Radburn, New Jersey
A Radburn cul-de-sac
|Location||Fair Lawn, New Jersey|
|Architect||Clarence Stein, Henry Wright|
|Architectural style||Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival|
|NRHP Reference #||75001118|
|Added to NRHP||April 16, 1975|
|Designated NHLD||April 5, 2005|
|Designated NJRHP||October 15, 1974|
Radburn was founded in 1929 as "a town for the motor age". Its planners, Clarence Stein and Henry Wright, and its landscape architect Marjorie Sewell Cautley aimed to incorporate modern planning principles, which were then being introduced into England's Garden Cities, following ideas advocated by urban planners Ebenezer Howard, Sir Patrick Geddes and Clarence Perry. Perry’s Neighbourhood unit concept was well-formulated by the time Radburn was planned, being informed by Forest Hills Gardens, Queens, New York (1909-1914), a garden-city development of the Russell Sage Foundation.
Radburn was explicitly designed to separate traffic by mode, with a pedestrian path system that does not cross any major roads at grade. Radburn introduced the largely residential "superblock" and is credited with incorporating some of the earliest culs-de-sac in the United States.
Radburn's 149 acres (0.60 km2) include 23 acres (93,000 m2) of interior parks, four tennis courts, three hardball fields, two softball fields, two swimming pools and an archery plaza. Young children and their parents can make use of two toddler playgroup areas, two playgrounds and a toddler bathing pool.
There is also a community center which houses administrative offices, library, gymnasium, clubroom, pre-school and maintenance shops.
A community within a community
The Radburn Community enjoys much autonomy within the Borough of Fair Lawn. Pursuant to enabling laws passed in the 1920s and covenants included in the original deeds for the development, the Radburn Association is a private association which is empowered to administer Radburn's common properties and to collect from the owners of properties quarterly association fees to cover the Association's maintenance and operation of communal facilities. The Association is also empowered to restrict development and decoration of Radburn properties in order to maintain a consistent "look" to the community. Use of Radburn Association facilities is limited to residents (though the parks themselves are ungated and the walkways are public property of the Borough.) Radburn's border with the rest of Fair Lawn is the Bergen County Line to the West; Southeast of Fernwood Dr., Fulton Pl., and Franciscan Way but Northwest of Owen Avenue to the Northwest; Radburn Rd. to the Northeast; one block of Howard Avenue to the Southeast; Alden Terrace to the Northeast and East; one block of High St. to the South; Craig Rd. and its extension through Scribner Rd. to the East; and Berdan Avenue to the South. Radburn's other full-length East-West cross street is Fair Lawn Avenue, and its sole North-South cross street is Plaza Rd.
Radburn residents vote for a board of trustees to govern the Association. Nominees to six of the nine board seats are chosen by the sitting trustees. Two other seats are appointed by former trustees and not subject to the residents' vote. The ninth seat is filled by the President of the Radburn Citizens' Association ex-officio.
In November, 2006 a group of Radburn residents opposed to the current system of governance filed a lawsuit against the Radburn Association. The plaintiffs claim that Radburn's governance violates New Jersey state law and the New Jersey State Constitution. The residents are represented by two public interest legal organizations: the New Jersey Appleseed Public Interest Law Center and The Community Law Clinic of The Rutgers School of Law–Newark.
On April 1, 2008, the New Jersey Superior Court awarded summary judgements for both sides in the democracy lawsuit. Judge Contillo found that Radburn's governance was legal as well as its membership. The Court ordered the Association to comply with the law by providing full financial disclosure to residents and amending its bylaws to support open trustee meetings four times each year.
Respected New Jersey Constitutional expert Frank Askin of the Rutgers University School of Law at Newark, and his Clinic on Constitutional Law, have now joined the plaintiffs' pro bono legal team for the appeals process, intending to affirm through the courts that the PREDFDA statute guarantees free elections in planned community government
On June 17, 2010, the Moore V Radburn litigation was finally put to rest by the NJ Supreme Court. The petition for certification filed by the 16 litigants was denied.
The Radburn School, an elementary school located on the edge of the "B" park, is operated by the Fair Lawn Public Schools. While many of its students are Radburn residents, it serves a larger district. The school, built in 1929, was designed by the architecture firm of Guilbert & Betelle. The building was expanded in 1955 and again in 2005.
Several prominent Fair Lawn businesses exist in Radburn's business district, which is at the intersection of Fair Lawn Avenue and Plaza Road, two important arteries in Fair Lawn. Many of these businesses are within the Radburn Plaza (clock tower) building, a signature landmark of Radburn and Fair Lawn itself. (The building suffered a severe fire several years ago and was recently restored in its prior image.) Nearby stands the Old Dutch House, a tavern built during the time of Dutch colonization of the Americas.
Facing the Plaza Building is the Radburn railroad station, built by the Radburn developers along the Erie Railroad line (later Conrail) and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Passenger service operates there today on the New Jersey Transit Bergen County Line.
Radburn as a model
The 'Radburn design' has been formalised in the American Radburn design for public housing; the design has been used in the USA, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.
In some areas in the UK and Australia the design, coupled with other social planning decisions have led to issues with anti-social problems on the estates.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23.
- "Radburn". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2008-06-23.
- History from the Radburn Association website
- Marjorie L. Sewell Cautley, Landscape Architect to the Garden City Movement By: Thaisa Way, accessed June 7, 2006
- Introduction from the Radburn Association website
- Cul-de-Sacs: Suburban Dream or Dead End?, a June 2006 National Public Radio story
- Census 2000 Profile for Census Tract 171 in Bergen County, New Jersey
- Sam Gennawey, Walt and the Promise of Progress City (Ayefour Publishing, 2011), pp. 230-231
- Official website of The Radburn Association
- Radburn Citizens' Association
- Borough of Fair Lawn
- "Radburn". National Historic Landmarks Program. Retrieved 18 June 2006.
- Lee, Chang-Moo; Barbara Stabin-Nesmith (2001). "The Continuing Value of a Planned Community: Radburn in the Evolution of Suburban Development". Journal of Urban Design 6 (2): 151–84. doi:10.1080/13574800120057827. Retrieved 20 November 2011.