of the original Caldwell Township was a large piece of undeveloped land in the northwestern-most part of Essex County; eventually, in the early 1950s, Caldwell Township changed its name to Fairfield in order to avoid being confused with Caldwell Borough.

Immediately following the separation of the original Caldwell, the western part of Caldwell Borough generally remained less developed than downtown Caldwell Borough and contained several farms and a large area of undeveloped swampland known as Hatfield Swamp. However, two individual settlements, known as Franklin and Westville, soon formed in the western part of Caldwell Borough. As development increased and population grew in the western part of Caldwell, the town's more rural western population and more urban east often could not reconcile their differences. This led to the areas of Franklin and Westville consolidating into their own township known as West Caldwell in 1904, leaving only the one square mile of original downtown Horseneck development as the borough of Caldwell. Caldwell Borough became Caldwell Township in the 1980s. To this day, the towns of Caldwell and west caldwell remain by far the most urbanized, densely populated, and ethnically, racially, and income-diverse in the West Essex area. The town is home Grover Cleveland Park (also partially located in Caldwell and Essex Fells, a county park named in honor of the President of the United States who was born in the neighboring town of Caldwell.

Additionally, West Caldwell contains a number of smaller parks and land preserves, such as Memorial Park and Francisco Park. Hatfield Swamp, located in the western section of the town along its borders with the towns of Fairfield, Roseland, and East Hanover, is a protected preservation that usually very little building is allowed to be done on.

West Caldwell has several stores and strip malls, and two public town pools, Cedar Street Pool and Westville Pool. The town is generally a safe place with few violent crimes and only two murders in its history.

West Caldwell was frequently used as a setting in the HBO series The Sopranos.

Geography

West Caldwell is located at (40.848349, -74.288970).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 5.1 square miles (13.1 km²), or about 3,382 acres, none of which is covered by water.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 11,233 people, 3,990 households, and 3,112 families residing in the township. The population density was 2,224.4 people per square mile (858.8/km²). There were 4,044 housing units at an average density of 800.8/sq mi (309.2/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 93.84% White, 0.89% African American, 0.04% Native American, 3.85% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 0.61% from other races, and 0.75% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.80% of the population.

There were 3,990 households out of which 35.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 68.1% were married couples living together, 7.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 22.0% were non-families. 19.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.75 and the average family size was 3.17.

In the township the population was spread out with 24.7% under the age of 18, 4.6% from 18 to 24, 27.6% from 25 to 44, 24.0% from 45 to 64, and 19.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 90.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.2 males.

The median income for a household in the township was $83,396, and the median income for a family was $94,379. Males had a median income of $67,108 versus $45,365 for females. The per capita income for the township was $38,345. About 1.2% of families and 2.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.5% of those under age 18 and 2.4% of those age 65 or over.

Government

Local government

West Caldwell is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government. The government consists of a Mayor and a Borough Council comprising six council members, with all positions elected at large. A Mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office. 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.

The Mayor of West Caldwellis Joseph Tempesta, Jr. Members of the West Caldwell Township Council are Council President Rosemarie M. Sutherlin, Dominick J. Aiello, Joseph A. Fischer, Richard C. Norgard, Richard C. Otterbein and William E. Payne.

Federal, state and county representation

West Caldwell is in the Eleventh Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 27th Legislative District.

Politics

On the national level, West Caldwell leans toward the Republican Party. In 2004, Democrat John Kerry received 40% of the vote here, losing to Republican George W Bush, who received around 59%.

Education

The communities of Caldwell and West Caldwell share a public school district, the Caldwell-West Caldwell Public Schools. There are four elementary schools between the two towns, all of which are named after American presidents: Jefferson School (246 students), Washington School (410 students) and Wilson School (257 students), all located in West Caldwell; and Lincoln School (251 students), located in Caldwell. Students are districted to go to a certain one of the four elementary schools between Kindergarten and fifth grade, based on where they live. Presently, based on the local boundaries, and where the schools lie in relation to the borders of the two towns, students from portions of both towns attend Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington schools, which are all located quite close to the border between the two Caldwells. Wilson School, however, is located in the middle of southern West Caldwell near its border with Roseland and relatively far from Caldwell; so its students are exclusively from West Caldwell, in its western-most neighborhoods. Depending on the towns' current demographic population trends, the Board of Education is often tinkering with the elementary school districting. Sometimes, entire neighborhoods regularly become redistricted from year to year. The Gardens area of far western West Caldwell, for example, has been districted to three of the four different elementary schools within the past fifteen years.

Between sixth and eighth grades, all students in both Caldwell and West Caldwell attend Grover Cleveland Middle School, located in Caldwell. All students also attend the same high school, James Caldwell High School, located in the center of West Caldwell, which is named after the Reverend James Caldwell, the same American Revolutionary War hero that the towns are named for. In accordance with New Jersey state law that requires towns to bus students to school if they live further than 2 miles, the high school was built, in the early 1960s to ensure that it was within a 2 mile radius of all households in both towns. Previously, Grover Cleveland Middle School in the center of Caldwell had been Grover Cleveland Jr. High School and High School, but its distance more than two miles from the outer neighborhoods of West Caldwell require that several students from the Wilson School area are bused to it. For this reason, the older, non-centrally located building became the town's middle school and the current high school was built to be within reasonable walking distance to all students' houses.

The two non-defunct elementary schools are Harrison School, which has become the Caldwell-West Caldwell Board of Education offices, and Roosevelt Elementary School, which now houses Essex County College.

Additionally, West Caldwell is home to the Essex County Vocational High School for regional students who do not wish to attend their public high schools or who wish to learn a trade.

The West Essex Campus of Essex County College is located in West Caldwell.

Celebrities

The Caldwells area has been home to a number of celebrities.

  • Samuel Alito, Supreme Court Associate Justice, and his wife, Martha, live in West Caldwell. His son, Philip, and daughter, Laura, attended James Caldwell High School.
  • Grover Cleveland, the 22nd and 24th president of the USA, was born on Bloomfield Avenue in Caldwell and lived there for the first couple of years of his life.
  • John F. Kennedy, Jr. took off from Caldwell's airport in his fatal flight to Martha's Vineyard.
  • The Amazing Kreskin was born and raised in West Caldwell and went through the Caldwell-West Caldwell School System. He attended high school in the 1940s at Grover Cleveland Jr. High and Grover Cleveland High School, which is now Grover Cleveland Middle School.
  • G. Gordon Liddy was raised in West Caldwell. His mother lived in West Caldwell until her death.
  • Actress Camryn Manheim was born in West Caldwell.
  • 1990s pop singer Tommy Page was born and raised in West Caldwell.

References

External links

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