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City of Passaic, New Jersey
—  City  —
Map of Passaic in Passaic County. Inset: Location of Passaic County highlighted in the State of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Passaic, New Jersey
Coordinates: 40°51′27″N 74°07′44″W / 40.8575°N 74.12889°W / 40.8575; -74.12889Coordinates: 40°51′27″N 74°07′44″W / 40.8575°N 74.12889°W / 40.8575; -74.12889
Country United States
State New Jersey
County Passaic
Settled 1679
Incorporated 1873
 - Type Faulkner Act (Mayor-Council)
 - Mayor Alex Blanco
 - Deputy Mayor Robert C. Hare
 - Total 3.2 sq mi (8.3 km2)
 - Land 3.1 sq mi (8.1 km2)
 - Water 0.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)  3.12%
Elevation [1] 102 ft (31 m)
Population (2008)[2]
 - Total 66,884
 Density 21,804.7/sq mi (8,424.8/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) Eastern (EDT) (UTC-4)
ZIP code 07055 and 07057
Area code(s) 973
FIPS code 34-56550[3][4]
GNIS feature ID 0879156[5]

Passaic is a city in Passaic County, New Jersey, United States. As of the United States 2000 Census, the city had a total population of 67,861. Located north of Newark on the Passaic River, it was first settled in 1678 by Dutch traders, as Acquackanonk Township. The city and river draw their name from the Lenape word "pahsayèk" meaning "valley".[6]



Main Avenue in 1911

The city originated from a Dutch settlement on the Passaic River established in 1679 which was called Acquackanonk. Industrial growth began in the 19th century, as Passaic became a textile and metalworking center. Passaic was formed within Acquackanonk Township on March 10, 1869, and was incorporated as an independent village on March 21, 1871. Passaic was chartered as a city on April 2, 1873.[7]

A famous strike in 1926 against reductions in wages involved the right of free assembly.[citation needed]

Passaic has been called "The Birthplace of Television".[8] In 1931, experimental television station W2XCD began transmitting from DeForest Radio Corp. in Passaic. It has been called the first television station to transmit to the home, and was the first such station to broadcast a feature film. Allen B. DuMont, formerly DeForest's chief engineer, opened pioneering TV manufacturer DuMont Laboratories in Passaic in 1937. DuMont later started the DuMont Television Network, the world's first commercial television network, in 1946.

The Okonite company began manufacturing electrical cable here in 1888.

Passaic is served by two newspapers The Record and The Star-Ledger.


Passaic is located at 40°51′27″N 74°7′44″W / 40.8575°N 74.12889°W / 40.8575; -74.12889.[9]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.2 square miles (8.3 km²), of which, 3.1 square miles (8.1 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.3 km²) of it (3.12%) is water. Passaic is bordered on the north, west and south by the City of Clifton, and to the east by the Passaic River.

Passaic is located 10 miles from New York City, and 12 miles from Newark Airport.

The city

St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Church on Lexington Avenue, built in 1959-1960

Passaic has several business districts: Main Avenue begins in Passaic Park and follows the curve of the river to downtown. Broadway runs east - west through the center of the city, ending at Main Avenue in downtown. Monroe Street has many shops, restaurants and businesses reflecting the city's Latino and Eastern European populations.

The city is home to several architecturally notable churches, including St. John's Lutheran Church, First Presbyterian of Passaic, and St. John's Episcopal Church.

Southwest Passaic (known as Passaic Park) is a residential and institutional center of Orthodox Judaism, with 25-30 minyanim on Shabbos, and 1,300 families, as well as being home to numerous yeshivas, schools and other institutions. There are also kosher food and shopping establishments.[10]

Passaic Park takes its name from Third Ward Park. This area is also noted for its large mansions and homes of various architectural styles, especially Victorian and Tudor. Several condominium and cooperative apartment complexes are also located here including: Carlton Tower (the city's tallest structure), The Towers, and Barry Gardens (which are all located within walking distance of each other on a stretch of Passaic Avenue between Aycrigg Avenue and Barry Place).


Historical populations
Census Pop.  %±
1880 6,532
1890 13,028 99.4%
1900 27,777 113.2%
1910 54,773 97.2%
1920 63,841 16.6%
1930 62,959 −1.4%
1940 61,394 −2.5%
1950 57,702 −6.0%
1960 53,963 −6.5%
1970 55,124 2.2%
1980 52,463 −4.8%
1990 58,041 10.6%
2000 67,861 16.9%
Est. 2008 66,884 [2] −1.4%
Population 1930 - 1990.[11][12]

As of the census[3] of 2000, there were 67,861 people, 19,458 households, and 14,457 families residing in the city of Passaic, New Jersey. The population density was 21,804.7 people per square mile (8,424.8/km²). There were 20,194 housing units at an average density of 6,488.6/sq mi (2,507.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 35.43% White, 13.83% African American, 0.78% Native American, 5.51% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 39.36% from other races, and 5.04% from two or more races. The cultural groupings for Hispanic or Latino of any race were 62.46% of the population. Passaic is also known for its Ukrainian enclave.[citation needed]. 60.2% spoke Spanish, 29.3% English, 2.5% Gujarati and 2.5% Polish as their first language. Among the speakers of Polish in Passaic are many Gorals. Passaic also has both a sizable Orthodox Jewish community and a growing Mexican community of over 13,000 that in 2000 made up 19.67% of the population. [2] In the first half of the twentieth century there was a sizable Italian-American population, but today this is less so.

There were 19,458 households out of which 42.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.7% were married couples living together, 21.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 25.7% were non-families. 8.2% of Passaic households were same-sex partner households. 20.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.46 and the average family size was 3.93. In the city the population was spread out with 30.8% under the age of 18, 12.5% from 18 to 24, 31.6% from 25 to 44, 16.9% from 45 to 64, and 8.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 29 years. For every 100 females there were 99.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 97.4 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $33,594, and the median income for a family was $34,935. Males had a median income of $24,568 versus $21,352 for females. The per capita income for the city was $12,874. About 18.4% of families and 21.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 27.6% of those under age 18 and 16.0% of those age 65 or over.



Local government

The city of Passaic is governed under the Mayor-Council system of municipal government under the Faulkner Act. Under this form of government, the mayor is elected directly by the voters for a four-year term. Seven council Members serve four year terms on a staggered basis.[13]

The Mayor of Passaic is Alex Blanco, who won a special election in November 2008 to succeed acting mayor Gary Schaer, who, as City Council president automatically moved into this position upon the resignation by previous mayor Samuel Rivera, after Rivera pled guilty to corruption charges filed against him.[14] Blanco was elected to serve the remainder of Rivera's term, and was re-elected to a full term on May 12, 2009, with 4,751 votes (53.2% of votes cast), defeating Passaic Board of Education member Vinny Capuana who received 4,177 (46.8%).[15] Passaic's Deputy Mayor is Robert C. Hare.[16]

As of 2009, members of the City Council are Gary Schaer (Council President), Maritza Colón-Montañez, Gerardo Fernandez, Jose Garcia, Kenneth J. Lucianin, Chaim M. Munk and Daniel J. Schwartz.[17] The seat previously held by Marcellus Jackson was won by Kenneth J. Lucianin after a special election to fill that seat. Jackson and former councilman Jonathan Soto were also arrested on September 6, 2007 as part of the same sweep as Mayor Rivera.[18] Before his resignation, Mayor Rivera attempted to hand-pick a replacement for Jackson, relying on is tie-breaker vote in a split council. The three council members who disagreed with Rivera's selection were able to postpone this selection by not attending the vote for the replacement, depriving Rivera of the minimum quota to produce the deadlock vote. On September 25, 2009, former Councilman Gerardo Fernandez having been found guilty of lying to the federal grand jury reviewing evidence of the latest corruption wave was sentenced to 18 months in prison and cannot hold public office for two years.[19]

In addition to his role as council president, Schaer also holds a seat in the New Jersey General Assembly. This dual position is allowed under a grandfather clause in the state law enacted by the New Jersey Legislature and signed into law by Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine in September 2007 that prevents dual-office-holding but allows those who had held both positions as of February 1, 2008, to retain both posts.[20]

For the past twenty years waves of corruption have plagued the city which has seen the federal convictions of two mayors, seven councilman and other public officials.[21][22][23] Despite the many previously identified events of abuse of public trust the city continues. Recent activities include the hiring of a new business administrator, Tony Ianoco, after he had been found using his official status to "solicit donations" while working for Paramus borough.[24] [25][26][27]

Federal, state and county representation

Passaic is in the Eighth Congressional District is part of New Jersey's 36th Legislative District.[28]

New Jersey's Eighth Congressional District, covering the southern portion of Passaic County and northern sections of Essex County, is represented by Bill Pascrell Jr. (D, Paterson). New Jersey is represented in the Senate by Frank Lautenberg (D, Cliffside Park) and Bob Menendez (D, Hoboken).

For the 2010-2011 Legislative Session, the 36th District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Paul Sarlo (D, Wood-Ridge) and in the Assembly by Frederick Scalera (D, Nutley) and Gary Schaer (D, Passaic).[29] The Governor of New Jersey is Chris Christie (R, Mendham).[30] The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Kim Guadagno (R, Monmouth Beach).[31]

Passaic County is governed by a seven-member Board of Chosen Freeholders, who are elected to staggered three-year terms on an at-large basis, with two or three seats coming up for election each year.[32] As of January 2010, Passaic County's Freeholders (and the year their term ends) are Freeholder Director Bruce James (2012, D-Clifton), Freeholder Deputy Director Pat Lepore (2011, D-Woodland Park), Deborah E. Ciambrone (2013, R-Wayne), Terry Duffy (2011, D-West Milford), Greyson P. Hannigan (2012, D-Paterson), Michael Marrotta (2013, R-Wayne), Edward O'Connell (2013, R-Wanaque).[33]


The Passaic City School District is a type II school district, and is an independent legal entity administered by a nine-member Board of Education elected by the voters of the school district. The Superintendent of Schools is Dr. Robert H. Holster. The school district is not a part of any regional or consolidated school district, and neither receives nor sends students, except for a limited number of special education students. The school system comprises 2 early childhood centers, 12 elementary schools (grades K-6), 1 middle school (grades 7-8), and Passaic High School for grades 9-12. The district is one of 31 Abbott Districts statewide.[34]

The Collegiate School is a private coeducational day school located in Passaic, serving students in prekindergarten through twelfth grade.

Passaic County Community College opened a new campus in the city of Passaic on September 11, 2008. Construction commenced on the new site in Spring 2007 at 2 Paulison Avenue. The new campus will allow PCCC to reach the 15% of its students who come from the city of Passaic. The college's nursing program will be relocated and expanded at the new campus to provide a qualified program to help fill the longstanding nursing shortage.

The Yeshiva Gedolah of Passaic, an advanced yeshiva is an institute of Jewish learning for post-high school age men. Passaic also has a number of other orthodox educational institutions for primary and secondary education as well as other advanced seminaries and kollels for advanced and married students.

Emergency services


The Passaic Fire Department (PFD) is a paid fire department. The PFD was organized in November 1869 and became a paid department in 1909 which now consists of 109 firefighters. There are two fire houses that contain seven Engines and three Ladder trucks.[35][36]



Portions of Passaic are part of an Urban Enterprise Zone. In addition to other benefits to encourage employment within the Zone, shoppers can take advantage of a reduced 3½% sales tax rate (versus the 7% rate charged statewide).[37]


Passaic is served by state roadways including Route 3 and Route 21. The Garden State Parkway and Interstate 80 are nearby.

Local bus transportation is provided by New Jersey Transit, with service to Paterson, Rutherford, Newark, Clifton, Garfield, and Wallington among other locations.

New Jersey Transit bus 190 provides local service and interstate service to Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City.

The Passaic New Jersey Transit rail station is located in the Passaic Park section, providing service on the Main Line southbound to Hoboken Terminal, and to Secaucus Junction for New Jersey Transit connections to Pennsylvania Station in Midtown Manhattan, Newark Airport and points north and south. Northbound service is provided to Paterson, Ridgewood and New York stations in Suffern and Port Jervis.

Commuter jitney buses operate along Main Avenue providing service to Paterson, Union City, the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal in New York City, and points between. This service does not operate on an official schedule.


Passaic uses telephone area code 973.


In 1992, the voters of Passaic Township in Morris County voted to change their town's name to Long Hill Township, New Jersey, to avoid confusion with the City of Passaic.

Notable residents

Popular culture references

  • In the 1960s television sitcom F Troop, the character, Cpl. Randolph Agarn (played by Larry Storch), hails from Passaic, Storch's home town. The city is occasionally mentioned - and featured - in episodes.
  • The short-lived Ellen Travolta sitcom Makin' It was set in Passaic, although, at the time of the disco-themed show, the city actually had little disco culture of its own. Ms. Travolta had an occasional role in Welcome Back Kotter, which starred Ms. Strassman as Mrs. Kotter.
  • Numerous music groups have performed at the Loop Lounge on Broadway. Performers have included: Faith No More. Dead Milkmen, They Might Be Giants, APB, Gang of Four, My Chemical Romance, and The Smithereens.
  • The city's name was mentioned in "Raging Cory," an episode of Boy Meets World.
  • The title character in the sitcom Alice is from Passaic.
  • Almost the entire movie Be Kind, Rewind starring Danny Glover, Mia Farrow, Jack Black, Mos Def, and Sigourney Weaver was filmed in Passaic, in fact most of the shooting was done on Passaic Street at the route 21 overpass, which the majority of the movie took place within a couple of hundred yards.
  • On February 24, 1973, Passaic's Capitol Theatre was the site of the final live show by American rock 'n' roll band The Byrds.
  • In the 1920s, the Passaic High School basketball team, led by coach Ernest Blood, won 159 consecutive games, earning the nickname "Wonder Team".
  • The title character of the series Sledge Hammer! was said to be born in Passaic.
  • One of the mock Bialystock and Bloom musicals in The Producers was called South Passaic.
  • Passaic is mentioned in the HBO series Flight of the Conchords when the band goes on a warm-up tour by playing a club in Passaic and damaging the club's amplifier.
  • In the episode Total Re-Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Frylock sends away for organs to help re-build Carl's body from the "Passaic Organ Bank".
  • Burt ("BS") Levy's series of novels starting with The Last Open Road features a young Italian-American mechanic from Passaic who becomes involved in the American sports car racing scene in the 1950s.
  • The original release of The Sims included an exterior wallpaper called "Passaic Aluminum Siding".[79]
  • Glenn Maer, the drummer from U.S. Chaos, was born in Passaic in 1962.[citation needed]
  • Passaic is mentioned as a hometown (for at least a short period of time) of the brothers on Royal Pains (2009) on USA Network. They had to downsize from a nice house in maybe Passaic, New Jersey to a little two-bedroom apartment when their father lost all of their money.

Films shot in Passaic


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  42. ^ Singer, Jeremy. "Military Transformation Pioneer Arthur Cebrowski Dies at 63", Space News, November 21, 2005. Accessed May 13, 2007. "Cebrowski, a native of Passaic, N.J., graduated from Villanova University in Pennsylvania in 1964, and entered the Navy that same year."
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  74. ^ DREXLER, CALHOUN AND WOODARD HIGHLIGHT 16 FINALISTS FOR NAISMITH MEMORIAL BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME, Basketball Hall of Fame press release dated February 15, 2004. "DICK VITALE, a native of Passaic, NJ., has been synonymous with college basketball for more than 20 years as the lead color announcer for ESPN."
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