Discovering History


History of Bergen County, NJ

Bergen was one of the four original counties in New Jersey. Its early borders reached into what are now Passaic and Hudson counties. Bergen County today is a 239-square-mile parcel of land in the northeast corner of the state, with a population of over 900,000 people.

Although Bergen was designated a “judicial district” in 1675, it was not until 1683 that the Provincial Assembly passed an act creating the counties of Bergen, Essex, Middlesex and Monmouth.

In 1710, Hackensack was designated as the county seat. The oldest records of the Bergen County Board of Freeholders and Justices are dated May 19, 1715. At that meeting, it was decided to build a combined courthouse and jail which was erected on Hackensack’s historic Green in 1716.

Bergen County observed the 300th anniversary of its founding on March 7, 1983. In 1985, the voters approved a governmental change which had been recommended by the Bergen County Charter Study Commission, elected a year earlier to assess the freeholder form of government.

In November 1986, Bergen’s form of government changed. Instead of nine freeholders, voters chose a County Executive and seven freeholders.

The County Executive is elected to a four-year term and the seven members of the Board of Freeholders are elected at large to three-year staggered terms. All take office early in January following their election in November.

For a more complete version of the county's history, see this PDF document

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