2014 marks the 175th anniversary of Belleville as a municipality and the 100th anniversary of the construction of its Town Hall. On April 8, 1839, Belleville became an independent township by an act of the New Jersey state legislature. Separating from Bloomfield Township, Belleville at that time included Nutley and Woodside, about 1/3 of the area that had been Bloomfield.
Settled in the late 1600’s by the Dutch and English, Belleville was part of the original Newark land grant. The area took its first step toward municipal independence in 1743. At that time, it was agreed that the territory called Second River would administer poor laws, fines and assessments separately from Newark. Then in 1797, the inhabitants “near the bridge” signed a resolution naming their village “Belleville”.
With ready water power and river transportation, trade and industry in the settlement grew rapidly. Various mills sprang up along the water and shipbuilding was an important industry. Entrepreneurs of Belleville pioneered steam power and manufactured copper wire for the telegraph. Belleville played a prominent role in the industrial development of America.
The cornerstone of Belleville’s Town Hall at 152 Washington Avenue (see photo on cover) was placed on July 19, 1913. By Dec. 30, 1914 the Town Council was able to meet in the new building. Several additions and major renovations have taken place in the 100 years since, but the building remains a prominent symbol of the municipality.
Originally known as "Second River" or "Washington", the inhabitants renamed the settlement "Belleville" in 1797. Belleville was originally incorporated as a township by an Act of the New Jersey Legislature on April 8, 1839, from portions of Bloomfield. Portions of the township were taken to create Woodside Township (March 24, 1869, now defunct) and Franklin Township (February 18, 1874, now known as Nutley). The independent municipality of Belleville city was created within the township on March 27, 1874, and was dissolved on February 22, 1876. On November 16, 1910, Belleville was reincorporated as a town, based on the results of a referendum held eight days earlier. Belleville adopted its current township form of government in 1981.
Frankie Valli and the band The Four Seasons formed in Belleville.