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Fort Lee, New Jersey
Borough of Fort Lee
Fort Lee, New Jersey in the foreground, connected by the George Washington Bridge to Upper Manhattan, New York City across the Hudson River, in the background.
Fort Lee, New Jersey in the foreground, connected by the George Washington Bridge to Upper Manhattan, New York City across the Hudson River, in the background.
Map highlighting Fort Lee's location within Bergen County. Inset: Bergen County's location within New Jersey
Map highlighting Fort Lee's location within Bergen County. Inset: Bergen County's location within New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Fort Lee, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Fort Lee, New Jersey
Coordinates: 40°51′02″N 73°58′16″W / 40.85064°N 73.971007°W / 40.85064; -73.971007Coordinates: 40°51′02″N 73°58′16″W / 40.85064°N 73.971007°W / 40.85064; -73.971007
Country  United States
State  New Jersey
County Bergen
Incorporated March 29, 1904
Named for Fort Lee / General Charles Lee
 • Type Borough
 • Body Borough Council
 • Total 2.888 sq mi (7.478 km2)
 • Land 2.541 sq mi (6.581 km2)
 • Water 0.347 sq mi (0.898 km2)  12.00%
Area rank 342nd of 566 in state
29th of 70 in county
289 ft (88 m)
 • Total 35,345
 • Estimate 
 • Rank 67th of 566 in state
3rd of 70 in county
 • Density 13,910.9/sq mi (5,371.0/km2)
 • Density rank 16th of 566 in state
5th of 70 in county
Time zone UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))
 • Summer (DST) UTC-4 (Eastern (EDT))
ZIP code
Area code(s) 201
FIPS code 3400324420
GNIS feature ID 0885223
2013 George Washington Bridge New Jersey side from 187th Street and Chittenden Avenue
The George Washington Bridge, connecting Fort Lee (above) in Bergen County across the Hudson River to New York City, is the world's busiest motor vehicle bridge. One of two 47-story residential skyscrapers, Bergen County's tallest, is seen under construction near the gateway to the bridge in December 2013.

Fort Lee is a borough at the eastern border of Bergen County, New Jersey, United States, in the New York City Metropolitan Area, situated atop the Hudson Palisades. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 35,345, reflecting a decline of 116 (−0.3%) from the 35,461 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 3,464 (+10.8%) from the 31,997 counted in the 1990 Census. The borough is the western terminus of the George Washington Bridge and is located across the Hudson River from the Manhattan borough of New York City. Named for the site of an early American Revolutionary War military encampment, it later became the birthplace of the American film industry.


According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 2.888 square miles (7.478 km2), including 2.541 square miles (6.581 km2) of land and 0.347 square miles (0.898 km2) of water (12.00%).

The borough is situated atop the escarpment of the Hudson Palisades on the peninsula between the Hackensack and Hudson rivers. The borough is bisected by the confluence of roads at GWB Plaza leading to the George Washington Bridge.

Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the borough include Coytesville, Palisade and Taylorville.

The borough borders Cliffside Park, Edgewater, Englewood, Englewood Cliffs, Leonia, Palisades Park, Ridgefield. and the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan. Given its evolving cosmopolitan ambiance and adjacent proximity to Manhattan, Fort Lee is one of Northern New Jersey's Hudson Waterfront communities that has been called New York City's Sixth Borough,


Colonial era

Established residential high-rises are a prominent feature of the borough of Fort Lee, with several over 300 feet tall.

Fort Lee is named for General Charles Lee after George Washington and his troops had camped at Mount Constitution overlooking Burdett's Landing, in defense of New York City. It was during Washington's retreat in November 1776 (beginning along a road which is now Main Street) that Thomas Paine composed his pamphlet, The American Crisis, which began with the recognized phrase, "These are the times that try men's souls." These events are recalled at Monument Park and Fort Lee Historic Park.


Fort Lee was formed by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 29, 1904, from the remaining portions of Ridgefield Township. With the creation of Fort Lee, Ridgefield Township became defunct and was dissolved as of March 29, 1904. The Fort Lee Police Department was formed under borough ordinance on August 9, 1904, and originally consisted of six marshals.

America's first motion picture industry

The history of cinema in the United States can trace its roots to the East Coast where, at one time, Fort Lee was the motion picture capital of America. The industry got its start at the end of the 19th century with the construction of Thomas Edison's "Black Maria", the first motion picture studio in West Orange, New Jersey. New Jersey offered land at costs considerably less than New York City, and the cities and towns on the North River (Hudson River) and Hudson Palisades benefited greatly as a result of the phenomenal growth of the film industry at the turn of the 20th century.

Film-making began attracting both capital and an innovative workforce, and when the Kalem Company began using Fort Lee in 1907 as a location for filming in the area, other filmmakers quickly followed. In 1909, a forerunner of Universal Studios, the Champion Film Company, built the first studio. They were quickly followed by others who either built new studios or who leased facilities in Fort Lee. In the 1910s and 1920s, film companies such as the Independent Moving Pictures Company, Peerless Studios, The Solax Company, Éclair Studios, Goldwyn Picture Corporation, American Méliès (Star Films), World Film Company, Biograph Studios, Fox Film Corporation, Pathé Frères, Metro Pictures Corporation, Victor Film Company, and Selznick Pictures Corporation were all making pictures in Fort Lee. Such notables as Mary Pickford got their start at Biograph Studios.

With the offshoot businesses that sprang up to service, the film studios, for nearly two decades Fort Lee experienced unrivaled prosperity. However, just as the development of Fort Lee production facilities were gaining strength, Nestor Studios of Bayonne, New Jersey, built the first studio in Hollywood in 1911. Nestor Studios, owned by David and William Horsley, later merged with Universal Studios; and William Horsley's other company, Hollywood Film Laboratory, is now the oldest existing company in Hollywood, now called the Hollywood Digital Laboratory. California's more hospitable and cost-effective climate led to the eventual shift of virtually all filmmaking to the West Coast by the 1930s. At the time, Thomas Edison owned almost all the patents relevant to motion picture production. Movie producers on the East Coast acting independently of Edison's Motion Picture Patents Company were often sued or enjoined by Edison and his agents, while movie makers working on the West Coast could work independently of Edison's control.

Television and film in New Jersey remains an important industry. Since 2000, the Fort Lee Film Commission has been charged with celebrating the history of film in Fort Lee, as well as attracting film and television production companies to the borough.

Birthplace of subliminal sharings

In 1957, market researcher James Vicary claimed that quickly flashing messages on a movie screen, in Fort Lee, had influenced people to purchase more food and drinks. Vicary coined the term subliminal advertising and formed the Subliminal Projection Company based on a six-week test. Vicary claimed that during the presentation of the movie Picnic he used a tachistoscope to project the words "Drink Coca-Cola" and "Hungry? Eat popcorn" for 1/3000 of a second at five-second intervals. Vicary asserted that during the test, sales of popcorn and Coke in that New Jersey theater increased 57.8% and 18.1% respectively.

In 1962, Vicary admitted to lying about the experiment and falsifying the results, the story itself being a marketing ploy. An identical experiment conducted by Henry Link showed no increase in cola or popcorn sales. The claim that the small cinema handled 45,699 visitors in six weeks has led people to believe that Vicary actually did not conduct his experiment at all.

2010 Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 35,345 people, 16,371 households, and 9,364 families residing in the borough. The population density was 13,910.9 per square mile (5,371.0/km2). There were 17,818 housing units at an average density of 7,012.7 per square mile (2,707.6/km2)*. The racial makeup of the borough was 53.49% (18,905) White, 2.75% (973) Black or African American, 0.14% (50) Native American, 38.44% (13,587) Asian, 0.02% (7) Pacific Islander, 3.08% (1,090) from other races, and 2.07% (733) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.97% (3,877) of the population. Korean Americans accounted for 23.5% of the 2010 population.

There were 16,371 households out of which 21.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.6% were married couples living together, 8.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.8% were non-families. 38.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 17.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.89. Same-sex couples headed 127 households in 2010, an increase from the 65 counted in 2000.

In the borough, the population was spread out with 17.0% under the age of 18, 5.3% from 18 to 24, 28.1% from 25 to 44, 27.7% from 45 to 64, and 21.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44.7 years. For every 100 females there were 86.9 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 83.8 males.

The Census Bureau's 2006–2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $72,341 (with a margin of error of +/- $4,502) and the median family income was $86,489 (+/- $11,977). Males had a median income of $66,015 (+/- $3,526) versus $55,511 (+/- $3,404) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $44,996 (+/- $2,903). About 5.5% of families and 7.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.1% of those under age 18 and 9.0% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

Since 2007, the Hudson Shakespeare Company has brought their Shakespeare in the Park touring shows to Fort Lee in "Shakespeare Tuesdays". The group now performs regularly at Monument Park (1588 Palisade Avenue, next to the Fort Lee Museum) with 2 Tuesday shows per month for each month of the summer. The festival also tours similar dates in Hackensack.


Roads and highways

As of May 2010, the borough had a total of 51.12 miles (82.27 km) of roadways, of which 35.44 miles (57.04 km) were maintained by the municipality, 6.20 miles (9.98 km) by Bergen County and 6.22 miles (10.01 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation and 3.26 miles (5.25 km) by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.

Fort Lee is served by the Palisades Interstate Parkway, Route 4, Route 5, Route 67, Interstate 95 (the northern terminus of the New Jersey Turnpike), U.S. Route 9W, U.S. Route 1-9, U.S. Route 46, and County Route 505. The George Washington Bridge (signed as I-95/US 1-9/US 46), the world's busiest motor vehicle bridge, crosses the Hudson River from Fort Lee to the Washington Heights neighborhood of Upper Manhattan in New York City. Many of these roads converge at GWB Plaza, a busy crossroads at the northern end of the borough.

Public transportation

Fort Lee is served by NJ Transit buses 154, 156, 158 and 159 to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan; the 171, 175, 178, 181, 182, 186 and 188 lines to the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal; and local service on the 751, 753, 755 and 756.

Rockland Coaches provides service along Route 9W on the 9T and 9AT bus lines and on the 14ET to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan and on the 9 / 9A to the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal. Saddle River Tours / Ameribus provides service to the George Washington Bridge Bus Station on route 11C.

As of 2016 two Taiwanese airlines, China Airlines and EVA Air, provides private bus services to and from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City for customers based in New Jersey. These bus services stop in Fort Lee.


The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Fort Lee has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.

In media

Constitution Park Fort Lee New Jersey
Constitution Park in Fort Lee. In the background are the Mediterranean Towers apartment complex.
  • The borough was mentioned in "Weekend Update" segments involving fictional consumer affairs reporter Roseanne Roseannadanna, played by Gilda Radner, who almost always began reading letters by saying, "A Mr. Richard Feder from Fort Lee, New Jersey, writes in and says...." Feder was the brother-in-law of Saturday Night Live writer and segment co-creator Alan Zweibel and an actual Fort Lee resident until he moved to West Nyack, New York in 1981.
  • In the 1984 film, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, the character played by Jeff Goldblum (Dr. Sidney Zweibel/New Jersey) introduces himself as being from Fort Lee.
  • In Desperately Seeking Susan, the main character Roberta (played by Rosanna Arquette) is from Fort Lee. A key thematic element of the film is the contrast between Roberta's life in New Jersey and her desire to experience Susan's lifestyle in New York City.
  • Martin Scorsese directed several scenes of Goodfellas in Fort Lee.
  • Chabad of Fort Lee, a synagogue, was used as the filming location for the Queens, New York City residence of Detective Elliot Stabler on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
  • In late March 2011, a group of teenagers reported that they had been detained by the Fort Lee Police Department who left them in a police van parked for 14 hours overnight at headquarters. The detainees, who said that they had no food, water or access to bathrooms during that time, were released after passers-by heard their screams. In December 2013, $120,000 was awarded to each of three of the teens as settlement of a lawsuit that alleged that they had been unlawfully detained and that police officers had used racial epithets.
  • On March 2, 2012, The show Morning Joe on MSNBC aired live from Fort Lee High School. Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski joined Gov. Chris Christie, Rev. Al Sharpton, Michelle Rhee, Harold Ford Jr., Howard Dean, Interim Superintendent of Fort Lee Schools (Steven Engravalle) and other invited guests to discuss New Jersey's education reform.

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