Cliffside Park was formed based on the results of a referendum held on January 15, 1895, from portions of Ridgefield Township. The borough was formed during the "Boroughitis" phenomenon then sweeping through Bergen County, as of one two boroughs created in 1895 after 26 boroughs were formed in the county in 1894 alone. The borough was named for its location as a "Park by the Cliffs".
U.S. SenatorFrank Lautenberg resided in the borough until his death in 2013. Cliffside Park was home to the former Palisades Amusement Park, part of which was located in adjoining Fort Lee. The 38-acre (15 ha) park operated from 1898 until 1971, remaining one of the most-visited amusement parks in the country until its closure, after which the rides and attractions were removed and the site replaced by high-rise apartment buildings.
There were 9,948 households, of which 23.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.8% were married couples living together, 11.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.9% were non-families. 31.6% of all households were made up of individuals, and 13.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.37 and the average family size was 2.98.
In the borough, 17.2% of the population were under the age of 18, 7.7% from 18 to 24, 31.1% from 25 to 44, 26.4% from 45 to 64, and 17.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40.5 years. For every 100 females there were 93.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.6 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $67,856 (with a margin of error of +/- $5,782) and the median family income was $80,856 (+/- $5,828). Males had a median income of $53,529 (+/- $4,598) versus $52,134 (+/- $5,805) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $36,157 (+/- $2,000). About 7.3% of families and 10.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 13.2% of those under age 18 and 12.4% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 Census, 3.6% of Cliffside Park's residents identified themselves as being of Armenian American ancestry. This was the highest percentage in New Jersey, and the seventh-highest percentage of Armenian American people in any place in the United States with 1,000 or more residents identifying their ancestry. Additionally, according to the 2000 Census, 1.3% of Cliffside Park identified themselves as Turkish American, the sixth-highest of any municipality in the United States and four-highest in the state.
There were 10,027 households out of which 21.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 46.2% were married couples living together, 9.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 39.8% were non-families. 33.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 13.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.29 and the average family size was 2.95.
In the borough the population was spread out with 16.9% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 33.6% from 25 to 44, 23.8% from 45 to 64, and 18.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 93.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.6 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $46,288, and the median income for a family was $54,915. Males had a median income of $40,114 versus $36,100 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $28,516. About 8.5% of families and 10.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.1% of those under age 18 and 10.2% of those age 65 or over.
Roman Catholic Church of the Epiphany
As of 2011, slightly over 75% of the citizens of Cliffside Park view themselves as being affiliated with a formal religious body. A majority of the borough is Roman Catholic (52.60%), many of whom attend the Roman Catholic Church of the Epiphany on Knox Avenue. 8.12% Jewish; 1.21% Lutheran; 1.20% Episcopalian; 0.84% Methodist; 0.88% Muslim; 0.62% Baptist; 0.46% Pentecostal; and 0.02% Eastern Orthodox Christian.
Cliffside Park is governed under the borough form of New Jersey municipal government. The governing body consists of a mayor and a borough council, with all positions elected at-large on a partisan basis as part of the November general election. A mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office. The borough council consists of six members elected to serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with two seats coming up for election each year in a three-year cycle. The borough form of government used by Cliffside Park, the most common system used in the state, is a "weak mayor / strong council" government in which council members act as the legislative body, with the mayor presiding at meetings and voting only in the event of a tie. The mayor can veto ordinances subject to an override by a two-thirds majority vote of the council. The mayor makes committee and liaison assignments for council members, and most appointments are made by the mayor with the advice and consent of the council.
As of 2015, the Mayor of Cliffside Park is Democrat Thomas Calabrese, who was appointed to serve a term of office ending December 31, 2015. Members of the borough council are Larry J. Bongard (D, 2017), Kenneth J. Corcoran (D, 2016), Bernard J. Fontana (D, 2015), Dana Martinotti (D, 2017) and Donna M. Spoto (D, 2015), with a vacancy in the council seat expiring December 2016 that had been held by Thomas Calabrese before he was appointed to serve as mayor.
In May 2015, the borough council selected Thomas Calabrese from a list of three candidates nominated by the Democratic municipal committee to fill the vacant mayoral seat. Calabrese replaced his father, Gerald Calabrese, who was elected to the borough council in 1955 and had served continuously as mayor of Cliffside Park from 1965 until his death in April 2015, making him the longest-serving mayor in state history.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 11,107 registered voters in Cliffside Park, of which 4,749 (42.8% vs. 31.7% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 1,166 (10.5% vs. 21.1%) were registered as Republicans and 5,185 (46.7% vs. 47.1%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 7 voters registered to other parties. Among the borough's 2010 Census population, 47.1% (vs. 57.1% in Bergen County) were registered to vote, including 56.9% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 73.7% countywide).
In recent years, Cliffside Park has leaned strongly toward the Democratic Party.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 5,410 votes (66.0% vs. 54.8% countywide), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 2,627 votes (32.0% vs. 43.5%) and other candidates with 64 votes (0.8% vs. 0.9%), among the 8,203 ballots cast by the borough's 11,870 registered voters, for a turnout of 69.1% (vs. 70.4% in Bergen County). In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 5,348 votes (61.9% vs. 53.9% countywide), ahead of Republican John McCain with 3,095 votes (35.8% vs. 44.5%) and other candidates with 88 votes (1.0% vs. 0.8%), among the 8,636 ballots cast by the borough's 11,775 registered voters, for a turnout of 73.3% (vs. 76.8% in Bergen County). In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 5,024 votes (60.0% vs. 51.7% countywide), ahead of Republican George W. Bush with 3,232 votes (38.6% vs. 47.2%) and other candidates with 62 votes (0.7% vs. 0.7%), among the 8,374 ballots cast by the borough's 11,341 registered voters, for a turnout of 73.8% (vs. 76.9% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Democrat Barbara Buono received 52.0% of the vote (2,298 cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 47.0% (2,077 votes), and other candidates with 1.1% (47 votes), among the 4,639 ballots cast by the borough's 11,249 registered voters (217 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 41.2%.
In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 3,305 ballots cast (59.8% vs. 48.0% countywide), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 1,914 votes (34.6% vs. 45.8%), Independent Chris Daggett with 202 votes (3.7% vs. 4.7%) and other candidates with 24 votes (0.4% vs. 0.5%), among the 5,529 ballots cast by the borough's 11,381 registered voters, yielding a 48.6% turnout (vs. 50.0% in the county).
In the 2010 General Election, Democratic incumbents Thomas Calabrese (3,167 votes) and Kenneth Corcoran (3,111 votes) were re-elected to three-year terms of office after being challenged by Republican Party candidates Eric Soto (1,835 votes) and Michelle Talamo (1,836 votes).
In the 2009 General Election, Democratic incumbents Bernard J. Fontana (2,943 votes) and Donna M. Spoto (2,983 votes) were re-elected over Republican Party candidates John Mitchell (2,040 votes) and Eric Soto (2,004 votes).
For generations, the borough was the home of Epiphany School, an elementary school of the Roman Catholic Church of the Epiphany. Built in 1929, under the direction of Msgr. Anthony J. Ferretti, the school was staffed by the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth (Convent Station, New Jersey). In 2005, due to changing demographics and low enrollment, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark decided to merge Epiphany School with Christ the Teacher Interparochial School in Fort Lee, New Jersey, which is jointly sponsored by Epiphany RC Church, Madonna RC Church (Fort Lee), Holy Trinity RC Church (Fort Lee) and Holy Rosary RC Church (Edgewater).
Roads and highways
As of May 2010, the borough had a total of 24.47 miles (39.38 km) of roadways, of which 20.29 miles (32.65 km) were maintained by the municipality and 4.18 miles (6.73 km) by Bergen County.
Palisade Avenue and Anderson Avenue are the main north-south roads of Cliffside Park.