Verona and several neighboring towns were all originally one town known as the Horseneck Tract. In 1702, a group of settlers left Newark and purchased a large tract of land northwest of their home city for the equivalent of a few hundred dollars from the Lenni Lenape Native Americans. This piece of land extended west and north to the Passaic River, south to the town center of what would become Livingston, and east to the First Watchung Mountain, and was called Horseneck by the natives because it resembled the neck and head of a horse. What was then known as Horseneck contained most of the present day northern Essex County towns: Verona, along with Caldwell, West Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, North Caldwell, and Roseland are all located entirely in Horseneck, and parts of what are today Livingston, Montclair, and West Orange also were contained in the Horseneck Tract.
After the Revolutionary War, the area of Horseneck was incorporated as "Caldwell Township" in honor of local war hero James Caldwell, a pastor who used pages from his church's bibles as wadding to ignite the ammo in soldiers' cannons and helped to drive the British out of Horseneck.
The area of present-day Verona was part of what was known in the 1800s as Vernon Valley. The name was rejected when residents applied to the United States Postal Service, as the name had already been in use for an area in Sussex County. Verona was chosen as the alternative name for the community. The township's name is derived from Verona, Italy.
At various times between 1798 and 1892, issues arose which caused dissatisfaction between the Caldwell and Verona areas. These included a desire of the citizens of Verona to more closely control their own governmental affairs. With the population growing, Verona needed to centrally locate essential services such as schools and places of worship; problems with the water supply; and the disposition of road repair funds. On February 17, 1892, the citizens of Verona voted to secede from Caldwell Township to form Verona Township. Further growth and the need for a water system and other public utilities found Verona moving ahead of the other half of the township and in 1902 the two areas decided to separate into two separate municipalities: Verona Township and Verona Borough. It took two sessions of the state legislature to approve the new borough, but on April 18, 1907, the borough of Verona was approved by an act of the New Jersey Legislature, pending the results of a referendum held on April 30, 1907, in which the new borough passed by a 224-77 margin. Residents of the newly formed borough had sought to disassociate themselves from the Overbrook County Insane Asylum and the Newark City Home (a reform school), as well as from the settlement of Cedar Grove, which was considered a settlement of farmers. On April 9, 1908, Verona Township changed its name to Cedar Grove Township.
In 1981, the borough 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. As an example of the potential benefits of switching to a township, Verona Borough received $213,000 in federal aid in 1976, while similarly sized Cedar Grove Township received $1.24 million. Today, Verona uses just "Township of Verona" in most official documents, but some other official documents such as purchase orders still include "Township of Borough of Verona".
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 2.776 square miles (7.191 km2), including 2.755 square miles (7.137 km2) of land and 0.021 square miles (0.054 km2) of water (0.76%).
Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Hillcrest and Verona Lake.
The township is bordered by Cedar Grove Township, Montclair Township, Essex Fells and North Caldwell. Verona lies between two mountains, the First and Second Watchung Mountains with a small river, the Peckman, flowing at the bottom of the valley towards the Passaic River at Little Falls.
Verona has a temperate climate, with warm/hot humid summers and cool/cold winters. The climate is slightly cooler overall during the summer than in New York City because there is no urban heat island effect.
January tends to be the coldest month, with average high temperatures in the upper 30s (Fahrenheit) and lows in the lower 20s. July is the warmest months with high temperatures in the mid 80s and lows in the mid 60s. From April to June and from September to early November, Verona enjoys temperatures from the lower 60s to upper 70s. Rainfall is plentiful, with around 44 inches (1,100 mm) a year. Snowfall is common from mid-January to early March and nor'easters can bring significant amounts of snow. In January 1996, a weather station in nearby Newark, New Jersey recorded over 31.8 inches (81 cm) of snow from the North American blizzard of 1996.
The 2010 United States Census counted 13,332 people, 5,315 households, and 3,524 families residing in the township. The population density was 4,838.4 per square mile (1,868.1/km2). The township contained 5,523 housing units at an average density of 2,004.4 per square mile (773.9/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 91.24% (12,164) White, 1.97% (262) Black or African American, 0.03% (4) Native American, 4.03% (537) Asian, 0.01% (1) Pacific Islander, 1.11% (148) from other races, and 1.62% (216) from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 5.96% (795) of the population.
Out of a total of 5,315 households, 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.1% were married couples living together, 7.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.7% were non-families. 29.7% of all households were made up of individuals, and 15.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.47 and the average family size was 3.12.
In the township, 23.2% of the population were under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 23.1% from 25 to 44, 29.2% from 45 to 64, and 19.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 44.0 years. For every 100 females the census counted 89.1 males, but for 100 females at least 18 years old, it was 86.0 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $93,839 (with a margin of error of +/- $6,753) and the median family income was $126,000 (+/- $9,193). Males had a median income of $71,917 (+/- $9,659) versus $52,433 (+/- $5,765) for females. The per capita income for the township was $47,689 (+/- $3,282). About 1.8% of families and 2.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 0.7% of those under age 18 and 6.2% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 United States Census there were 13,533 people, 5,585 households, and 3,697 families residing in the township. The population density was 4,917.4 people per square mile (1,900.0/km2). There were 5,719 housing units at an average density of 2,078.1 per square mile (803.0/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 92.99% White, 1.53% African American, 0.02% Native American, 3.41% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 0.71% from other races, and 1.27% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.45% of the population.
There were 5,585 households out of which 29.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.3% were married couples living together, 7.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.8% were non-families. 30.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.42 and the average family size was 3.06.
In the township the population was spread out with 22.5% under the age of 18, 4.3% from 18 to 24, 28.8% from 25 to 44, 25.1% from 45 to 64, and 19.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 89.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.8 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $74,619, and the median income for a family was $97,673. Males had a median income of $60,434 versus $43,196 for females. The per capita income for the township was $41,202, making it the 8th highest community in Essex County and 95th highest in the State of New Jersey. About 1.4% of families and 3.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.6% of those under age 18 and 6.2% of those age 65 or over.
Annin & Co. is the world's oldest & largest flag manufacturer and had its main manufacturing plant in Verona. However, the building was sold and they are no longer present there. The company is the official flag manufacturer to the United Nations, and a major supplier to the United States Government. Annin produced flags that were used on Iwo Jima, planted on the surface of the Moon, at the North and South Poles, atop Mount Everest and the rubble of the World Trade Center.Eagle Rock Reservation, a 408.33 acres (1.6525 km2) forest reserve and recreational park. Most of this reservation is in West Orange or in Montclair.
Everett Field, a small baseball and football park dedicated to the family who donated the land to the township.
Hilltop Reservation, opened in spring 2003, is composed of lands in the grounds of the former Essex Mountain Sanatorium, is home to many hiking and mountain biking trails.
Kip's Castle Park, the newest park to the Essex County Park System, which features a start of the 20th century castle-style mansion with large carriage house on 10.5 acres (42,000 m2).
Verona Park, the fifth-largest in the Essex County Park System, it was designed by the same designer as Central Park in New York City.
Lenape Trail, a trail that runs from the Pulaski Skyway in Newark to the Passaic River in Roseland. The Verona section runs from the West Essex Trail, down and through Verona Park, and up toward Eagle Rock Reservation before entering West Orange.
Verona Community Center, built in 1997, provides a gym, game room, ballroom, and conference room for any group or organization. also adjacent are:Veteran's Field, also known as Linn Drive Field, provides two softball/baseball fields as well as an athletic field
Centennial Field, an artificial turf field, opened in 2007.
Verona Pool, features an Olympic-Size swimming pool of various depths, with two water slides and two springboards, as well as a wading pool for younger children; playground, volleyball, basketball, racquetball and shuffleboard courts, in addition to ping-pong tables, full showers and a snackbar
West Essex Trail, acquired in 1985 through Green Acres funding, is a 2.84-mile (4.57 km) trail which runs from Arnold Way in Verona to the Passaic County line near the Lenape Trail, on the former right-of-way of the Caldwell Branch of the old Erie Lackawanna Railroad.
Verona operates within the Faulkner Act, formally known as the Optional Municipal Charter Law, under the Council-Manager form of New Jersey municipal government, and is governed by a five-member Township Council. Members are elected at-large in nonpartisan elections to four-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either two or three seats coming up for election in odd-numbered years. At a reorganization held on July 1 after each election, the council selects a mayor and deputy mayor from among its members.
As of 2016, the members of the Verona Township Council are Mayor Kevin Ryan (whose term of office on council and as mayor ends June 30, 2017), Deputy Mayor Michael Nochimson (term on council ends 2019; term as deputy mayor ends 2017), Bob Manley (2017), Alex Roman (2019) and Jay Sniatkowski (2017). The day-to-day operations of the township are supervised by Township Manager Matthew Cavallo.
Verona is located in the 11th Congressional District and is part of New Jersey's 26th state legislative district. Prior to the 2011 reapportionment following the 2010 Census, Verona had been in the 40th state legislative district. Prior to the 2010 Census, Verona had been part of the 8th Congressional District, 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.
New Jersey's Eleventh Congressional District is represented by Rodney Frelinghuysen (R, Harding Township). New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Cory Booker (D, Newark, term ends 2021) and Bob Menendez (D, Paramus, 2019).
For the 2016–2017 session (Senate, General Assembly), the 26th Legislative District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Joseph Pennacchio (R, Montville) and in the General Assembly by BettyLou DeCroce (R, Parsippany-Troy Hills) and Jay Webber (R, Morris Plains). The Governor of New Jersey is Chris Christie (R, Mendham Township). The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Kim Guadagno (R, Monmouth Beach).
Essex County is governed by a directly-elected County Executive, with legislative functions performed by the Board of Chosen Freeholders. As of 2016, the County Executive is Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. 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 Britnee N. Timberlake (District 3 - East Orange, Newark's West and Central Wards, Orange and South Orange; East Orange) Freeholder Vice President Brendan W. Gill (at large; Montclair), Rufus I. Johnson (at large; Newark), Lebby C. Jones (at large; Irvington), Patricia Sebold (at large; Livingston), Rolando Bobadilla (District 1 - Newark's North and East Wards, parts of Central and West Wards; Newark), Wayne L. Richardson (District 2 - Irvington, Maplewood and Newark's South Ward and parts of West Ward; Newark), Leonard M. Luciano (District 4 - Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, Livingston, Millburn, North Caldwell, Roseland, Verona, West Caldwell and West Orange; West Caldwell), and Cynthia D. Toro (District 5 - Belleville, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Montclair and Nutley; Bloomfield). Constitutional elected countywide are County Clerk Christopher J. Durkin (West Caldwell, 2020), Sheriff Armando B. Fontoura (Fairfield, 2018) and Surrogate Theodore N. Stephens II (2016).
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 9,911 registered voters in Verona, of which 3,194 (32.2%) were registered as Democrats, 2,329 (23.5%) were registered as Republicans and 4,387 (44.3%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were no voters registered to other parties.
In the 2012 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama received 50.3% of the vote (3,662 cast), ahead of Republican Mitt Romney with 48.9% (3,563 votes), and other candidates with 0.8% (61 votes), among the 7,366 ballots cast by the township's 10,396 registered voters (80 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 70.9%. In the 2008 presidential election, Republican John McCain received 49.6% of the vote (3,730 cast), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 48.8% (3,664 votes) and other candidates with 0.8% (57 votes), among the 7,515 ballots cast by the township's 9,750 registered voters, for a turnout of 77.1%. In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 51.4% of the vote (3,900 ballots cast), outpolling Democrat John Kerry with 47.4% (3,597 votes) and other candidates with 0.7% (67 votes), among the 7,587 ballots cast by the township's 9,697 registered voters, for a turnout percentage of 78.2.
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 59.2% of the vote (2,645 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 39.6% (1,768 votes), and other candidates with 1.3% (56 votes), among the 4,527 ballots cast by the township's 10,442 registered voters (58 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 43.4%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 49.1% of the vote (2,521 ballots cast), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 40.1% (2,062 votes), Independent Chris Daggett with 9.4% (482 votes) and other candidates with 0.8% (43 votes), among the 5,137 ballots cast by the township's 9,738 registered voters, yielding a 52.8% turnout.
The Verona Public Schools is the public school district in Verona, which serves students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of the 2011-12 school year, the district's six schools had an enrollment of 2,208 students and 151.0 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 14.62:1. Schools in the district (with 2011-12 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Brookdale Avenue School (Grades K-4; 143 students), Frederic N. Brown School (K-4; 239), Forest Avenue School (K-4; 230), Laning Avenue School (PreK-4; 323), Henry B. Whitehorne Middle School (5-8; 660) and Verona High School (9-12; 613).
The high school mascot is the "Hillbilly". However, this mascot has become controversial as a result of opposition from previous school Superintendent Earl Kim. In the face of community support for the traditional name, the mascot was retained. The original mascot was depicted with a rifle and jug of moonshine. The rifle and jug and have been replaced with a fishing pole and a dog.
The district has been recognized on three occasions with the Best Practice Award, honoring specific practices implemented by a district for exemplary and/or innovative strategies. In addition, three schools in the district was named a "Star School" by the New Jersey Department of Education, the highest honor that a New Jersey school can achieve. The school was the 70th-ranked public high school in New Jersey out of 328 schools statewide in New Jersey Monthly magazine's September 2012 cover story on the state's "Top Public High Schools", after being ranked 53rd in 2010 out of 322 schools listed.
Founded in 1924, Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School serves students in pre-school through eighth grade, and is situated near Verona Park, operating under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark. The school was recognized by the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program in 2011, one of 305 schools recognized nationwide and one of 14 selected from New Jersey.
The Children's Institute (TCI) is a private, non-profit school approved by the New Jersey Department of Education, serving children facing learning, language and social challenges, for children ages 3–21. Dating back to an orphanage founded in 1883 in Newark, New Jersey, the school moved to Verona in 1999 after remodeling a building that had been donated by Hoffmann-LaRoche.
As of May 2010, the township had a total of 37.83 miles (60.88 km) of roadways, of which 31.88 miles (51.31 km) were maintained by the municipality, 5.23 miles (8.42 km) by Essex County and 0.72 miles (1.16 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Within the limits of the township lies Route 23 and CR 506 which runs directly through the township. CR 577 also runs through the southeastern portion of Verona. Other highways near Verona include the Garden State Parkway, Interstate 80, and the New Jersey Turnpike.
NJ Transit bus routes 11 and 29 serve the township, providing service to and from Newark. DeCamp Bus Lines offers commuter service that goes on their 33 bus route between West Caldwell and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan. In September 2012, as part of budget cuts, NJ Transit suspended service to Newark on the 75 line.
Train stations, also run by New Jersey Transit, are located in the neighboring towns of Little Falls and Montclair. Prior to 1966, the Erie Railroad's Caldwell Branch (a part of New York and Greenwood Lake Railway) ran passenger service through Verona from Great Notch. The line was removed in 1979 after a washout four years prior. On July 14, 2010, the township of Verona announced that it was the honoring the old freight shed at the Verona station, which remains as the last standing structure of the railroad. The project of naming it a historic landmark in Verona, the first of many proposed by the Verona Landmarks Preservation Commission. Proposals include moving the structure to a more accessible place in Verona or turning the shed into a one-room museum.
In the early 20th century, Verona was serviced by a trolley line which operated on Bloomfield Avenue. The tracks still lie underneath the roadway, and are visible when the roadway is under construction.
Verona is 14.3 miles (23.0 km) from Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark / Elizabeth, and almost twice as far from John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.
Verona is served by two weekly newspapers: The Verona-Cedar Grove Times and the Verona Observer. The Star-Ledger, the largest newspaper in New Jersey, covers major news stories that occur in Verona.
Local news is covered by the Verona-Cedar Grove Times, www.myveronanj.com, www.verona.patch.com, and by the official township website.
Verona falls in the New York Market, as well as the Morristown Market.
Verona Cable television is served by Comcast of New Jersey. However, in 2007, Verizon introduced its Verizon FiOS service to the township. Comcast Channel 35 & Verizon FiOS Channel 24 is Verona Television (VTV) a Government-access television (GATV) channel that runs council meetings, school board meetings and community functions, as well as any other Verona-related Public-access television videos submitted by the residents. VTV is maintained by the Verona Public Library.The Verona Fire Department is one of the largest fully volunteer fire departments in Essex County, staffed by over 60 firefighters. They have two stations, three engines, one ladder truck, one reserve engine, one brush truck, one utility truck, two command vehicles, and a heavy rescue. The Department, founded in 1909 shortly after Verona was created, celebrated its 100th year of service in 2009.
The Verona Rescue Squad (volunteer) has three ambulances, and one command vehicle in one station on Church Street.
The main street in Verona is Bloomfield Avenue, where the Town Hall, Library, Middle School, and many shops, restaurants, and businesses are located.
During the American Revolutionary War, George Washington and his troops used Eagle Rock Reservation as one of a chain of observation posts to monitor British troop movements.
The Essex Mountain Sanatorium opened in 1902 as the Newark City Home for Girls. With tuberculosis spreading through Newark, the site was converted into a sanatorium in 1907, against the wishes of local residents. Its location at the highest point in Essex County was believed to be beneficial and the facility was known for its high recovery rate before it closed in 1977.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Verona include:Tommy Albelin (born 1964), NHL defenseman for New Jersey Devils and coach of De Paul High School hockey team.
Leila T. Bauman, painter
John C. Bogle (born 1929), founder of The Vanguard Group.
Bill Bradley (born 1943), Olympic gold medalist at the 1964 Summer Olympics, professional basketball player for the New York Knicks, member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, US Senator from New Jersey, and 2000 Presidential hopeful.
Marion Crecco (1930-2015), member of the New Jersey General Assembly from 1986 to 2002.
Peter David (born 1956), science fiction and fantasy author who has used Verona as location in his fiction, such as location of villain Morgan le Fay in his first novel, Knight Life.
Dan DePalma (born 1989), wide receiver who has played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League.
Mary Dunleavy, operatic soprano.
Anthony Fasano (born 1984), tight end for Tennessee Titans.
Jed Graef (born 1942), swimmer, gold medalist in 200m backstroke at 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
Fred Hill Jr. (born 1959), coached Rutgers Scarlet Knights men's basketball team.
Fred Hill Sr. (born 1934), former head coach of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights baseball team.
Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund, spent childhood in Verona.
Archie Lochhead (1892-1971), first director of the Exchange Stabilization Fund and President of the Universal Trading Corporation.
John MacLean (born 1964), player and assistant coach for NHL's New Jersey Devils.
Elmer Matthews (1927-2015), lawyer and politician who served three terms in the New Jersey General Assembly.
Jay Mohr (born 1970), actor, comedian and radio personality.
Jon Okafor (born 1989), professional soccer midfielder.
Eugénie Olson, novelist and editor.
Henry Orenstein (born c. 1925), professional poker player, helped push Hasbro to produce Transformers (toyline).
Kal Parekh, film and television actor who played the role of Sanjeev, an Indian-American flight engineer in the ABC television series, Pan Am, set in the 1960s.
Kenneth Posner, lighting designer for such Broadway shows as Wicked, Legally Blonde, The Pirate Queen, and The Coast of Utopia, the latter of which won him a Tony award.
Brian Rafalski (born 1973), hockey player, New Jersey Devils defenseman.
John Roosma (1900-1983), captain of Ernest Blood's "Wonder Teams" who became first college player to total 1,000 points for his career while at United States Military Academy.
David M. Satz Jr. (1926-2009), lawyer who served as U.S. Attorney for District of New Jersey from 1961 to 1969.
Rod Trafford (born 1978), former NFL tight end who played for the Buffalo Bills and the New England Patriots.
Chris Wylde (born 1976), actor and comedian.
The TV series The Sopranos was set in the area, thus the storyline often included scenes filmed in Verona. A Verona Rescue Squad Ambulance is seen when Livia Soprano dies in the episode "Proshai, Livushka", and Livia's house was set in Verona in the series pilot. In the episode "Cold Cuts", it's established that Bobby Bacala and Janice live in Verona.
The 1987 horror movie Doom Asylum was filmed at the now demolished Essex Mountain Sanatorium.
Pizza My Heart, an ABC Family movie, is a contemporary retelling of Romeo and Juliet, that is set in Verona (New Jersey, not Italy). Although the storyline is set in Verona, it was actually filmed in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The original, unaired pilot of the television show Strangers With Candy, "Retardation: A Celebration", was filmed at Verona High School. The VHS signboard is also used in almost every episode thereafter to display various witticisms, although the name has been changed to that of the school in the show, Flatpoint High School.
Choke, the film adapted from the Chuck Palahniuk novel of the same name, was filmed at the Essex County Hospital Center in neighboring Cedar Grove.
Pearl, the hairdresser in "The Saturdays" by Elizabeth Enright (1941), says she ran away from her abusive stepmother in Verona and went to New York City with her brother Perry.