The area of Kearny Township, created in 1867, had been part of the original Crown Grant of 30,000 acres (120 km2) obtained by Major William Sandford of Barbados on July 4, 1668. Major Sandford named it New Barbadoes Neck after his old home. As was the custom of the time, the Major paid 20 pounds sterling to Chief Tantaqua of the Hackensack tribe for all their reserve rights and titles.
Sanford's friend Major Nathaniel Kingsland acquired the property in 1708 and sold the upper western tract of the Grant for 300 pounds sterling to Captain Arent Schuyler two years later. The new purchase included present-day Kearny, North Arlington, Lyndhurst and Kingsland.
Shortly after Schuyler's purchase of his new homestead, a peculiar green stone was uncovered. It was sent to England for analysis and he learned that it contained 80% copper. His opening of a copper mine brought the first steam engine to America from England; it was used to pump out the deep mine shaft. The engine was secretly delivered by its engineer, Josiah Hornblower. The engine and mines were destroyed by fire in 1772 and remained idle for some years.
Schuyler Mansion played a role during the American Revolutionary War Era. When Lord Howe of England took possession of New York Harbor, the proximity of Schuyler Mansion drew many of his officers. They generally traveled over a road that today is referred to as the Belleville Turnpike, which was originally constructed in 1759 using cedar logs from the nearby swamps.
During September 1777, General Henry Clinton, head of the British Expeditionary Forces in America, selected Schuyler Mansion for his headquarters during one of his more important raiding operations which included the famed Battle of Second River. The Mansion stood until 1924, a period of 214 years, when it was torn down by a land development company, despite the company's offers to transfer the land to an organization that would be able to pay to maintain the property.
Knox Presbyterian Church
In the middle 19th century, Kearny was the upper, or northern, section of the Township of Harrison. A prominent citizen and resident of the upper section, General N. M. Halsted, felt it was impossible under these political conditions for his section to obtain proper recognition. He engaged an energetic campaign for an independent township. He succeeded when the NJ Legislature of 1867 on March 14, adopted "an act creating the Township of Kearny". The town was named to honor Major General Philip Kearny, Commander of the New Jersey Forces in the Civil War and the owner of the mansion known as Belle Grove (or Belgrove), locally called "Kearny Castle".
On April 8, 1867, the first election of town officers was held. General N. M. Halsted was elected Chairman. The first official seat of Government was three rooms in the old Lodi Hotel, on the northeast corner of Schuyler and Harrison Avenues.
In the early 1870s, Kearny erected its first Town Hall, on the corner of Kearny and Woodland Avenues, the present site of the Knox Presbyterian Church Parish Hall. This served as a Town Hall, Court House, and Schoolhouse. The Minute Book of the Township states on August 16, 1870, the first step toward establishing Kearny's present public school system was taken. The first schoolhouse was housed in the Town Hall built at Kearny and Woodland Avenues in 1873.
The town's nickname, "Soccer Town, U.S.A." is derived from a soccer tradition that originated in the mid-1870s, when thousands of Scottish and Irish immigrants settled in the town, after two Scottish companies, Clark Thread Company and Nairn Linoleum, opened two local mills and a factory.
When the town's growth demanded larger quarters, the present Kearny Town Hall, built of Indiana limestone, was erected in 1909.
In 1876, the Mile End Thread Mills started operating, giving employment to several hundred operators.
In 1883, the Marshall Flax Spinning Company of England erected a large plant in Kearny, known as the Linen Thread Company. Their need for experienced flax spinners brought an influx of workers from other sections of the British Isles. Families of those early textile workers were the nucleus of Kearny's present population.
The Puraline Manufacturing Company, later called the Arlington Company, which became a subsidiary of E. I. DuPont de Nemours Company, had purchased a large tract of land east of the Arlington Station on the Erie Railroad extending well out, north of the railroad embankment, into the meadowland.
In 1887, Sir Michael Nairn established the Nairn Linoleum Company of Kirkcaldy in Scotland, now the Congoleum Nairn Company of Kearny, giving further impetus to local industrial growth. This also led to the growth in the Scottish American population which in the 1960s was about 21,000, accounting for more than half of the town's residents.
In 1902, the Lovell–Dressel Company, manufacturers of marine and railway lamps and fixtures, located in Kearny adjacent to the Erie Railroad.
Other industries which located in Kearny include: Swift & Company, Koppers Company, Theobald Industries, Standard Tool & Manufacturing, Wilkata Box Company, Harris Steel Company and L & R Manufacturing. Between 1926 and 1986, the Kearny Works of Western Electric employed as many as 24,000 in producing a variety of hardware and supplies for the Bell System and was the home of the "Kearny Standard" for tools and equipment, and was sold by AT&T in 1984 by which time the plant had 4,000 employees who earned a total of $128 million a year, making it one of the county's largest employers.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town had a total area of 10.27 square miles (26.61 km2), including 8.84 square miles (22.91 km2) of land and 1.43 square miles (3.70 km2) of water (13.91%).
The town is varied in topography and roughly divided into three parts: the Kearny Uplands, the Kearny Meadows and South Kearny, which is located where the Hackensack and Passaic rivers meet. Main thoroughfares include the eponymous Kearny Avenue (the local segment of Ridge Road / Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard), Bergen Avenue, Midland Avenue, Schuyler Avenue and Passaic Avenue.
A number of small parks running along the Passaic River are collectively called Riverbank Park. The largest, located on the colloquial "Bunnyland Hill", is a gift from Kearny's veterans. It is named after a small zoo named Bunnyland, which was maintained by the local Kiwanis Club, that occupied part of the present Bunnyland Hill in the 20th century. During Kearny's Fourth of July celebrations (which include a fireworks display), Bunnyland Hill is the primary gathering spot for celebrants and observers. The largest park is West Hudson Park, shared with Harrison, which contains a variety of sports fields, recreational areas, and an artificial pond. The second largest recreational zone is the Kearny Playground at Gunnel Oval.
Of the 13,462 households, 33.5% had children under the age of 18; 51.6% were married couples living together; 15.6% had a female householder with no husband present and 26.3% were non-families. Of all households, 21.0% were made up of individuals and 7.7% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.83 and the average family size was 3.28.
20.7% of the population were under the age of 18, 11.0% from 18 to 24, 31.2% from 25 to 44, 26.4% from 45 to 64, and 10.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.4 years. For every 100 females, the population had 106.0 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 105.7 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006–2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $58,698 (with a margin of error of ±$3,838) and the median family income was $66,272 (±$3,803). Males had a median income of $45,360 (±$2,598) versus $38,668 (±$3,893) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $24,977 (±$1,022). About 7.6% of families and 10.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.2% of those under age 18 and 8.1% of those age 65 or over.
There were 13,539 households, out of which 34.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 53.8% were married couples living together, 13.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 27.6% were non-families. 21.8% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.81 and the average family size was 3.28.
In the town, the population was spread out, with 21.5% under the age of 18, 10.7% from 18 to 24, 35.7% from 25 to 44, 21.3% from 45 to 64, and 10.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females, there were 106.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 107.0 males.
The median income for a household in the town was $47,757, and the median income for a family was $54,596. Males had a median income of $38,672 versus $30,620 for females. The per capita income for the town was $20,886. About 6.1% of families and 8.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 9.1% of those under age 18 and 10.0% of those age 65 or over.
Portions of the town are part of an Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ), one of 32 zones covering 37 municipalities statewide. Kearny was selected in 1983 as one of the initial group of 10 zones chosen to participate in the program. In addition to other benefits to encourage employment and investment within the Zone, shoppers can take advantage of a reduced 3.3125% sales tax rate (half of the 6+5⁄8% rate charged statewide) at eligible merchants. Established in November 1992, the town's Urban Enterprise Zone status expires in November 2023. Since its inception, there has been $27 million in tax revenue that has been invested based on revenue from the Urban Enterprise Zone.
Community Police Center
Kearny is governed under the Town form of New Jersey municipal government. The town is one of nine municipalities (of the 565) statewide that use this traditional form of government. The governing body is comprised of the Mayor and Town Council, who are elected on a partisan basis as part of the November general election. The Mayor is elected directly by the voters at-large to a four-year term of office. The Town Council, comprised of eight members, is elected by the voters to four-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with one of the two seats from each of the four wards coming up for election in two consecutive years followed by two years with no elections. The Mayor and Council operate on a legislative basis, with the Mayor having veto power. The day-to-day operations are the responsibility of the Town Administrator whose duties are specified by local ordinance, and who generally carries out the policies adopted by the Mayor and Council.
As of 2020[update], the Mayor of Kearny is Al Santos, who has been Mayor of Kearny since January 1, 2000, and whose current term of office ends December 31, 2021. Before his election as mayor, Santos served as councilman of Kearny's Second Ward for one year. Members of the Town Council are Albino Cardoso (D, 2022; 1st Ward), Marytrine De Castro (D, 2021; 1st Ward), Carol Jean Doyle (D, 2022; 3rd Ward), Eileen Eckel (D, 2022; 3rd Ward), Gerald J. Ficeto (D, 2021; 4th Ward - elected to serve an unexpired term), Richard P. Konopka (D, 2021; 2nd Ward), Susan A. McCurrie (D, 2022; 4th Ward) and Peter Santana (D, 2022; 2nd Ward).
In February 2019, the Town Council appointed Gerald Ficeto to fill the 2nd Ward seat expiring in December 2021 that had been held by Michael D. Landy until he resigned from office in December 2018. in November 2019, Ficeto was elected to serve the balance of the term of office.
On January 7, 2017, 2nd Ward Councilman Jonathan Giordano died, creating a vacancy on the Town Council. In February 2017, Peter Santana was selected unanimously to fill Giordano's seat that expires in December 2018; Santana served on an interim basis until the November 2017 general election, when voters elected him to serve the balance of the term of office.
In February 2015, the Town Council selected Marytrine De Castro, as chosen by the Democratic municipal committee, to fill the vacant First Ward seat expiring in December 2017 that had been held by Alexa Arce until she resigned from office the previous month. In the November general election, De Castro was elected to serve the balance of the term.
The town is protected by the Kearny Fire Department, which operates out of four fire stations. The current Chief of Department is Steve Dyl. Below is a list of fire station locations and apparatus of the Kearny Fire Department.
Kearny is split between the 8th and 9th Congressional Districts and is part of New Jersey's 32nd state legislative district.< Prior to the 2010 Census, Kearny had been part of the 9th Congressional District and the 13th Congressional District, a change made by the New Jersey Redistricting Commission that took effect in January 2013, based on the results of the November 2012 general elections. In the redistricting that took effect in 2013, 22,572 (about 55%) Kearny residents were placed in the 8th District, with the remaining 18,112 (about 45%) located in the extreme northwest corner of the town placed in the 9th District.
Hudson County is governed by a directly elected County Executive and by a Board of Chosen Freeholders, which serves as the county's legislative body. As of 2017[update], Hudson County's County Executive is Democrat Thomas A. DeGise, whose term of office expires December 31, 2019. Hudson County's Freeholders (all serving concurrent terms that end on December 31, 2018) are
District 1: Kenneth Kopacz (Bayonne and parts of Jersey City),
District 2: William O'Dea, Vice Chairperson (western parts of Jersey City),
District 3: Gerard M. Balmir Jr. (southeastern parts of Jersey City),
District 4: E. Junior Maldonado (northern parts of Jersey City),
District 5: Anthony L. Romano Jr. (Hoboken and adjoining parts of Jersey City),
District 6: Tilo Rivas (Union City),
District 7:Caridad Rodriguez, Chairperson Pro-Tempore (West New York, Weehawken, Guttenberg),
District 8: Anthony P. Vainieri Jr., Chairperson (North Bergen and northern parts of Secaucus) and
District 9: Albert Cifelli (East Newark, Harrison, Kearny and southern parts of Secaucus). Hudson County's constitutional officers are County Clerk Barbara A. Netchert (2017), Sheriff Frank Schillari and Surrogate Joseph J. Ryglicki.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 16,348 registered voters in Kearny, of which 7,030 (43.0%) were registered as Democrats, 1,922 (11.8%) were registered as Republicans and 7,390 (45.2%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 6 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 68.9% of the vote (7,579 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 29.9% (3,293 votes), and other candidates with 1.2% (129 votes), among the 11,076 ballots cast by the town's 17,601 registered voters (75 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 62.9%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 60.4% of the vote (6,953 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 37.9% (4,365 votes) and other candidates with 1.1% (121 votes), among the 11,508 ballots cast by the town's 18,057 registered voters, for a turnout of 63.7%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 57.0% of the vote (6,363 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 41.7% (4,650 votes) and other candidates with 0.5% (87 votes), among the 11,154 ballots cast by the town's 16,633 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 67.1.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Democrat Barbara Buono received 49.5% of the vote (2,667 cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 48.8% (2,634 votes), and other candidates with 1.7% (92 votes), among the 5,597 ballots cast by the town's 18,001 registered voters (204 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 31.1%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 52.9% of the vote (3,838 ballots cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 38.5% (2,790 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 5.4% (390 votes) and other candidates with 1.1% (80 votes), among the 7,249 ballots cast by the town's 16,417 registered voters, yielding a 44.2% turnout.
In the face of declining enrollment, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark closed Mater Dei Academy at the conclusion of the 2011–12 school year. Mater Dei had been opened three years earlier as the merger of two existing schools, St. Stephen's and Holy Cross (the latter in Harrison), but attendance declined from 250 in its first year to 170 in its final year. Other former Catholic schools in Kearney include: Sacred Heart School and St. Cecilia School.
Kearny was formerly served by trains of both the Erie Railroad's Newark Branch (later Erie-Lackawanna and then Conrail's Newark Industrial Branch) and its Greenwood Lake Division (later the Erie-Lackawanna's Greenwood Lake-Boonton Line; and Conrail and New Jersey Transit's Boonton Line) which stopped at the now abandoned Arlington station. Newark Branch passenger service was terminated in October, 1966. But freight service continued until 2005 when the last remaining shipper, Spar-Tech PolyCom, shut down. However freight service on the Newark side is still active. New Jersey Transit discontinued Boonton Line service in 2002 when the Montclair Connection was opened. Through the early 1970s trains also stopped at a second station along this route known as West Arlington. This station was just to the east of the now abandoned WR Draw movable bridge. Prior to April 30, 1967, a station in South Kearny, was served by the Central Railroad of New Jersey's Newark and New York Railroad via the PD Draw over the Passaic River. This station was popular with employees of the giant Western Electric plant, and other industries in the area. In the final years of this service a pair of rush hour trains ran in each direction between South Kearny, and the CNJ's Broad Street Station in downtown Newark, as well as a single rush hour round trip between South Kearny, and Plainfield. This train operated via Elizabethport, and the CNJ main line.
^ abcdHernandez, Raymond. "World Cup Hits Home In Soccer Town, U.S.A."The New York Times June 26, 1994. Accessed September 12, 2013. "In a nation that has not yet shared the world's enthusiasm for soccer, Kearny (pronounced CAR-nee) is certainly an anomaly. The town has two local soccer historians. On Kearny Avenue, the main strip, a sign proclaims: 'Welcome to Kearny. Soccer Town, U.S.A.'"
^Krasner, Barbara. Kearny, p. 10. Arcadia Publishing, 2000. ISBN0-7385-0403-3. Accessed July 7, 2011. "Constructed of stone and bricks imported from Holland, the mansion stood as a source of pride until 1924. When the mansion was about to be torn down, a development company offered to deed a section of the 60 acres to any historical society that would pay for the upkeep.... no one was able to do so and this monument was destroyed."
^Staff. "Historic firehouse under restoration", The Observer , November 24, 2011. Accessed November 13, 2019. "The structure is the oldest standing firehouse in town: a small two-story brick building on Halstead St., just west of Kearny Ave. It dates to 1895 and was originally the headquarters for Highland Hose Co. No. 4, back in the days when a clanging bell was the only way to alert firefighters to an emergency, and when rigs pulled by galloping horses raced through the streets to answer a call."
^Prentice, Claire. "The Scots of Kearny, New Jersey – home of The Sopranos", The Herald (Glasgow), March 22, 2010, backed up by the Internet Archive as of December 7, 2013. Accessed November 13, 2019. "The story of the Scots in Kearny goes back to the 1860s, when two Scottish companies, Paisley thread mill Clark’s and Kirkcaldy linoleum company Nairn’s, opened factories in the area. They wanted to avoid paying import taxes on goods shipped from Scotland and Kearny’s tax breaks and location, at the confluence of the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers, made it an ideal choice. Word got out back in Scotland that skilled workers were needed. By the 1960s, there were 21,000 Scots living in Kearny (as of the 2000 United States Census, the town’s population was approximately 40,000)."
^via Associated Press. "Kearny, N.J., Plant Is Sold", The New York Times, May 22, 1984. Accessed September 12, 2013. "A.T.& T. Technologies Inc. today announced the sale of the Western Electric Company plant here to the Union Minerals and Alloys Corporation for use as an industrial park designed to employ more than 4,000 people.... In January 1983, Western Electric said it would phase out the 59-year-old Kearny works by mid-1985."
^Hanley, Robert. "Kearny Plant Is Dying, Along With An Old Era", The New York Times, January 29, 1983. Accessed September 12, 2013. "At its robust best just after World War II, Western Electric's Kearny Works employed 24,000 people and boasted that it was the busiest manufacturing plant in the American Telephone and Telegraph Company's empire.... Only about 4,000 workers remain.... The plant's annual payroll is $128 million, money that is spent in thousands of small businesses in the dozens of communities where the workers live."
^Kearny Urban Enterprise Zone, Kearny, New Jersey. Accessed March 31, 2020. "Since its establishment in 1985, by agreement and annual contract between the Mayor and Council and the State of New Jersey, the Kearny UEZ has invested over twenty-seven million dollars of sales and use taxes collected by qualified retailers in the KUEZ."
^Canessa Jr., Kevin. "Council selects tri-lingual Santana for Second Ward opening", The Observer Online, February 16, 2017. Accessed May 4, 2017. "Davis Ave. resident Peter Santana was appointed Second Ward Councilman at a special council meeting Monday, Feb. 6, taking the seat once occupied by the late Councilman Jonathan Giordano, who died suddenly last month."
^Duger, Rose. "De Castro selected to fill vacant council seat in Kearny", The Jersey Journal, February 20, 2015. Accessed July 7, 2016. "Kearny's Democratic County Committee has named Marytrine De Castro to fill the vacant First Ward seat on the Town Council.... De Castro will occupy Arce's First Ward seat until after November's general election, when a permanent replacement will be selected to complete the final two years of Arce's unexpired term."
^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."
^Biography of Bob Menendez, United States Senate, January 26, 2015. "Menendez, who started his political career in Union City, moved in September from Paramus to one of Harrison's new apartment buildings near the town's PATH station.."
^. United States Senate. Accessed April 30, 2021. "Booker, Cory A. - (D - NJ) Class II; Menendez, Robert - (D - NJ) Class I"
^Galant, Debra. "Jersey; Montclair's Connection Has Its Price", The New York Times, September 29, 2002. Accessed July 7, 2011. "On Sept. 20, New Jersey Transit officially terminated service at Mr. Wilson's beloved Benson Street stop, as well as at the Rowe Street stop in Bloomfield and the Arlington stop in Kearny. Those closings were part of the price of progress."
^Idec, Keith. "Tomasz Adamek impressive in victory", The Record, March 25, 2012, backed up by the Internet Archive as of March 28, 2012. Accessed January 31, 2018. "Tomasz Adamek methodically made a successful comeback Saturday night from his lopsided loss to Vitali Klitschko.... Adamek, a native of Poland who resides in Kearny, improved to 45–2."
^Canessa, Kevin. "Kearny native competing for Top Chef", The Observer, December 15, 2015. Accessed December 10, 2019. "Karen Akunowicz remembers making an apron in the seventh-grade at Lincoln School in home economics class back in 1991.... When she left Kearny after graduating Kearny High School in 1996 for the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, it was her plan to be a social worker.... And despite all of the fame she’s gained from being on the show, she hasn’t forgotten her Kearny roots one bit."
^Wallace, William N. "Rowing; U.S. Heavyweights Win Gold at the Wire", The New York Times, September 19, 1994. Accessed October 27, 2011. "The favored United States crew, stroked by Jeff Klepacki, a Rutgers alumnus from Kearny, N.J., faltered in the final 500 meters after leading by almost a full boat length and won by six-tenths of a second over a surprising crew from the Netherlands."
^Vallance, Tom. "Obituary: Buzz Kulik", The Independent, January 29, 1999. Accessed September 1, 2014. "Born Seymour Kulik in Kearney [sic], New Jersey, in 1922, he served in the army during the Second World War, then worked in the mailroom of the large advertising agency J. Walter Thompson."
^allmusic guide. "Tony Mottola was born April 18, 1918 in Kearny, NJ. He began playing guitar at the age of nine, and attended high school alongside ill-fated jazz saxophonist Herbie Haymer and future bandleader George Paxton; after graduating, Mottola toured with George Hall's orchestra, making his recorded debut on the group's rendition of 'Shine.'"
^Staff. "George E. Paxton", The Miami Herald, April 21, 1989. Accessed May 3, 2011. "He was a native of Kearny, N.J., and learned his trade at the Juilliard School of Music, where he mastered many musical instruments."
^Mifflin, Lawrie. "Doing a Star Turn for the Home Team, at Last", The New York Times, August 18, 1996. Accessed February 25, 2012. "Giants Stadium is a short trip up the turnpike from Old Bridge, where Mr. Ramos lives with his wife, Amy – a former North Carolina State University soccer player like her husband – and their 16-month-old son, Alex. And it's just a few miles from where he grew up, in Harrison and Kearny, towns that have been soccer hotbeds for generations."
^'Illinois Blue Book 1985-1986,' Biographical Sketch of James H. Rupp, pg. 114
^Anderson, Will. "Bob Stanley", Society for American Baseball Research. Accessed November 13, 2019. "'The Steamer' – Bob Stanley – was 2 years old when his family packed up and moved from East Kidder Street in Portland to Kearny, New Jersey, Stanley's mother's hometown."
^Francis, Shawn. "Welcome to New Jersey, home of the real football giants", Major League Soccer, July 21, 2011. Accessed February 25, 2011. "Among the notables who called Kearny home are Archie Stark (232 goals in 205 matches for Bethlehem Steel), John Harkes (former U.S. national-team captain), Tony Meola (former U.S. captain and keeper) Ted Gillen (former MLS and U.S. player) and Billy Gonsalves (a U.S. veteran of two World Cups)."
^"Giant Star Compares Grid Loops", Hartford Courant, December 18, 1955. Accessed March 29, 2011. "Alex Webster returned to his Kearny, N.J. home today, but before he left the former star Montreal Alouette halfback made it clear he 'wants to jump back to Canada' rather than play again for the New York Giants in 1956."