Wayne is a township in Passaic County, New Jersey, United States, located less than from Midtown Manhattan, and is home to William Paterson University. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township had a total population of 54,717, reflecting an increase of 648 (+1.2%) from the 54,069 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 7,044 (+15.0%) from the 47,025 counted in the 1990 Census.
Wayne was formed as a township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 12, 1847, from portions of Manchester Township. Totowa was formed from portions of Wayne and Manchester Township on March 15, 1898. Points of interest include William Paterson University, Willowbrook Mall, Wayne Towne Center, High Mountain Park Preserve, and Dey Mansion.
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 Lenape Native 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 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 1710, the area became part of Saddle River Township. During the Revolutionary War, General George Washington made his headquarters at the Dey Mansion, first in July 1780, and again in October and November 1780. Alexander Hamilton, Washington's aide-de-camp, stayed at the house with him. Troops and generals were spread throughout the area during encampments, including the township's namesake Anthony Wayne and the Marquis de Lafayette, who made his headquarters at the nearby Van Saun House. Near the end of the war, Arent Schuyler's granddaughter Hester Schuyler married William Colfax, a member of Washington's Life Guard, and they lived together at the Schuyler-Colfax House.
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.
In 1868, Milton H. Sanford, owner of the Preakness Stud, purchased a racehorse for $4,000, naming it Preakness, after the Thoroughbred horse racing and breeding operation established by him in the Preakness section of Wayne. On the horse's maiden start, he was entered into the inaugural "Dinner Party Stakes" at the new Pimlico Race Course in Maryland, winning the race on October 25, 1870. In 1873, Pimlico ran its first race for three year-olds and named it the Preakness Stakes, in honor of the first horse to win a race at the track. Today, the Preakness is the second race in the Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing.
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 shares its borders with 11 neighboring municipalities: Haledon, Little Falls, North Haledon, Pompton Lakes and Totowa in Passaic County; Franklin Lakes and Oakland in Bergen County; Fairfield and North Caldwell in Essex County; and Lincoln Park and Pequannock in Morris County.
Neighborhoods and lake communities
Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Barbours Mills, Barbours Pond, Lower Preakness, Mountain View, Packanack Lake, Pines Lake, Point View, Pompton Falls, Preakness and Two Bridges.
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.
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.
Same-sex couples headed 105 households in 2010, an increase from the 75 counted in 2000.
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.
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 . 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.
Wayne Today is a local weekly magazine.
Wayne is the home of the 1970 Little League World Series Champions. The Preakness Stakes, a race in the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, was named after a race horse from Wayne's Preakness Stud, who won the Dinner-Stakes race at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, sponsored by the Maryland Jockey Club on October 25, 1870.
Wayne is home to the Ice Vault ice rink, where world-class figure skaters such as Johnny Weir and Stéphane Lambiel train and 1992 Olympic figure skating gold medalist Viktor Petrenko coaches. The rink is also home to hockey teams such as the New Jersey Bandits, the New Jersey Hitmen and the William Paterson University ice hockey team.
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.
, 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 112 sworn officers and is led by Chief Jack McNiff.
Federal, state and county representation
Wayne is located in the 11th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 40th state legislative district. Prior to the 2010 Census, Wayne had been part of the , a change made by the New Jersey Redistricting Commission that took effect in January 2013, based on the results of the November 2012 general elections.
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).
It is the only entity outside of Georgia to officially recognize the Circassian genocide.
The Wayne Public Schools serves students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of the 2018–19 school year, the district, comprised of 14 schools, had an enrollment of 7,895 students and 666.5 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 11.8:1. Schools in the district (with 2018–19 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are
Randall Carter Elementary School (334 students; in grades K–5),
Theunis Dey Elementary School (437; PreK-5),
James Fallon Elementary School (381; K-5),
John F. Kennedy Elementary School (416; K-5),
Lafayette Elementary School (301; K-5),
Packanack Elementary School (441; PreK-5),
Pines Lake Elementary School (380; PreK-5),
Ryerson Elementary School (273; K-5),
Albert P. Terhune Elementary School (399; PreK-5),
Schuyler-Colfax Middle School (693; 6–8),
George Washington Middle School (653; 6–8),
Anthony Wayne Middle School (555; 6–8),
Wayne Hills High School (1,285; 9-12 – for students living on and north of Ratzer Road) and
Wayne Valley High School (1,250; 9-12 – for students living south of Ratzer Road).
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).
Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School, recognized in 2007 by the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, serves students in K-8 and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Academy Catholic School and DePaul Catholic High School serves students in grades 9-12, both operating under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson.
Al-Ghazaly High School, an Islamic high school for students in seventh through twelfth grades, opened at a new facility in Wayne in September 2013, relocating from a site in Teaneck, where the school had been based since 1984.
Pioneer Academy, a private school, is a regionally accredited independent school that serves grades K–12.
William Paterson University, founded in 1855, has over 11,500 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs.
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.
Roads and highways
, the township had a total of of roadways, of which were maintained by the municipality, by Passaic County and by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Wayne is crisscrossed by several major roadways, including Interstate 80, U.S. Route 46, U.S. Route 202, Route 23, County Route 502, and County Route 504.
Wayne is served by NJ Transit at the Mountain View and Wayne Route 23 stations, offering service to Hoboken Terminal, with connections to Midtown Direct trains to Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan on the Montclair-Boonton Line. Wayne-Route 23 station opened in January 2008 and offers train service via the Montclair-Boonton Line. There is regular bus service into the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan on the 194 Newfoundland-New York route and the 198 William Paterson University-New York route on weekends, with local service on the 748 Paterson-Willowbrook route (except Sunday).
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.
Wayne is from Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark / Elizabeth, and from LaGuardia Airport in Flushing, Queens.
In popular culture
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's The Sopranos, along with several other locations in Wayne.
In a Hans and Franz sketch from Saturday Night Live, the pair says they are opening up a gym in Wayne.
Evergreen trees from Wayne have been selected to serve as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in New York City in 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2006. The 2005 tree, a Norway Spruce that stood tall and weighed , with a spread of wide, was one of the largest trees ever installed at Rockefeller Center.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Wayne include:
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