Oakland was incorporated as a borough by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 8, 1902, from portions of Franklin Township (now Wyckoff). The name comes from the white oak trees in the area.
From the 1940s through the end of the 1960s a summer bungalow colony was developed in a valley in West Oakland on the Ramapo River. This was a refuge for a close-knit group of several score families from the summer heat of New York City and urban New Jersey. During the summer months the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railroad provided service at a West Oakland passenger station. This colony was located on the road between Oakland and Pompton Lakes, near a training camp for boxers. In the early morning, a resident could see Joe Louis or Sugar Ray Robinson, among others, running past the summer homes.
One section of streets in the town are named after Native American tribes and Native American first names. Now considered politically incorrect, the borough had a wooden sign posted downtown that read "Once there was [sic] Indians all over this place" which had been donated by a resident who insisted on the wording of the sign as having been a quotation from an author.
On August 4, 1985, a gun shootout occurred at the FRG Sports Complex — formerly known as Muller's Park — directly next to Oakland's former swimming park located along the Ramapo River called Pleasureland. Some time around 4:30 p.m. gunfire between rival Jamaican gangs, who were bused-in from out of town, broke out resulting in two deaths and a number of injuries. Before the incident, Pleasureland and Muller's Park were popular summer destinations that had since the 1950s and earlier (Muller's was built in 1935) attracted families from across the Tri-state area. Pleasureland remained open for a brief period after the shooting incident at FRG, but FRG/Muller's Park never reopened after that day. While the shootout did not occur at Pleasureland, due to the park's popularity the events remain to this day known as the "Pleasureland Shootout" and "Pleasureland Massacre" among people outside of Oakland. The pools and buildings having since been demolished and filled in, but the properties have begun a major restoration. The properties are united and are now called Great Oak Park, which was named after a town wide election where over 2,000 people cast a ballot. The park is being developed as a passive recreation park. The borough, led by a group of volunteers has been working on bringing the 40-acre park back to life since January 2012. The borough purchased the property from building developers in 2009.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough had a total area of 8.728 square miles (22.605 km2), including 8.454 square miles (21.897 km2) of land and 0.274 square miles (0.709 km2) of water (3.13%).
There were 4,335 households, of which 39.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 71.3% were married couples living together, 7.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 17.7% were non-families. 14.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 6.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.89 and the average family size was 3.22.
In the borough, 26.0% of the population were under the age of 18, 5.9% from 18 to 24, 22.3% from 25 to 44, 31.6% from 45 to 64, and 14.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 42.8 years. For every 100 females there were 95.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 92.9 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $111,390 (with a margin of error of +/- $6,160) and the median family income was $114,973 (+/- $7,378). Males had a median income of $82,750 (+/- $6,931) versus $59,349 (+/- $7,903) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $43,651 (+/- $3,082). About 0.7% of families and 1.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 1.7% of those under age 18 and 2.3% of those age 65 or over.
There were 4,255 households out of which 39.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 74.4% were married couples living together, 6.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 16.2% were non-families. 12.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.88 and the average family size was 3.15.
In the borough the population was spread out with 25.4% under the age of 18, 5.2% from 18 to 24, 30.9% from 25 to 44, 25.8% from 45 to 64, and 12.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 95.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 94.0 males.
The median income for a household in the borough was $86,629, and the median income for a family was $93,695. Males had a median income of $62,336 versus $41,092 for females. The per capita income for the borough was $35,252. About 0.9% of families and 1.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.2% of those under age 18 and 2.3% of those age 65 or over.
There are a few industrial parks in Oakland, the biggest of which is off Long Hill Road near the Franklin Lakes border. The Oakland-McBride Center is the home of Royle Systems Group and of Topcon Medical Systems's United States operations.
Recreation is run by an all volunteer nine-member Recreation Commission. All members are appointed by the Mayor for a five-year term. There are a number of municipal recreational facilities in Oakland. The largest is a recreational area located off Oak Street, known to residents simply as the "Rec Field," but formally known as the Alexander Potash Recreation Complex, which is home to nine baseball and softball fields, six tennis courts, a roller hockey rink, basketball courts, and other facilities.
Camp Tamarack, which was a year round camp operated by the Boy Scouts of America from the late 1920s until the mid-1980s, sits abandoned off of Skyline Drive. The camp ceased all activities and was taken over by the Bergen County park system in 1998. Many of the structures in the camp have been torn down, but some remain standing. Oakland is the current location of the headquarters of the Northern New Jersey Council.
The Rec Field is home to the annual carnival and fireworks that take place during the summer.
Oakland also offers a summer camp which runs for six weeks.
Oakland is governed under the Borough form of New Jersey municipal government. The governing body consists of a Mayor and a Borough Council comprising six council members, with all positions elected at large on a partisan basis during the November general election. A Mayor is elected directly by the voters to a four-year term of office. The Borough Council consists of six members elected to serve three-year terms on a staggered basis, with two seats coming up for election each year in a three-year cycle. The Borough form of government used by Oakland, the most common system used in the state, is a "weak mayor / strong council" government in which council members act as the legislative body with the mayor presiding at meetings and voting only in the event of a tie. The mayor can veto ordinances subject to an override by a two-thirds majority vote of the council. The mayor makes committee and liaison assignments for council members, and most appointments are made by the mayor with the advice and consent of the council.
As of 2016[update], the Mayor of the Borough of Oakland is Democrat Linda H. Schwager, whose term of office ends December 31, 2019. The members of the Oakland Borough Council are Council President Chris Visconti (R, 2018), John Biale (D, 2018), Sandra C. Coira (D, 2017), Timothy Jensen (R, 2016), Eric Kulmula (R, 2016) and Russell Talamini (R, 2017).
There are three firehouses in Oakland. The central station is located on Yawpo Avenue just off Ramapo Valley Road in downtown Oakland. There is one police station and it is located on Ramapo Valley Road across from the intersection with Walnut Street.
As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 8,542 registered voters in Oakland, of which 1,718 (20.1% vs. 31.7% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 2,700 (31.6% vs. 21.1%) were registered as Republicans and 4,116 (48.2% vs. 47.1%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were 8 voters registered to other parties. Among the borough's 2010 Census population, 67.0% (vs. 57.1% in Bergen County) were registered to vote, including 90.5% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 73.7% countywide).
In the 2012 presidential election, Republican Mitt Romney received 3,631 votes (55.4% vs. 43.5% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 2,845 votes (43.4% vs. 54.8%) and other candidates with 80 votes (1.2% vs. 0.9%), among the 6,555 ballots cast by the borough's 8,952 registered voters, for a turnout of 73.2% (vs. 70.4% in Bergen County). In the 2008 presidential election, Republican John McCain received 3,900 votes (54.9% vs. 44.5% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 3,082 votes (43.4% vs. 53.9%) and other candidates with 60 votes (0.8% vs. 0.8%), among the 7,106 ballots cast by the borough's 8,974 registered voters, for a turnout of 79.2% (vs. 76.8% in Bergen County). In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 3,938 votes (57.3% vs. 47.2% countywide), ahead of Democrat John Kerry with 2,864 votes (41.7% vs. 51.7%) and other candidates with 46 votes (0.7% vs. 0.7%), among the 6,867 ballots cast by the borough's 8,588 registered voters, for a turnout of 80.0% (vs. 76.9% in the whole county).
In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 67.5% of the vote (2,746 cast), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 31.3% (1,275 votes), and other candidates with 1.2% (49 votes), among the 4,129 ballots cast by the borough's 8,623 registered voters (59 ballots were spoiled), for a turnout of 47.9%. In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 2,553 votes (54.3% vs. 45.8% countywide), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 1,776 votes (37.8% vs. 48.0%), Independent Chris Daggett with 312 votes (6.6% vs. 4.7%) and other candidates with 23 votes (0.5% vs. 0.5%), among the 4,702 ballots cast by the borough's 8,782 registered voters, yielding a 53.5% turnout (vs. 50.0% in the county).
Private schools include Barnstable Academy, a college preparatory school for students in fifth through twelfth grades located in a business and industrial park off Long Hill Road;The New Jersey Japanese School, which serves Japanese expatriates to prepare them for the Japanese educational system when the students eventually return to Japan, located next to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church; and the Gerrard Berman Day School (Solomon Schechter of North Jersey), A Jewish day school for students in preschool through eighth grade, located on Spruce Street.
Oakland was ranked by Business Week as #43 on its list of "Great Places to Raise Kids -- for Less", with only two places deemed better than Oakland: Matawan (12th) and Echelon near Philadelphia (4th). The criteria were test scores in math and reading, number of schools, cost of living, recreational and cultural activities, and risk of crime. In 2013 Oakland was ranked by New Jersey Monthly as #1 for Young Families "...Oakland is woodsy and a bit remote, but its midsize homes, good schools and low crime rate make it popular with young families"
As of May 2010[update], Oakland had a total of 67.62 miles (108.82 km) of roadways, of which 54.95 miles (88.43 km) were maintained by the borough, 9.45 miles (15.21 km) by Bergen County and 3.22 miles (5.18 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Radio station WVNJ is licensed to Oakland. OaklandPatch provides hyperlocal content about news and events in Oakland, as part of the Patch Media network. The Franklin Lakes / Oakland Suburban News is published weekly, with additional news available online in conjunction with The Record. The Oakland Journal is an online hyper-local news source that covers local political, civic and social events.
Peter "Produce Pete" Napolitano (born c. 1941), grocer best known for his long-running television news produce segments and as a spokesman for the Pathmark supermarket chain who owns Napolitano's Produce in the borough.
^via Associated Press. "THE REGION; Complex Reopens Following Slayings", The New York Times, August 12, 1985. Accessed December 11, 2013. "A sports and recreation complex where 2 people were fatally shot and more than 20 were injured during a shootout between patrons on Aug. 11 reopened this weekend. The owner of the 50-acre park, the FRG Sports Complex, said he would not operate it any differently than in the past."
^Spiewak, Anna. "Lots to offer at a reasonable cost", The Record (Bergen County), October 24, 2009. Accessed December 26, 2011. "Ramapo Valley Road (Route 202) is considered the main street in the borough, around which the downtown core is centered. The Copper Tree Mall, a strip mall with a small indoor section, is the dominant retail location."
^Horsley, Carter B. "INDUSTRIAL ZONES GAIN NEW STATURE", The New York Times, September 20, 1981. Accessed December 26, 2011. "The company has another mixed-use development straddling the border between Oakland and Franklin Lakes in New Jersey where it is building 80 single-family homes on one-acre lots next to the 200-acre Oakland McBride Office and Technical Center."
^Verostek, Michael. "Kwartler Associates Sell Oakland-McBride Center for $12M: BD Oakland Partners Purchases Oakland Flex", CoStar Group. May 4, 2011. Accessed December 26, 2011. "Kwartler Associates, Inc., the Wladwick-based asset management corporation, sold Oakland-McBride Center, a 121,000-square-foot flex building located at 11 Bauer Drive in Oakland, NJ to BD Oakland Partners, LP for about $12 million, or about $100 per square foot. Oakland-McBride Center, constructed in 1972, is the headquarters of fiber optics provider Royle Systems Group, and US headquarters of optical device manufacturer Topcon Medical Systems, a subsidiary of Topcon Corporation."
^Verdon, Joan. "Kid Brands CEO resigns, board chair takes helm", The Record (Bergen County), September 12, 2011. Accessed December 26, 2011. "Crain was at the helm of the company as it changed its name for Russ Berrie and Co. to Kid Brands, and relocated its headquarters twice, first from Oakland to Wayne, and then to East Rutherford, where the newly streamlined company had 10 employees."
^Eighth Grade School Choice, Ramapo Indian Hills Regional High School District. Accessed October 23, 2014. "All eighth grade students from Franklin Lakes, Oakland, and Wyckoff may choose to attend the high school of their choice...."
^About, Barnstable Academy. Accessed October 29, 2013. "Barnstable Academy is a college-prep private school for students in grades 5-12. Here, bright students and diverse learners receive individualized attention in a safe environment and are given the tools and confidence to achieve their highest possible academic and personal achievement."
^Levin, Jay. "Casting director Louis DiGiaimo of Oakland dies at 77", The Record (Bergen County), December 22, 2015. Accessed May 25, 2016. "Louis DiGiaimo of Oakland, a casting director who worked on blockbuster movies and who recommended a relatively unknown Brad Pitt for a role in the classic road flick Thelma & Louise, died Saturday.... Mr. DiGiaimo, a 42-year resident of Oakland, is survived by his wife of 53 years; his children, Luann McGonigle of Ramsey and Louis J. DiGiaimo of Cedar Run; a brother, Paul DiGiaimo of Florida; and six grandchildren."
^Mitgang, Herbert. "Madge Evans, Stage-Film Actress", The New York Times, April 28, 1981. Accessed May 25, 2016. "Madge Evans, a popular actress who frequently portrayed the cleancut, decent American woman in films and on stage during the 30's, died of cancer Sunday night at her home in Oakland, N.J., where she had lived for many years with her husband, the playwright Sidney Kingsley."
^Alfano, Peter. "SCOT FRANK'S DIAL-A-FIGHT CHALLENGE", The New York Times, September 7, 1983. Accessed August 5, 2012. "The neighbors in Scott Frank's hometown, Oakland, N.J., are probably not surprised. This is just a logical extension of the days when he was in high school and would hold boxing matches in the basement of his parents' home."
^Longsdorf, Amy. "N.J. writer puts her mark on Hollywood", The Record (Bergen County), July 20, 2009. Accessed August 4, 2011. "Screenwriter and former Oakland resident Karen McCullah Lutz is the first to admit she owes New Jersey a big debt of gratitude. Spending four years at Indian Hills High School sparked her love of Springsteen and the Paramus Park Mall, but Lutz is particularly grateful for an even more lasting Garden State gift."
^Bloom, Susan. "Growth Stock: Produce Pete explains why Jersey produce beats all.", New Jersey Monthly, March 14, 2011. Accessed September 12, 2015. "The Jersey born and raised fruit-and-vegetable guru affectionately known as Produce Pete is as authentic as his Bergen County roots and the Garden State produce he proudly promotes.... Though officially retired from the grueling 20-hour workdays of his retail operation, the 66-year-old Oakland resident still relishes the opportunity to help people navigate their local produce aisle or farmer's market."
^Rosenthal, Andrew. "For the Soviet Emigres, Gorbachev Stirs Both Optimism and Skepticism", The New York Times, December 5, 1987. Accessed May 25, 2016. "Valentin Turchin, who teaches computer sciences at the City College of New York and lives in Oakland, N.J., said: 'Both sides of Gorbachev's new era must be stressed. What he says is significant and unprecedented, but at the same time, it should be seen only as a beginning. In addition, we generally have the impression that during the last months, things have started curving down.'"