Of the many legacies left to the town by its founders, the one that has become its trademark is the gas lamps. With only 3,000 gaslights remaining in operation in the entire United States, Glen Ridge has 665 such lamps lighting its streets. In 1924, Glen Ridge became the first municipality in New Jersey to establish a zoning ordinance.
Glen Ridge is located at 40° 48,18″N 74° 12’17″W (40.804950, -74.204700).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 1.3 square miles (3.3 km2), all of it land. It is bounded by Bloomfield, Montclair and East Orange. Glen Ridge at the most six blocks wide. In the borough north of Bay Avenue, “the Panhandle”, it is only three or two blocks wide.
As of the census of 2000, there were 7,271 people, 2,458 households, and 1,978 families residing in the borough. The population density was 5,695.0 people per square mile (2,193.2/km2). There were 2,490 housing units at an average density of 1,950.3/sq mi (751.1/km2). The racial makeup of the borough was 89.18% White, 4.98% African American, 0.15% Native American, 3.34% Asian, 0.99% from other races, and 1.36% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.45% of the population.
There were 2,458 households out of which 46.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 69.9% were married couples living together, 8.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.5% were non-families. 16.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.95 and the average family size was 3.33.
In the borough, the population was spread out with 30.7% under the age of 18, 4.5% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 24.9% from 45 to 64, and 10.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 94.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.3 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $105,638, and the median income for a family was $120,650. Males had a median income of $91,161 versus $51,444 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $48,456. About 1.9% of families and 3.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.3% of those under age 18 and 4.1% of those age 65 or over.
Glen Ridge traces its beginning to 1666 when sixty-four Connecticut families led by Robert Treat bought land from the Lenni Lenape Native Americans and named it New Ark to reflect a covenant to worship freely without persecution. The territory included the future towns of Bloomfield, Montclair, Belleville and Nutley. When Bloomfield seceded in 1812, Glen Ridge was a section “on the hill” composed mostly of farms and woodlands with the exception of a thriving industrial area along the Toney’s brook in the Glen. For most of the nineteenth century, three water-powered mills produced lumber, calico, pasteboard boxes and brass fittings. A copper mine and a sandstone quarry were nearby.
With the arrival of the Newark and Bloomfield Railroad in 1856, and the construction of the Glen Ridge Train Station, and also the New York & Greenwood Lake Railway in 1872, Glen Ridge began its transition to a suburban residential community. Stately homes slowly replaced orchards and wooded fields.
In 1891 Mountainside Hospital, a local hospital with more than 300 beds, was founded.
Residents “on the hill” became unhappy with their representation on the Bloomfield Council. In spite of repeated requests to Bloomfield officials, roads remained unpaved, water and sewer systems were nonexistent, and schools were miles away. Area residents marked out the boundaries of a 1.45-square-mile (3.8 km2) area to secede from the adjoining town. At the February 12, 1895, election, the decision to secede passed by only twenty-three votes. Robert Rudd was elected the first mayor of Glen Ridge.
In 1989, athletes from the high school were involved in the sexual assault of a mentally handicapped student. Three teenagers were found guilty of first-degree aggravated sexual assault; a fourth was convicted of third-degree conspiracy. Author Bernard Lefkowitz wrote about the incident in Our Guys: The Glen Ridge Rape and the Secret Life of the Perfect Suburb. Lefkowitz’s book was adapted into the 1999 TV movie Our Guys: Outrage at Glen Ridge
The Glen Ridge Public Schools serve students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. Schools in the district (with 2005-06 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are two elementary schools — Linden Avenue School (255 students) and Forest Avenue School (286) — Ridgewood Avenue School for grades 3-6 (547) and Glen Ridge High School for grades 7-12 (726).
Forest Avenue School is an early childhood learning community serving children in grades pre-kindergarten through second.
Students in pre-kindergarten through second attend the Linden Avenue Elementary School.
Ridgewood Avenue School houses students in grades 3-6. In addition to an academic curriculum in the major disciplines of language arts literacy, mathematics, social studies, and science, students are exposed to art, instrumental and vocal music, physical education, health, library skills and Spanish. All students at Ridgewood Avenue School are required to move through the stations of the Synergistics Lab, solving real world problems through the study of mathematics, science, and technology.
Glen Ridge High School houses students in grades 7-12. Excellence in academic preparation is valued in both the school and community cultures. Standardized test scores far exceed both the state and national averages. More than 98% of the graduates from the Class of 2004 went on to study at four or two year colleges and universities. The remaining graduates continue their education in trade or technical schools, or in the armed services, while others find employment. The Class of 2004 average SAT scores were 583 on the math section and 591 on the verbal section. (Compared to a New Jersey average of 514 math, 501 verbal and USA average of 518 math, 508 verbal.) Over the past four years the graduation rate has been approximately 99%, while 100% of students pass the New Jersey High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA). The High School is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and has been cited for excellent curricular and co-curricular programs.
New Jersey Monthly magazine ranked Glen Ridge High School as the 5th best high school in New Jersey in its 2008 rankings of the “Top Public High Schools” in New Jersey