South Orange, New Jersey facts for kids
|South Orange, New Jersey|
|Township of South Orange Village|
South Orange in 2011
Location in Essex County and the state of New Jersey.
Census Bureau map of South Orange, New Jersey
|Incorporated||May 4, 1869|
|• Total||2.857 sq mi (7.401 km2)|
|• Land||2.855 sq mi (7.395 km2)|
|• Water||0.002 sq mi (0.006 km2) 0.08%|
|Area rank||346th of 566 in state
17th of 22 in county
|Elevation||144 ft (44 m)|
|Population (2010 Census)|
|• Estimate (2015)||16,380|
|• Rank||156th of 566 in state
13th of 22 in county
|• Density||5,672.8/sq mi (2,190.3/km2)|
|• Density rank||91st of 566 in state
12th of 22 in county
|Time zone||Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||Eastern (EDT) (UTC-4)|
|GNIS feature ID||0880741|
South Orange, officially the Township of South Orange Village, is a suburban township in Essex County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the village's population was 16,198, reflecting a decline of 766 (-4.5%) from the 16,964 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 574 (+3.5%) from the 16,390 counted in the 1990 Census. Seton Hall University is located in the township.
"The time and circumstances under which the name South Orange originated will probably never be known," wrote historian William H. Shaw in 1884, "and we are obliged to fall back on a tradition, that Mr. Nathan Squier first used the name in an advertisement offering wood for sale" in 1795. Other sources attribute the derivation for all of The Oranges to King William III, Prince of Orange.
South Orange Village dates back to May 4, 1869, when it was formed within South Orange Township (now Maplewood). On March 4, 1904, the Village of South Orange was created by an act of the New Jersey Legislature and separated from South Orange Township. In 1978, the village's name was changed by referendum to "The Township of South Orange Village" , becoming the first of more than a dozen Essex County municipalities to reclassify themselves as townships in order take advantage of federal revenue sharing policies that allocated townships a greater share of government aid to municipalities on a per capita basis.
What is now South Orange was part of a territory purchased from the Lenape Native Americans in 1666 by Robert Treat, who founded Newark that year on the banks of the Passaic River. The unsettled areas north and west of Newark were at first referred to as the uplands. South Orange was called the Chestnut Hills for a time.
There are two claimants to the first English settlement in present-day South Orange. In 1677 brothers Joseph and Thomas Brown began clearing land for a farm in the area northwest of the junction of two old trails that are now South Orange Avenue and Ridgewood Road. A survey made in 1686 states, "note this Land hath a House on it, built by Joseph Brown and Thomas Brown, either of them having an equal share of it" located at the present southwest corner of Tillou Road and Ridgewood Road. Minutes of a Newark town meeting of September 27, 1680, record that "Nathaniel Wheeler, Edward Riggs, and Joseph Riggs, have a Grant to take up Land upon the Chesnut Hill by Raway River near the Stone House". The phrasing shows that a stone house already existed near (not on) the property. Joseph Riggs (seemingly the son of Edward Riggs) had a house just south of the Browns' house, at the northwest corner of South Orange Avenue and Ridgewood Road, according to a road survey of 1705. The same road survey locates Edward Riggs's residence near Millburn and Nathaniel Wheeler's residence in modern West Orange at the corner of Valley Road and Main Street.
Wheeler's property in South Orange extended east of the Rahway River including the site of an old house now known as the "Stone House", standing on the north side of South Orange Avenue just to the west of Grove Park. By 1756 or earlier this property was owned by Samuel Pierson. A survey of adjoining property in 1767 mentions "Pierson's house" forming accidentally the earliest documentation of a house on the property, which may be much older. Bethuel Pierson, son of Samuel, lived in this house and when he inherited it in 1773/74 he was said to live "at the mountain plantation by a certain brook called Stone House Brook." Sometime during his ownership (he died in 1791) "Bethuel Pierson had a stone addition added to his dwelling-house, which he caused to be dedicated by religious ceremonies". This would appear to be the stone-walled portion of the "Stone House". Stone House Brook runs west along the north side of the east-west road, past the "Stone House" and joining the Rahway River at about the location of the Brown and Riggs houses already noted. The oldest parts of the Pierson house are the oldest surviving structure in South Orange.
A deed of 1800 locates a property as being in "the Township of Newark, in the Parish of Orange, at a place called South Orange", marking the end of the name Chestnut Hills. Orange had been named after the ruler of England, William of Orange. Most of modern South Orange became part of Orange Township in 1806, part of Clinton Township in 1834, and part of South Orange Township in 1861. Gordon's Gazetteer circa 1830 describes the settlement as having "about 30 dwellings, a tavern and store, a paper mill and Presbyterian church".
A country resort called the Orange Mountain House was established in 1847 on Ridgewood Road in present-day West Orange, where guests could enjoy the "water cure" from natural spring water and walk in the grounds that extended up the slope of South Mountain. The hotel burned down in 1890. The only remnants today are the names of Mountain Station and the Mountain House Road leading west from it to the site of the hotel.
South Orange could be reached by the Morris and Essex Railroad which opened in 1837 between Newark and Morristown. As of 1869, the M&E became part of the main line of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad which ran from Hoboken to Buffalo with through trains to Chicago.
The Montrose neighborhood was developed after the Civil War. Its large houses on generous lots attracted wealthy families from Newark and New York City during the decades from 1870 to 1900. The Orange Lawn Tennis Club was founded in 1880 at a location in Montrose, and in 1886 it was the location of the first US national tennis championships. The club moved to larger grounds on Ridgewood Road in 1916. Major tournament events were held at the club throughout the grass court era, and even into the mid-1980s professional events would occasionally be held there.
What is now the Baird Community House was up until about 1920 the clubhouse for a golf course that encompassed what is now Meadowlands Park. Until regrading was performed during the 1970s, the outline of one of the course's sand traps was still visible near the base of Flood's Hill, a spot that has historically been one of the favorite sleigh riding spots in Essex County.
The construction of Village Hall in 1894 and the "old" library building in 1896 indicate how the village was growing by that date. Horsecar service from Newark and Morristown started in 1865, running via South Orange Avenue to the station. Electric trolley cars began running the line in 1893 and by about 1900 a branch of this line also ran down Valley Street into Maplewood. Another separate trolley line, eventually dubbed the "Swamp Line", ran from the west side of the station north through what is now park land and along Meadowbrook Lane into West Orange where it ended at Main St. An old postcard photo shows a station shelter at Montrose Ave. The DL&W rebuilt the railroad through town in 1914-1916, raising the tracks above street level and opening new station buildings at South Orange and Mountain Station. In September 1930, a frail Thomas Edison (he would die about a year later) inaugurated electric train service on the M&E between Hoboken and South Orange, with further extensions of service to Morristown and Dover being initiated over the coming months.
The South Orange Library Association was organized by William Beebe, president of the Republican Club, where on November 14, 1864, a group of men and women met. Books were donated and the library was established in a corner room on the second floor of the Republican Club where it remained until 1867 when it was moved to a second floor room of the building next door on South Orange Avenue, near Sloan Street. It stayed there until 1884, when the building, with the library still on its second floor, was moved by horses up South Orange Avenue to the northwest corner of Scotland Road. Although supported as yet only by members' dues and a few gifts of money which were put into an endowment fund, in 1886 a new association was formed to establish a free circulating library and reading room which took over the loan books and other property of the old association. It was during this period, before Village Hall was built, that Village Trustees met in the Library's room. On May 1, 1889, the library was moved to a ground floor space at 59 South Orange Avenue.
At an annual meeting in 1895, Library Trustees considered the question of obtaining a library building and Eugene V. Connett's offer of a library site on the corner of Scotland Road and Taylor Place, with condition that $7,500 be subscribed, was accepted and the subscription was met. On May 8, 1896, the library was moved into the building on that corner. A referendum held on April 27, 1926, showed that citizens had voted ten to one in favor of the town taking over full support of the library. It thereupon became "The South Orange Public Library." In February, 1929, the Village Trustees passed an ordinance providing funds to construct a rear wing on the library and to provide a Children's Room in the basement, book stacks and a balcony on the floor above, together with rehabilitation work on the older part of the building. In November 1968, the new library building on the corner of Scotland Road and Comstock Place was dedicated.
Good transportation and a booming economy caused South Orange and neighboring towns to begin a major transformation in the 1920s into bedroom communities for Newark and New York City. Large houses were built in the blocks around the Orange Lawn Tennis club, while in other areas, especially south of South Orange Avenue, more modest foursquare houses were constructed. The only large area not developed by 1930 was the high ground west of Wyoming Avenue.
There were two rock quarries within the village supplying trap rock for construction. Kernan's operated as late as the 1980s at the top of Tillou Road. The town's other larger businesses were lumber and coal yards clustered around the railroad station that supplied them. The town's business district is still located in the blocks just east of the station.
The old Morris and Essex Railroad is operated today by NJ Transit. Midtown Direct, initiated in 1996, offers service directly into Penn Station in Midtown Manhattan, and has since caused a surge in real estate prices as the commute time to midtown dropped from about 50 minutes to 35, as the service eliminated the need for passengers to transfer to PATH trains at Hoboken. As a result, demand for commuter parking permits in lots adjoining the train and bus stations is extremely high, with a waiting list as long as five years for commuter parking spots.
South Orange has a number of places listed on the State and National Historic Registers.
- Old Stone House by the Stone House Brook (ID#1364), 219 South Orange Avenue - First mentioned in a document in 1680, the house has been owned by the township which has sought to sell it to ensure that it will be restored.
- Baird Community Center (ID#3146), 5 Mead Street - The Baird offers arts programs, including the Pierro Gallery of South Orange and The Theater on 3, along with preschool and other educational programming.
- Chapel of the Immaculate Conception (ID#4121), 400 South Orange Avenue, dates back to Seton Hall's move to South Orange and serves as the center focus of its campus.
- Eugene V. Kelly Carriage House (Father Vincent Monella Art Center) (ID#1360), Seton Hall University, South Orange Avenue
- Montrose Park Historic District (ID#3147), roughly bounded by South Orange Avenue, Holland Road, the City of Orange boundary and the NJ Transit railroad right-of-way
- Mountain Station Railroad Station (ID#1361), 449 Vose Avenue
- Old Main Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad Historic District (ID#3525), Morris and Essex Railroad Right-of-Way (NJ Transit Morristown Line), from Hudson, Hoboken City to Warren, Washington Township, and then along Warren Railroad to the Delaware River.
- Prospect Street Historic District (ID#4), bounded by South Orange Avenue on the north, Tichenor Avenue on the east, Roland Avenue on the south and railroad track on the west
- South Orange Fire Department (ID#41), First Avenue and Sloan Avenue
- South Orange station (ID#1362), 19 Sloan Street
- South Orange Village Hall (ID#1363), constructed in 1894 at the corner of South Orange Avenue and Scotland Road
- Temple Sharey Tefilo Israel (ID#78), 432 Scotland Road
The village is one of only a few in New Jersey to retain gas light street illumination (others include Riverton, Palmyra and Glen Ridge). The gaslight, together with the distinctive Village Hall, has long been the symbol of South Orange. Many of the major roads in town do have modern mercury vapor streetlights (built into gaslight frames), but most of the residential sections of the town are still gas-lit. A proposal to replace all the gaslights in town with electric streetlights was explored as both a cost-saving and security measure during the 1970s. And although the changeover to electric was rejected at the time, the light output of the lamps was increased to provide more adequate lighting. There have been claims that South Orange has more operating gaslights than any other community in the United States. In 2010, the village initiated a project that would automatically shut the lamps in the morning and light them at dusk, as part of an effort to save as much as $400,000 each year in energy costs for the 1,438 gas lamps across the village.
Architecture is extremely varied. Most of the town is single-family wood-framed houses, however, there are a few apartment buildings from various eras as well as townhouse-style condominiums of mostly more recent vintage. Houses cover a range that includes every common style of the Mid-Atlantic United States since the late nineteenth century, and in sizes that range from brick English Cottages to giant Mansard-roofed mansions. Tudor, Victorian, Colonial, Ranch, Modern, and many others are all to be found. Most municipal government structures date from the 1920s, with a few being of more modern construction.
Many residents commute to New York City, but others work locally or in other parts of New Jersey. South Orange has a central business district with restaurants, banks, and other retail and professional services. There are a few small office buildings, but no large-scale enterprise other than Seton Hall University.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 2.857 square miles (7.401 km2), including 2.855 square miles (7.395 km2) of land and 0.002 square miles (0.006 km2) of water (0.08%).
The East Branch of the Rahway River, which originates in West Orange, flows through the entire length of the township. Most of the time it is a trickle but flows can be heavy after rain. In the past it would occasionally overflow its banks and flood low-lying parts of town an issue that was addressed by United States Army Corps of Engineers flood control projects that remediated the problem in the mid-1970s.
The western part of the town sits on the eastern slope of South Mountain (elevation <660 feet (201 m)), leveling into a small valley near the central business district. At the top of the slope, the western edge of the town runs along the eastern border of South Mountain Reservation. South Orange contains the historic Montrose district, Newstead, Tuxedo Park, and Wyoming sections. Seton Hall University is located in the southeast quadrant of the township.
South Orange is on the boundary between regions with a humid subtropical and humid continental climate.
|Climate data for South Orange|
|Average high °F (°C)||36
|Average low °F (°C)||19
|Precipitation inches (mm)||4.10
1930-1990 2000 2010
As of the census of 2010, there were 16,198 people, 5,516 households, and 3,756 families residing in the township. The population density was 5,672.8 per square mile (2,190.3/km2). There were 5,815 housing units at an average density of 2,036.5 per square mile (786.3/km2)*. The racial makeup of the township was 60.19% (9,750) White, 28.66% (4,642) Black or African American, 0.14% (23) Native American, 5.16% (836) Asian, 0.01% (1) Pacific Islander, 1.77% (287) from other races, and 4.07% (659) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 6.13% (993) of the population.
There were 5,516 households out of which 35.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.1% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.9% were non-families. 24.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.70 and the average family size was 3.24.
In the township, the population was spread out with 22.9% under the age of 18, 15.2% from 18 to 24, 24.2% from 25 to 44, 27.2% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37.2 years. For every 100 females there were 93.7 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 90.4 males.
The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $123,373 (with a margin of error of +/- $7,803) and the median family income was $147,532 (+/- $9,218). Males had a median income of $86,122 (+/- $7,340) versus $71,625 (+/- $9,896) for females. The per capita income for the township was $49,607 (+/- $4,022). About 2.5% of families and 7.8% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.4% of those under age 18 and 4.5% of those age 65 or over.
As of the 2000 United States Census there were 16,964 people, 5,522 households, and 3,766 families residing in the township. The population density was 5,945.3 people per square mile (2,298.2/km2). There were 5,671 housing units at an average density of 1,987.5 per square mile (768.3/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 60.41% White, 31.30% African American, 0.09% Native American, 3.89% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.57% from other races, and 2.71% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 4.93% of the population.
There were 5,522 households out of which 33.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.2% were married couples living together, 10.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.8% were non-families. 25.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 9.8% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.69 and the average family size was 3.26.
In the township the population was spread out with 22.3% under the age of 18, 17.5% from 18 to 24, 26.1% from 25 to 44, 22.2% from 45 to 64, and 11.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 92.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 88.1 males.
The median income for a household in the township was $83,611, and the median income for a family was $107,641. Males had a median income of $61,809 versus $42,238 for females. The per capita income for the township was $41,035. About 1.9% of families and 5.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 2.6% of those under age 18 and 5.4% of those age 65 or over.
Parks and recreation
The township has a municipal swimming pool open to all residents. In most area communities, municipal pool memberships are restricted or costly, but the pool in South Orange was built on land willed by a wealthy resident to the town for common use and under the terms of the deal the pool had to remain inexpensive for the residents. Residents may purchase a Photo I.D. badge for an annual fee of $35, which provides access to the South Orange Community Pool and full access to all other community facilities and programs; non-residents may use the pool for a small fee on a per visit basis on a guest pass that must be purchased by a resident. The original pool, built in the 1920s, is among the first free community pools to be built in the United States, and was replaced by an Olympic-size pool in 1972.
The South Orange River Greenway is currently under construction. The River Greenway will be a promenade for bicyclists and pedestrians that will connect part of West Third Street in South Orange with West Parker Avenue in Maplewood. Several buildings will be removed near the South Orange Department of Public Works facility to make way for the River Greenway.
Fishing and canoeing is available on the spring-fed Rahway River.
Arts and culture
The Baird, located in Meadowland Park, is the center for the South Orange Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs, housing the department's administrative offices. Most of the department's programs are housed in The Baird or in adjoining Meadowland Park. The center offers arts programs, including the Pierro Gallery of South Orange, The Theater on 3, and other arts spaces, along with preschool and other educational, arts and recreational programming. The Baird hosts events together with SOPAC, including the long-running Giants of Jazz concert series.
The Pierro Gallery of South Orange, located within The Baird and operating as part of the South Orange Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs, encourages community involvement in the visual arts and exhibits the non-commercial works of contemporary artists working in the field, in addition to providing arts education and serving local artists. Exhibitions often include the work of area artists, with a juried "Essex Exposed" exhibition conducted twice each year offering materials created by artists from Essex County.
South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) is located at 1 SOPAC Way, located next to the South Orange station. The performance venue is a 415-seat proscenium theater, with a five-screen Clearview Cinemas movie theater, and a dance studio/rental space in the same complex.
SOPAC presents music, family, dance, theater, and comedy programs throughout the year. Artists and companies who have performed at SOPAC include Paquito D'Rivera, the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, Olympia Dukakis, Richie Havens, Yo-Yo Ma, James Marsters, Eddie Palmieri, Madeleine Peyroux, Paula Poundstone, Anoushka Shankar, Phoebe Snow, Angie Stone, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Dionne Warwick, and Nancy Wilson. In partnership with Seton Hall University, SOPAC has presented Seton Hall Arts Council events, including a Classical Concert Series, Jazz 'n the Hall, and Seton Hall Theatre—student theater productions.
The plans for SOPAC were first conceived in the mid-1990s as part of an effort by the village to develop the downtown area. Seton Hall University partnered with SOPAC and construction in August 2004. The complex opened in November 2006 to the general public, with Paula Poundstone performing at the opening and cellist Yo-Yo Ma performing later that month.
Founded in 1949, the South Orange Symphony is a full-sized symphony orchestra made up of volunteer amateur and semi-professional musicians with a wide range of musical backgrounds led by a professional conductor. The ensemble plays repertoire that covers the full range of classical literature from the 18th century to today, and presents three free concerts each year in Sterling Hall at the South Orange Middle School.
Roads and highways
As of May 2010[update], the township had a total of 48.76 miles (78.47 km) of roadways, of which 42.88 miles (69.01 km) were maintained by the municipality and 5.88 miles (9.46 km) by Essex County.
South Orange is served by two NJ Transit railroad stations: the South Orange station, located on South Orange Avenue near the intersection of Sloan Street and the Mountain Station, located in the Montrose section of South Orange. The two stations provide service along the Morristown Line to Newark Broad Street Station, Secaucus Junction and New York Penn Station, with connecting service to Hoboken Terminal.
NJ Transit operates two bus lines that run through South Orange. These include the 92 route which goes from South Orange train station to Branch Brook Park in Newark, and the 107 route which goes from South Orange Train Station to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. The 31 Coach USA Bus which travels between the Livingston Mall and Newark Penn Station, also makes stops along South Orange Avenue.
There is a shuttle connecting South Orange to Livingston, timed with connecting Morristown Line trains.
- The town was the first in the nation to have an affinity credit card, the idea of the municipal affinity credit card being originated by former village president William Calabrese.
- When the town was wired for telephones and electricity in the early 20th century, the poles and wires were not allowed to run along the curb lines of streets as they do in most towns. In some sections they run along property lines in the middle of blocks, and in others they run underground. This is aesthetically pleasing but complicates access to the lines, and it delayed the introduction of cable television. Occasional proposals to replace gas lights with electric lights run across the obstacle that there is no source of electric power along the streets.
- The former telephone company system of identifying exchanges is still evidenced by the 761, 762, and 763 prefixes used for most lines in South Orange and Maplewood, which would had originally been referred to as SO1, SO2, and SO3.
- South Orange's full official name is the "Township of South Orange Village." This name was originally adopted in lieu of the Village of South Orange because it allowed South Orange to receive more federal aid that was directed to Townships during the 1970s as many federal authorities were unfamiliar with the New Jersey municipal system, in which a township is not formally different from any other municipal designation. Other municipalities in New Jersey also adopted similar strategies, notably the Township of the Borough of Verona.
- South Orange was the first municipality in New Jersey to recognize civil unions for homosexual couples. Exactly one hour after unions became legal in South Orange, they were recognized in neighboring Maplewood.
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