Essex County is a county in the northeastern part of New Jersey. As of the 2019 Census estimate, the county’s population was 798,975, making it the state’s third-most populous county, an increase of 3.1% from the 2010 United States Census, when its population was enumerated at 783,969, in turn a decrease of 1.2% (9,664 fewer residents) from the 793,633 enumerated in the 2000 census. In 2010, the county dropped down to third-largest, behind Middlesex County, and was one of only two counties in the state to see a decline between 2000 and 2010 (Cape May County being the other). Its county seat is Newark, the most populous city in the state. It is part of the New York Metropolitan Area.
In 2015, the county had a per capita personal income of $60,030, the eighth-highest in New Jersey and ranked 153rd of 3,113 counties in the United States. The Bureau of Economic Analysis ranked the county as having the 94th-highest per capita income of all 3,113 counties in the United States (and the seventh-highest in New Jersey) as of 2009.
The 2010 United States Census counted 783,969 people, 283,712 households, and 189,235.904 families in the county. The population density was 6,211.5 per square mile. There were 312,954 housing units at an average density of 2,479.6 per square mile.
The 283,712 households accounted 33.2% with children under the age of 18 living with them; 40.1% were married couples living together; 20.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.3% were non-families. 27.7% 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 2.68 and the average family size was 3.29.
In the county, the population age was spread out with 24.9% under the age of 18, 9.5% from 18 to 24, 28.6% from 25 to 44, 25.6% from 45 to 64, and 11.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36.4 years. For every 100 females, the population had 92.1 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and older there were 88.6 males. The non-Hispanic white population was 33.2%.
The county has a notable Jewish population, with 76,200 Jewish residents according to the 2002 results of the National Jewish Population Survey.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the county had an area of 129.631 square miles, including 126.212 square miles of land (97.4%) and 3.419 square miles of water (2.6%).
The county rises from generally flat in the east to the twin ridges of the Watchung Mountains in the western half, beyond which the land lowers again into the Passaic River valley.
The highest elevation is found at four areas scattered between Verona, North Caldwell and Cedar Grove, reaching 660 feet above sea level. The lowest point is sea level, at Newark Bay.
- Essex County College– a two-year community college that offers A.A., A.S., and A.A.S. degrees, the school opened in 1968. The school’s main campus is in the University Heights section of Newark, with a satellite campus in West Caldwell.
- Montclair State University– founded in 1908, the school serves more than 20,000 students at its campus covering Montclair, Little Falls and Clifton.
- New Jersey Institute of Technology(NJIT) – located in Newark’s University Heights section, the school was established in 1881 as Newark Technical School, the school has a total enrollment of 11,400 undergraduate and graduate students.
- Rutgers University–Newark– the school has an enrollment of 12,000 and dates back to the 1908 establishment of the New Jersey Law School which became a part of Rutgers University under legislation that incorporated the University of Newark into Rutgers.
- New Jersey Medical School– dates back to its establishment in Newark in 1956 as the Seton Hall College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and became part of Rutgers University in 2013.
- Berkeley College– Newark
- Bloomfield College– located Bloomfield and founded in 1868.
- Caldwell University– founded in 1939 as a Catholic liberal arts college by the Sisters of Saint Dominic, the school has 2,200 students at its campus in Caldwell.
- Seton Hall University–founded in 1856 and affiliated with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, the school has more than 10,000 students enrolled on its campus in South Orange.
- Seton Hall University School of Law – located in Newark, it is the state’s only private law school.
- Upsala College (defunct)– founded in 1893, the school moved in 1924 to East Orange and closed in 1995. It is now the site of East Orange Campus High School, which opened in 2002.
Essex county was the first county in the United States to have its own parks department. It is called the Essex County Park System.
- Anderson Park Montclair
- Becker Park, Roseland
- Branch Brook Park, Newark / Belleville (the country’s oldest county park)
- Brookdale Park, Montclair / Bloomfield
- Crane House Site Boulder Monument, corner of Valley Road and Claremont Ave, Montclair; formerly the smallest park in the world, now #2.
- Eagle Rock Reservation, West Orange / Montclair
- Glenfield Park, Montclair / Glen Ridge
- Grover Cleveland Park, Caldwell / Essex Fells
- Hilltop Reservation, Caldwell / Cedar Grove / North Caldwell / Verona
- Irvington Park, Irvington
- Ivy Hill Park, Newark
- Kip’s Castle Park, Verona / Montclair
- Mills Reservation, Cedar Grove / Upper Montclair
- Orange Park, Orange / East Orange
- South Mountain Reservation, West Orange / South Orange / Millburn / Maplewood
- Vailsburg Park, Newark
- Thomas Edison National Historical Park, West Orange
- Verona Park, Verona
- Watsessing Park, Bloomfield / East Orange
- Weequahic Park, Newark
- West Essex Park, West Caldwell / Roseland
- West Side Park, Newark
- Yanticaw Park, Nutley
- Prudential Center, Newark. Opened in 2007, home of the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League and the Seton Hall University men’s basketball team. It was formerly the home of the New Jersey Nets from 2010 until 2012.
- The Mall at Short Hills, Short Hills, Milburn. Opened in 1961, is 10 miles west from Newark Liberty International Airport.
- Livingston Mall, Livingston.
Based on data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Essex County had a gross domestic product (GDP) of $52.3 billion in 2018, which was ranked 4th in the state and represented an increase of 1.4% from the previous year.
Roads and highways
As of 2010, the county had a total of 1,667.98 miles of roadways, of which 1,375.06 miles are maintained by the local municipality, 213.12 miles by Essex County and 60.68 miles by the New Jersey Department of Transportation and 19.12 miles by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority.
Essex County is traversed by a number of highways. Three primary interstates and one auxiliary cross the county. This includes two long distance main interstates, one north-south (Interstate 95) from Miami and New Brunswick, Canada signed as the New Jersey Turnpike and one east-west Interstate 80 from San Francisco and Teaneck. East-West Interstate 78 from near Harrisburg and New York City also crosses the county. All of these only have interchanges in one municipality in the county, Newark for I-95 and I-78 and Fairfield for I-80. Interstate 280 passes through the county in a northeast-southwest direction and has exits in Roseland, Livingston, West Orange, Orange, East Orange and Newark, making it one of the most important roads for intracounty travel.
Essex County also has four U.S. Routes that cross it. Route 1/9 are concurrent and a freeway throughout their length in the county. They pass through Newark from Elizabeth in Union County to Kearny in Hudson County. It crosses over the Passaic River on the Pulaski Skyway, which bans trucks, so just before it leaves the county in the north Truck 1/9 splits for the traffic that is not allowed on the bridge. Truck 1/9 is also a freeway its entire length in the county. U.S. Route 22 eastern terminus is in Newark the only municipality it crosses in the county. It is a freeway along it route in Essex County. It connects Newark with points to the east. The last U.S. Route in the county is U.S. Route 46, which passes through Fairfield, where it is a major commercial road that parallels Interstate 80.
The most important state road in the county is the Garden State Parkway which passes north-south through the county, connecting Union Township in the south in Union County to Clifton in the north in Passaic County. It is a toll road, a freeway, and bans trucks of more than 7,000 pounds during its entire length in the county. It has one interchange in Irvington, one in Newark, two in East Orange, and four in Bloomfield. Outside the county, it is the longest road of any kind in the state.
New Jersey Route 7 is a major arterial road in Nutley and Belleville. It has two discontinuous sections. The southern section starts at an overpass for Route 21 and passes over the Belleville Turnpike Bridge into border between Hudson and Bergen counties. The northern section starts at the Newark/Belleville border passes through Belleville and Nutley until in crosses into Clifton.
Other highways in the county include:
- Route 10
- Route 21
- Route 23
- Route 24
- Route 27 (only in Newark)
- Route 124
- Route 159
- Eisenhower Parkway
There are many buses that operate around the county, with NJ Transit (NJT) headquarters located just behind Newark Penn Station, a transit hub in the eastern part of the county. There are two major bus terminals in the county, Newark Penn Station and the Irvington Bus Terminal. DeCamp Bus Lines, Community Coach, and OurBus operate buses from Essex County to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. Some of the NJ Transit bus lines follow former streetcar lines.
Essex County has a large rail network, but most of the network is focused at commuting to Newark and New York City. All of the passenger rail lines in the county are electrified; although, not all trains that use the lines are electric, because they connect to non-electrified track.
NJ Transit has five lines that make stops in the county. All of them stop at either Newark Penn Station or Newark Broad Street Station. The Northeast Corridor Line from Trenton with connections from Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, Camden, and Princeton has stops at Newark Airport and Newark Penn Stations before continuing to Secaucus Junction and New York Penn Station. The North Jersey Coast Line from Bay Head or Long Branch also stops at Newark Airport and Newark Penn Stations before continuing to Secaucus Junction and New York Penn Station or Hoboken Terminal. The Raritan Valley Line from High Bridge usually terminates in Newark Penn Station, but mid-day trains continue to New York and one eastbound morning train terminates at Hoboken Terminal.
The Montclair-Boonton Line from Hackettstown or Little Falls has six stations in Montclair, one in Glen Ridge, and two in Bloomfield before reaching Newark Broad Street Station and continuing to Secaucus Junction and New York Penn Station or Hoboken Terminal. The Morris and Essex Lines from Hackettstown and Peapack-Gladstone has two stops in Millburn, one in Maplewood, and two each in South Orange, Orange and East Orange before reaching Newark Broad Street and continuing to Secaucus Junction and New York Penn Station or Hoboken Terminal.
The Newark Light Rail is completely contained within the county. It has 17 stations in Newark, Belleville, and Bloomfield and also operates out of Newark Penn Station. It is composed of two lines: the Newark City Subway and the Broad Street Extension.
The Newark City Subway is the only survivor of the many street car lines that once crossed New Jersey, although it no longer uses street cars. It survived in part because it does not include street running, instead following the abandoned Morris Canal right of way before going underground. It has one station in Bloomfield and one in Belleville on the old Orange Branch of the New York & Greenwood Lake Service of the Erie Railroad before entering Newark and turning onto the Morris Canal right of way. From there it follows Branch Brook Park before turning into downtown Newark as a subway. It has nine stops in Newark before terminating in Newark Penn Station.
The Broad Street Extension was built to provide connections between Newark Penn Station and Newark Broad Street Station and service to the waterfront of Newark. Leaving Penn Station, the line comes up from the subway and runs on streets or at grade for most of its length. It stops at NJPAC/Center Street, Atlantic Street, and Riverfront Stadium before reaching Broad Street Station. From Broad Street it takes a different route stopping at Washington Park and NJPAC/Center Street before arriving at Penn Station.
The PATH also operates out of Newark Penn Station. It has direct service to Harrison, Jersey City, and Lower Manhattan. With a free transfer, the PATH also provides service to Hoboken, as well as Greenwich Village Chelsea, and Midtown Manhattan.
Amtrak has two stations in the county, Newark Penn Station and Newark Airport, both on the Northeast Corridor. Newark Penn Station has service on the only high-speed train in the Western Hemisphere, the Acela Express, to Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.. Newark Penn Station also offers services on the Cardinal to Chicago; Carolinian to Charlotte; Crescent to New Orleans; Keystone Service to Harrisburg; Palmetto to Charleston; Pennsylvanian to Pittsburgh; Northeast Regional to Newport News, Norfolk, and Lynchburg; Silver Star and Silver Meteor to Miami; and Vermonter to St. Albans all with intermediate stops. Newark Airport is served by Northeast Regional and Keystone Service trains.
Newark Liberty International Airport has a monorail called AirTrain Newark that connects the terminals, four parking areas, and the Newark Liberty International Airport Station on the Northeast Corridor. The monorail is free except for service to and from the train station.
Newark Liberty International Airport is a major commercial airport located in the southeast section of the county in Newark and Elizabeth in Union County. It is one of the New York Metropolitan airports operated by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. It is a hub for United Airlines. It is also a leading cargo airport and is a hub for FedEx Express and Kalitta Air.
The Essex County Airport in Fairfield is a general aviation airport.
Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal is a major component of the Port of New York and New Jersey. Located on the Newark Bay it serves as the principal container ship facility for goods entering and leaving New York-Newark metropolitan area, and the northeastern quadrant of North America. It consists of two components – Port Newark and the Elizabeth Marine Terminal (sometimes called “Port Elizabeth”) – which exist side-by-side and are run conjointly by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The facility is located within the boundaries of the two cities of Newark and Elizabeth, just east of the New Jersey Turnpike and Newark Liberty International Airport.
Several important or noteworthy bridges currently or historically exist at least partially in the county. Most of them cross Newark Bay or the Passaic River into Hudson or Bergen counties. The Newark Bay Bridge carries Interstate 78 over Newark Bay from Newark to Bayonne and is currently the most southern bridge crossing the bay. The Upper Bay Bridge, a vertical-lift bridge located just north of the Newark Bay Bridge, carries a freight train line over the bay from Newark to Bayonne.
The PD Draw is an abandoned and partially dismantled railroad bridge across the Passaic River from Newark to Kearny. The Lincoln Highway Passaic River Bridge carries Truck 1/9 across the Passaic River and is currently the southernmost crossing of the river before it reaches the bay. It is a vertical-lift bridge and was the route that the Lincoln Highway used to cross the river. The Pulaski Skyway, the most famous bridge entirely in New Jersey, carries Route 1/9 across the Passaic River, Kearny Point, and the Hackensack River from Newark through Kearny to Jersey City.
The Point-No-Point Bridge is a railroad swing bridge that carries a freight line across the Passaic River between Newark and Kearny. The Jackson Street Bridge is a historic vehicular swing bridge across the Passaic from Newark to Harrison. The Dock Bridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places carries four tracks of the Northeast Corridor rail line and two tracks of the PATH on two vertical lift spans from Newark Penn Station to Harrison.
The Center Street Bridge is a former railroad, rapid transit, and road bridge connecting Newark and Harrison. The Bridge Street Bridge is another vehicular swing bridge across the Passaic from Newark to Harrison, as is the Clay Street Bridge, a swing bridge that connects Newark and East Newark.