Berkeley Heights is located in Union County, New Jersey, with a population of approximately 13,183, per 2010 U.S. Census. Tucked into the Watchung Mountains and near the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, it’s the ideal location for those who value convenience to both rural and urban lifestyle. It’s a short train ride to New York City, and also has easy access to major highways, which will appeal to most commuters.
Berkeley Heights has a robust history. The Lenape Native Americans inhabited the area dating back to 1524. The earliest construction began in the area currently known as the Watchung Reservation. The first European settlers arrived in the area in the mid to late 17th century, and purchased the land from the Lenape Native Americans, and it quickly became an agricultural community. During the late 18th century, many residents went off to fight for freedom in the American Revolution. Many battles took place in and around the area.
In the late 18th century, a regional government was formed, creating Springfield Township. Growth continued in the area, with saw mills and sarsaparilla manufacturers. By the early 19th century Springfield Township divided into Springfield Township and New Providence Township. New Providence Township included the areas known today as Summit, New Providence, and Berkeley Heights. In the late 19th century, the New Jersey Legislature made it economically advantageous for the large regional governments to split up into smaller locally governed communities. In March of 1869, Summit Township (City of Summit) seceded from New Providence Township. Several years later in March of 1899, the Borough of New Providence seceded from the Township of New Providence. Having two local communities with the same name became very confusing to other municipalities, and in 1952 New Providence Township voted to change their name to Berkeley Heights Township.
- The invention of the transistor, solar cell, and laser all took place at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, Berkeley Heights.
- The community of Free Acres was established in 1910 by Bolton Hall, a New York entrepreneur, who followed the teachings of the economist Henry George. Henry George believed in single taxation, where residents pay taxes to the community. Then a lump sum payment from the community is made to the municipality. Free Acres for the most part follows the same principles today, and is home to many residents of Berkeley Heights.
- The actor James Cagney and his wife, Billie were among the earliest residents of Free Acres.
- Berkeley Heights was ranked #23 by NJ Monthly Magazine in its 2019 Top 100 Towns article in its August 27, 2019 issue.
- CNN/Money Magazine ranked Berkeley Heights as one of the top “50 Best Places to Live in America“, ranking #6 in it’s September 2013 issue.
- The New York Times described Berkeley Heights as “Suburbia, But Not the Cookie-Cutter kind” in its June 17, 2011 issue.
Berkeley Heights boasts a great school system consisting of 4 elementary schools, 1 middle school and 1 High School. The NICHE website, in its 2020 Best School Rankings, ranks the school system as #5 in Union County, #31 in New Jersey, and #344 out of 10,782 schools in America.
Living in Berkeley Heights
Residents enjoy spacious parks and outstanding recreational programs for all ages. Having an ideal location, Berkeley Heights is located within one hour from the mountains, the shore or New York City. It is also located within 20 miles of Newark Liberty International Airport, and has easy commuting by car, train or bus to New York City for work or recreation.
Berkeley Heights offers a variety of everyday shopping needs ranging from grocery stores, drug stores, post offices, pet shops and more. Area highlights include fine restaurants, local downtown shopping in addition to being in close proximity to the Mall at Short Hills.
There are many parks and recreational opportunities for citizens of all ages in Berkeley Heights.