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Belleville (French: "Belle ville" meaning "Beautiful city / town") is a township in Essex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 35,926, reflecting a decline of 2 (0.0%) from the 35,928 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 1,715 (+5.0%) from the 34,213 counted in the 1990 Census.
Originally known as "Second River" or "Washington", the inhabitants renamed the settlement "Belleville" in 1797. Belleville was originally incorporated as a township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 8, 1839, from portions of Bloomfield. Portions of the township were taken to create Woodside Township (March 24, 1869, now defunct) and Franklin Township (February 18, 1874, now known as Nutley). The independent municipality of Belleville city was created within the township on March 27, 1874, and was dissolved on February 22, 1876. On November 16, 1910, Belleville was reincorporated as a town, based on the results of a referendum held eight days earlier.
In 1870, Belleville became the first Chinatown on the East Coast of the United States. While the country experienced strong anti-Chinese sentiment, the town welcomed a group of Chinese workers from the West Coast who had been involved in construction of the Central Pacific Railroad. This group of people eventually formed the basis for Chinatowns in Newark and New York City.
In 1981, the town 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.
Frankie Valli and the band The Four Seasons formed in Belleville.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 3.399 square miles (8.805 km2), including 3.340 square miles (8.651 km2) of land and 0.059 square miles (0.154 km2) of water (1.74%).
Silver Lake (2010 total population of 4,243) is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) defined by the United States Census Bureau as of the 2010 Census that is split between Belleville (with 3,769 of the CDP's residents) and Bloomfield (474 of the total).
Other unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Belwood, Big Tree and Soho.
The Second River forms much of the border between Belleville and Newark as it runs through Branch Brook Park.
The township of Belleville has given itself the nickname the Cherry Blossom Capital of America, with an annual display that is larger than the famed Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., site of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 35,926 people, 13,395 households, and 9,001 families residing in the township. The population density was 10,755.7 per square mile (4,152.8/km2). There were 14,327 housing units at an average density of 4,289.3 per square mile (1,656.1/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 60.55% (21,753) White, 9.12% (3,277) Black or African American, 0.35% (126) Native American, 12.00% (4,312) Asian, 0.05% (18) Pacific Islander, 13.97% (5,018) from other races, and 3.96% (1,422) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 39.34% (14,133) of the population.
There were 13,395 households out of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 44.3% were married couples living together, 16.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 32.8% were non-families. 27.0% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.68 and the average family size was 3.29.
In the township, the population was spread out with 21.7% under the age of 18, 9.2% from 18 to 24, 31.1% from 25 to 44, 26.3% from 45 to 64, and 11.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37.2 years. For every 100 females there were 93.1 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 89.0 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $60,127 (with a margin of error of +/- $2,658) and the median family income was $69,181 (+/- $4,525). Males had a median income of $46,656 (+/- $2,959) versus $42,237 (+/- $2,818) for females. The per capita income for the township was $27,668 (+/- $1,357). About 3.7% of families and 6.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.0% of those under age 18 and 6.6% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 United States Census there were 35,928 people, 13,731 households, and 9,089 families residing in the township. The population density was 10,744.3 people per square mile (4,153.3/km2). There were 14,144 housing units at an average density of 4,229.8 per square mile (1,635.0/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 69.44% White, 5.36% African American, 0.17% Native American, 11.31% Asian, 0.07% Pacific Islander, 9.83% from other races, and 3.82% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 23.68% of the population.
As of the 2000 Census, the most common ancestries listed were Italian (30.9%), Irish (9.4%), German (6.9%), Polish (4.5%), United States (2.6%) and English (2.2%).
There were 13,731 households out of which 29.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 47.0% were married couples living together, 13.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.8% were non-families. 27.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.60 and the average family size was 3.23.
In the township the population was spread out with 21.8% under the age of 18, 8.7% from 18 to 24, 33.9% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 13.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 93.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.8 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $48,576, and the median income for a family was $55,212. Males had a median income of $38,074 versus $31,729 for females. The per capita income for the township was $22,093. About 6.3% of families and 8.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 10.9% of those under age 18 and 7.8% of those age 65 or over.
Belleville is governed within the Faulkner Act, formally known as the Optional Municipal Charter Law, under the Council-Manager form of New Jersey municipal government by a seven-member Township Council. Two members of the council are elected at-large, one is elected at-large as a mayor, and one each from four wards, with elections held on a non-partisan basis as part of the May municipal election. Members are elected to serve four-year terms of office on a staggered basis. The four ward seats are up for vote together and the two at-large and mayoral seats are up for vote two years later.
As of 2016, the mayor of Belleville is Raymond Kimble, whose term of office ends June 30, 2018. Members of the Belleville Township Council are Deputy Mayor Vincent Cozzarelli (Ward 3; 2020), Kevin G. Kennedy (at-large; 2018), Joseph V. Longo (at-large; 2018), John J. Notari (Ward 4; 2020), Steven Rovell (Ward 2; 2020) and Marie Strumolo-Burke (Ward 1; 2020).
The Township Manager is Mauro Tucci.
Belleville is located in the 8th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 29th state legislative district. Prior to the 2011 reapportionment following the 2010 Census, Belleville had been in the 28th state legislative district.
New Jersey's Eighth Congressional District is represented by Albio Sires (D, West New York). New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Democrats Cory Booker (Newark, term ends 2021) and Bob Menendez (Paramus, 2019).
For the 2018–2019 session (Senate, General Assembly), the 29th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Teresa Ruiz (D, Newark) and in the General Assembly by Eliana Pintor Marin (D, Newark) and Shanique Speight (D, Newark). The Governor of New Jersey is Phil Murphy (D, Middletown Township). The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Sheila Oliver (D, East Orange).
Essex County is governed by a directly-elected County Executive, with legislative functions performed by the Board of Chosen Freeholders. As of 2018, the County Executive is Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. (D, Roseland). The county's Board of Chosen Freeholders consists of nine members, four elected on an at-large basis and one from each of five wards, who serve three-year terms of office on a concurrent basis, all of which end December 31, 2018. Essex County's Freeholders are Freeholder President Brendan W. Gill (D, at-large; Montclair), Freeholder Vice President Wayne L. Richardson (D, District 2 – Irvington, Maplewood and Newark's South Ward and parts of West Ward; Newark), Janine G. Bauer (D, District 3 - East Orange, Newark's West and Central Wards, Orange and South Orange; South Orange, appointed to serve on an interim basis), Rufus I. Johnson (D, at large; Newark), Lebby C. Jones (D, at large; Irvington), Leonard M. Luciano (D, District 4 – Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Livingston, Millburn, North Caldwell, Roseland, Verona, West Caldwell and West Orange; West Caldwell), Robert Mercado (D, District 1 – Newark's North and East Wards, parts of Central and West Wards; Newark), Carlos M. Pomares (D, District 5 – Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Montclair and Nutley; Bloomfield) and Patricia Sebold (D, at large; Livingston). Constitutional officers elected countywide are County Clerk Christopher J. Durkin (West Caldwell; D, 2020), Sheriff Armando B. Fontoura (Fairfield; D, 2018) and Surrogate Theodore N. Stephens II (D, 2021).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 19,684 registered voters in Belleville, of which 7,241 (36.8%) were registered as Democrats, 2,708 (13.8%) were registered as Republicans and 9,729 (49.4%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 6 voters registered to other parties.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 65.8% of the vote (8,031 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 33.3% (4,071 votes), and other candidates with 0.9% (109 votes), among the 12,956 ballots cast by the township's 20,621 registered voters (745 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 62.8%. In the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 56.9% of the vote here (7,475 cast), ahead of Republican John McCain with 41.4% (5,444 votes) and other candidates with 0.8% (110 votes), among the 13,135 ballots cast by the township's 19,378 registered voters, for a turnout of 67.8%. In the 2004 presidential election, Democrat John Kerry received 50.6% of the vote here (6,046 ballots cast), outpolling Republican George W. Bush with 48.0% (5,728 votes) and other candidates with 0.7% (130 votes), among the 11,940 ballots cast by the township's 17,411 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 68.6.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 53.1% of the vote (3,170 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 45.8% (2,734 votes), and other candidates with 1.1% (67 votes), among the 6,050 ballots cast by the township's 20,904 registered voters (79 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 28.9%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Democrat Jon Corzine received 50.7% of the vote here (3,626 ballots cast), ahead of Republican Chris Christie with 42.6% (3,041 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 4.6% (329 votes) and other candidates with 1.0% (72 votes), among the 7,146 ballots cast by the Township's 19,313 registered voters, yielding a 37.0% turnout.
The Belleville School District serves public school students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of the 2014-15 school year, the district and its nine schools had an enrollment of 4,584 students and 314.2 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 14.6:1. Schools in the district (with 2014-15 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are School 3 (grades K-5; 359 students), School 4 (PreK-5; 363), School 5 (K-5; 365), School 7 (PreK-5; 371), School 8 (K-5; 490), School 9 (K-5; 141), School 10 (K-5; 186), Belleville Middle School (6-8; 1,041) and Belleville High School (9-12; 1,154).
The Belleville Public Library and Information Center had a collection of 105,452 volumes and is a member of the Bergen County Cooperative Library System, a consortium of municipal libraries in the northeastern New Jersey counties of Bergen, Hudson, Passaic and Essex.
As of May 2010, the township had a total of 67.17 miles (108.10 km) of roadways, of which 57.22 miles (92.09 km) were maintained by the municipality, 6.21 miles (9.99 km) by Essex County and 3.74 miles (6.02 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Route 7 and New Jersey Route 21 as well as County Route 506 all pass through Belleville. The Belleville Turnpike Bridge (also known as the Rutgers Street Bridge) crosses the Passaic River, connecting Belleville to North Arlington. The bridge was formally renamed on July 4, 2013, as the "Lance Corporal Osbrany Montes de Oca Memorial Bridge" in memory of a United States Marine Corps soldier killed in February 2012 while serving in Afghanistan.
The Silver Lake station provides service to Newark Penn Station on the Newark City Subway.
Until 1966, the Newark Branch of the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad (EL) provided stations at Belleville and Cleveland Street. The New York and Greenwood Lake Railway, later the Boonton Line, also served the township.
NJ Transit bus service is available to and from Newark on the 13, 27, 72, 74, 90, 92, 93 and 94 bus lines.
On June 18, 1996, the Olympic Torch Relay came through the township of Belleville. The relay entered Belleville from Rutgers, made a left onto Washington Avenue, passing the Belleville Town Hall, a right onto Belleville Avenue and stayed on Belleville into the township of Bloomfield. The torch relay ended at Atlanta, Georgia for the 1996 Summer Olympics.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Belleville include:
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