Rutherford is a borough in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 18,061, reflecting a decline of 49 (−0.3%) from the 18,110 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 320 (+1.8%) from the 17,790 counted in the 1990 Census.
Rutherford was formed as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on September 21, 1881, from portions of Union Township, based on the results of a referendum held on the previous day. The borough was named for John Rutherfurd, a U.S. Senator who owned land in the area.
Rutherford has been called the "Borough of Trees" and "The First Borough of Bergen County".
The ridge above the New Jersey Meadowlands upon which Rutherford sits was settled by Lenape Native Americans long before the arrival of Walling Van Winkle in 1687. Union Avenue, which runs from the Meadowlands to the Passaic River, may have been an Indian trail, but was more likely a property boundary line; it was referenced in the 1668 grant of land by proprietary Governor Philip Carteret to John Berry.
During the early days of settlement, the land that is now Rutherford was part of New Barbadoes Township, as Berry had lived in Barbados, another English colony, before claiming his grant in New Jersey. New Barbadoes was part of Essex County from 1693 to 1710, when Bergen County was formed. In 1826, the land became part of Lodi Township (of which today's remaining portion is now South Hackensack). When Hudson County was formed in 1840, the area that is today North Arlington, Lyndhurst, Rutherford and East Rutherford became part of Harrison Township (of which today's remaining portion is Harrison town). However, the area reverted to Bergen County in 1852 and became known as Union Township.
Part of the region was known as Boiling Springs for a powerful and ceaseless spring located in the vicinity. Despite its name, the spring actually consisted of cold groundwater seeps rather than hot springs.
The Erie Railroad built its Main Line from Jersey City across the Meadowlands in the 1840s.