Hello From New Jersey’s Most Populous County
Diversity, history, and scenery are three words that accurately describe Bergen County, New Jersey’s most populous county. With an estimated population of 932,202 people (as of 2019), Bergen County is a rapidly growing hub of academia, nature, culture, and, best of all, excitement. Whether you have lived in Bergen County all your life or you are visiting for a few days, there is something magical about this place that will keep you coming back for more.
History of Bergen County
Did you know that Bergen County is one of the four original counties in the state of New Jersey? Well, now you do! Here’s another fun fact: Bergen County was a pivotal location during the American Revolutionary War. Fort Lee, where the Battle of Fort Lee occurred, helped the Continental Army stop the British forces from traveling along the Hudson River.
As you could have guessed, Bergen County has a long history that is still honored and explored to this very day.
When European immigrants first arrived in America, Bergen County was home to Native Americans, primarily the Lenape groups known as the Rumachenanck (Haverstraw), Hackensack, and Tappan. As more Europeans arrived, Bergen and Hudson counties became part of the colonial province called New Netherlands. The land was claimed shortly after Henry Hudson ventured along Newark Bay before disembarking in 1609 at Weehawken Cove.
Multiple attempts at settlement failed during Kieft’s War (1643-1645), the Peach Tree War (1655-1660), and later, the Second Anglo-Dutch War (August 27, 1664), when New Amsterdam was overrun by the British Army. As mentioned earlier, Bergen County was also the site of several Revolutionary War battles, including the Baylor Massacre of 1778. You can still see remnants of such significant historical battles at museums and national parks.
Another historical site that is worth a visit is the Erie Main Line, which was originally constructed in 1852. The railroad continues to serve stops through Bergen County and throughout Jersey City.
The county has an area of 247 square miles, per the US Census Bureau, of which 5.12% is water (13 square miles). Bergen County has a landscape that is varied and vast. Bald Mountain, on the New York state line, has the highest elevation at 1,152 feet above sea level. The lowest points are the tidal estuaries along the Hudson River.
The cliffs known as the New Jersey Palisades (where the "Grand Canyon" of New Jersey can be found) raise portions of the county far above the river, though only the northernmost reaches near the Ramapo Mountains are of high elevation. When the Hackensack River and the Pascack Brook were dammed, three reservoirs—Lake Tappan, Oradell Reservoir, and Woodcliff Lake Reservoir—were created.
Bergen County is framed by Westchester County, Manhattan, and the Bronx on the east, Rockland County, NY to the north, Passaic County on the west, and Hudson and Essex counties to the south.
Incredibly Diverse Demographics
In 2017, Bergen County was 10.5% of NJ’s entire population. In 2010, the population was around 905,116 people, and it is estimated to have risen to 932,202 in 2019. Such growth is, in part, caused by the proximity to Manhattan, which is directly across the George Washington Bridge. With the construction of the bridge, Bergen transformed into an extension of the metropolitan area, though it maintained a unique ambiance and diverse cultural landscape.
Italian, Hispanic and Latino, Irish, German, South Korean, Polish, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Jewish, Russian, African, and many other ethnic groups have settled in Bergen County throughout the years, creating a large multilingual population. Caucasians, or those of European descent, make up about 72% of the population. Hispanic and Latin Americans hold 21%, Asians 17%, and Black or African Americans make up 7.4%. Currently, the foreign-born population is made up largely of Indians, South Koreans, and Polish immigrants.
Bergen County Economy
In 2018, the Bureau of Economic Analysis found that Bergen County had a GDP of $66.1 billion, which was the highest in the state. Bergen County also boasts a $15 minimum wage (since 2017), and has a large labor force with college-level education. In 2010, 44.2% of the employed population had a college degree or higher, which was 10% above the national average.
The median home cost in Bergen County is $466,200, which is more than double the national average of $231,200. Additionally, the cost of living in Bergen County is higher than other counties in NJ as well as the US as a whole. This is attributed to the proximity to Manhattan, the availability of public transportation, high employment rates, high wages, and excellent quality of life.
What To See and Do in Bergen, County
Planning on taking a trip to Bergen County? You will be delighted to find that there are hundreds of opportunities for fun. There are enough events and attractions for every day of the year!! Most destinations are also child-friendly and located close to one another, so you can spend a day or a week in Bergen County and never get bored.
Do you love the great outdoors? Bergen County has over 9,000 acres of park land to discover. Some of the favorites include Campgaw Mountain, the Flat Rock Brook Nature Center, Fort Lee Historic Park, Losen Slote Creek Park, Great Oak Park, Ramapo Valley Reservation, Saddle Ridge Riding Center, Saddle River County Park, and the Teaneck Creek Conservancy Nature Park. Yes, there are many more options than those, but those are the local and tourist favorites! Spend the day camping, hiking, swimming in lakes, and horseback riding. It’s all doable in Bergen County.
A wholesome educational day is also possible in Bergen County. You can visit the beloved Abma’s Farm in Wyckoff, where you and the kids can pick fruits and vegetables, sample sweets at the Abma’s Farm Market, or visit the Barnyard Petting Zoo. Abma’s also hosts a summer camp. And, just for the adults, be sure to stop by the tasting room at Tomasello Winery.
Aside from that, there is the Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum of New Jersey; the Bergen County Zoo, which also has pony rides, a carousel, and train rides; the Hermitage Museum, where you can see houses dating back to the Colonial era; the Mahwah Museum and its popular Les Paul guitar exhibit; and the all-time favorite of kids and kids at heart: Medieval Times Dinner & Jousting Tournament. The electrifying display of knights on horseback is a great way to finish your day of exploration in Bergen County.