Inhabited during the pre-Columbian era by the Lenape Native American tribe, the region surrounding Waldwick was first explored by Europeans when a Dutch trading expedition landed near there c. 1610. With the creation of the Nieuw Amsterdam colony in 1624, the present site of the borough, along with the rest of northeastern New Jersey, became a Dutch possession. During the period from 1624-1664 it was sparsely developed by Dutch settlers, mainly for agricultural purposes. With the annexation of Nieuw Amsterdam by the English in 1664 came a nearly instant increase in immigration to the region and the development of several settlements in and around the present borders of the borough.
In the mid-19th century, Waldwick and the surrounding area constituted a small settlement within Franklin Township, an area that encompassed much of northwestern Bergen County. On January 1, 1886, Orvil Township was formed from portions of Hohokus Township and Washington Township. Not long after, the Erie Railroad created a stop in the township, bringing about the first major population boom in the region's history. Still later, around the 1870s, the area constituting modern-day Ridgewood broke away from Orvil; not too long afterwards, Orvil Township as an independent municipality began to fade. On April 7, 1919, a council of citizens voted to incorporate as the borough of "Waldwick", from the remaining portions of Orvil Township. With the creation of the borough of Waldwick, Orvil Township was dissolved.