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Verona is a township in Essex County, New Jersey. Verona and several neighboring towns were all originally one town known as the Horseneck Tract. In 1702, a group of settlers left Newark and purchased a large tract of land northwest of their home city for the equivalent of a few hundred dollars from the Lenni Lenape Native Americans. This piece of land extended west and north to the Passaic River, south to the town center of what would become Livingston, and east to the First Watchung Mountain, and was called Horseneck by the natives because it resembled the neck and head of a horse.
What was then known as Horseneck contained most of the present day northern Essex County towns: Verona, along with Caldwell, West Caldwell, Cedar Grove, Essex Fells, Fairfield, North Caldwell, and Roseland are all located entirely in Horseneck, and parts of what are today Livingston, Montclair, and West Orange also were contained in the Horseneck Tract.
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Living in Verona
According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 2.776 square miles (7.191 km2), including 2.755 square miles (7.137 km2) of land and 0.021 square miles (0.054 km2) of water (0.76%).
Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Hillcrest and Verona Lake.
The township is bordered by West Orange Township, Cedar Grove Township, Montclair Township, Essex Fells and North Caldwell. Verona lies between two mountains, the First and Second Watchung Mountains with a small river, the Peckman, flowing at the bottom of the valley towards the Passaic River at Little Falls.
Verona has a temperate climate, with warm/hot humid summers and cool/cold winters. The climate is slightly cooler overall during the summer than in New York City because there is no urban heat island effect.
January tends to be the coldest month, with average high temperatures in the upper 30s (Fahrenheit) and lows in the lower 20s. July is the warmest months with high temperatures in the mid 80s and lows in the mid 60s. From April to June and from September to early November, Verona enjoys temperatures from the lower 60s to upper 70s. Rainfall is plentiful, with around 44 inches (1,100 mm) a year. Snowfall is common from mid-January to early March and nor’easters can bring significant amounts of snow. In January 1996, a weather station in nearby Newark, New Jersey recorded over 31.8 inches (81 cm) of snow from the North American blizzard of 1996.
Annin & Co. is the world’s oldest & largest flag manufacturer and had its main manufacturing plant in Verona. However, the building was sold and they are no longer present there. The company is the official flag manufacturer to the United Nations, and a major supplier to the United States Government. Annin produced flags that were used on Iwo Jima, planted on the surface of the Moon, at the North and South Poles, atop Mount Everest and the rubble of the World Trade Center.
- The TV series The Sopranos was set in the area, thus the storyline often included scenes filmed in Verona. A Verona Rescue Squad Ambulance is seen when Livia Soprano dies in the episode “Proshai, Livushka”, and Livia’s house was set in Verona in the series pilot. In the episode “Cold Cuts”, it’s established that Bobby Bacala and Janice live in Verona.
- The 1987 horror movie Doom Asylum was filmed at the now demolished Essex Mountain Sanatorium.
- Pizza My Heart, an ABC Family movie, is a contemporary retelling of Romeo and Juliet, that is set in Verona (New Jersey, not Italy). Although the storyline is set in Verona, it was actually filmed in New Orleans, Louisiana.
- The original, unaired pilot of the television show Strangers With Candy, “Retardation: A Celebration”, was filmed at Verona High School. The VHS signboard is also used in almost every episode thereafter to display various witticisms, although the name has been changed to that of the school in the show, Flatpoint High School.
- Choke, the film adapted from the Chuck Palahniuk novel of the same name, was filmed at the Essex County Hospital Center in neighboring Cedar Grove.
- Pearl, the hairdresser in “The Saturdays” by Elizabeth Enright (1941), says she ran away from her abusive stepmother in Verona and went to New York City with her brother Perry.
- Eagle Rock Reservation, a 408.33 acres (1.6525 km2) forest reserve and recreational park. Most of this reservation is in West Orange or in Montclair.
- Everett Field, a small baseball and football park dedicated to the family who donated the land to the township.
- Hilltop Reservation, opened in spring 2003, is composed of lands in the grounds of the former Essex Mountain Sanatorium, is home to many hiking and mountain biking trails.
- Kip’s Castle Park, the newest park to the Essex County Park System, which features a start of the 20th century castle-style mansion with large carriage house on 10.5 acres (42,000 m2).
- Verona Park, the fifth-largest in the Essex County Park System, it was designed by the same designer as Central Park in New York City.
- Lenape Trail, a trail that runs from the Pulaski Skyway in Newark to the Passaic River in Roseland. The Verona section runs from the West Essex Trail, down and through Verona Park, and up toward Eagle Rock Reservation before entering West Orange.
- Verona Community Center, built in 1997, provides a gym, game room, ballroom, and conference room for any group or organization. also adjacent are:
- Veteran’s Field, a grass turf field, provides two softball/baseball fields as well as an athletic field
- Centennial Field, an artificial turf field, opened in 2007.
- Liberty Field, an artificial turf field, opened in 2015.
- Freedom Field, an artificial turf field, opened in 2016.
- Verona Pool, features an Olympic-Size swimming pool of various depths, with two water slides and two springboards, as well as a wading pool for younger children; playground, volleyball, basketball, racquetball and shuffleboard courts, in addition to ping-pong tables, full showers and a snackbar
- West Essex Trail, acquired in 1985 through Green Acres funding, is a 2.84-mile (4.57 km) trail which runs from Arnold Way in Verona to the Passaic County line near the Lenape Trail, on the former right-of-way of the Caldwell Branch of the old Erie Lackawanna Railroad
Roads and Highways
As of May 2010, the township had a total of 37.83 miles (60.88 km) of roadways, of which 31.88 miles (51.31 km) were maintained by the municipality, 5.23 miles (8.42 km) by Essex County and 0.72 miles (1.16 km) by the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
Within the limits of the township lies Route 23 and CR 506 which runs directly through the township. CR 577 also runs through the southeastern portion of Verona. Other highways near Verona include the Garden State Parkway, Interstate 80, and the New Jersey Turnpike.
NJ Transit bus routes 11 and 29 serve the township, providing service to and from Newark. DeCamp Bus Lines offers commuter service that goes on their 33 bus route between West Caldwell and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan. In September 2012, as part of budget cuts, NJ Transit suspended service to Newark on the 75 line.
Train stations, also run by New Jersey Transit, are located in the neighboring towns of Little Falls and Montclair. Prior to 1966, the Erie Railroad’s Caldwell Branch (a part of New York and Greenwood Lake Railway) ran passenger service through Verona from Great Notch. The line was removed in 1979 after a washout four years prior. On July 14, 2010, the township of Verona announced that it was honoring the old freight shed at the Verona station, the last standing structure of the railroad. The project of naming it a historic landmark in Verona, the first of many proposed by the Verona Landmarks Preservation Commission. Proposals include moving the structure to a more accessible place in Verona or turning the shed into a one-room museum.
In the early 20th century, Verona was serviced by a trolley line which operated on Bloomfield Avenue. The tracks still lie underneath the roadway, and are visible when the roadway is under construction.
Verona is 14.3 miles (23.0 km) from Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark / Elizabeth, and almost twice as far from John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport.
The Verona Public Schools is the public school district in Verona, which serves students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. As of the 2011-12 school year, the district’s six schools had an enrollment of 2,208 students and 151.0 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 14.62:1. Schools in the district (with 2011-12 enrollment data from the National Center for Education Statistics) are Brookdale Avenue School (Grades K-4; 143 students), Frederic N. Brown School (K-4; 239), Forest Avenue School (K-4; 230), Laning Avenue School (PreK-4; 323), Henry B. Whitehorne Middle School (5-8; 660) and Verona High School (9-12; 613).
The high school mascot is the “Hillbilly”. However, this mascot has become controversial as a result of opposition from previous school Superintendent Earl Kim. In the face of community support for the traditional name, the mascot was retained. The original mascot was depicted with a rifle and jug of moonshine. The rifle and jug and have been replaced with a fishing pole and a dog.
The district has been recognized on three occasions with the Best Practice Award, honoring specific practices implemented by a district for exemplary and/or innovative strategies. In addition, three schools in the district was named a “Star School” by the New Jersey Department of Education, the highest honor that a New Jersey school can achieve. The school was the 70th-ranked public high school in New Jersey out of 328 schools statewide in New Jersey Monthly magazine’s September 2012 cover story on the state’s “Top Public High Schools”, after being ranked 53rd in 2010 out of 322 schools listed.
Founded in 1924, Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School serves students in pre-school through eighth grade, and is situated near Verona Park, operating under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark. The school was recognized by the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program in 2011, one of 305 schools recognized nationwide and one of 14 selected from New Jersey. The school was honored a second time when it was one of eight private schools recognized in 2017 as an Exemplary High Performing School by the Blue Ribbon Schools Program of the United States Department of Education.
The Children’s Institute (TCI) is a private, non-profit school approved by the New Jersey Department of Education, serving children facing learning, language and social challenges, for children ages 3–21. Dating back to an orphanage founded in 1883 in Newark, New Jersey, the school moved to Verona in 1999 after remodeling a building that had been donated by Hoffmann-LaRoche.
Newspaper Verona is served by two weekly newspapers: The Verona-Cedar Grove Times and the Verona Observer. The Star-Ledger, the largest newspaper in New Jersey, covers major news stories that occur in Verona.
Internet Local news is covered by the Verona-Cedar Grove Times, www.myveronanj.com, www.verona.patch.com, and by the official township website.
Verona falls in the New York Market, as well as the Morristown Market.
Verona Cable television is served by Comcast of New Jersey. However, in 2007, Verizon introduced its Verizon FiOS service to the township. Comcast Channel 35 & Verizon FiOS Channel 24 is Verona Television (VTV) a Government-access television (GATV) channel that runs council meetings, school board meetings and community functions, as well as any other Verona-related Public-access television videos submitted by the residents. VTV is maintained by the Verona Public Library.
Content Courtesy of Wikipedia.org