Factoring out the river and skyline, Edgewater looks like a conventional suburb. It has cookie-cutter housing complexes, and shopping malls with big-box stores. The constant rumble of new buildings under construction is a love song to commuters settling there for the convenience and value, relative to New York.
But this borough of 12,000 has plenty of quirks. Just down the road from Jack’s Lobster Shack, perched on utility poles, are giant birds’ nests, built by members of a colony of Quaker parrots that arrived in Edgewater more than 40 years ago. The parrots are believed to have escaped from their shipping crate at Kennedy Airport in the late 1960s, eventually making their way to New Jersey.
Even the malls here score points for exoticism. Mitsuwa Marketplace, a Japanese food hall and superstore, is part of a shopping complex on River Road that caters to the area’s large East Asian population. Slightly north, one finds not only a Trader Joe’s but also a docked ferryboat — or what is left of it — the Binghamton, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
After transporting passengers across the Hudson from 1905 to 1967, the Binghamton became a floating restaurant and was eventually swamped by Hurricane Sandy. In July, demolition is expected to begin to make way for a replacement boat and restaurant, scheduled to open next year.
Once an industrial center where Ford cars were assembled and Dove soap was invented, Edgewater still bears some blight. The Quanta Resources site, a 16-acre lot on River Road at the intersection of Gorge Road that was used to process coal tar in the 19th century and recycle waste oil that turned out to be laden with polychlorinated biphenylsin the 20th, was declared a Superfund site in 2002. Remediation efforts led by Honeywell International, which owned the plant where the coal tar was processed, began last month.
Another long-awaited project is the revitalization of Veterans Field, near the river, which had been closed since 2011 because its soil was contaminated by tainted concrete used in a previous reconstruction effort. The new park has been reconstructed with sports fields, tennis courts, a playground and a bandshell. The opening ceremony is planned for June 30.
What You’ll Find
According to the website Neighborhood Scout, 78 percent of housing in Edgewater was built after 1969, and more than two-thirds of the borough residents are renters.
Of the 160 Edgewater residential properties advertised for sale on the New Jersey Multiple Listing Service website as of Tuesday, only six were single-family houses. Kathy Dorfman, owner of Greenkat Realty in Edgewater, said developers maximized their profits by building bigger, multifamily structures on the decreasing number of available lots.
On the east side of River Road, along the water, Ms. Dorfman said, the buildings are typically condominiums, including her own home, Admiral’s Walk, a 300-unit gated development on almost nine acres.
Across the road, rental complexes are more common, like the Alexander, a 280-unit ornate building built in 2012 with marble columns, lion sculptures and indoor and outdoor pools. (Lavish amenities are frequently found in the area’s condo and rental buildings, Ms. Dorfman said.)
To the west, where Edgewater climbs the slope of the Palisades before abruptly coming to an end, homes are predominantly townhouses, which can rise as high as four floors plus a rooftop structure and do not have backyards.
“And everything, bottom line, is about the view,” Ms. Dorfman said. An attraction of new condo buildings, like the Glass House in the Edgewater Harbor development, is their dedicated transparency.
What You’ll Pay
According to Trulia, the median sales price of homes in Edgewater as of Tuesday was $600,300, an increase of 7 percent over the previous 12 months.
The price of single-family homes advertised on the New Jersey Multiple Listing Service as of Tuesday ranged from $529,000 for a three-bedroom brick-and-shingled house at 7 Edgewater Place to $2.85 million for a two-bedroom house directly on the water, with dock, at 11 Shore Road.
The 154 co-ops and condominiums advertised included a studio at 1375 River Road for $125,000 and a three-bedroom unit at 9 Somerset Lane for $2,999,000.
Bergen County is the last county in the United States to prohibit the sale of many consumer goods on Sundays, which makes Edgewater, with its five shopping centers, especially lively on Saturdays. Go early to get a jump on the crowds waiting for ramen at Santouka, a restaurant in Mitsuwa Marketplace’s food court, or for pancake-wrapped omelets at Brownstone Pancake Factory at 860 River Road.
Tranquillity can be found on the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, a path extending from Bayonne, N.J., to the George Washington Bridge that runs intermittently through Edgewater, as the riverside developments allow.
Edgewater’s public schools extend through sixth grade. Students attend middle school and high school in Leonia, N.J., about four miles northwest.
George Washington School, at 801 Undercliff Avenue, serves 475 children in prekindergarten through second grade.
Eleanor Van Gelder School, at 251 Undercliff Avenue, serves 415 children in third through sixth grades. On the 2015-16 state tests, 58 percent met standards in English, versus 53 percent statewide; 60 percent met standards in math, versus 65 percent statewide.
Leonia Middle School, at 500 Broad Avenue, serves 515 students in sixth through eighth grades. On the 2015-16 state tests, 71 percent met standards in English, versus 80 percent statewide; 63 percent met standards in math, versus 70 percent statewide.
Leonia High School, at 100 Christie Heights Street, serves about 675 students, in ninth through 12th grades. On the 2016 SATs, the average score in reading and writing was 590, versus 537 statewide; the average in math was 584, versus 538 statewide.
New Jersey Transit bus No. 158 travels along River Road in Edgewater to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. A one-way trip from the center of town takes about 40 minutes in the morning rush hour and costs $4.50.
NY Waterway ferry service from Edgewater Ferry Landing at 989 River Road to Midtown Manhattan runs weekdays from 6:15 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. The one-way fare is $10.25; a monthly pass is about $294. The trip takes about 13 minutes.
In the early 20th century, Edgewater-based manufacturers like Lever Brothers and Jack Frost Sugar advertised their products with large, illuminated signs aimed across the river at Manhattanites. The Corn Products Refining Company went so far as to erect a 182-foot steel structure to promote goods like Mazola corn oil.