Fair Lawn is a borough in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States, and a suburban municipality in the New York City Metropolitan Area. As of the 2010 United States Census, the borough's population was 32,457, reflecting an increase of 820 (+2.6%) from the 31,637 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 1,089 (+3.6%) from the 30,548 counted in the 1990 Census.
Fair Lawn was incorporated as a borough by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 6, 1924, as "Fairlawn," from portions of Saddle River Township. The name was taken from Fairlawn, David Acker's estate home, that was built in 1865 and later became the Fair Lawn Municipal Building. In 1933, the official spelling of the borough's name was split into its present two-word form as "Fair Lawn" Borough.
Radburn, one of the first planned communities in the United States, is an unincorporated community located within Fair Lawn and was founded in 1929 as "a town for the motor age." Fair Lawn is home to a large number of commuters to New York City, to which it is connected by train from two railroad stations on New Jersey Transit's Bergen County Line.
Fair Lawn's motto is "A great place to visit and a better place to live." Fair Lawn has been rated as one of the top 10 best places to live in New Jersey. According to Nerdwallet, Fair Lawn witnessed a 5.3% increase in its working-age population between 2009 and 2011.
The first settlers of Fair Lawn were members of the Lenni Lenape Tribe, a peaceful group of hunter gatherers who eventually sold their land to incoming Dutch and Irish Settlers and migrated to Pennsylvania. The new colonists turned the region, which was at that point considered to be a part of the New Barbadoes township, into five large farm lots, conjoined by two main roads - Paramus and Saddle River - and named it “slooterdam” (after a V-shaped fishing contraption built in the Passaic by the Lenni Lenape). The name stuck until 1791. In the 1800s, these five lots became nine smaller lots, and three new roads - Fair Lawn Avenue, Lincoln Avenue, and Prospect Street - were constructed to encourage mobility between them. Eighty houses were built by 1861, and the renamed Small Lots, now a part of the Saddle River Township and home to multiple vegetable and fruit farms and dairies, became a clear agricultural community. Berdan Avenue, a new road located near five Berdan family farms, was soon added and Victorian homes were built alongside it and in nearby areas. The grandest of the estates, perched atop a hill by Small Lots Road was David Acker’s estate “Fairlawn,” from which the township gets its name (Images of America, Page 7).
Rapid suburban development of the town was spurred by the need to house workers from the neighboring town of Paterson in the late 1800s, and small home construction continued through the 20th century, occurring in three sections: The River Road-Fair Lawn Avenue area The area at Lincoln Avenue and Wagaraw Road known as “Columbus” Heights The area east of the railroad and south of Broadway, known as Warren Point. The development of this section was catalyzed by the “establishment of a post office, a railroad station, and a trolley to the Hudson River” (Images of America, Page 8).
In the 1900s, Fair Lawn residents were bitter about the schooling situation as part of the Saddle River Township; the schools were either dilapidated or too far away for Fair Lawn residents, and citizens felt that they were not getting schools comparable to what they should have been getting for the tax money they were paying. As such, a movement to separate from Saddle River Township was born. Fair Lawn residents petitioned to the state, asking to incorporate as an independent borough, and in April 1924, the borough of Fair Lawn was voted into existence.
Fair Lawn, recognized for its rich history today, is home to eight sights listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They are as follows. As of 1974: Peter Garretson House - 4-02 River Road As of 1975: Irregular pattern between Radburn Road and the Erie Rail Road tracks in Radburn As of 1983: G.V.H. Berdan House - 1219 River Road Richard J. Berdan House - 2407 Fair Lawn Avenue Cadmus-Folly House - 19-21 Fair Lawn Avenue Naugle House - 42-49 Dunkerhook Road Jacob Vanderbeck, Jr., House - 41-25 Dunkerhook Road As of 1984: Radburn Station - Pollitt Drive
Even more sights are considered historic by the Historic Sites Survey Committee of Bergen County Historic Sites Advisory Board. They are those listed above as well as: Henry A. Hopper House George Washington School (Recommended as a National Register possibility, but needs further documentation) Fair Lawn, Berdan, and Prospect Avenues, Plaza and Radburn Roads Peter Demarest House on Fair Lawn Avenue Warren Bronze and Aluminum Factory on Second Street McDonald’s Hamburgers on Broadway (Source: Bergen County Historic Sights Survey, Borough of Fair Lawn).