Paramus, New Jersey

Paramus, New Jersey
Paramus, New Jersey
—  Borough  —
Map highlighting Paramus' location within Bergen County. Inset: Bergen County's location within New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of Paramus, New Jersey
Coordinates: 40°56′24″N 74°4′16″W / 40.94°N 74.07111°W / 40.94; -74.07111Coordinates: 40°56′24″N 74°4′16″W / 40.94°N 74.07111°W / 40.94; -74.07111
Country United States
State New Jersey
County Bergen
Incorporated April 4, 1922
 – Type Borough
 – Mayor Richard LaBarbiera (2014)[1]
 – Administrator Joseph O. D'Arco[2]
 – Total 10.5 sq mi (27.1 km2)
 – Land 10.5 sq mi (27.1 km2)
 – Water 0.0 sq mi (0.0 km2)
Elevation[3] 49 ft (15 m)
Population (2010 Census)[4]
 – Total 26,342
 – Density 2,508.8/sq mi (972/km2)
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 – Summer (DST) EDT (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 07652-07653
Area code(s) 201
FIPS code 34-55950[5][6]
GNIS feature ID 0879115[7]

Paramus (play /pəˈræməs/ pə-ram-əs) is a borough in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough population was 26,342.[4] A suburb of New York City, Paramus is located between 15–20 miles (24–32 km) northwest of Midtown Manhattan and approximately 8 miles (13 km) west of Upper Manhattan.

Paramus is one of the largest shopping meccas in the country, generating over $5 billion in annual retail sales,[8][9][10] more than any other ZIP Code in the United States.[11][12][13] This is despite the fact that Paramus is noted for having some of the most restrictive blue laws in the nation (even stricter than those prevailing in the rest of Bergen County), banning nearly all retail and white-collar businesses from opening on Sundays. So, almost everything is closed except restaurants and some grocery stores on Sunday.[14]

Paramus was incorporated as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 2, 1922, based on the results of a referendum held on April 4, 1922 that passed by a vote of 238 for and 10 against.[15][16] Paramus was created from portions of Midland Township, which now exists as Rochelle Park.[17]



The area that became northern New Jersey was first settled by the Lenape people. In the Lenape language (Anglicized), the area that became Paramus was named “Peremessing” which meant that it had an abundant population of Wild Turkey.[18][19] There is a large metal statue of a wild turkey in the Paramus Park mall.[19]

Although a 19th Century account claims that “The Paramus estate was purchased from the Native Americans for a quart of whiskey and a pound of tobacco”,[20] the historical record of European settlement of Paramus is more detailed.

Albert Saboroweski, whose descendants became known by the family name “Zabriskie”,[21] immigrated from Poland via the Dutch Ship 'The Fox'[22] in 1662 and settled in the Dutch West Indies Company town of Ackensack, today’s Hackensack, where he started a family. A son, Jacob, was kidnapped by the Lenape and held for 15 years. When he was returned to his family, the Lenape explained to Saboroweski that they had taken the child in order to teach him their language so that he could serve as a translator. They also granted Saboroweski approximately 2,000 acres (8.1 km2) of land which became known as the “Paramus Patent”.[23]

During the American Revolutionary War, there were Tories and Patriots throughout Bergen County, with Patriots “greatly outnumbering” Tories.[24] Although no major battles were fought in Bergen County, Paramus nevertheless saw a great deal of military activity. Colonial troops were stationed in Ramapo under the command of Aaron Burr.[25] In 1777, the British raided the Hackensack area and Burr marched troops to Paramus from which he attacked the British, forcing them to withdraw.[26] General George Washington was in Paramus several times during the War: December, 1778; July, 1780; and, December, 1780.[27] Following the Battle of Monmouth Washington established his headquarters in Paramus in July, 1778.[28] Over the advice of his staff, Washington moved his headquarters to Westchester County, New York.[29]

A section of Paramus known as Dunkerhook (meaning dark corner in Dutch) was an African-American community dating back to the early 18th century. Although historical markers on the current site and local oral tradition maintain that this was a slave community, contemporary records document that this was actually a community of free blacks, not slaves.[30]

During World War II, Farview Avenue was closed off by the United States Army, who positioned anti-aircraft artillery along the street to defend against an air attack on New York City.[citation needed] Farview Avenue is located at the highest peak in Paramus and has a clear view of the New York City skyline.

Paramus became one of the truck farming areas that helped New Jersey earn its nickname: the “Garden State”.[31] By 1940, Paramus' population was just 4,000, with no town center and just 94 retail establishments.[32] Although the opening of the George Washington Bridge in 1931 and the widening of New Jersey Route 17 and New Jersey Route 4 (which intersect in southern Paramus), made the area accessible to millions, “it was not until the 1950’s that massive development hit this section of northern New Jersey”.[33]

During the 1950s and 60s Paramus, lacking any developmental master plan until 1969, quickly was transformed into two shopping corridors when its farmers and outside developers saw that shopping malls were more lucrative than produce farming.[33] “It was a developer’s dream: flat cleared land adjacent to major arterials and accessible to a growing suburban population and the country’s largest city – with no planning restrictions”.[33] New York had a State sales tax, but New Jersey had none, so with the opening of Manhattan department stores in the Bergen Mall (1957), the Garden State Plaza (1957) and Alexander’s (1961), Paramus became the “first stop outside New York City for shopping”.[34] From 1948-58 Paramus’ population increased from 6,000 to 23,000, the number of retail establishments tripled from 111 to 319 and annual retail sales increased from $5.5 million to $112 million.[34] By the 1980s, although the population just slightly exceeded 1960s levels, retail sales were $1 billion.[34]


Historical populations
Census Pop.
1900 889
1910 779 −12.4%
1920 1,321 69.6%
1930 2,649 100.5%
1940 3,688 39.2%
1950 6,268 70.0%
1960 23,238 270.7%
1970 28,381 22.1%
1980 26,474 −6.7%
1990 25,067 −5.3%
2000 25,737 2.7%
2010 26,342 2.4%
Population sources:
1930-1990[35][36] 2000[37] 2010[4][38]

As of the 2010 Census, Paramus had a population of 26,342. The median age was 46.3. The racial and ethnic composition of the population was 66.9% non-Hispanic white (but including the many Egyptians and other Middle Easterners), 1.3% non-Hispanic black, 0.1% Hispanic black, 0.1% Native American, 6.9% Korean, 6.3% Asian Indian, 3.7% Chinese, 2.9% Filipino, 1.2% Japanese, 1.3% other Asian, 0.2% non-Hispanic reporting some other race, 2.5% reporting two or more races and 7.3% Hispanic or Latino.[38]

As of the census[5] of 2009, there were 26,055 people, 8,082 households, and 6,780 families residing in the borough. The population density was 2,457.7 people per square mile (949.1/km2). There were 8,209 housing units at an average density of 783.9 per square mile (302.7/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 72% White, 2% African American, 0.05% Native American, 21% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.89% from other races, and 1.51% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6% of the population.[37]

There were 8,082 households out of which 37.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 73.3% were married couples living together, 8.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 16.1% were non-families. 14.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.00 and the average family size was 3.32.[37]

In the borough the population was spread out with 23.2% under the age of 18, 5.5% from 18 to 24, 24.7% from 25 to 44, 25.0% from 45 to 64, and 21.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 94.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.4 males.[37]

According to a 2008 estimate,[39] the median income for a household in the borough was $113,853, and the median income for a family was $130,013. Males had a median income of $78,710 versus $51,546 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $41,913. About 1.4% of families and 3.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.4% of those under age 18 and 5.0% of those age 65 or over.[37]


Local government

Paramus is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government. The government consists of a Mayor and a Borough Council comprising six council members, with all positions elected at large. A Mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office and only votes to break a tie. 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.[40]

As of 2011, the Mayor is Richard LaBarbiera, whose term of office ends December 31, 2014. Borough Council Members are Council President Maureen O'Brien, Ralph Amato, Cathy Bentz, Alan Brundage, Eric Nazziola and Michael Rohdieck.[41][42]

Federal, state and county representation

Paramus is part of the 5th Congressional district and is part of New Jersey's 38th state legislative district.[43] The legislative district was kept unchanged by the New Jersey Apportionment Commission based on the results of the 2010 Census.[4]

New Jersey's Fifth Congressional District is represented by Scott Garrett (R, Wantage Township). New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Frank Lautenberg (D, Cliffside Park) and Bob Menendez (D, Hoboken).

38th District of the New Jersey Legislature, which is represented in the New Jersey Senate by Robert M. Gordon (D, Fair Lawn) and in the New Jersey General Assembly by Joan Voss (D, Fort Lee) and Connie Wagner (D, Paramus).[44] The Governor of New Jersey is Chris Christie (R, Mendham).[45] The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Kim Guadagno (R, Monmouth Beach).[46]

Bergen County's County Executive is Kathleen Donovan (R, Rutherford; term ends December 31, 2014).[47] The Board of Chosen Freeholders is the county's legislative body and its seven members are elected at-large on a staggered basis, with two or three seats coming up for election each year.[48] As of 2011, Bergen County's Freeholders are Chairman John Driscoll, Jr. (R, 2012; Paramus),[49] Vice-Chairwoman Maura DeNicola (R, 2013; Franklin Lakes),[50] Chair Pro Tempore John D. Mitchell (R, 2013; Cliffside Park)[51] John A. Felice (R, 2013; River Edge),[52] David L. Ganz (D, 2011; Fair Lawn),[53] Robert G. Hermansen (R, 2012; Mahwah)[54] and Bernadette P. McPherson (D, 2011; Rutherford).[55][56] Other countywide constitutional officials are Sheriff Michael Saudino (R), Surrogate Michael R. Dressler (D, Cresskill) and County Clerk Elizabeth Randall (R, Westwood).[57]


As of Election Day, November 4, 2008, there were 16,333 registered voters. Of registered voters, 4,556 (27.9% of all registered voters) were registered as Democrats, 3,413 (20.9%) were registered as Republicans and 8,359 (51.2%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were five voters registered to other parties.[58]

In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 47.4% of the vote here (5,850 ballots cast), falling short of Republican John McCain, who received 51.7% of the vote (6,381 votes), with 75.9% of registered voters participating.[58] In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 52.3% of the vote here, out-polling Democrat John Kerry, who received around 46.5%., on turnout of 76.3% of registered voters.[59]

Public Library

There are two public libraries in Paramus. There is the Main Library on Century Road. There is also the Charles E. Reid Branch library on Midland Avenue, which was originally a four-room schoolhouse built in 1876.[60]

The borough's original Public Library, known locally as the Howland House, was originally located at the intersection of Spring Valley Road and Howland Avenue. It was demolished sometime in the late 1990s. A September 11, 2001 memorial park now exists at the site known as Howland Memorial Grove.[61]


The Paramus Public Schools serve students in Kindergarten through twelfth grade. Schools in the district (with 2009-10 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics[62]) are five K-4 schools — Memorial Elementary School (348 students), Midland Elementary School (243), Parkway Elementary School (277), Ridge Ranch Elementary School (372) and Stony Lane Elementary School (216) — Eastbrook Middle School (645) and Westbrook Middle School (735) for grades 5–8 and Paramus High School for grades 9–12 (1,421). Three of the district's schools have been formally designated as National Blue Ribbon Schools: Paramus High School in 1988-89, Parkway Elementary School in 1987-88 and Ridge Ranch Elementary School in 1998-99.[63][64]

Paramus is home to many private religious schools. Paramus Catholic High School is a co-educational Roman Catholic high school founded in 1965 and operated by the Archdiocese of Newark.[65] With more than 1,500 students, it has the largest enrollment of any Roman Catholic high school in the state of New Jersey.[66] It is also the location of Visitation Academy, a K-8 Catholic school also overseen by the Newark Archdiocese. Annunciation School, another K-8 Catholic school, operated from 1954–1982 at the Annunciation Church on West Midland Avenue. Paramus is home to both the Yavneh Academy, a K-8 Jewish day school, and the Frisch School, a Modern Orthodox Jewish yeshiva serving grades 9–12 that describes itself as the nation's second largest coed yeshiva high school.[67]

Bergen Community College is based in Paramus, with other satellite centers located elsewhere around the county. The Bergen campus of Berkeley College is located in Paramus.


Public transportation

New Jersey Transit bus routes 144, 145, 148, 155, 157, 162, 163, 164, 165, 168, 171, 175, 709, 722, 751, 752, 753, 755, 756, 758, 762 and 770 serve Paramus.[68]


Route 17, Route 4, and the Garden State Parkway pass through Paramus.


Interchange of NJ Routes 4 and 17

Paramus is known for its multitude of stores and malls.[69] It has five major indoor shopping centers, due to its easy access for residents in the areas of Bergen County and Passaic County in New Jersey and Rockland County in New York. New Jersey also does not levy a sales tax on clothes and shoes, which makes it an attractive shopping destination for people even further away in New York City, who pay sales tax on clothing items above $110 in price, in addition to the lower standard rate of 7% in New Jersey, compared to 8⅜ in New York City.[70] The spending levels generated by the malls have made Paramus one of the top retail ZIP codes in the country.[71]

On Route 4, are The Outlets at Bergen Town Center (known as the Bergen Mall until 2006) and the Mall at IV. On Route 17, are Paramus Park and the Fashion Center. At the intersection of Routes 4 and 17 is Paramus's biggest and most famous mall, Westfield Garden State Plaza. Across from Westfield Garden State Plaza is the world's third-largest IKEA, one of four IKEAs in the New York City metro area. Westfield Garden State Plaza is the largest mall in the Westfield Groups' global portfolio with a gross leasable area of 1,993,182 square feet (190,000 m2).[72] Westfield Group is the largest retail property group globally.[73]

Paramus, along with the rest of Bergen County, has strict blue laws preventing stores selling non-food items from opening on Sundays. Although it started as a religious observance, it is kept on the books due to a desire of the residents of Paramus to have one day a week when traffic is tolerable in the town. Furthermore, both Paramus and the surrounding county have significant Jewish and Muslim populations who do not observe Sabbath on Sunday. This law was called into question most recently when a BJ's Wholesale Club opened at the 4/17 junction. BJ's was allowed to open on Sundays, but is only allowed to sell food and basic necessities. The store has been structured to deny access for shoppers to purchase items that cannot be purchased on Sunday. Paramus has its own blue laws that are significantly more restrictive than those in effect in other communities in Bergen County. It is one of the last places in the entire United States to have such an extensive blue law.

Local blue laws in Paramus were first proposed in 1957, while the Bergen Mall and Garden State Plaza were under construction. The legislation was motivated by fears that the two new malls would aggravate the already-severe highway congestion caused by local retail businesses along the borough's highways.[14]

The Paramus Borough Code forbids the performance of any "worldly employment" on Sunday, with exceptions for charity, and the sale of newspapers, drugs, meals, prepared food and cigarettes, among a limited number of exceptions. Even work performed inside one's own home is prohibited, unless one can "prove to the satisfaction of the Judge that he uniformly keeps the seventh day of the week commonly known as the 'Sabbath'...".[74] In spite of its six-day shopping week, Paramus consistently has the most retail sales of any ZIP Code in the United States.[75] Many national chain stores boast Paramus as their most prominent locations, including Nordstrom, in which the Paramus store is their best-performing chainwide. There are 25 retailers that occupy multiple stores in Paramus,[76] including Macy's which had outlets in three malls for a short period of time. Some retail analysts view Paramus as being two markets, centered on the two major highways. Lord & Taylor has two locations in Paramus, giving Paramus the distinction of the only town with more than one Lord & Taylor location.

When Paramus residents go shopping on Sundays, they can visit Willowbrook Mall, an approximate 20 minute drive to its location in Wayne, New Jersey, or Palisades Center in West Nyack, New York, about 25 minutes away by car. An unsuccessful 2010 proposal by Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie would have ended Bergen County's blue laws, with the governor citing industry statistics estimating that the $1.1 billion in added retail revenue on Sundays would generate an additional $65 million in sales taxes for the state.[77]

Mall history

  • 1957 – Garden State Plaza was built by Muscarelli Construction Company on 198 acres (0.80 km2) at the intersection of Routes 4 and 17.
  • 1957 – The Bergen Mall was built on 101 acres (0.41 km2) on an area east of the Plaza on Route 4.
  • 1968 – The Fashion Center was built on 35 acres (140,000 m2). The owners originally referred to its location as being in Ridgewood/Paramus to appeal to the Ridgewood population. Over the years, the references to Ridgewood became somewhat lost.[citation needed]
  • 1974 – Paramus Park was built by the Rouse Company. The last of the large centers was built on 66 acres (270,000 m2) in the middle of an area where the old farms were located.
  • 2003 – IKEA opens its third-largest store at the intersection of Routes 4 and 17, on the site of the old Alexander's department store. It was joined the next year by three other retailers, Bed Bath and Beyond, Christmas Tree Shops, and Sports Authority.

Due to the blue law, all malls in Paramus (as with the rest of Bergen County) are closed on Sunday. Malls are also closed on two public holidays; Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Early closing (half days) on Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.


In 1931, one of the earliest drive-in theaters opened in Paramus, and boasted the world's largest and brightest screen, located behind what is now Westfield Garden State Plaza. The Paramus Drive-In closed in 1987. The last movie presentation there was a double- feature, 'Crocodile Dundee' and 'The Untouchables'.

Paramus' lone movie theater complex is a 16-screen AMC Theatres located in an area of new construction at Westfield Garden State Plaza. Two theatres which have been closed within the last five years include the Route 4 Tenplex and the Cineplex Odeon Route 17 Triplex, once located next to Westfield Garden State Plaza on Route 17. The Triplex theatre was opened in 1965 by Century Theatres and was closed on January 19, 2006 by Loews Cineplex Entertainment. The Tenplex on Route 4 was closed on May 24, 2007, the day before the new AMC Theatres opened at Westfield Garden State Plaza.[78] The Cinema 35 was also closed when the Plaza 35 Shopping Center was renovated in 2005.

Parks and recreation

Paramus is the home to two county parks. On the eastern side of the borough is Van Saun County Park. It features Bergen County's only zoo, home to a wide variety of wild and domestic animals living in recreated habitats natural to each species. On the western side of the borough is Saddle River County Park which features a 6-mile (9.7 km) bike path reaching from Ridgewood to Rochelle Park.

The borough also has four golf courses. Two are open to the public with one operated by the borough and another operated by the county (Orchard Hills County Golf Course). Two private golf course are also located in Paramus, they are the Ridgewood Country Club and Arcola Country Club. In 2008, the Paramus Golf Course opened up a miniature golf course that is themed after the town of Paramus as well as the state of New Jersey. Turkey statues are scattered around the course to celebrate Paramus as the "land of the wild turkeys."

Popular culture

  • In Ghostbusters II a woman claims that she met an alien at the Paramus Holiday Inn: "I received this information from an alien. As I told my husband, it was in the Paramus Holiday Inn, I was having a drink at the bar, alone, and this alien approached me. He started talking to me. He bought me a drink, and then I think he must have used some kind of a ray or a mind control device because he forced me to follow him to his room and that's where he told me about the end of the world."
  • The 1993 Saturday Night Live spin-off movie Coneheads is set in Paramus.[79] Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin's characters decide to move to and permanently reside in the town so daughter Michelle Burke can attend Paramus High School. Aykroyd's character "Beldar Conehead" spends his days in Paramus teaching driving lessons and playing golf.
  • Vinnie Fiorello from the popular band Less Than Jake, which has a few songs dedicated to Paramus.
  • In the movie Ransom, Mel Gibson and Gary Sinise drive right past the now-defunct tenplex movie theater located on Route 4.
  • Several episodes of The Sopranos, the HBO mob drama, have used Paramus locations. Westfield Garden State Plaza was used as the "Paramus Mall," and the Ramsey Outdoor Store on Route 17 became the "Ramsey Outdoor," and a character is "whacked" at the remnants of the Old Mill Bathing Beach on Paramus Road.[80][81] In the final episode of the series, a scene with Paulie Walnuts is shot in Paramus, where he was in a car, driving past a gas station.[citation needed]
  • Arcola Amusement Park (Arcola section Rochelle Park/Paramus) was built in 1926 which covered about 20 acres (81,000 m2). A fire destroyed it in 1929.
  • Burn After Reading a 2008 film by the Coen Brothers was partly filmed in Paramus at the site of the old Tower Records annex building located on Route 17S.[82]
  • The Colbert Report, during its Threat Down segment on April 24, 2008, listed the bear sightings in Paramus as the Number 1 threat to our country. The Paramus Park mall was also shown in the segment.[83]
  • An episode of The West Wing mentions the "Paramus Mall" while discussing Christmas music at the White House.[84]
  • Less Than Jake has written a song called "24 Hours in Paramus" on the album titled "Losers, Kings, and Things We Don't Understand."
  • In the Captain America: The First Avenger film, Paramus is mentioned as a fictitious hometown used by Steve Rogers for one of his multiple attempts to enlist in the military.

Notable residents

Notable current and former residents of Paramus include:

Historic sites

Paramus is home to the following locations on the National Register of Historic Places:

  • Midland School – 239 W. Midland Ave. (added 1978)
  • Terhune House – 470 Paramus Rd. (added 1996)
  • Terhune-Gardner-Lindenmeyr House – 218 Paramus Rd. (added 1972)
  • Harmon Van Dien House – 449 Paramus Rd. (added 1983)
  • Zabriskie Tenant House – 273 Dunkerhook Rd.. (added 1984)


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  109. ^ Jaeger, Barbara. " PARAMUS BAND FEELS AT HOME IN THE STUDIO", The Record (Bergen County), July 17, 1992. Accessed October 15, 2007. "For all those Trixter fans who've been wondering when the Paramus-based band will be releasing a new album, guitarist Steve Brown has these encouraging words..."
  110. ^ Assemblywoman Connie Wagner, New Jersey Legislature. Accessed February 8, 2011.
  111. ^ Bondy, Filip. "FIGURE SKATING; Zayak's Biggest Jump: A Leap Into the Past", The New York Times, May 16, 1993. Accessed October 14, 2007. "Her father, Richard Zayak, would drive from their home in Paramus, N.J., to her New York practice rinks in Farmingdale or Monsey and offer his daughter $1 per perfect jump."
  • Paramus – the Way We Were 1922–1960 by Fritz Behnke

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