In 1694, Arent Schuyler, a surveyor, trader and land speculator, was sent by the British into northwestern New Jersey to investigate rumors that the French were trying to incite the local LenapeNative Americans to rebel against them. He found no evidence of a rebellion, but discovered a fertile river valley where the Lenape grew crops. Schuyler reported his findings to the British and then convinced a group including Major Anthony Brockholst and Samuel Bayard to invest in the land he referred to as the Pompton Valley. The group chose Schuyler to be the negotiator with the Lenape and Bayard to negotiate with the East Jersey Company, the owner of the land rights from the King of England. The group completed their purchase of 5,000 acres (20 km2) on November 11, 1695, and the area became part of what was then known as New Barbadoes Township in Bergen County. Schuyler constructed the Schuyler-Colfax House at this time.
In 1837, Passaic County was formed from portions of Bergen County, and the area became part of the new Manchester Township. On April 12, 1847, the first township organization meeting was held, and the citizens voted to split from Manchester and named the new municipality Wayne.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries Wayne remained predominantly agricultural, with some industry in the form of grist, saw, and cider mills, blacksmiths, and a Laflin & Rand gunpowder plant. Numerous farmsteads in the township employed slaves until gradual abolition began in New Jersey in 1804; however, the practice continued in some instances under the veil of "apprenticeship" until the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865.
The Morris Canal ran through the southwestern part of Wayne, carrying produce to markets and coal from Pennsylvania. The canal was replaced by the railroad at the end of the 19th century. In the early 20th century Wayne grew as a vacation retreat for wealthy New Yorkers who came by train to stay in bungalows along the area's lakes. New Jersey Route 23 and U.S. Route 46 were constructed across the township during the Great Depression.
During World War II, summer bungalows were converted to year-round residences to accommodate people moving to Wayne to work in war-related industries. Following the war, Wayne suburbanized as farmlands were turned into housing developments, and Interstate 80 was built through the southern part of the township.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 25.14 square miles (65.11 km2), including 23.72 square miles (61.44 km2) of land and 1.42 square miles (3.67 km2) of water (5.64%).
Wayne has a number of lakes, with distinct communities and neighborhoods located around them. These include Packanack Lake, Pines Lake, Lions Head Lake, Tom's Lake and Pompton Lake (half of which is in Wayne). The Passaic River also flows through a portion of Wayne and often floods near Willowbrook Mall and riverside neighborhoods.
Of the 19,127 households, 33.0% had children under the age of 18; 62.9% were married couples living together; 8.6% had a female householder with no husband present and 25.6% were non-families. Of all households, 22.2% were made up of individuals and 12.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.71 and the average family size was 3.21.
22.0% of the population were under the age of 18, 10.3% from 18 to 24, 21.1% from 25 to 44, 29.6% from 45 to 64, and 17.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42.8 years. For every 100 females, the population had 91.9 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 88.4 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006–2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $100,638 (with a margin of error of +/− $3,630) and the median family income was $117,745 (+/− $5,252). Males had a median income of $80,420 (+/− $5,367) versus $54,413 (+/− $2,379) for females. The per capita income for the township was $40,875 (+/− $1,473). About 2.2% of families and 3.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.9% of those under age 18 and 6.6% of those age 65 or over.
While Wayne has been and remains predominantly White, it has increased in diversity over the years. From 2000 to 2010, the percentage of every minority group has gone up. Some of the prevalent ethnic minority groups include Indian Americans at 3.0% and Korean Americans at 2.0%, while Puerto Ricans were 2.3% of the population.
As of the 2000 Census, there were 54,069 people, 18,755 households, and 14,366 families residing in the township. The population density was 2,269.5/mi2 (876.4/km2). There were 19,218 housing units at an average density of 806.7/mi2 (806.7/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 90.05% White, 1.66% African American, 0.10% Native American, 5.67% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 1.17% from other races, and 1.34% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.09% of the population.
There were 18,755 households, out of which 34.4% had related children under the age of 18 living with them, 66.4% were married couples living together, 7.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 23.4% were non-families. 20.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.74 and the average family size was 3.19.
In the township the age distribution of the population shows 23.2% under the age of 18, 8.1% from 18 to 24, 27.6% from 25 to 44, 24.9% from 45 to 64, and 16.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females, there were 90.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.4 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $83,651, and the median income for a family was $95,114. Males had a median income of $61,271 versus $39,835 for females. The per capita income for the township was $35,349. About 1.6% of families and 2.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.1% of those under age 18 and 4.8% of those age 65 or over.
Interior of Willowbrook Mall
Wayne was home to the Toys "R" Us United States corporate headquarters, before it filed for Chaper 11 bankruptcy in September 2017 and ceased to operate as an independent, publicly-traded firm. Brands associated with the former toy-retailer firm were acquired by Tru Kids. The former Toys "R" Us headquarters at One Geoffrey Way is now home to medical device manufacturer Getinge, housing their United States sales, service and training operations.  Wayne continues to host the headquarters of the Valley Bank (formerly Valley National Bank) corporate headquarters.JVC has their US office in Wayne and employ approximately 19,040.
Willowbrook Mall is a two-level indoor shopping mall in the township, the fourth-largest mall in the state, featuring 200 retail establishments and a gross leasable area (GLA) of 1,514,000 square feet (140,700 m2). The Willowbrook Mall went through a renovation in 2018–2019 that saw new flooring, lighting, seating and a few new restaurants added. Sears was closed and a Sears Tire Center was demolished; a 12-screen state-of-the-art Cinemark movie theater was built in its place. Adjacent to it is the Wayne Towne Center regional shopping center, which features a movie theater under the AMC brand.
Noted golf course architect Willie Tucker designed the Preakness Hills Country Club in Wayne. Formed as a club in 1926, the golf course was completed in 1929.
Wayne is governed under the Mayor-Council plan F system of municipal government under the Faulkner Act, as implemented on January 1, 1962, by direct petition. The township is one of 71 municipalities (of the 565) statewide that use this form of government. The governing body is comprised of the mayor and the township council. The mayor is elected directly by the voters to serve a four-year term. The township council, which forms the legislative branch of the township government, is comprised of nine members elected to four-year terms of office, of which three council members are elected at-large and one member is elected from each of six wards. All members of the governing body are chosen on a partisan basis as part of the November general election in odd-numbered years, with the six ward seats up for election together and two years later the three at-large seats and the mayoral seat all up for vote.
As of 2022[update], Wayne's mayor is Republican Christopher P. Vergano, whose term of office ends December 31, 2025. Members of the township council are Council President Franco Mazzei (R, 2023; Ward 3), Jason J. DeStefano (R, 2025; at-large), Jonathan Ettman (R, 2023; Ward 6), Richard Jasterzbski (R, 2023; Ward 1), Francine Ritter (D, 2023; Ward 5), Al Sadowski (R, 2023; Ward 2), Jill M. Sasso (R, 2025; at-large), Joseph Scuralli (R, 2023; Ward 4) and David Varano (R, 2025; at-large).
In 2018, the township had an average property tax bill of $12,559, the highest in the county, compared to an average bill of $8,767 statewide.
The Township's Police Department consists of 121 sworn officers and is led by Chief Jack McNiff.
The Wayne Fire Department is comprised of five volunteer companies, consisting of a total of eleven pumpers, three aerial towers/ladders, one brush pumper, one squad truck, multiple boats, one rescue truck, and one Special Emergency Response Team (S.E.R.T.) vehicle.
The Wayne Township Memorial First Aid Squad provides round the clock volunteer emergency medical services to the residents of Wayne, utilizing six ambulances, a mass casualty bus, a heavy rescue vehicle and boats, and operates out of 2 stations located in the township.
Passaic County is governed by Board of County Commissioners, comprised of seven members who are elected at-large to staggered three-year terms office on a partisan basis, with two or three seats coming up for election each year as part of the November general election in a three-year cycle. At a reorganization meeting held in January, the board selects a Director and Deputy Director from among its members to serve for a one-year term.
As of 2022[update], Passaic County's Commissioners are
Director Bruce James (D, Clifton, term as commissioner ends December 31, 2023; term as director ends 2022),
Deputy Director Cassandra "Sandi" Lazzara (D, Little Falls, term as commissioner ends 2024; term as deputy director ends 2022),
John W. Bartlett (D, Wayne, 2024),
Theodore O. "T.J." Best Jr. (D, Paterson, 2023),
Terry Duffy (D, West Milford, 2022),
Nicolino Gallo (R, Totowa, 2024) and
Pasquale "Pat" Lepore (D, Woodland Park, 2022).
Constitutional officers, elected on a countywide basis are
County Clerk Danielle Ireland-Imhof (D, Hawthorne, 2023),
Sheriff Richard H. Berdnik (D, Clifton, 2022) and
Surrogate Zoila S. Cassanova (D, Wayne, 2026).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 35,661 registered voters in Wayne, of which 8,538 (23.9% vs. 31.0% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 11,180 (31.4% vs. 18.7%) were registered as Republicans and 15,933 (44.7% vs. 50.3%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 10 voters registered to other parties. Among the township's 2010 Census population, 65.2% (vs. 53.2% in Passaic County) were registered to vote, including 83.5% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 70.8% countywide).
In the 2012 presidential election, Republican Mitt Romney received 54.8% of the vote (13,983 cast), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 44.2% (11,283 votes), and other candidates with 1.0% (243 votes), among the 25,709 ballots cast by the township's 37,431 registered voters (200 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 68.7%. In the 2008 presidential election, Republican John McCain received 14,803 votes (53.9% vs. 37.7% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 11,853 votes (43.1% vs. 58.8%) and other candidates with 265 votes (1.0% vs. 0.8%), among the 27,486 ballots cast by the township's 36,386 registered voters, for a turnout of 75.5% (vs. 70.4% in Passaic County). In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 15,013 votes (54.9% vs. 42.7% countywide), ahead of Democrat John Kerry with 11,582 votes (42.4% vs. 53.9%) and other candidates with 190 votes (0.7% vs. 0.7%), among the 27,331 ballots cast by the township's 35,463 registered voters, for a turnout of 77.1% (vs. 69.3% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 66.2% of the vote (10,824 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 32.8% (5,364 votes), and other candidates with 1.0% (168 votes), among the 16,595 ballots cast by the township's 37,825 registered voters (239 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 43.9%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 10,246 votes (57.1% vs. 43.2% countywide), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 6,623 votes (36.9% vs. 50.8%), Independent Chris Daggett with 769 votes (4.3% vs. 3.8%) and other candidates with 101 votes (0.6% vs. 0.9%), among the 17,930 ballots cast by the township's 35,321 registered voters, yielding a 50.8% turnout (vs. 42.7% in the county).
Passaic County Technical Institute is a regional vocational public high school that serves students from Passaic County. In 2018 PCTI inaugurated a new building specifically for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).
Passaic County Community College's Public Safety Academy (PSA) on Oldham Road offers training and facilities for fire fighting and emergency medical personnel. Adjacent to it is the Passaic County Police Academy, where police recruits and alternate route candidates are given basic police training.
I-80 eastbound past Route 23 in Wayne
Roads and highways
As of May 2010[update], the township had a total of 229.48 miles (369.31 km) of roadways, of which 180.59 miles (290.63 km) were maintained by the municipality, 41.05 miles (66.06 km) by Passaic County and 7.84 miles (12.62 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
NJ Transit provides bus service to and from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan on the 191, 193, 194, 195 and 324; to Newark on the 11 and 28 (Saturday and Sunday only) routes, with local service provided on the 873, 704, 705, 712, 744, 748, 970 and 971 routes. In September 2012, as part of budget cuts, NJ Transit suspended service to Newark on the 75 line.
The indie rock band Fountains of Wayne took their name from a lawn ornament store that was located in the township on the westbound side of U.S. Route 46, though no members of the band are from the town. The store is now out of business. The same store was featured in an episode of HBO'sThe Sopranos, along with several other locations in Wayne.
Evergreen trees from Wayne have been selected to serve as the Rockefeller CenterChristmas tree in New York City in 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2006. The 2005 tree, a Norway Spruce that stood 74 feet (23 m) tall and weighed 9 short tons (8,200 kg), with a spread of 42 feet (13 m) wide, was one of the largest trees ever installed at Rockefeller Center.
^ abcHistory of Wayne, Wayne Township Historical Commission. Accessed January 16, 2012. "Samual Bayard was chosen to deal with the East Jersey Company who had the land rights from the King of England. Approximately 5,000 acres were purchased for 250 pounds and wampum (shells the size and shape of a cigarette used for barter). The purchase of the land was concluded on November 11, 1695. The area now known as Wayne Township then became part of New Barbadoes in Essex County.... Over the years Wayne has had nationally known individuals as residents: namely Albert Payson Terhune, the famous writer of collie dog books; Cecil DeMille, the movie mogul; and LeGrand Parish, the inventor of the Westinghouse air brake, a coupling device, and fire brick boxes."
^Meredith, Jon "Ferris". "Telling the Story of Preakness: Through the Eyes of the Filmmaker", TAP into Wayne, October 6, 2019. Accessed May 18, 2020. "Sired by the famed thoroughbred stud Lexington and carried by a mare named Bay Leaf, Preakness was born in Kentucky in 1867, was purchased at auction by wealthy Jute manufacturer Milton Holbrook Sanford for $4,000 and named after Sanford’s stables in Wayne, New Jersey."
^The History of Wayne Township, Wayne Township. Accessed August 25, 2007. "Another national celebrity was the Preakness horse. Purchased in 1868 by Milton Holbrook Sandford, owner of the Preakness Stud at the corner of Valley Road and Preakness Avenue, for $4,000. On his maiden start Preakness was entered into the 'Dinner Plate Stakes' at the new Pimlico race Track in Maryland. Preakness won the first race on October 25th, 1870. In 1873 the Maryland Jockey Club started a new racing classic for three-year-olds and named it The Preakness in honor of the first horse to win a race at Pimlico."
^Club History, Preakness Hills Country Club. Accessed May 25, 2020. "Plans for the Preakness Hills course were drawn up in 1926. The full 18-hole course opened in April 1929, and played to a par of 72 at 6,400 yards."
^ abTownship Council, Township of Wayne. Accessed May 1, 2022. "On January 1, 1962, Wayne Township adopted the Mayor-Council Plan of the Optional Municipal Charter Law of New Jersey commonly known as the Faulkner Act.... The Mayor-Council Plan of the Faulkner Act is a 'strong mayor' form of government. A nine-member Council forms the Legislative Branch of the township government. One Council member is elected from each of the six wards and three are elected at-large each with a term of four years."
^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.."
^ abBoard of County Commissioners, Passaic County, New Jersey. Accessed June 21, 2022. "Passaic County is governed by a seven-member Board of County Commissioners. Each County Commissioner is elected at large for a three-year term. The board is headed by a director, who is selected for a one-year term at the board's annual reorganization meeting (at the first meeting of the year in January)."
^Bruce James, Passaic County, New Jersey. Accessed June 21, 2022.
^Wayne Township Board of Education District Policy 0110 - Identification, Wayne Public Schools. Accessed May 19, 2020. "Purpose: The Board of Education exists for the purpose of providing a thorough and efficient system of free public education in grades Kindergarten through twelve in the Wayne Township Public Schools. Composition: The Wayne Township Public School District is comprised of all the area within the municipal boundaries of Wayne."
^Burrow, Megan. "Al-Ghazaly Elementary School in Teaneck readies for opening", Teaneck Suburbanite, August 29, 2013. Accessed October 4, 2013. "Iman El-Dessouky, a board member at Al-Ghazaly School, said the change was precipitated when the school secured a bigger building for its high school students in Wayne.... Originally, El-Dessouky said, the school planned to use the Teaneck campus for pre-kindergarten through first grade students, but after the school held an open house for parents and prospective students earlier this month, the board decided to expand its offerings up to third grade."
^Tyrangiel, Josh. "The Rise Of Mom's Boys", Time (magazine), December 22, 2003. Accessed August 25, 2007. "What drove Fountains of Wayne to Stacy's Mom was the usual soul-killing nightmare of the music industry. Schlesinger and Collingwood, both 36, met as undergraduates at Williams College and soon after started Fountains of Wayne (named after a lawn-ornament store near Schlesinger's New Jersey home), adding bassist Jody Porter and drummer Brian Young along the way."
^Denis, Paul.Daytime TV's Star Directory, p. 30. Popular Library, 1976. Accessed July 21, 2019. "David Ackroyd Personal Life: Born in East Orange, N.J., David's family (of Irish-English background) moved to Wayne, N.J., when he was 12."
^Althouse, Ann. "At the LBJ Library", Althouse, April 7, 2007. Accessed October 22, 2015. "I remember where I was -- standing in the kitchen in our house in Wayne, New Jersey -- when I heard these words:"
^Presinzano, Jessica. "Wayne man who wants Christie tried for misconduct plans run for governor", The Record, December 5, 2016, updated April 6, 2017. Accessed May 18, 2020. "Bill Brennan, the Wayne activist who filed a citizen's complaint accusing Governor Christie of official misconduct in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal, announced at a protest rally in Wayne on Monday that he is running for governor."
^Winters, Debra. "Indie film continues production", Wayne Today, February 4, 2010. Accessed February 21, 2011. "For Jay Della Valle and Chris Beatty, shooting films in Wayne is a no-brainer. Having grown up in the township of 55,000 this movie-making duo appreciates the vibrancy that their hometown offers and understands the importance of keeping it real."
^Staff. "Keith Idec's boxing index", The Record, March 18, 201. Accessed March 31, 2011. "Duva, a Wayne resident who trained and/or managed numerous world champions, was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1998."
^Hague, Jim. "Obit: Ex-Giant Tom Longo dies, 73", The Record, July 3, 2015. Accessed April 15, 2017. "Tom Longo, the former Lyndhurst High School great who went on to have a fine career at Notre Dame and later played in the NFL with the Giants and St. Louis Cardinals, died Thursday in a hospice near his home in Wayne after a two-year-long battle with cancer."
^"Vilas Extended by Mayer", The New York Times, February 13, 1977. Accessed December 10, 2007. "Guillermo Vilas, the Argentine left hander, had unexpectedly strong opposition, but ousted young Gene Mayer of Wayne, N.J., 7-6, 7–6, 6–1, in the semifinals of the $50,000 Springfield International, a Grand Prix tennis tournament."
^Lustig, Jay. "Run-DMC hip-hops into Rock's Hall of Fame", The Star-Ledger, January 15, 2009. Accessed October 22, 2015. "'People didn't look at rap as a legit part of music,' said McDaniels, a New York City native who now lives in Wayne. 'They thought it wasn't original, it wasn't creative. But people don't understand: we write, produce and arrange songs the same way any other songwriter would.'"
^Domingo, Odeen. "Rutgers' Neill gets his bowl game", USA Today, December 27, 2005. Accessed March 31, 2011. "When he started making his own mark on the field, Neill was a star who gave Schiano's first recruiting class legitimacy, at a time when you couldn't find a Rutgers hat in the stores of Neill's hometown of Wayne, N.J., an hour's drive from campus."
^Jessielyn Palumbo, Miss Universe Organization. Accessed July 9, 2016. "Jessielyn is a resident of Wayne, where she grew up. She graduated with honors from Wayne Hills High School in 2010 & Cum Laude from The College of New Jersey in 2014."
^Queen Latifah, Gale Cengage. Accessed January 16, 2012. "Although she found it necessary to live much of the year in Los Angeles during the taping of the show, Latifah maintained a home in Wayne, New Jersey, and never ceased to consider New Jersey her home."
^Staff. "Storm Queen debuts at number one", Belfast Telegraph, November 10, 2013. Accessed November 16, 2013. "Storm Queen – aka Statesider Morgan Geist – was among a trio of new entries in the singles top 10, with former X Factor winners Little Mix and seasoned pop star Britney Spears – with her 22nd top 10 track – also dropping records."
^Cowen, Richard. "Bergen Republicans pick DiGaetano in 40th District", The Record, March 23, 2017. Accessed March 24, 2017. For the two assembly seats in the 40th District, the county committee endorsed DiGaetano's running mate, Norm Robertson of Wayne. It also gave the nod to Christopher DePhillips for the other assembly seat."
^Republican Whip Scott T. Rumana, New Jersey Assembly Republicans. Accessed October 22, 2015. "Rumana graduated from Hartwick College in 1987 with a B.A. in Management, and from New York Law School in 1991. He served on the Wayne Township Council from 1994–1997."
^Schweich Handler, Cindy. "Francesca Russo has an Eye on the Olympics", Wayne Magazine, Fall 2017. Accessed August 4, 2021. "Since fencing for Wayne Valley and Bergen Fencing Club, Francesca Russo has scored some memorable victories – among them, winning the sabre competition for the University of Notre Dame as a freshman, and a second National Collegiate Fencing Individual championship in the women’s sabre last spring."
^Barry, Jan. "Army general from Wayne had key role at Ford funeral", The Record, January 1, 2007. Accessed July 28, 2016. "Swan, who grew up in Wayne, was the military escort for Betty Ford at the funeral ceremonies in California and in the nation's capital, where he is the commander of the Military District of Washington. Swan's widely televised role as Mrs. Ford's escort set off a buzz among former neighbors in the Pines Lake section where he grew up and among Wayne Hills High School classmates."
^Ung, Elisa. "Wayne teenager now a big part of The Americans", The Record, January 28, 2015. Accessed January 28, 2015. "As The Americans begins its third season tonight, the teenage character played by actress Holly Taylor will become a major focus of the critically acclaimed FX drama. But at Wayne Hills High School, Taylor is no big deal – just a petite 17-year-old junior who juggles honors English, AP environmental science, psychology and art.... 'Those are definitely spy qualities,' the actress said in a recent interview in the rental apartment in Wayne where her family has lived since she was 2."
^Picker, David. "Montclair Celebrates One of Its Own", The New York Times, February 5, 2008. Accessed March 31, 2011. "That should not be difficult to arrange, since Tyree lives in nearby Wayne and has maintained close ties to the Montclair football program since departing in 1998 to begin his college career at Syracuse."