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Verona, New Jersey
Township
Township of Verona
The Verona Park Boathouse, viewed from the north-west shore of Verona Lake
The Verona Park Boathouse, viewed from the north-west shore of Verona Lake
Flag of Verona, New Jersey
Flag
Official seal of Verona, New Jersey
Seal
Location in Essex County and the state of New Jersey.
Location in Essex County and the state of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Verona, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Verona, New Jersey
Country  United States
State  New Jersey
County Essex
Settled 1702
Incorporated April 30, 1907
Named for Verona, Italy
Area
 • Total 2.776 sq mi (7.191 km2)
 • Land 2.755 sq mi (7.137 km2)
 • Water 0.021 sq mi (0.054 km2)  0.76%
Area rank 355th of 566 in state
18th of 22 in county
Elevation 335 ft (102 m)
Population (2010 Census)
 • Total 13,332
 • Estimate (2015) 13,569
 • Rank 187th of 566 in state
14th of 22 in county
 • Density 4,838.4/sq mi (1,868.1/km2)
 • Density rank 114th of 566 in state
13th of 22 in county
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (EDT) (UTC-4)
ZIP code 07044
Area code(s) 973 exchanges: 239, 571, 857
FIPS code 3401375815
GNIS feature ID 1729716
Website www.veronanj.org

Verona is a township in Essex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 13,332 reflecting a decline of 201 (-1.5%) from the 13,533 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn declined by 64 (-0.5%) from the 13,597 counted in the 1990 Census.

In 2008, New Jersey Monthly magazine ranked Verona #1 in Essex County and #3 in New Jersey as "Top Places to Live in New Jersey".

History

Verona and several neighboring towns were all originally one town known as the Horseneck Tract. In 1702, 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: Verona, along with Caldwell, West Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, North Caldwell, and Roseland 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, the area of Horseneck was incorporated as "Caldwell Township" in honor of local war hero James Caldwell, a pastor who used pages from his church's bibles as wadding to ignite the ammo in soldiers' cannons and helped to drive the British out of Horseneck.

The area of present-day Verona was part of what was known in the 1800s as Vernon Valley. The name was rejected when residents applied to the United States Postal Service, as the name had already been in use for an area in Sussex County. Verona was chosen as the alternative name for the community. The township's name is derived from Verona, Italy.

At various times between 1798 and 1892, issues arose which caused dissatisfaction between the Caldwell and Verona areas. These included a desire of the citizens of Verona to more closely control their own governmental affairs. With the population growing, Verona needed to centrally locate essential services such as schools and places of worship; problems with the water supply; and the disposition of road repair funds. On February 17, 1892, the citizens of Verona voted to secede from Caldwell Township to form Verona Township. Further growth and the need for a water system and other public utilities found Verona moving ahead of the other half of the township and in 1902 the two areas decided to separate into two separate municipalities: Verona Township and Verona Borough. It took two sessions of the state legislature to approve the new borough, but on April 18, 1907, the borough of Verona was approved by an act of the New Jersey Legislature, pending the results of a referendum held on April 30, 1907, in which the new borough passed by a 224-77 margin. Residents of the newly formed borough had sought to disassociate themselves from the Overbrook County Insane Asylum and the Newark City Home (a reform school), as well as from the settlement of Cedar Grove, which was considered a settlement of farmers. On April 9, 1908, Verona Township changed its name to Cedar Grove Township.

In 1981, the borough was one of seven Essex County municipalities to pass a referendum to become a township, joining four municipalities that had already made the change, of what would ultimately be more than a dozen Essex County municipalities to reclassify themselves as townships in order take advantage of federal revenue sharing policies that allocated townships a greater share of government aid to municipalities on a per capita basis. As an example of the potential benefits of switching to a township, Verona Borough received $213,000 in federal aid in 1976, while similarly sized Cedar Grove Township received $1.24 million. Today, Verona uses just "Township of Verona" in most official documents, but some other official documents such as purchase orders still include "Township of Borough of Verona".

Geography

According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 2.776 square miles (7.191 km2), including 2.755 square miles (7.137 km2) of land and 0.021 square miles (0.054 km2) of water (0.76%).

Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Hillcrest and Verona Lake.

The township is bordered by Cedar Grove Township, Montclair Township, Essex Fells and North Caldwell. Verona lies between two mountains, the First and Second Watchung Mountains with a small river, the Peckman, flowing at the bottom of the valley towards the Passaic River at Little Falls.

Climate

Verona has a temperate climate, with warm/hot humid summers and cool/cold winters. The climate is slightly cooler overall during the summer than in New York City because there is no urban heat island effect.

January tends to be the coldest month, with average high temperatures in the upper 30s (Fahrenheit) and lows in the lower 20s. July is the warmest months with high temperatures in the mid 80s and lows in the mid 60s. From April to June and from September to early November, Verona enjoys temperatures from the lower 60s to upper 70s. Rainfall is plentiful, with around 44 inches (1,100 mm) a year. Snowfall is common from mid-January to early March and nor'easters can bring significant amounts of snow. In January 1996, a weather station in nearby Newark, New Jersey recorded over 31.8 inches (81 cm) of snow from the North American blizzard of 1996.

Climate data for Verona
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 36
(2.2)
40
(4.4)
49
(9.4)
60
(15.6)
71
(21.7)
79
(26.1)
84
(28.9)
82
(27.8)
75
(23.9)
64
(17.8)
53
(11.7)
41
(5)
61.2
(16.2)
Average low °F (°C) 19
(-7.2)
21
(-6.1)
29
(-1.7)
38
(3.3)
48
(8.9)
57
(13.9)
62
(16.7)
60
(15.6)
52
(11.1)
41
(5)
33
(0.6)
24
(-4.4)
40.3
(4.63)
Precipitation inches (mm) 4.10
(104.1)
3.05
(77.5)
4.13
(104.9)
4.60
(116.8)
4.93
(125.2)
4.48
(113.8)
4.74
(120.4)
4.39
(111.5)
5.11
(129.8)
4.02
(102.1)
4.23
(107.4)
4.12
(104.6)
51.9
(1,318)

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1910 1,675
1920 3,039 81.4%
1930 7,161 135.6%
1940 8,957 25.1%
1950 10,921 21.9%
1960 13,782 26.2%
1970 15,067 9.3%
1980 14,166 −6.0%
1990 13,597 −4.0%
2000 13,533 −0.5%
2010 13,332 −1.5%
Est. 2015 13,569 1.8%
Population sources: 1910-1920
1910 1910-1930
1930-1990 2000 2010

2010 Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 13,332 people, 5,315 households, and 3,524 families residing in the township. The population density was 4,838.4 per square mile (1,868.1/km2). There were 5,523 housing units at an average density of 2,004.4 per square mile (773.9/km2)*. The racial makeup of the township was 91.24% (12,164) White, 1.97% (262) Black or African American, 0.03% (4) Native American, 4.03% (537) Asian, 0.01% (1) Pacific Islander, 1.11% (148) from other races, and 1.62% (216) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.96% (795) of the population.

There were 5,315 households out of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.1% were married couples living together, 7.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.7% were non-families. 29.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.12.

In the township, the population was spread out with 23.2% under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 23.1% from 25 to 44, 29.2% from 45 to 64, and 19.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44.0 years. For every 100 females there were 89.1 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 86.0 males.

The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $93,839 (with a margin of error of +/- $6,753) and the median family income was $126,000 (+/- $9,193). Males had a median income of $71,917 (+/- $9,659) versus $52,433 (+/- $5,765) for females. The per capita income for the township was $47,689 (+/- $3,282). About 1.8% of families and 2.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 0.7% of those under age 18 and 6.2% of those age 65 or over.

2000 Census

As of the 2000 United States Census there were 13,533 people, 5,585 households, and 3,697 families residing in the township. The population density was 4,917.4 people per square mile (1,900.0/km2). There were 5,719 housing units at an average density of 2,078.1 per square mile (803.0/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 92.99% White, 1.53% African American, 0.02% Native American, 3.41% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.71% from other races, and 1.27% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.45% of the population.

There were 5,585 households out of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.3% were married couples living together, 7.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.8% were non-families. 30.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.06.

In the township the population was spread out with 22.5% under the age of 18, 4.3% from 18 to 24, 28.8% from 25 to 44, 25.1% from 45 to 64, and 19.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 89.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.8 males.

The median income for a household in the township was $74,619, and the median income for a family was $97,673. Males had a median income of $60,434 versus $43,196 for females. The per capita income for the township was $41,202, making it the 8th highest community in Essex County and 95th highest in the State of New Jersey. About 1.4% of families and 3.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.6% of those under age 18 and 6.2% of those age 65 or over.

Parks and recreation

  • Eagle Rock Reservation, a 408.33 acres (1.6525 km2) forest reserve and recreational park. Most of this reservation is in West Orange or in Montclair.
  • Everett Field, a small baseball and football park dedicated to the family who donated the land to the township.
  • Hilltop Reservation, opened in spring 2003, is composed of lands in the grounds of the former Essex Mountain Sanatorium, is home to many hiking and mountain biking trails.
  • Kip's Castle Park, the newest park to the Essex County Park System, which features a start of the 20th century castle-style mansion with large carriage house on 10.5 acres (42,000 m2).
  • Verona Park, the fifth-largest in the Essex County Park System, it was designed by the same designer as Central Park in New York City.
  • Lenape Trail, a trail that runs from the Pulaski Skyway in Newark to the Passaic River in Roseland. The Verona section runs from the West Essex Trail, down and through Verona Park, and up toward Eagle Rock Reservation before entering West Orange.
  • Verona Community Center, built in 1997, provides a gym, game room, ballroom, and conference room for any group or organization. also adjacent are:
    • Veteran's Field, also known as Linn Drive Field, provides two softball/baseball fields as well as an athletic field
    • Centennial Field, an artificial turf field, opened in 2007.
  • Verona Pool, features an Olympic-Size swimming pool of various depths, with two water slides and two springboards, as well as a wading pool for younger children; playground, volleyball, basketball, racquetball and shuffleboard courts, in addition to ping-pong tables, full showers and a snackbar
  • West Essex Trail, acquired in 1985 through Green Acres funding, is a 2.84-mile (4.57 km) trail which runs from Arnold Way in Verona to the Passaic County line near the Lenape Trail, on the former right-of-way of the Caldwell Branch of the old Erie Lackawanna Railroad.

Transportation

Roads and highways

As of May 2010, the township had a total of 37.83 miles (60.88 km) of roadways, of which 31.88 miles (51.31 km) were maintained by the municipality, 5.23 miles (8.42 km) by Essex County and 0.72 miles (1.16 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

Within the limits of the township lies Route 23 and CR 506 which runs directly through the township. CR 577 also runs through the southeastern portion of Verona. Other highways near Verona include the Garden State Parkway, Interstate 80, and the New Jersey Turnpike.

Public transportation

NJ Transit bus routes 11 and 29 serve the township, providing service to and from Newark. DeCamp Bus Lines offers commuter service that goes on their 33 bus route between West Caldwell and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan. In September 2012, as part of budget cuts, NJ Transit suspended service to Newark on the 75 line.

Verona Station Freight Shed
The last vestige of the Erie Railroad's Caldwell Branch, the Verona Freight station with the former right-of-way

Train stations, also run by New Jersey Transit, are located in the neighboring towns of Little Falls and Montclair. Prior to 1966, the Erie Railroad's Caldwell Branch (a part of New York and Greenwood Lake Railway) ran passenger service through Verona from Great Notch. The line was removed in 1979 after a washout four years prior. On July 14, 2010, the township of Verona announced that it was the honoring the old freight shed at the Verona station, which remains as the last standing structure of the railroad. The project of naming it a historic landmark in Verona, the first of many proposed by the Verona Landmarks Preservation Commission. Proposals include moving the structure to a more accessible place in Verona or turning the shed into a one-room museum.

In the early 20th century, Verona was serviced by a trolley line which operated on Bloomfield Avenue. The tracks still lie underneath the roadway, and are visible when the roadway is under construction.

Verona is 14.3 miles (23.0 km) from Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark / Elizabeth, and almost twice as far from John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.

Community services

  • The Verona Fire Department is one of the largest fully volunteer fire departments in Essex County, staffed by over 60 firefighters. They have two stations, three engines, one ladder truck, one reserve engine, one brush truck, one utility truck, two command vehicles, and a heavy rescue. The Department, founded in 1909 shortly after Verona was created, celebrated its 100th year of service in 2009.
  • The Verona Rescue Squad (volunteer) has three ambulances, and one command vehicle in one station on Church Street.
  • The main street in Verona is Bloomfield Avenue, where the Town Hall, Library, Middle School, and many shops, restaurants, and businesses are located.
  • During the American Revolutionary War, George Washington and his troops used Eagle Rock Reservation as one of a chain of observation posts to monitor British troop movements.
  • The Essex Mountain Sanatorium opened in 1902 as the Newark City Home for Girls. With tuberculosis spreading through Newark, the site was converted into a sanatorium in 1907, against the wishes of local residents. Its location at the highest point in Essex County was believed to be beneficial and the facility was known for its high recovery rate before it closed in 1977.

Popular culture

  • The TV series The Sopranos was set in the area, thus the storyline often included scenes filmed in Verona. A Verona Rescue Squad Ambulance is seen when Livia Soprano dies in the episode "Proshai, Livushka", and Livia's house was set in Verona in the series pilot. In the episode "Cold Cuts", it's established that Bobby Bacala and Janice live in Verona.
  • The 1987 horror movie Doom Asylum was filmed at the now demolished Essex Mountain Sanatorium.
  • Pizza My Heart, an ABC Family movie, is a contemporary retelling of Romeo and Juliet, that is set in Verona (New Jersey, not Italy). Although the storyline is set in Verona, it was actually filmed in New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • The original, unaired pilot of the television show Strangers With Candy, "Retardation: A Celebration", was filmed at Verona High School. The VHS signboard is also used in almost every episode thereafter to display various witticisms, although the name has been changed to that of the school in the show, Flatpoint High School.
  • Choke, the film adapted from the Chuck Palahniuk novel of the same name, was filmed at the Essex County Hospital Center in neighboring Cedar Grove.
  • Pearl, the hairdresser in "The Saturdays" by Elizabeth Enright (1941), says she ran away from her abusive stepmother in Verona and went to New York City with her brother Perry.

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