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Montclair was first formed as a township on April 15, 1868, from portions of Bloomfield Township, so that a second railroad could be built to Montclair. After a referendum held on February 21, 1894, Montclair was reincorporated as a town, effective February 24, 1894. It derives its name from the French mont clair, meaning “clear mountain” or “bright mountain.”
In 1980, after multiple protests filed by Montclair officials regarding the inequities built into the federal revenue sharing system, Montclair passed a referendum changing its name to the “Township of Montclair,” becoming the third of more than a dozen Essex County municipalities to reclassify themselves as townships to take advantage of federal revenue sharing policies that allocated townships a greater share of government aid to municipalities on a per capita basis.
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Living in Montclair
Montclair is on the east side of the First Mountain of the Watchung Mountains. Some higher locations in the township provide excellent views of the surrounding area and of the New York City skyline about 12 miles (19 km) away.
Named localities in the township include Church Street, Frog Hollow, Montclair Heights, South End, Upper Montclair and Watchung Plaza.
Montclair citizens use two main ZIP codes. The central and southern parts of the township are designated 07042. Upper Montclair lies north of Watchung Avenue and has a separate ZIP code, 07043. Because the ZIP codes do not exactly match municipal boundaries, a few homes near the borders with neighboring towns fall into the ZIP codes for those communities. A few homes in some adjoining municipalities use one of the two ZIP codes assigned to Montclair, as does HackensackUMC Mountainside (07042, formerly known as Mountainside Hospital), whose campus straddles the border with Glen Ridge. Small areas in the southeast of the township fall into the Glen Ridge ZIP code 07028.
Several streams flow eastward through Montclair: Toney’s Brook in the center, Nishuane Brook in the southeast, the Wigwam Brook in the southwest, Pearl Brook in the northwest, and Yantacaw Brook in the northeast – all in the Passaic River watershed. Yantacaw and Toney’s brooks are dammed in parks to create ponds. Wigwam, Nishuane, and Toney’s brooks flow into the Second River, and the others flow into the Third River. Montclair lies just north of the northernmost extent of the Rahway River watershed.
The southern border of Montclair is a straight line between Eagle Rock, on the ridge of the First Watchung Mountain, and the point where Orange Road begins at the foot of Ridgewood Avenue. The eastern border is roughly a straight line between that point and a point just southwest of where Broad Street crosses the Third River. The western border runs roughly along the ridge of the First Watchung Mountain between Eagle Rock and the Essex County/Passaic County border. The northern border is the border between those two counties.
- Montclair Center, centered on the intersection of Bloomfield Avenue, South Fullerton Avenue, Glenridge Avenue and Church Street, is the township’s main commercial zone. This intersection is also known as Six Corners. It is home to some of Montclair’s largest stores and restaurants, and features many upscale restaurants and boutiques near the center of this commercial district. Near the eastern end of this district is Lackawanna Plaza, a shopping center with about ten stores built inside the former Lackawana railway station. There is a post office one block to the north of this area. In 2015, Montclair Center won the Great American Main Street Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
- Upper Montclair, in the north of the town, is the second largest commercial zone. The center is the intersection of Valley Road and Bellevue Avenue, and incorporates the surrounding areas. The Upper Montclair Business District is home to several restaurants and shops. This commercial zone is home to several chain stores such as Starbucks, Talbots, Williams-Sonoma, Gap, Cold Stone Creamery, Supercuts and CVS. Despite the recession, the area in 2009–2010 saw the opening of several new national and local merchants. Upper Montclair also has both a park, Anderson Park, and a railway station, Upper Montclair, nearby. There is a post office here.
- Watchung Plaza is located around the intersection of Watchung Avenue and Park Street, and is on the divide between two Montclair ZIP codes, 07042 and 07043. It is home to many “Mom and Pop Stores” and other small businesses. Watchung Plaza has its own post office. It is served by the Watchung Avenue station.
- Walnut Street, built around the Walnut Street train station. In the spring, summer, and fall it is home to the Montclair Farmer’s Market.
- South End, in the south of town, at the intersection of Cedar Avenue and Orange Road.
- Valley Road, between Chestnut Street and Claremont Avenue, is known locally as “Frog Hollow.” This area has some strip-mall style shops on one side of Valley Road, and on the other side window shops with residential apartments on top of them.
Montclair also hosts one cinema, the Clairidge Cinema on Bloomfield Avenue which shows different types of movies from documentaries to small scale indie films. The township hosted its first annual film festival in 2012 to provide a platform for filmmakers from New Jersey, the US and the world.
Live theaters include The Montclair Operetta Company, the Wellmont Theatre, Montclair State University’s Kasser Theater, Montclair State University’s theater in Life Hall, and the Studio Playhouse. On Bloomfield Avenue there is a public stage used for concerts and other events. Dotted around Montclair there are also many art galleries, though most are centered in the Bloomfield Avenue Downtown Area. Concerts are held at the Wellmont Theatre and at several churches and auditoriums sponsored by Outpost in the Burbs, a community-based organization. In 2017, The Montclair Orchestra was formed as a semi-professional orchestra, composed of both professionals and students from top colleges.
Montclair was the setting for some of the stories in the HBO television series The Sopranos, and many Montclair streets, locations and businesses were featured in the show, such as Bloomfield Avenue.
- Minor league baseball New Jersey Jackals of the Can-Am League. The Jackals play at Yogi Berra Stadium, which has seating for 3,784, plus overflow capacity.
- New York Red Bulls II, the United Soccer League affiliate of Major League Soccer‘s New York Red Bulls, play at Montclair State University as of 2017.
- Floyd Hall Arena, an ice rink which is actually located in Little Falls on the grounds of Montclair State University and is host to its ice hockey club. The facility also hosts other hockey leagues and teams and other on-ice sports.
- Home to the New Jersey Pride of Major League Lacrosse for the 2004 and 2005 seasons.
- Montclair Rugby Club, also known as the Norsemen, of USA Rugby Division 2. They play at Codey Field.
- Essex Eagles cricket team, a Division III team in the Cricket League of New Jersey.
- Montclair United Soccer Club.
- Amateur Baseball Association baseball team the Montclair Giants
Municipal parks include Mountainside Park, the township’s largest at 33.2 acres (13.4 ha), which offers extensive tennis and recreation facilities, and includes the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens, a 6.5-acre (2.6 ha) living museum donated by the family of Frank Presby that is maintained by volunteers and dedicated to the iris. Covering nearly 20 acres (8.1 ha) of wetlands and uplands along the Third River, the Alonzo F. Bonsal Wildlife Preserve offers hiking trails and other passive recreation. Yantacaw Brook Park, covering 11.5 acres (4.7 ha), surrounds a pond that is fed by Yantacaw Brook and that in turn feeds into the Third River on its way towards the Passaic River.
The township has 18 public tennis courts, four skating rinks (two of which are indoor), and three public swimming pools: the Mountainside pool, the Nishuane pool, and the Essex pool.
In 2007, township residents advocated for construction of a public skatepark. Community members revitalized the effort in 2010 and lobbied the Parks and Recreation Committee for support. The township council passed a resolution expressing approval of the project, but allocated no funds for it.
Running through Montclair is the Montclair-Boonton Line, serving New York Penn Station via Hoboken Terminal to the east, and Hackettstown to the west. Seven NJ Transit Rail stations serve Montclair: Bay Street, Walnut Street, Watchung Avenue, Upper Montclair, Mountain Avenue, and Montclair Heights in Montclair, and Montclair State University Station in the Great Notch area of Little Falls, New Jersey. Of these seven stations, only Bay Street station has weekend train service.
Montclair has a long history of railroads. The first railroad to Montclair was built in 1856 by the Newark and Bloomfield Railroad. It terminated at a station in Downtown Montclair. First the Morris and Essex Railroad, then the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad leased the line.
In 1868, the Montclair Railway built another line through Montclair, which caused disputes leading to Montclair’s separation from Bloomfield. Shortly afterward it was taken over by the New York and Greenwood Lake Railway, a subsidiary of the Erie Railroad. A third railroad to Morristown was planned in 1860 and construction began, but the Panic of 1873 ended the project. In 1912 the Lackawanna Railroad built a large terminal at the end of their line. The Erie and Lackawanna Railroads later merged, forming the Erie-Lackawanna Railroad, which operated both lines for many decades. They were next operated by Conrail for approximately one year, after which NJ Transit took over passenger operations and Conrail continued freight operations. Meanwhile, the 1912 terminal was closed in 1981 and converted into shops. This station was replaced by the Bay Street station. In 2002, the two railway lines were connected with the construction of the Montclair Connection.
Montclair has also housed many hotels, such as the defunct Hotel Montclair. In 2013, plans were announced to bring a new hotel to Montclair, featuring 100 rooms and a liquor license.
Montclair is home to Montclair State University, which was founded in 1908 as the New Jersey State Normal School at Montclair.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark supervises the operation of Immaculate Conception High School (coed) and Lacordaire Academy (for girls)at the high school level and Lacordaire Academy Lower Division and St. Cassian School for grades PreK-8. In 2016, St. Cassian School was one of ten schools in New Jersey, and one of four private schools in the state, recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education, a recognition celebrating excellence in academics.
Montclair is also home to a host of private and parochial schools, including Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair Community Pre-K, Virginia Harkness Sawtelle Learning, Maria Montessori Early Learning, Montclair Cooperative School, Trinity Academy and Deron School II.
Montclair has three local newspapers, the Montclair Dispatch, the Montclair Times and as of 2017, The Montclair Local. In addition, there is a radio station at 90.3 FM on the campus of Montclair State University, WMSC. The township has a municipal public service television channel, Channel 34, where township council and school board meetings are broadcast. Montclair High School has its own paper the Mountaineer, and Montclair State University has its own student-run paper, the Montclarion.
Content Courtesy of Wikipedia.org