Radburn, New Jersey
Radburn, New Jersey
A diagram showing the street network structure of Radburn and its nested hierarchy. Separate pedestrian paths run through the green spaces between the culs-de-sac and through the central green spine (The shaded area was not built)
|Elevation||95 ft (29 m)|
|Time zone||UTC-5 (Eastern (EST))|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC-4 (EDT)|
|GNIS feature ID||879582|
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 baseball 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 Drive, Fulton Place, and Franciscan Way but northwest of Owen Avenue to the northwest; Radburn Road to the northeast; one block of Howard Avenue to the southeast; Alden Terrace to the northeast and east; one block of High Street to the South; Craig Road and its extension through Scribner Road 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 Road.
Radburn residents vote for a volunteer Board of Trustees to govern the Association. Nine board seats are open to nomination and election on a rotating schedule. Any homeowner in good standing may self-nominate, or be nominated by any other homeowner in good standing. However, this was not the case before State law was amended in July 2017.
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.
New Jersey Constitutional expert Frank Askin of the Rutgers University School of Law at Newark, and his Clinic on Constitutional Law, 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 New Jersey Supreme Court. The petition for certification filed by the 16 litigants was denied.
In July 2017, Senate bill S2492 was signed into law by Governor Chris Christie, having passed unanimously in both the Senate and Assembly. The new law guarantees membership to all homeowners in New Jersey common interest communities, and requires that self-nomination must be allowed in executive board elections. The Radburn Association voted to adopt revised by-laws at a meeting in May 2017, some of which are inconsistent with several parts of the new law and other existing statutes.
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 and Betelle. The building was expanded in 1955 and again in 2005.
In 2016, the elementary school aged students of The Radburn School surpassed their fundraising goal of $60,000 through lemonade stands, rainbow bracelets sales, and a 5k race, but were denied permission to build the playground by The Radburn Association for aesthetic reasons.
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 Radburn design for public housing; the design has been used in the US, 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.
People who were born in, residents of, or otherwise closely associated with Radburn include:
- Steven Ehrlich (born 1946), architect who is the founding partner of the practice Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects, formerly known as Ehrlich Architects
- Philip Plotch (born 1961), professor, author, and urban planner.
- "Radburn". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Radburn". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2008-06-23.
- Locality Search, State of New Jersey. Accessed March 7, 2015.
- History Archived 2011-02-03 at WebCite 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
- Moore v. Radburn Association, Inc., Castext. Accessed June 11, 2015.
- Pugliese, Nicholas. "Christie signs Radburn bill to democratize elections, vetoes others", The Record (Bergen County), July 13, 2017. Accessed September 18, 2017. "Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill Thursday designed to ensure more open elections in Fair Lawn’s Radburn neighborhood but vetoed other measures related to President Trump’s travel ban and how lawmakers make changes to the state's criminal justice policies.... The new law, sponsored by Sen. Bob Gordon, D-Fair Lawn, allows any unit owner in Radburn to run to serve on the board. The legislation applies to all common-interest communities in New Jersey, such as condo associations and co-ops, but in practice affects only a few.... The board in May approved amendments to the community’s bylaws that complied with the legislation in some ways but appeared to work against it in others."
- "Playground Denied For Fair Lawn, N.J. Schoolchildren Who Raised $60,000". CBS News. Retrieved 26 April 2016.
- Gennawey, Sam. Walt and the Promise of Progress City (Ayefour Publishing, 2011), pp. 230-231
- Haldeman, Peter. "Steven Ehrlich; Exploring Privacy and Community at Home in Venice Beach", Architectural Digest, August 31, 2004. Accessed June 13, 2016. "Raised in Radburn, New Jersey, America's first planned community, Ehrlich spent six years working in Morocco and Nigeria after architecture school."
- Curley Jr., Michael W. "State says elections must be held in Fair Lawn's Radburn community", The Record (Bergen County), March 5, 2018. Accessed August 24, 2018. "Phil Plotch, a representative of Radburn United, said that after the DCA's decision, the community held its first-ever question-and-answer session for board candidates."
- Official website of The Radburn Association
- Radburn Citizens' Association
- Borough of Fair Lawn
- "Radburn". National Historic Landmarks Program. Retrieved June 18, 2006.
- Lee, Chang-Moo; Barbara Stabin-Nesmith (2001). "The Continuing Value of a Planned Community: Radburn in the Evolution of Suburban Development" (PDF). Journal of Urban Design. 6 (2): 151–84. doi:10.1080/13574800120057827. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 3, 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2011.