Essex County, New Jersey

Thursday, April 29, 2010 - 11:13 AM

Listen to the segment here!

Your Anecdotal Census: A People's History of the New York City Area 2000-2010

Tell us about change that matters in your community. Here are some possible questions to answer. Add your story to the comments below!

How is your community different today than it was 10 years ago?

Who's moving in and who's moving out? 

How has the housing boom/housing bust changed your community?

How have the politics of your community changed? If power has shifted in your community, how and why?

How has 9/11 changed your community? 

Do you have a story about change in your own life over the last decade that you think represents a larger trend?

What's an untold story of change in your community that needs to be told? 

Dante's Take

As part of the Patchwork Nation project, Dante Chinni has been exploring demographic trends around the country. He tells us what to watch for in Essex County...

→ Visit the Essex County page on Patchwork Nation for lots more!

By The Numbers:

What story do you think this data tells? Do you think the data reflects what's really going on in your community?

Essex County, New Jersey 1980 1990 2000 2008/2009
Total Population 851,116 778,206 793,633 769,644
Median Household Income (2008 adjusted dollars) $48,100 $59,900 $58,100 $54,694
% Foreign Born 12.5% 15.6% 21.2% 22.8%
% Under 18 Years Old 28.3% 24.2% 26.1% 25.4%

Explore the Maps:

Essex County, New Jersey - Median Household Income (2007) - Go to the Interactive Maps at Social Explorer

More Resources:

US Census Bureau QuickFacts

Social Explorer

More in:

Comments [14]

Josh Knoblick from Newark (downtown) NJ

I grew up in Essex county and lived in Bergen while in college and then Rockland the last 5 years, but as my grandmother says "being from NJ is like having mud on your shoe".

I moved to Newark a year ago for the urban living and proximity to NYC. I am a sculptor and needed space and a community that is diverse and affordable.

One of my main goals was to start organizing abound bicycles, my roommate has been a in community organizing for years and we both love bikes. We started the Brick City Bike Collective and are now up to a fairly diverse membership of around 150.

After starting BCBC we quickly realized that this is no bike shop here in NJ's largest city. So after the warm reception that the collective has gotten we began thinking about a bike shop/bicycle education center and how we could start one that would service the need of the community. A model more on par with Recycle-A-Bicycle, and less like the high end shops of Montclair, Bloomfield, Jersey City, ect.
We have come up with a not-for-profit model that will deal exclusively in refurbished quality bicycles at an affordable price point. Also offering new and refurbished parts and repair services, as well as an in house tool collective, classes that cover bicycle repair, upkeep, and classes that can teach science, history, and community building using the bicycle as a platform.

A large portion of the community depends on bikes as personal transport and it sucks that right now everyone that rides needs to go at least 3 miles outside the city limits for something as simple as an inner tube.

As of now we have our board together and our 501c-3 status is pending but we have no location. We are talking to a few developers and local property owner but nothing that we can afford has surfaced just yet.

Brian thanks for the programing and if your in need of some two wheeled transportation please let know.

Jun. 01 2010 01:08 PM
Jennifer from Montclair

I agree with the caller that it is very hard for middle class families to live in Montclair. My husband and I who work in education opted to buy a multi-family house and we rent part of it and live in the other. This barely makes the mortgage affordable. I have found that a lot of the other parents I've met are older and much more well off than we are and this makes developing friendships challenging. At the same time, my husband grew up in Montclair and diversity is the number one reason that he wants to raise our family here, and we are totally hooked on the more urban aspects of the town.

Jun. 01 2010 11:58 AM
Jennifer from Montclair

I agree with the caller that it is very hard for middle class families to live in Montclair. My husband and I who work in education opted to buy a multi-family house and we rent part of it and live in the other. This barely makes the mortgage affordable. I have found that a lot of the other parents I've met are older and much more well off than we are and this makes developing friendships challenging. At the same time, my husband grew up in Montclair and diversity is the number one reason that he wants to raise our family here, and we are totally hooked on the more urban aspects of the town.

Jun. 01 2010 11:57 AM
Susan from Montclair

I live in Montclair (and have for 42 years) and what I noted during the booming real estate period was that it seemed as if the more working/middle class folks were taking advantage of their homes being so overpriced that they were leaving - I worried that the economic diversity in Montclair would suffer - How the bust has effected real estate I think is harder to assess in Montclair because there are alot of high income folks and are more cushioned from the fallout of dropping realestate prices - BUT I think there is still a bad impact a loss of businesses and empty stores and I believe people are still struggling - and the taxes are outrageously high primarily because of the school budget .

Jun. 01 2010 11:41 AM
Greer from US

My family is an interracial family, I am white and my husband is African American. We chose Montclair very specifically because of the economic and raical diversity, as well as the high number of interracial families present. However, over the last 8 years we have watched Montclair become a more affluent community, and more white. My husband and I are also both educators and middle class. We fear that over time many minority and middle class families will no longer be able to live in Montclair. What made this town so attractive to us initially, and what is rare in NJ, may be lost.

Jun. 01 2010 11:41 AM
Elizabeth who loves Maplewood from Maplewood

We've lived in Maplewood for just over 10 years and have witnessed what had already started when we moved in -- that is a wave of "immigration" from Park Slope and other areas of Brooklyn. Talk to new residents in town and chances are high that they are from Brooklyn. The chief of police in town once joked to me that there is a direct pipeline from Park Slope to Maplewood.

Sadly for us, the food culture in the suburbs has not kept up with the demographic. There is a business opportunity here for an enterprising restaurateur!

Jun. 01 2010 11:04 AM
Elizabeth Sobo from South Orange

I have lived in South Orange for nearly 23 years. In that time I raised two children, who went through the public school system and are now fully functioning, independent adults. Both are living out of state.

We now find ourselves in the position of "downsizing" and wish to stay in the area. However, there is little in the Essex County that is both affordable and provides a community feeling like South Orange.

Taxes, of course, are out of sight and cause us to wonder why there is such antipathy to the concept of shared services. South Orange is a town of 15,000 residents - 2 1/2 square miles. We do share a school system with Maplewood, but all of our other services are separate. Shaving off the administrative layers by instituting shared services would greatly reduce administrative structures and thereby reduce our tax burden. This was proposed in South Orange/Maplewood several years ago and was soundly defeated. This seems to be somewhat typical of our overall American attitude of wanting to hold on to as many services as possible despite the greater downside. I am willing to have my garbage picked up once a week instead of twice, and would consider giving up other services as well to reduce my tax burden.

We want to stay in the area but question if we can afford it.

Jun. 01 2010 08:04 AM
Bergen Resident from Bergen County

My Essex County connections are Montclair and Newark. Much of Montclair looks to me as it did years ago, but the downtown mix has changed with the influx of different cultures, particularly evident in the variety of restaurants. MSU's Kasser Theater offers a good mix of music, dance, and theater; and at $15 a ticket allows one to take the risk of seeing unfamiliar things prohibited by big ticket prices. Between the more active college presence and diverse population, Montclair also seems to have a more urban atmosphere than the sort of posh suburb I recall.

Newark, on the other hand, has changed enormously with the NJPAC and everything that surrounds it. It's still a plenty gritty place with a grim element, but there was a time when I wouldn't consider going to anything in Newark. My music focus is now Newark. I resent the $8 bridge toll and $40 parking fees in the city when I can get to the PAC in 25 minutes with no tolls and park for $10 and get top-quality talent. I joined Newark Museum and have taken advantage of two lecture series along with their special shows. I am heartened by a lot of what I see in Newark and hope that the rough segments begin to improve, too.

May. 28 2010 04:03 PM
Dan from Bloomfield

The week 9/11 happened Bloomfield was featured in a New York magazine articles of places to live. Despite this, it seems word got out of the proximity to Montclair –next door and Manhattan – buses, trains & automobiles and how affordable compared to Montclair, Gen Ridge it was. I’ve been here 31 years, have worked in central New Jersey, the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn and have always found it convenient to the city, the airport, the Meadowlands, the Shore and points west. There has always been great Italian food. You could actually be choosy as to the sauce and style. And it has always been a blue collar town with middle class self-employed tradesman, entrepreneurs , people who are there for Little League, Boy Scouts and each other. In my time it has been a diverse town with one of the most diverse colleges in the US, Bloomfield College. But unlike Montclair that prides itself on its diversity Bloomfield was never just black and white but has large Hispanic and Asian populations.
As for change Bloomfield was Republican when I got here but has become fairly dependably Democratic. My street is awash with children and young couples. That wasn’t the case for many years. There are several gay couples in the neighborhood drawn by the small home size. The Italian restaurants have been joined by Mexican, Portuguese, Thai, Indian, Greek, West Indian, Japanese and upscale Italian. Most people had yard services before the crash but the young couples are doing their own work on the small lots. It has become even more diverse but I would say comfortably so with no group overwhelming the others. And of course, we had the Sopranos finale which made it cool to be from a place with big hair and large aspirations. With our small lots, reasonable sized homes, sidewalks, mass transit, large parks and access to the world, Bloomfield was green long before that was trendy. In the last ten years it seems the world has realized that.

May. 28 2010 12:04 PM
Kevin from Brooklyn

My grandparents have lived in Millburn for decades. In my lifetime Millburn has become more and more wealthy. During the 1980's my grandparents lived like their neighbors and now my grandfather is the only person on his street who doesn't drive a luxury car and still mows his own lawn. When I visit in the warmer months I have to slalom the lawn care trucks parked all over the road, but I don't remember having to do that 15 years ago.

May. 28 2010 11:59 AM
Nancy from The Caldwells and West Essex

Caldwell, West Caldwell and the West Essex towns: Essex Fells, Roseland, Fairfield and North Caldwell. These towns are fairly wealthy suburban communities. From the 1940s through the 1970s there were virtually no ethnic minorities to be seen in the schools, on the streets or in the businesses. Earlier immigrants were European: Italian, Dutch, German, English...
By 2000 there were more minorities - primarily workers in the houses and businesses of middle class residents. In 2010 there is a broad ethnic mix: Many Latinos, some Asians, Middle Easterners, Indians, Blacks. Some are still workers taking local buses most to Newark, a few to New York. But, many more are residents driving by in expensive cars, children involved with teen and youngster programs, enjoying local restaurants. There is no obvious animosity to the new ethnic mix. The new census numbers should be enlightening.

Yard cleaning companies are now ubiquitous; workers are almost entirely latino, owners and managers are white or black. In earlier decades suburban Dads and their teenage sons did their own yard work.

Many of the local householders are now elderly, they need domestic workers and senior services which are very scarce. School taxes are a burden for the elderly whose children grew up and moved away 40 years ago.

Children are seen going to and from school - almost all escorted by an adult. Most do not play in their front yards nor ride their bikes around the subdivisions. Parents are very protective and the communities have many organized sports programs for them.

The deer population has exploded faster than humans. Culls are now popular because deer overrun the yards and strip the plants and shrubbery.

New and rehab McMansion's are still being built and sold throughout these communities, despite property values falling below their assessed values in the past few years. Some new apartment and condo units are going up too, in towns dominated by single family homes.

Most towns have expanded their police forces but still rely on volunteer fire departments.

May. 28 2010 11:02 AM
JJ de la Cruz from Livingston

I grew up in Livingston in the 1980s, and just moved back here last year after almost a decade in Hudson County. When I was growing up, there was a significant Jewish population with a lot of Irish, Italian, and a growing Filipino population.
When looking for our home, we aspired to live in Montclair, due to its pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare and its economic and ethnic diversity… and the restaurants too! Ultimately, we ended up in Livingston because we felt we could get more home for our dollar, and the school system is among the best in the state. It's not as pedestrian-friendly as Montclair, but the new Livingston Town Center is a step in the right direction.
Diversity is increasing. Walking around town, I've noticed a very significant Chinese and Korean population. It almost feels like Fort Lee. It's also great to see more black families here, and in time I hope more of them will feel welcome in our neighborhood. However, the diversity of restaurants doesn't seem to reflect the increased ethnic diversity that Livingston has achieved! It's still just pizza, chinese takeout, and kosher delis.

May. 28 2010 11:02 AM
Barbara from Maplewood NJ

The two small, adjacent municipalities of Maplewood and South Orange illustrate that even diversity can be diverse. Though African Americans make up roughly the same percentage of the population in Maplewood and South Orange as nearby Montclair, the differences among those municipalities are important. Montclair is a wealthier and larger community (2004 Avg. Home Value = $553,330 and area = 6.3 sq. mi). White population change is much more pronounced in Maplewood (a 25% decline in white population from 1990 to 2000) and South Orange (15%) than in Montclair.

In Maplewood/South Orange an energetic effort to embrace and sustain integration is underway. Civic activists formed the South Orange/ Maplewood Community Coalition on Race in 1996 in response to the drop in white population, stagnant home prices and the sense that the schools were going downhill.

“Our vision is for a community that is truly inclusive and racially integrated,” proclaims the coalition’s mission statement, “free of segregation in housing patterns and community involvement.”

Coalition members say their efforts have slowed racial change in the past few years so that 1990-to-2000 figures are misleading. And while they acknowledge that some of the slowing could be due to inauguration of the Midtown Direct rail service to New York, they offer statistics showing that home prices are rising faster in Maplewood and South Orange than in other nearby communities. Others say it is too soon to tell if white flight is actually slowing. The skeptics observe that the community’s current racial balance might be just a snapshot taken at a moment, when, in fact, Maplewood is on its way from being mostly white to mostly black. And there are critics who contend that what’s really going on is an effort, in the name of diversity and maybe even with the intent of diversity, that denies housing to some blacks who might move from Newark by, in effect, recruiting white people or well-to-do blacks from farther away, to buy the available houses instead.

May. 24 2010 03:41 PM
Pat from Maplewood

We have had a very large influx of young families from Park Slope and adjacent neighborhoods. I am assuming there has been a corresponding drop in the number of young families in Park Slope. and their places have been filled by young just-married-no-kids-yet couples, completing some sort of cycle.

May. 18 2010 08:13 AM

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