Although Clifton has “gone Hollywood” in TV shows like The Sopranos and movies like Donnie Brasco, the town wasn’t always a top destination for sophisticated NYC transplants or New Jerseyans with an eye on trendier Montclair. However, as a result of its winning mix of affordability, access to Manhattan, and cultural diversity, Clifton is quickly becoming a must-see spot on the housing search circuit.
Covering 11½ square miles and with a population of 85,000, Clifton is the eleventh largest town in New Jersey and the 25th most culturally diverse in the US. The town boasts vibrant Hispanic, Middle Eastern, Asian and Eastern European communities, various religious organizations, and over 70 languages spoken by its residents. The spirit of acceptance abounds as each group maintains their own cultural identities, while also contributing to the rich fabric of the greater whole.
There’s also plenty to do in Clifton! Shopping abounds on Route 3 where you’ll find The Promenade Shopping Plaza that includes Bed, Bath & Beyond, Pier One, and Costco. On the other side of the highway, you can lose yourself at Clifton Commons, which is home to stores like Target, Burlington Coat Factory, and Barnes & Noble plus an AMC movie theater megaplex. Plus, as one might expect, Clifton’s culturally diverse population fosters an equally diverse and rich food scene. Peruvian restaurants, Turkish markets, and pierogi makers dot the low-rise thoroughfare of Main Avenue. Around other parts of town, you can find classic NJ diners, authentic Italian restaurants, and great Mexican food. Not to mention the hot dogs!!! Aficionados debate the merits of two Clifton institutions that have been around for a combined 147 years. The first is Rutt’s Hutt, known for its “rippers,” deep-fried dogs slathered with sweet mustard relish. The second, Hot Grill, cites Texas weiners bathing in chili sauce as its specialty.
Another perk of living in Clifton is the location, location, location! Just 15 miles outside of Manhattan, commuters can access a variety of bus stops for a straight shot through the Lincoln Tunnel. For those wishing to ride the rails, passengers can board NJ Transit trains at the Athenia or Delawanna stations, although both require switching in Secaucus Junction for NYC access. Aside from the city, Clifton is also a stone’s throw from Montclair’s vibrant restaurant and arts scene, Bloomfield and Caldwell’s rich downtown areas, and The Meadowlands sports and entertainment complex.
Residents of Clifton are also heavily involved in the public school system, as well as various community events. Children attend one of fourteen public elementary schools and one of two middle schools. The town rallies around their lone high school and its award-winning marching band that models itself after the high-stepping bands of the collegiate Big 10. Residents also turn out for the Fourth of July picnic and fireworks display, free holiday concerts, the annual Halloween parade and costume contest, and a variety of activities taking place in the town’s 30 parks throughout the year.
So if you’re looking for a family-oriented, melting pot of a town where you can see the majestic NYC skyline on your way to Target, look no further than Clifton. Residents agree it’s a great place to live – even if they don’t agree which hot dog is the best. Once you try Rutt’s Hutt and Hot Grill, let us know what YOU think!