Situated a mere 10 miles from the “Big Apple,” Clifton is a delightfully diverse community that does not fit the mold of the average commuter town. While a sizable number of residents do commute to “the city,” a majority of residents work within driving distance of their homes. Some residents hardly ever go to New York, and in fact there are even some who've lived in Clifton all their lives and have never even set foot in the metropolis only 35 minutes away. That may sound incredulous, but trust me as a former resident of Clifton, it's true.
A Little History
Clifton, New Jersey was incorporated as a city by an act of the New Jersey State Legislature on April 26, 1917. Previously the city had been known as Acquackanonk Township, but two days before the act was passed, a referendum was held and the residents voted to give the city the name we know today.
Due to its proximity to New York City, Clifton has always benefited economically due to its location. The Morris Canal, which helped to deliver coal from Pennsylvania to the Port of New York winds its way through the city. Thanks in part to its neighbor to the west, the city of Paterson, known in the 19th and early 20th century as “Silk City” due to the number of silk and textile mills, Clifton became a major transportation and manufacturing hub. Raw materials were imported from the Port of New York to Paterson for manufacturing. The final products were then sent back to the port to be exported all over the world. During this time period the majority of Clifton's residents were involved with the manufacture of textiles, opting to live in the park-like setting of Clifton as opposed to the urban industrial center that Paterson was.
As northern New Jersey grew the Morris Canal and freight railroad lines, that were responsible for Clifton's growth, were replaced by a network of highways. With this evolution Clifton remained a convenient location between New York City and points west. Today, several major highways either surround or dissect Clifton. Clifton is easily accessible by Routes 3, 19, 21 and 46 as well as U.S. Interstate 80. The Garden State Parkway also serves Clifton providing a direct link to the Jersey Shore in the summertime for residents.
Though Clifton is surrounded by urban centers, and many parts of the city feel urban, most of Clifton is reminiscent of a sleepy suburban community. The city's park and recreation department oversees more than 36 parks and facilities, providing residents a full range of amenities ranging from sports fields and ball courts to fitness facilities and barbecue grills. The largest park, Main Memorial Park, located in the Park Slope neighborhood of the city, even has and old U.S. Army tank for kids to climb on.