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Summit, New Jersey
City
City of Summit
Downtown Summit from the southeast
Downtown Summit from the southeast
Official seal of Summit, New Jersey
Seal
Nickname(s): Hill City
Location of Summit within Union County and state of New Jersey
Location of Summit within Union County and state of New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Summit, New Jersey
Census Bureau map of Summit, New Jersey
Country  United States
State  New Jersey
County Union
Settled 1710
Incorporation March 23, 1869 as Township
Incorporation March 8, 1899 as City
Named for Summit Lodge or
"summit of the Short Hills"
Area
 • Total 6.046 sq mi (15.661 km2)
 • Land 5.995 sq mi (15.528 km2)
 • Water 0.051 sq mi (0.133 km2)  0.85%
Area rank 255th of 566 in state
7th of 21 in county
Elevation 374 ft (114 m)
Population (2010 Census)
 • Total 21,457
 • Estimate (2015) 22,074
 • Rank 120th of 566 in state
9th of 21 in county
 • Density 3,578.9/sq mi (1,381.8/km2)
 • Density rank 178th of 566 in state
15th of 21 in county
Time zone Eastern (EST) (UTC-5)
 • Summer (DST) Eastern (EDT) (UTC-4)
ZIP codes 07901, 07902
Area code(s) 908
FIPS code 3403971430
GNIS feature ID 085412
Website www.cityofsummit.org

Summit is a city in Union County, New Jersey, United States. At the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 21,457, reflecting an increase of 326 (+1.5%) from the 21,131 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 1,374 (+7.0%) from the 19,757 counted in the 1990 Census. Summit had the 16th-highest per capita income in the state as of the 2000 Census.

Originally incorporated as Summit Township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on March 23, 1869, from portions of New Providence Township (now Berkeley Heights) and Springfield Township, Summit was reincorporated as a city on March 8, 1899.

Possible derivations of Summit's name include its location atop the Second Watchung Mountain; the Summit Lodge, the house to which jurist James Kent moved in 1837 and which stands today at 50 Kent Place Boulevard; and to a local sawmill owner who granted passage to the Morris and Essex Railroad for a route to "the summit of the Short Hills".

History

The region in which Summit is located was purchased from Native Americans on October 28, 1664. Summit's earliest European settlers came to the area around the year 1710. The original name of Summit was "Turkey Hill" to distinguish it from the area then known as "Turkey" (New Providence's original name until 1759). During the American Revolutionary War period, Summit was known as "Beacon Hill", because bonfire beacons were lit on an eastern ridge in Summit to warn the New Jersey militiamen of approaching British troops.

Summit was called the "Heights over Springfield" during the late 18th century and most of the 19th century, and was considered a part of New Providence. During this period, Summit was part of Springfield Township, which eventually broke up into separate municipalities. Eventually only Summit and New Providence remained joined.

Lord Chancellor James Kent, a Chancellor of New York State and author of Commentaries on American Law, retired to this area in 1837 in a house he called Summit Lodge (perhaps a namesake of the town) on what is now called Kent Place Boulevard. He lived there until 1847. Today, the lodge is part of a large mansion, at 50 Kent Place Boulevard, opposite Kent Place School.

In 1837, the Morris and Essex Railroad, which became the Delaware Lackawanna and Western Railroad and is now NJ Transit's Morris and Essex Lines, was built over what was then called "The Summit" hill, a name later shortened to Summit. The railroad allowed Summit to outgrow neighboring New Providence, which didn't have a train station. In 1868, a hotel named "The Summit House" burned beside the railroad. In 1869, Summit and New Providence separated and the Summit area was incorporated as the "Township of Summit". In the late 19th century, the area began shifting from farmland to wealthy estates; in 1892, renowned architect C. Abbott French cleared away a crest of a "summit ridge", removing "an impenetrable tangle of wild vines ... and myriads of rattlesnakes," to build a house with a view of New York City, The Times Building, and the Brooklyn Bridge. The present-day incarnation of Summit, known formally as the City of Summit, was incorporated on April 11, 1899.

During this time, Summit was the home of America's "antivice crusader", Anthony Comstock, who moved there about 1880 and built a house in 1892 at 35 Beekman Road, where he died in 1915.

In the 19th century, Summit served as a nearby getaway spot for wealthy residents of New York City in search of fresh air. Weekenders or summer vacationers would reach Summit by train and relax at large hotels and smaller inns and guest houses. Calvary Episcopal Church was built in 1894-95; the New York Times called it a "handsome new house of worship".

Silk weaving thrived as an industry in the late 19th century, but declined in the early decades of the 20th century; in 1915, there was a strike at the Summit Silk Company on Weaver Street. In the early 20th century, there was much building; in 1909, one report suggested at least 40 residences were being built (some with stables) with costs varying from $4,500 to $45,000, making it "one of the greatest periods of building activity this place, the Hill City, has known."

Summit Train Circa 1910s
The Rahway Valley Railroad at Summit c. 1910s

A new railway was constructed from what was then-called New Orange. The Rahway Valley Railroad connected Summit with the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad (DL&W). In the early 20th century, both freight and passenger service were offered by this line which is currently out of service, although in 2009, Union County was exploring the possibility of reactivating the line for freight traffic. A trolley line called the Morris County Traction Company, once ran a passenger trolley through Summit to/from Newark and Morris County, in the early part of the 20th century. Broad Street in Summit was designed and built for the trolley, which is why it is wider and straighter than most streets in the city. Portions of the rails could still be seen on it as late as the 1980s.

FWPNW026Summit718A
Union Plaza with Lackawanna Depot, c. 1940
FWPNW026Summit718B
View looking North across Lackawanna Railroad Bridge into Business Section, c.1940

Relations between city authorities and businesses have not always been smooth; in 1898, city authorities and the New York and New Jersey Telephone Company had disputes about wires and telephone poles; the city acted and "wires and cables of the company were cut from the poles." There were disputes between Summit's commuters and the Lackawanna railroad about walkways; in one incident in 1905, "a number of passengers seeking to board the 6:35 train found their way barred. They made a united rush, and when the dust cleared away, the door wasn't there. It is said the company will put the door back. The commuters say they will remove it as often as it is replaced."

Following World War II, the city experienced a great building boom, as living outside New York City and commuting to work became more common and the population of New Jersey grew. At this point, Summit took on its suburban character of tree lined streets and architect-designed houses that it is known for today. Summit had a mini-bus system, with three routes, in the late 1970s. The mini-buses ran through most parts of Summit on long circular routes that were primarily designed to bring commuters to the railroad station in downtown Summit. The Velvet Underground played their first paid concert at a Summit High School prom.

During the September 11 terrorist attacks, Summit lost more than a dozen residents. Many residents worked in the World Trade Center commuting by rail to Hoboken. A few days after the attacks, townspeople assembled on the broad town green while a minister "called out the names of a dozen residents still unaccounted for after Tuesday's attack on the World Trade Center. Others in the crowd of nearly 2,000 called out names he had left out." A few World Trade Center firms relocated to Summit. Star baseball athlete Willie Wilson and former Summit graduate returned to Summit High School in 2005. Wilson said: "To me, Summit is a special place ... It's where it all began and I have great memories. This is where I want to help kids and youth baseball, and I want my own son and daughter to come and help me create something here." During the economic downturn of 2008-2009, Summit was listed as #6 on a list of American communities "likely to be pummeled by the economic crisis." Crime is generally not a factor in the city, although a man was fatally beaten during a robbery attempt gone awry in summer 2010; several youths were charged in the murder of Abelino Mazariego-Torres and reports of the murder shocked residents in what one person described as a "very small and very peaceful town."

Geography

Downtown Summit, NJ
Springfield Avenue, the main shopping street

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city had a total area of 6.046 square miles (15.661 km2), including 5.995 square miles (15.528 km2) of land and 0.051 square miles (0.133 km2) of water (0.85%). It is about 20 miles (32 km) from Manhattan.

Springfield Avenue is the town's main street.

Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the city include Brantwood Park and Tall Oaks.

It is bordered to the northeast by Millburn in Essex County, to the northwest by Chatham and Chatham Township, both in Morris County, to the west by New Providence, to the southwest by Berkeley Heights, to the south by Mountainside and to the southeast by Springfield Township.

Demographics

Historical population
Census Pop.
1870 1,176
1880 1,910 62.4%
1890 3,502 83.4%
1900 5,302 51.4%
1910 7,500 41.5%
1920 10,174 35.7%
1930 14,556 43.1%
1940 16,165 11.1%
1950 17,929 10.9%
1960 23,677 32.1%
1970 23,620 −0.2%
1980 21,071 −10.8%
1990 19,757 −6.2%
2000 21,131 7.0%
2010 21,457 1.5%
Est. 2015 22,074 2.9%
Population sources: 1870-1920
1870 1880-1890
1900-1910 1910-1930
1930-1990 2000 2010

One report was that Manhattan's financial elite prefers living in Summit because of big houses, good schools and NJ Transit's rail link to Manhattan's financial district. Others suggested that the city has long been popular with traders, investment bankers, and money managers, with nearly 20% of Summit's residents working in finance and real estate.

2010 Census

As of the census of 2010, there were 21,457 people, 7,708 households, and 5,519 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,578.9 per square mile (1,381.8/km2). There were 8,190 housing units at an average density of 1,366.0 per square mile (527.4/km2)*. The racial makeup of the city was 83.54% (17,926) White, 4.52% (970) Black or African American, 0.14% (30) Native American, 6.38% (1,368) Asian, 0.01% (3) Pacific Islander, 2.84% (610) from other races, and 2.56% (550) from two or more races. [[Hispanic (U.S. Census)|Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13.29% (2,851) of the population.

There were 7,708 households out of which 39.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.6% were married couples living together, 8.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 28.4% were non-families. 23.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.77 and the average family size was 3.29.

In the city, the population was spread out with 29.0% under the age of 18, 4.9% from 18 to 24, 25.6% from 25 to 44, 28.6% from 45 to 64, and 11.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39.7 years. For every 100 females there were 96.8 males. For every 100 females ages 18 and old there were 92.0 males.

The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $109,602 and the median family income was $145,083. Males had a median income of $109,608 (+/- $15,245) versus $61,368 (+/- $8,854) for females. The per capita income for the city was $70,574. About 4.4% of families and 6.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 7.4% of those under age 18 and 5.9% of those age 65 or over.

2000 Census

At the 2000 United States Census there were 21,131 people, 7,897 households and 5,606 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,490.7 per square mile (1,348.5/km2). There were 8,146 housing units at an average density of 1,345.7 per square mile (519.9/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 87.77% White, 4.33% African American, 0.09% Native American, 4.45% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 1.70% from other races, and 1.65% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.17% of the population.

There were 7,897 households of which 35.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.1% were married couples living together, 7.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.0% were non-families. 23.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.67 and the average family size was 3.18.

Age distribution was 27.0% under the age of 18, 4.4% from 18 to 24, 33.0% from 25 to 44, 22.5% from 45 to 64, and 13.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 93.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $92,964, and the median income for a family was $117,053. Males had a median income of $85,625 versus $46,811 for females. The per capita income for the city was $62,598. About 2.5% of families and 4.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.1% of those under age 18 and 4.3% of those age 65 or over.

Arts and culture

SUMMIT DOWNTOWN HISTORIC DISTRICT, UNION COUNTY
Opera house
Latin Bistro restaurant in Summit NJ serves Latino-based food and baked goods
Latin Bistro, serving Spanish-style dishes and bakery products

The Summit Opera House was originally built in the 1890s by the Woman's Christian Temperance Union as a dry entertainment hall and local W.C.T.U. meeting place. It currently houses Winberie's restaurant on the ground floor, and a church, office space, and apartments on the upper floors. It is located at Springfield Avenue and Kent Place Boulevard in downtown Summit.

The Summit Playhouse features live dramatic performances.

The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey on Elm Street diagonally across from the Summit Middle School is a professionally recognized regional art center with an art school and an exhibition program.

Parks and recreation

The Reeves-Reed Arboretum is a suburban conservancy dedicated to environmental and horticultural education for children and adults and enjoyment of nature through the professional care and preservation of a historic country estate.

Youth sports

City of Summit Family Aquatic Center water slide
Summit's Family Aquatic Center has a water slide, an Olympic-sized outdoor pool, and the youth swim team is called the Summit Sharks

Summit has sports programs for youth including basketball, baseball, soccer and football leagues through the Recreation Center. In addition, the YMCA organizes sports clinics and teams including the Summit Swim Team. At age eight, children can try out for a traveling soccer program called the Summit Soccer Club, a nonprofit dedicated to the development of youth soccer in the city. Travel soccer runs for both the fall and spring seasons. Lacrosse is a popular sport with high school teams achieving distinction at county and state levels. Summit High School boys' team won the state's Tournament of Champions in 2010 and 2009 and lost by one goal in the 2011 final. Summit holds the New Jersey state (and possibly national) high school record with 68 consecutive victories during 2009 to 2011. The 2012 team was ranked second in New Jersey in May 2012 and in the top 20 nationally. Beginning in first grade, boys and girls can learn to play lacrosse in clinics and teams organized by the Summit Lacrosse Club.

Landmarks

Monastery of Our Lady of the Rosary, Summit, NJ
chapel of the monastery of Dominican Nuns
Summit diner 1024x658
The Summit Diner at the corner of Summit Avenue and Union Place
Summit New Jersey horse trough and buildings and trees after snow
Horse trough (center left) in winter
Summit Public Library from Maple Street after renovation
Summit Public Library in 2009, looking west, across Maple Street
  • The Carter House - at 90 Butler Parkway, Summit's oldest known structure, built in 1741, now home to the Summit Historical Society.
  • The DeBary Inn was built in 1880 as one of the private residences of (Samuel) Frederick De Bary, a merchant of French wines, liquors, and other imported beverages. In 1916, the land was subdivided and sold, the house was moved 200 feet (61 m), and it opened as a hotel in 1923; later it housed senior citizens. Authorities and rules stymied an effort to turn it into a bed and breakfast in the early 2000s, and at present it serves as an "executive boutique inn" partially owned by CNBC host Jim Cramer.
  • The Grand Summit Hotel hosts different events, including stockholder meetings.
  • The Kent Place School occupies a large block bordered by Kent Place Boulevard, Norwood Avenue, and Morris Avenue near downtown Summit. Its Mabie House was built in 1931.
  • The Summit Diner, located on the corner of Union Place & Summit Avenue, is a 1938 O'Mahony diner that has wood paneled walls, eight booths and 20 stools.
  • Summit Public Library offers a wide range of books, CDs, DVDs, internet access, special programs, and is located at the corner of Maple Street and Morris Avenue.
  • Twin Maples is a registered Historic Place at Springfield Avenue and Edgewood Road. Constructed in 1908 based on a design by architect Alfred F. Norris, it is home to the Summit Fortnightly Club and the Junior Fortnightly.
  • The United States Postal Service is on Maple Street near the downtown.

Transportation

Roads and highways

As of May 2010, the city had a total of 84.80 miles (136.47 km) of roadways, of which 66.94 miles (107.73 km) were maintained by the municipality, 14.72 miles (23.69 km) by Union County and 3.14 miles (5.05 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

Route 24 and Route 124 run along the eastern boundary of Summit, and Interstate 78 runs along the southern boundary. County Routes 512, 527 and 649 also pass through the city.

Parking is an ongoing issue. There are several free two-hour-limit parking lots for shoppers, as well as metered parking on main streets. The city council has conducted studies to explore further parking options.

Public transportation

Summit NJT station
Summit Station

NJ Transit's Morristown Line and Gladstone Branch merge at Summit station, providing frequent passenger service to Hoboken Terminal or New York's Penn Station. The train ride from Summit to New York is about 50 minutes (local) or 35 minutes (express). One reporter wrote: "The train line dominates Summit, bisecting its handsome commercial district from the town green on a sunken track, like a Dutch canal."

NJ Transit offers bus service to and from Newark on the 70 route with local Wheels service on the 986 route.

Lakeland Bus Lines (Route 78) provides service to and from Manhattan during peak commuting hours.

Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark / Elizabeth is approximately 15 minutes away via Interstate 78.

In popular culture

In "Mr. Monk and the End", the series finale of the popular cable TV show Monk, the fictional character of Randy Disher reveals he is leaving San Francisco because he has been offered the job as the chief of police of Summit, New Jersey. Additionally, he is also going there to marry his longtime crush, Sharona Fleming. Following this up, in the 2012 novel Mr. Monk on Patrol, Randy has to bring Monk in after a corruption scandal sweeps the Summit government, leading to Randy becoming acting mayor.

Points of interest

  • Watchung Reservation - Borders Summit to the south
  • Downtown Summit has a variety of restaurants of different cuisines.
  • Memorial Field has a number of athletic fields and courts.

General

Youth sports

Schools

Images for kids


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