In 1686, the land that is now Northvale was purchased from the Indians by the Tappan Patent Company. At the time, the land still belonged to New York State. That changed in 1800 when a dispute over the land was settled between the states and Northvale became part of Harrington Township. The town adopted the name Northvale in 1887.
The towns early settlers were German and Dutch. At the onset of World War II, there were 900 people living in Northvale and 180 men were drafted. The Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, dedicated in 1962, was the first circular school in New Jersey.